Legacies 4×13, “Was This the Monster You Saw,” takes a few characters down the road of self-reflection while advancing the overarching plot.
The show creates space for meaningful character development and essential plot development by striking that balance. All the while, Legacies expands the TVDU and sprinkles in fun callbacks to its past and the larger franchise.
The episode starts with a cold open flashback featuring a witch that ties directly to the monster of the week. That cold open is reminiscent of The Vampire Dairies and some of its great flashbacks that framed some of the series’ most significant narratives.
But that’s not all this knock-off Pennywise could be connected to in the end. It appears as though Legacies wants to tell the origins of witches because their history keeps popping up in backstories. We know their existence has ties to Ben’s relationship with magic.
These witches’ repetitive appearances may be a coincidence considering the vast overlap of supernatural beings over the years. Or, maybe Legacies will lead up to something as big for witches as it’s planning gods.
First and foremost, “Was This the Monster You Saw” is a massive episode for Jed (and Ben).
After four seasons, Jed finally gets a backstory, and Ben Levin knocks it out of the park. His performance is so emotionally revelatory and often tender. It feels like this slow burn of a character finally gets to step into his own alongside a guy he cares about, and it’s rewarding to watch. The future is bright for Jed.
Jed’s past, however, is not the happiest place on earth. Legacies digs into werewolf lore via Jed’s backstory, and it makes me yearn for more of that on the show. Werewolf mythology never gets enough credit for how fascinating it can be when delivered in a captivating way through dynamic characters.
It’s a bummer that it’s been a while since Legacies leaned into this side of its supernatural world because it is so rich. The last time it’s done so (after Rafael) is with Finch on Legacies 3×11, “You Can’t Run From Who You Are.”
It’s an unfortunate truth that in the TVDU canon one has to kill a person to trigger their werewolf gene. So, no matter how Jed’s backstory came together, it would include a traumatic event when he killed someone — even if by accident, like with Tyler Lockwood on The Vampire Diaries.
Jed’s story unravels with the help of the killer clown’s unique ability to take a person back to their biggest regret. In some devastating flashbacks, Jed remembers when he triggered his curse by killing his abusive father — not his best friend, Trey.
This storyline explains Jed’s relationship with his transition, and it answers questions regarding his sexuality and how his trauma caused him to repress his sexuality.
Levin and Zane Phillips are utter perfection in the scene where Jed relays this information to Ben. Their chemistry is off the charts!
Jed’s accidental run-in with his past seems to be a healing venture that lets him realize more about himself. He remembers the Jed that started his journey on Legacies as a bully and an Alpha male — pun intended. He became a bully because that’s who he was raised to be. It’s powerful for Jed to acknowledge that and know it’s not who he is. Then, he steps into himself even more by telling Ben how he feels about him.
JedBen’s (Is that their ship name. Have we decided yet, Stallions?) first kiss is something special. The moment feels earned despite Ben’s recent arrival. It’s also celebratory since their relationship (and existence as individuals) means there will be more LGBTQIA+ representation on screen.
It’s even sweeter that Ben is ready to wait if Jed wants to wait. There’s a lot of tenderness in this scene that makes it one of Legacies‘ most memorable ones in the series. It’s great!
Lizzie and Aurora’s dynamic remains great, too. Jenny Boyd and Rebecca Breeds bounce off of each other really well. Their road trip gives off the same vibes as Rebekah and Elena’s road trip on The Vampire Diaries 4×18, “American Gothic.” It’s a little eerie that the season and episode numbers nearly match up.
They’re fun together, and they can learn something from each other. Plus, Aurora and Lizzie’s quest to find and use objects welded by gods pulls the needle through the gods’ overarching narrative and leads it right back to the Salvatore School.
That tactic works better than MG rattling off some exposition that catches everyone up on where the limbo storyline stands since Ric left. I’m still holding out for some resolution there.
Alternatively, “Was This The Monster You Saw” provides in-character (and almost meta) resolution for Cleo’s relationship with her powers. It’s logical for them to be different after Aurora stole her inspiration. Plus, it’s reasonable for Cleo to grapple with that loss.
Since her arrival on Legacies, the show usually looks to Cleo for inspiration. It hasn’t explored her character all that much outside of her powers. It’s started to delve deeper into her character recently, and now it has no choice but to do so.
Thankfully, Legacies doesn’t harp on Kaleb’s feelings about Cleo’s capabilities more than her perception of herself. “Was This the Monster You Saw” reframes Kaleb’s concerns through Cleo’s worries and eventual acceptance of her strength — with or without her powers. After all, Cleo wields a frozen blade to save the day, and that’s no small feat.
Juxtaposed with Jed’s father (and Jed’s revelations about his past as a bully), it’s important to see Kaleb acknowledge his poor choices made with good intentions and reject toxic masculinity by agreeing to fight beside Cleo — rather than standing in front of her.
This episode also brings Hope back to the Salvatore School in the most ceremoniously No Humanity Hope way — she crashes Ric’s party.
Danielle Rose Russell‘s performance has been on another level this season, but she truly shines in “Was This the Monster You Saw” when she acts opposite herself. Legacies uses a stand-in for those scenes, but that doesn’t mean we should overlook the nuances in Russell’s performance.
The subtle choices Russell makes to distinguish both halves of Hope are spectacular!
Some of the nuances are more subtle than others. But, one unmistakable one is that Hope (with her humanity) has a twinkle in her eyes that Hope (without her humanity) is missing. But it seems like she will get it back as she learns to accept both parts of herself.
The cliffhanger from “Was This The Monster You Saw” basically all but writes in the stars that Russell will continue to blow us away with her dual performances next week.
Other Spelltacular Moments:
- Is MG being Ric’s accountability buddy the beginning of another redemption arc for Ric?
- Did Ethan and Finch ever come back with that cake?
- I cackled when Hope hit Ric with the door without a second thought.
- In fact, it’s more likely Hope hit Ric with the door on purpose.
- Wade said the title!
- Hope making a weapon out of the clown’s venom (?) to take the Super Squad down with her is such a Mikaelson move.
- It was nice to see Landon outside of limbo — even if for only a few seconds.
What did you think of Legacies 4×13, Was This the Monster You Saw?” Let us know in the comments below!
Legacies airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.