Monday, October 29, 2018

Legacies: Season 1, Episode 1: This is the Part Where you Run

It is time for Legacies, the third iteration of the Plecverse that started from the Vampire Diaries and just will not end. This zombie horse is being flogged over and over

This first episode is pretty much about vaguely introducing us to the 8 squillion cast members and giving them all some brief drama and trying to establish some kind of theme. This begins with Hope Mikkaelson (ok, tangent - I still want to write Hope Klausdottir since the Mikkaelsons were vampires - but then we had Rebekkah Mikkaelson as well which was just WEIRD and it’s like the writers sort of understood how this naming convention works but not really) have a big voice overs about dichotomies: hero, villain, good and evil, saviour and lost cause (umm.. That last one doesn’t work) and basically introducing shades of grey even though her whole family is The Worst.

So our protagonist is Hope. She is very very isolated and alone, she won’t make any friends because everyone around her dies horribly and she is super sad about this. Alaric, headmaster for the school, spends a lot of time with her trying to draw her out.

We have Alaric’s daughters - Lizzie and Josie. Lizzie is outgoing and popular, not a fan of Hope who she has reached out to repeatedly but Hope keeps rebuffing her and she’s not a fan of how much time Alaric spends with her. Lizzie has issues because she has a habit of losing control and having terrifying magical freak outs destroying many many things. Alaric puts this down to the family legacy of the Gemini coven. Josie is less inclined to freak outs but Alaric describes her as co-dependent and she herself describes herself as repeatedly having her heart broken because she cares too much and too quickly. Josie is also bisexual

Her most recent ex is She Who Will Not be Named, Penelope, a witch, who is widely regarded as evil by just about everyone, is borderline slutshamed and she also brings out a line that someone attracted to one sex is dated - which is homophobic nonsense progressives need to stop already.

We have Milton “MG”, a vampire teacher assistant who does Alaric’s woo-woo mind control issues.

Our plot opens with Rafael and Landon. Landon is the ordinary human Hope befriended in Originals who knows nothing of the supernatural, while Rafael is a newly activated werewolf. They’re both in foster care, very loyal to each other and everything starts going really wrong when their foster parents decide to take Rafael for an exorcism to deal with his werewolfness. This would probably result in a priest who believes in exorcism being eaten, which is not a bad thing, but instead Hope and Alaric intervene and take Rafael and Landon with them back to the school - once he’s turned into full wolf.

They’ve brought Landon with them because they’d really like to know who Rafael killed - because he must have if he’s a werewolf and Alaric would rather not have a murderous werewolf on campus. Landon confirms Landon was driving a car that had an accident and killed his girlfriend and woooooo, the definition of killing someone for the werewolf activation is getting broader. I suppose so we can have multiple werewolf characters without it being the Saltzman School for Serial Killers.

That settled it’s time to glamour Landon and send him on his way - this is MG’s job, youthful looking vampire of ill-defined age - only it doesn’t work. Everyone assumes that Landon has vervain in his system (this would be Matt, yes, that Matt, they dragged him up from somewhere. Oh and Matt both calls in Alaric and co when there’s a random supernatural event but he’s also dosing random passers by with vervain knowing there’s a top secret school whose secrecy he apparently wants to keep? Matt needs to have a word with himself. Also I await the time when he accidentally poisons someone with his randomly dosing stranger’s coffee). So they need to lock Landon in a cage overnight for the vervain to leave his system. They do this while Hope hilariously tells him he’s not a prisoner - just locked in a cage. She tries to provide him some comfort as he explains he suffers from claustrophobia (due to abuse he suffered as a child).

Rafael is welcomed with open arms by his fellow werewolves and fits in extremely well, he’s loving the new school. Lizzie and Josie give him a tour showing off all the magical shininess, including a Quidditch match because this show knows exactly what they’re ripping off and they’re going to lampshade the hell out of it.

