We've known something hinky was going on with Professor Vardemus (Alexis Denisof) since Legacies first introduced him earlier this season, but we never considered he was as duplicitous as he turned out to be! The final moments of Thursday's episode revealed that without his special little ring on, we can see Vardemus for who he really is: Ryan Clarke (Nick Fink)!
As usual, getting one answer to a Legacies mystery has left us with about a thousand more questions. Is this act all an elaborate plan to kill Hope (Danielle Rose Russell)? Does his loyalty truly lie with his father? Why is he so adamant about pushing Josie to use dark magic? And for the love of God, was chowing down on that Shunka really necessary?
TV Guide spoke to Legacies' executive producer Brett Matthews to get answers to some of those questions as well as some insight into Josie's discovery of Landon's song for Hope.
How excited were you to do a Legacies decade dance, since it was such a staple of The Vampire Diaries?
Brett Matthews: Very excited obviously. Having written on The Vampire Diaries for so many years, that was very well-trod ground, but I always wanted to do the '80s. We tried. The only time we did the '80s on The Vampire Dairies we never saw the party, we saw the aftermath, so it was really fun to revisit it and do it right. Any time we bring in things from the old show, as someone who's worked on both, it really tickles me. It just makes me nostalgic in the same way that I'm nostalgic for the '80s having grown up in them... It's the songs, it's the movies. As [executive producer] Julie [Plec] may have rightfully pointed out, we may have leaned too heavily into the movie costumes in the episode, but for Thomas Brandon, who is my brilliant co-writer on this episode, that's just where we're from. And those movies meant so much to what we do for a living, so that's why the episode skews that way. It's also the video games, it's the music... It's a little bit of it all.
To be clear, has Professor Vardemus been Clarke this whole time?
Matthews: He has. You have never met the actual Vardemus.
What can you say about his motives for taking on this identity and especially for pushing Josie (Kaylee Bryant) toward dark magic?
Matthews: God, he probably has a plan! I think he has a plan he's working on. When last we saw Clarke, at the end of the season premiere, he was in the Void and he was angry and he was reaching out to kind of make a deal with his dad to destroy Hope Mikaelson. So he has found a very inventive way to get close to her, and we will learn a lot more about Clarke and his motivations and exactly what his powers [are] and his deal is in the coming episodes for sure. We really liked that move for him. You will definitely get more of Vardemus, who's become this very favorite character because we love the way Alexis portrays him and we love the way Nick Fink plays Clarke. So it was really fun. It was a fun way to hide somebody in plain sight.
We did get to see some humanity in Clarke in the premiere, so will we continue to toe that line of whether he's good or bad or somewhere in the middle?
Matthews: I think so. Clarke, on some level, is a pretty murderous villain obviously, but I think the difference in Season 1 and Season 2 — and I think Julie and I had to figure this out about him along with Nick and the team — is he's harder to understand in Season 1. He services a lot of plot in Season 1 and he's got some great reveals, but I think the minute we latch onto the fact that he's not just some guy who works at Triad ... the minute he's a kid who has a bad relationship with his dad, everything about the character clicks. It's a kid who doesn't feel like his dad loves him, and that's who that character is. The minute we figure that out, I think we are very excited about who Clarke is. Never good enough for his dad, I think what that does to a person, that's why you're feeling more humanity in him this year. That will remain a part of his character, as will his treachery, and the question will be what wins out in the end?
Was Josie finding that song Landon (Aria Shahghasemi) wrote about Hope in Penelope's journal the first clue that Hope was someone they've all forgotten?
Matthews: She can't remember Hope, so she cannot intellectually access those memories, but it does leave her with massive suspicions and a big question to solve. Obviously as we head into Episode 6 the following week she will be on that trail. Excitingly enough, that trail may even take her to New Orleans.
How do those doubts about her relationship with Landon and Landon's with Hope affect her emotionally moving forward?
Matthews: She's just got to figure out what it all means. I think on some deep, emotional level she feels it's obviously not good. I think her relationship with Landon this season has been real, and she needs to and will do everything she can to get to the bottom of it, starting at the top of next episode, and we'll see how that plays out for her.
Is Sebastian (Thomas Doherty) really as awful as he came off in this episode, or is there more to that story?
Matthews: Oh, there's something more to his story. He's just a vampire from a different time. Julie and I always say he's a vampire from the other show, and that's the reality. Sebastian and Damon Salvatore probably would have had a beer and a good time together, but the world has changed so much in the small space of time between the two shows. A Gothic Romance vampire is not such a happy fit into the current landscape and the current show. Our kids are so different, so he is an outlier for that reason. But to him, he is just a vampire who is doing his job and being true to his nature. But he's going to go on quite a journey, and you'll certainly learn a lot more about Sebastian, where he comes from, and why he feels the way he does in the coming episodes.
Thomas Doherty told us Sebastian's attachment to Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) has something to do with a woman in his past, so what details can you share about that?
Matthews: It's true. The name of the following episode is ["That's Nothing I Had to Remember"] and so you will learn more about Sebastian... and you will learn more about the person Lizzie so specifically reminds him of.
Given that the dark magic blast let Lizzie remember Hope, how feasible is that option when it comes to helping others remember her?
Matthews: I think that's a good question. Obviously, if it happens to Lizzie, it can happen to other people because that's just how magic works on our show. The question is will they put those pieces together? How will it play out? I think the question also is, should they? Is the world better, is it not? The awful situation you're in as a viewer is Hope coming back will make some people's lives instantly better and it will make some people's lives instantly worse. So even if such a thing was an option, what do you do? That's definitely a question I hope we explore in the coming episodes.
We haven't forgotten about these cloaked figures lurking around Mystic Falls, so what, if anything, can you say about them and their agenda?
Matthews: They're pretty mysterious, right? They're obviously working on something and that something is obviously not good. We will certainly know more. The question we hope the audience is asking is who is under that robe, and why are they under that robe? ... The answer tickles Julie and I and all of the other writers. We hope when we get to that point the audience will feel the same. Certainly much more to come on that front.
Legacies airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.
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