Although it has improved in recent episodes, Legacies season 4 risks repeating a season 2 and 3 mistake that made the series feel less like its predecessor The Vampire Diaries. Since the show debuted in 2018, The Vampire Diaries’ second spinoff Legacies has been a lighter affair than the original series and its first spinoff The Originals. Set in the Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted, Legacies’ campy sense of humor and "monster of the week" plotting meant the series had less of the dramatic, often tragic twists that made The Vampire Diaries compulsively watchable.
This tonal shift marked Legacies out as the zaniest contribution to the Vampire Diaries universe so far, but a lot of longtime viewers did not care for the more light-hearted approach. Limiting the action largely to the small school meant that Legacies focused more on love triangles and standalone adventures than the sprawling character arcs of The Vampire Diaries and rarely killed off major characters for good, unlike the earlier series. This left Legacies less popular with audiences than both The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, something the series has been working to fix in season 4.
Hope (Danielle Rose Russell) becoming the Tribrid and brutally beating Alaric (Matthew Davis) cemented this tonal change and confirmed that the spinoff would now be a slightly darker series with actual stakes beyond tumultuous teenage romances. Legacies becoming more like The Vampire Diaries and The Originals could save the show, which makes it all the more frustrating that season 4, episode 7, “Someplace Far Away From All This Violence” seems set to undo this progress. Putting distance between Hope and the rest of the cast after she attacked Alaric upped the ante on her villainous turn by opening the world of Legacies up to more than the Salvatore School. Yet, the promo for “Someplace Far Away From All This Violence” shows Hope simply showing up at the school again. It doesn’t bode well, as it seems as though Legacies is determined to keep its drama as small-scale as season 2 and 3 just when Legacies season 4 had started to excel at bigger, more meaningful plots.
After years of Hope being a morally unassailable heroine, it is understandable that the writers are not sure where to go with the Vampire Diaries-borrowed plot of her becoming a cold-blooded killer. With Hope’s transformation feeling familiar to fans of the earlier series, it makes sense that Legacies does not want to drag out her villainous turn for too long, but having the character decide to return to the Salvatore School of her own accord deprives her former friends of the challenge of tracking her down. Legacies season 4, episode 6 saw the others using a simulation to make it clear that Tribrid Hope would make short work of the Super Squad if they tried. Still, it's an idea worth exploring, particularly as Hope has arguably received the least dynamic character development of the past few seasons.
Similarly, Hope’s apparent evil feels overblown when she is already willing to return to the school and speak to her friends on civil terms after such a brief absence. Legacies season 4 seemed to bring back The Vampire Diaries’ darker edge and significant stakes, so it is unfortunate to see the show walk back this promising development. The plot may continue to grow darker even with Hope back in situ, but for now, the sight of the villainess hanging out with her schoolmates again may be dismaying for those who had hoped Legacies was starting to grow beyond repetitive teen drama.
Legacies will return Thursday, December 2.