And with him being a good looking guy it’s assumed both will make a play but Josie is quick to back down in favour of her more extrovert sister. Though Lizzie rather adorkably puts her foot in it (honestly liking “hot, broken, hurting” guys is only romantic in fanfic. No man likes to think he’s sexily broken when he’s still grieving for his girlfriend who died in a car accident he was to blame for) and he stomps off which sets of Lizzie’s magic tantrum. Josie is more comfortable with him but she encourages him to give Lizzie another chance. Which is nice but I think Rafael is more interested in her

And she’s still not happy with Penny, She Who Will Not Be Named, and sets her on fire after Penny tries to encourage vampire MG to bite her (against the rules it seems. Perhaps putting vampires in a dense population of horny teenagers is a BAD idea). Which is a little excessive one thinks.

Landon manages to escape his cage when Rafael gets a friendly witch to summon him from his cell so he could join the party. He sees Rafael absolutely loves it at the school which has done so much to explain all the weird things he’s been feeling, he has friends who will already look out for him and he’s generally in the best place ever. And he wants to share it with Landon… which is nice but Landon is purely human and knows he doesn’t belong here. He ducks out and tries to run away - heading into the forest where Hope is running off her werewolf-ness. He nearly gets eaten but she turns back and decides to take him on an extended tour of the school, including the Stefan Salvatore Library full of scary magic artefacts one shouldn’t touch

Which is, y’know, a great thing to have accessible to magical teenagers.

They talk about Hope is the super specialist person in the world, descended from the worst of the worst in the world, and how she magically helped in in that episode of The Originals. It’s all about establishing their happy happy relationship and how the friendless Hope has GASP found a friend! She returns her friend to his cage but at least casts a spell to make the ceiling look like the night sky so he feels more confined.

The next day he’s trotted out to be mind-melded and sent on his way home. And when he’s gone everyone is SHOCKED SHOCKED to realise a dark magic knife which was left lying around in the library. Because where else would you leave dangerous magical artefacts? Everyone suspects Landon - and this suspicion grows when they realise he’s not at home. Since he’s just been compelled to go home, the fact he isn’t home shows he’s immune to compulsion. Humans aren’t immune to compulsion, as Alaric points out, so Landon must be something else. He then turns to his student body to find him - which seems… ill advised. I mean you’re going to recruit these kids to hunt down this human like the witch sending out her winged monkeys?

Hope decides to team up with Josie using dark magic to find him - they see him on the bus with the dagger. Which starts glowing

And the next day Sheriff Matt calls in Alaric to a bus that has been blackened and burned full of corpses screaming in agony

Hope declares furious vengeance, though personally I think it looked more like Landon didn’t understand what was happening with the shiny knife.

I do think Alaric does something of a good job of explaining what the purpose of the school is - and it’s brutal and powerful. This school is here to try and change the mind sets of supernatural creatures because they are, basically, monsters. Vampires and werewolves are lethal predators and witches are responsible for some of the greatest atrocities in history. I like this spin - it de-emphasises the whole idea of “educating” the supernatural which works for witches but not really for the other supernatural beings: but needing to try and change supernatural culture to make supernatural beings less dangerous (given how much awfulness the supernatural has done over Originals and The Vampire Diaries, I can see the wish for this).

However it still doesn’t work that well - the idea that vampires need educating kind of misses that vampires aren’t born, they’re made, and new vampires could by physically 40, 50, 60 years old while your convenient teenage vampires could be 300 years or more. The whole foundation of this franchise is that Stefan and Damon Salvatore (despite being played by actors in their 30s) were able to pass as high school students despite being hundreds of years old. And, again, werewolves don’t even know they’re werewolves unless they’ve actually murdered someone - who are all these murderous werewolves? This shows - as Lizzie and Josie are touring the school we see magic and magic and more magic and some magic and a bit more magic. Because a MAGIC SCHOOL can be made to work (ignoring how different witches from different bloodlines have different power) but a supernatural school just… doesn’t.

Also the show giving lots of winks and nods to Harry Potter doesn’t change the fact it’s a rather ill-thought out knock off of Harry Potter. Lampshading does not change what it is

I still think the premise is dubious. And while on the face of it we have diversity but I’m absolutely not commenting on that until a few episodes have gone by because ye gods pilots can be deceptive.

I don’t dislike the characters per se but there’s a lot of angsty drama going on. I think I’m going to be intensely sympathetic for Alaric at this point. And, as can be guessed, I think the concept remains weak which is going to be hard to maintain as the seasons roll on.