Despite this episode being one of a few previously intended to wrap up last season, Legacies 4×01, “You Have to Pick One This Time,” is a fast-paced, character-driven premiere that launches one of the show’s most ambitious and darkest seasons yet. The episode breezes through its necessary exposition within the first few scenes.
This move leaves the bulk of the episode for the sentimental moments that make everything worth fighting for in the end. Moreover, the aversion to exposition dumps makes the show develop more creative ways to relay information. That new method emerges in specific callbacks to this spin-offs predecessors, and it’s so sweet to watch.
The Villain Legacies Can’t Ignore
The Merge reentering the overarching conversation happens so organically because of the arrival of Finch at the Salvatore School. It’s an excellent way to weave together the anxieties that result from being a Gemini witch and a teenager in a new relationship. Overall, the scene when it crosses Josie and Lizzie’s minds is so well done.
The randomness at which such a threat can affect a casual and pure conversation is unnerving for the Saltzman twins and us. The Merge can so easily slip our minds and that of the characters within the show because there is always something more pressing happening at the Salvatore School.
Legacies (unintentionally) starting Season 4 with a reminder that this threat is as unavoidable as Malivore is necessary. Assuming that Hope will become a full tribrid within the next couple of episodes, Malivore could no longer be the main antagonist. Instead, he can drift to the background, letting the magic that created the supernatural beings take the spotlight.
A Whole New Malivore
Aria Shahghasemi expertly revives a series-long villain that lost all of its flavor. It begs why Legacies waited this long to give Shahghasemi this meaty of a departure from Landon. Doppelgangers were never a rarity on The Vampire Dairies, and it let actors like Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley shake up our perception of their range.
Body swaps are no different in this Universe. One of the most shocking was when Klaus hopped into Alaric’s body (and later, Tyler’s body). That twist turned everything on its head, just when TVD needed it. The same is true of Shahghasemi’s take on Malivore. Everything from his tone to the way he carries himself adds depth to the character.
That kind of depth didn’t exist previously. The last exciting twist involving Malivore had more to do with Cleo’s role in the story than Malivore. Mali!Landon adds so much dark humor to the season. He pushes buttons with a dry wit that Legacies is skilled at writing for its characters. This version of Malivore could benefit from longevity on the show.
The general uneasiness that comes from the uncanniness of this new Malivore brings too much deliciousness to Legacies for it to end in a few episodes’ time. The show has finally cracked the code in making this age-old villain enjoyable, and we may spend the least time with him in this form. That’s upsetting, but it means that we will need to soak up every bit of amazingness that Shahghasemi gives us.
A Necessary Backstory with an Unfortunate Twist
Legacies promoted Chris Lee to a series regular for Season 2. That’s how long we have been impatiently waiting to learn something, anything about Kaleb’s backstory. Leave it to Mali!Landon to give us what we want (in more ways than one). Kaleb’s backstory is tragic and reveals a personal connection to helping MG with his Ripper compulsions.
The way that Legacies reveals the truth about the night Kaleb turned is a double-edged sword. We get to learn more about a character who is a core member of the Super Squad. There are no negatives there. The highlights reel means there are still so many gaps to fill in between then and now, creating great potential for a Kaleb-centric story this season.
The downsides, though, are frustrating because that means this vampire origin story falls short of what Kaleb deserves, still. The acknowledgment of Kaleb’s strong will to avoid temptation for nearly twenty minutes is a testament to the character’s resilience. Unfortunately, that is where it stops for Kaleb because this story becomes more about Ric in the end.
As the guardian of the Salvatore School students, Ric is responsible for telling white lies to protect them. The downside of how this story plays out is that Ric welcomes Kaleb into a club that makes excuses for much grander lies than the one about the night Kaleb turned. This newfound bond is concerning because it could make Kaleb complicit in Ric’s burdens.
The whole point of the Salvatore School is to let supernatural children feel safe in a community that fosters their development. Having Kaleb shoulder Ric’s reckless decisions isn’t the right way to go about that. This is reason enough for why Ric needs to employ more adults with experience in the supernatural world.
A United Super Squad
“You Have to Pick One This Time” gives us one of the most underappreciated dynamics Legacies has to offer: Hope and MG. There is no better person to challenge Hope as she grapples with her history of rash decisions to save Landon. Hope and MG’s instincts could not be more different, making them an excellent pair.
Sincerely, Danielle Rose Russell and Quincy Fouse are superb in every scene they share. Nevertheless, the final scene between the duo is a standout of the episode. These quiet moments are so few and far between on Legacies recently. This scene lets Hope breathe after winning a battle in an excruciating war. The sincerity between the two characters is palpable.
She finds comfort in MG’s words that lead her to help Lizzie through a tough time. It’s a domino effect that shows how intrinsically connected the Super Squad is and will be moving forward. Not to mention, Cleo’s inspiration going to Hope instead of Malivore is such a fun twist that offers hope their friendship can find solid ground once again.
All of this happens because the Super Squad refuses to work as anything other than a united front. There is no way this group of friends will let anyone isolate themselves and not because it would let Malivore win. It’s always been about more than Malivore. It’s about showing up and protecting your family.
Considering there are three episodes left to wrap up Season 3’s storyline, Hope is going to need the Super Squad more than ever. There are familiar touchstones throughout this episode for avid TVD Universe fans. None are more noticeable and influential than what these final three episodes are building to — Tribrid Hope.
Other Spelltacular Moments:
- For anyone who needs a refresher: Elena Gilbert became a vampire in the Season 3 finale of TVD.
- Cleo was so at peace in Malivore’s darkness that it felt like Legacies would take a page out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s book.
- Lizzie casually siphoning magic from the gym floor will never not be funny.
- The way Josie looks at Finch makes my heart melt.
- “Well, at least if this is a trap, it smells good.” — Hope Mikaelson
- “I keep saying, that bitch is everywhere.” — Kaleb about Malivore
- Josie bringing Finch soup is such a pure, kind gesture.
- Hope staying with Lizzie until she falls asleep will sustain me until next week’s episode. Hizzie is in their best friends era!
- The reminder that Ric is a vampire hunter and can make a weapon out of anything is a nice touch.
What did you think of “You Have to Pick One This Time?” Let us know in the comments below!
Legacies airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.