Legacies Season 3 Episode 13, “One Day You Will Understand,” is the best episode of the season. It’s a stellar hour of TV that perfectly aligns with the Legacies I know and love. This episode pulls the train right back on the tracks. It’s a beautiful episode lead by the incredible Omono Okojie as Cleo. You should read Omono’s post about what Cleo and this episode mean to her.
“One Day You Will Understand” masterfully balances a heartbreaking yet powerful origin story layered with exciting and productive mythology. Still, Legacies finds a way to make the stories that felt majorly disjointed and repetitive up to this point feel fresh and compelling. This episode breathes new life into everything: the season, the Malivore storyline, and the show in its entirety. Legacies is better because of the introduction of Cleo, and this episode is further proof if you need to be more sure of that.
Cleo’s Origin Story
There is no better place to start than with Cleo’s story. Finally, this episode gives us the truth about her past, and it’s heartbreaking to watch. It’s impossible not to empathize with her, despite Ric’s initial hesitancy. Her story proves that she’s been a hero all along. She was forced to be her own hero after sacrificing herself to save the people she loves most in the world. Cleo was a member of the Super Squad before the Super Squad ever existed.
Her story has so many moving parts that all fit together in such delicate harmony. But, of course, Cleo’s story has to serve the larger arcs of the show, just like the other characters. Through her origin story, Legacies makes me have more feelings about Malivore than I ever have before. It’s easy to be void of emotions regarding a mud monster when he’s, well, a mud monster.
“One Day You Will Understand” reveals Cleo’s role in Malivore’s story, but that isn’t nearly as shocking as his role in her story. He’s the one who came into her life and captured her to do his bidding. Cleo took him down right when he thought he was the most powerful, and he deserved all of it and then some. But, of course, Malivore’s vengeful. A mud monster with a massive ego was outsmarted by a young woman who always had more power than him.
This episode makes what has been essentially a ghost story a real horror story by giving Malivore sinister motives that date back to 1464 AD. Now, more than ever, I am ready to see Malivore fall.
Cleo’s story stresses the importance of choice, seen in a ripple effect throughout the episode. Thankfully, Legacies allows its characters to respect Cleo’s decision to leave the Salvatore School and start anew. Similarly, it’s just as significant that the show holds Cleo accountable for her hypocrisy in denying Hope the choice to become a fully-activated tribrid when Cleo tried to kill her.
It is surprising, in the best way, that the show takes the time to point out that people make mistakes when motives blind them. Cleo doesn’t throw up any walls and deny her involvement; she takes accountability for her actions and promises not to do anything like that again. You can see the regret wash over her that she took free will from someone after experiencing that herself. It’s so good and one of the many things Legacies does right in this episode.
Ric and Accountability
It’s frequently difficult for me to hide my frustration when Alaric Saltzman continuously screws up on a significant level. He makes bad call after bad call and refuses to reach out for help beyond the kids he’s supposed to mentor and lead, not the other way around. “One Day You Will Understand” throws that in his face and makes him take a hard look at it.
Alaric sees Kaleb bringing up the time that Ric sent kids to a prison world as a low blow, but it’s not. It’s fair in comparison to what Ric plans to do with Cleo. It’s a comparison that needs to be made before Ric makes a similar mistake. There has to be a break in his pattern, and that appears to something he’s relatively aware of needing. Ric voices his concerns of wanting to know the whole truth before he takes any action. Honestly, that’s growth within itself.
Similarly, Josie presents a viewpoint that Ric needs to be aware of as well. Ric does make preferential decisions regarding his daughters (and Hope) that he does not grant to other students. This problem isn’t new to Legacies this season, but it’s one of the first times that someone who means so much to Ric brings it to his attention. Josie is correct that if Ric forgives Josie for choosing to do black magic, he should be more than forgiving to Cleo, who didn’t choose to be Malivore’s prisoner.
These are both valid points I have been waiting to bring to Ric for quite some time. I thought that it would have to be Dorian, that he would have to hear it from a peer of his before it sunk in. But, of course, it comes from the kids he loves — from his won kids. These people matter more to him than everything, especially his daughters. Their opinions matter to him, no matter how hard he tries to be an emotionally distant authority figure. That’s not Alaric Saltzman, and it hasn’t been for a very long time.
Alaric, before this episode, likely would have encouraged Kaleb to go after Cleo and get her to stay. We’ve seen Ric deny people their own free will multiple times within the last three seasons. This episode could be a turning tide for him. The events could lead to the redemption that Ted (The Necromancer) spoke about on Legacies Season 3 Episode 12, “I Was Made to Love You.” Ric can become a better person without sacrificing himself. People don’t have to die to be better. I want to see Ric do the work and repent for what he’s done wrong. I want to see him make positive change with the Salvatore School like he and Caroline always intended to do with it when they created it all those years ago.
“One Day You Will Understand” also delivers what I have been waiting for all season long with Hope and Landon. This break-up may not have been inevitable, but it is necessary. Hope and Landon are so clearly the star-crossed, epic romance of Legacies. There’s no denying that. That’s why I have no hesitancy in believing that these two will find their way back to each someday. It’s going to happen. But, until then, these characters have to exist on their own. I’ve been saying this all season long. I want to see a different side of Hope, and I want to get to know Landon in a different light. This episode delivers on the latter and teases the former.
Aria Shahghasemi plays this new side of Landon with such internal tension and almost emotional void that it makes me so excited to see more. There’s so much to unpack about Landon’s time in the prison world and the psychological effects that had on him. Thankfully, Legacies isn’t pretending that everything is good and well with him after such a traumatic experience. He battled monsters to survive, and now he’s the hero of his own narrative. He doesn’t have to rely on Hope to swoop in to save the day anymore. That’s exciting for him and his dynamic with Hope.
The same can be said for Danielle Rose Russell as Hope. Russell does such a great job showing that Hope knows Landon is slipping through her fingers throughout the entire episode. Hope tries to keep it together, to find a solution, but there isn’t an easy fix to their situation. Ric reminds us earlier in the episode of all the loss Hope has experienced: her father, mother, and uncle. Yet, Ric will do what he can to ensure that Hope’s humanity isn’t taken away from her against her will if Hope wants to have a family one day. That’s incredibly considerate and entirely unexpected of someone who has become such a parental role in her life.
Knowing that Ric is trying to protect Hope from more loss and that he’s on a new wave of accepting people’s decisions makes it all the more difficult to watch Landon walk out of Hope’s room. There’s no way Ric can protect Hope from that. He can’t shield her from that heartache. She has to feel it, live through it, and grow from it, and so will Landon. I am eager to see how they try to move on from such a significant relationship in their lives.
While that relationship comes to a close, Josie and Finch make it official! This episode is about a lot of things but mainly the power of choice. A lot of characters choose to distance themselves from others as a way forward in their development. That is their right to do. Josie and Finch, on the other hand, choose each other. That doesn’t make Landon or Cleo’s decisions wrong; they’re right for them. Just like Josie and Finch’s decision is their own. No matter what comes next for them, I’m thrilled that they’re choosing each other at the end of the day.
Other Spelltacular Moments:
- I appreciated the reminder that Landon did attend Mystic Falls High at one point in time.
- Kaleb telling young Cleo, “You know, you’re a total badass in the future.”
- “This bitch is everywhere!” – Kaleb about Malivore
- Kaleb’s single tear
- “Or I have finally been inspired to be something more than your servant.” – Cleo to Malivore
- Ric embarrassing Josie in front of Finch and Josie pretending to play it off
- Leonardo da Vinci being Cleo’s great love
- “Your fate is for you to decide.” – Ric to Cleo
- I hope Legacies always uses that creepy bus stop. It’s notorious at this point.
- How epic was it to see Hope and Landon fight side by side?
What did you think of “One Day You Will Understand?” Let us know in the comments below!
Legacies returns Thursday, June 10 at 9/8c on The CW.