Legacies Writers Talk 'Screw Endgame' & Interrogating The Vampire Diaries

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for "Screw Endgame," the latest episode of Legacies.

The most recent episode of Legacies, provocatively titled "Screw Endgame," went totally '80s when the Salvatore School prepared for a 1980s-inspired decade dance and Hope and Lizzie got trapped in a real=life video game straight out of the decade in question -- crimped hair all. The stuffed-to-bursting episode led to fascinating revelations and surprising twists that will reverberate for the characters going forward.

CBR spoke with the writers of the the episode, executive producer Brett Matthews and Thomas Brandon (who joined the conversation a couple minutes in), about their 1980s inspiration, throwback-vampire Sebastian, and upcoming guest stars.

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CBR: There's a lot going on in this episode!

Brett Matthews: Yeah, it’s a thrill-packed 42 minutes.

CBR: Where did the idea to turn the Minotaur’s labyrinth into an ‘80s video game come from?

Matthews: Thomas Brandon, my brilliant co-writer, [and I are] products of the ‘80s, and so the minute we were gonna do a decade dance, of course, it became the '80s. And so what it meant to us was very specific things, which include the movies we saw, which informs why we do what we do for a living. So that's why there’re so many movie references. That's why there are so many songs from an era. And video games went hand in hand. So you're watching a story, Thomas and I lived that life. And he actually just joined us... so he can answer as well.

…We saw Star Wars at a certain age and wanted to do that. We grew up in an era where... every movie we saw every weekend of every summer were some of the fundamental movies of Hollywood cinema… but that was also the video games…

And also I would say our brilliant director Barbara Brown, who directed the musical episode for us last year and always does an amazing job for us, and Evan Warner, our brilliant editor, also really found a lot of those video game elements to push it further. So I think for Thomas and I it was the thematic that the director and the editor really latched on to, and it became more of just the text of the episode probably than we even thought it [would]…

Thomas Brandon: Yeah, it’s the best possible scenario, which is you have an idea and all your collaborators make it better. But it was kind of a fun chocolate-peanut butter situation, which is starting with the classic Greek myth of the Minotaur in a labyrinth and then thinking about the modern telling of it, which is: oh, we go through a labyrinth all the time, we just call it video games, and the idea of you have to find your one path through all these things that could possibly kill you, and once those ideas coalesced, the episode jumped to life in a really surprising way.

CBR: So now that Lizzie knows that Hope is back will more people learn about who she is?

Brandon: That’s the plan. You would think if they’ve been able to fix Lizzie’s brain, why can’t we try it for other people. But the question becomes should we.... That’s what Lizzie and Hope are dealing with at the end, which is if people seem to be happy and they don’t seem to miss Hope, is it intruding upon someone to return yourself to their memories. So there’s almost an ethical dilemma to it, not just a "can we" but "should we."

Matthews: Yeah, that's the dilemma and it’s definitely the central dilemma that will play out over the course of the next couple episodes. Hope made the choice she did because she thought everybody was in a better place. And the reality is, if she comes back and everybody remembers her, it will be very good for some people and it will be very bad for others, and so that's sort of the Sophie's Choice of it.

Brandon: It’s very much, you know you’re in a [show creator] Julie Plec universe when one person becomes happy and it becomes another person’s tragedy.

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CBR: On the other hand, now that Lizzie and Hope have had the realization that there’s no one path for anyone, that life's not like the Minotaur’s labyrinth, will they have an easier time letting go of Sebastian and Landon and other things that they were viewing as anchors?

Matthews: Well it’s a Julie Plec show, so no one is ever going to have an easy time of letting anyone go. That’s an easy answer, that’s our brand. Love registers deeply in the Plec-verse and so it’s not going to be as easy as that. But I think we're asking the question of "should you."

Brandon: Yeah, and I think they've learned an interesting lesson, which is the fun of especially a Sophie show – and I use that as a positive – the fun of a Sophie show is you know what you should do but you want to do something else. So they can kind of learn this intellectual lesson, which is maybe it’s better if we don't assume that there's only one way things have to happen and we stay open to whatever comes next. And I think we'll have some fun in the next episode seeing what does that look like. How do they throw themselves into, “okay, what’s here? What are we actually open to.” And the fun of the universe is how being open to things may lead you right back to the people you should have been with all along.

So we really like to play with [the ideas of] free will, destiny, and we’re not going to answer these big questions with an episode of television, but we like posing the questions. And we like the fact that our teenage heroes are also wrestling with big issues so it's not just oh silly boyfriend-girlfriend [stuff]. It’s not the small puppy love, it's like, no, by falling in love and having these gigantic, massive feelings, these teenagers are actually grappling with the biggest questions we all have.

Matthews: Yeah, the episode’s really called “Screw Endgame” for a reason. It's definitely the modern television writer’s dilemma. And it's one of the oldest dilemmas and so it’s our personal musing on the subject.

Brandon: Selfishly, I just wanted to give us Hope saying it so I could respond to anyone on Twitter saying a certain couple is endgame. But it’s also the idea that… if you’re jumping to what the end means, then you’re missing the middle. And I think maybe even for the people who know that Josie and Landon aren’t quote-unquote destined to be together forever, if you jump past that you could miss something really beautiful. And I think the goal was always for Josie and Landon to be able to look at each other and say, “I'm so glad we're dating because we're making each other better people.” So the idea of letting go of endgame, saying be where you are, be present, enjoy the journey and don't worry about the quote-unquote destined ending.

CBR: Why didn’t we learn about Sebastian’s situation until now? He was wooing Lizzie pretty heavily, and then all the sudden, things changed.

Matthews: They did, yeah, it's an interesting scenario.

Brandon: It’s really interesting. I love the scene between he and Kaleb where he’s kind of saying whatever Kaleb wants him to say. Because… this is a guy who’s been trapped for 400 years or so in a box and he just wants to get out. So the question we’ll be going for the audience, which is fun, is have we actually gotten to see the real Sebastian yet or has everything up until now been a shell game. And once he does get out, which is the fun of the episode, the question is are we actually gonna meet the guy for the first time and see, once he’s free, what’s he really interested in.

Matthews: Yeah, like we always say, he’s a character from The Vampire Diaries come to Legacies, and the world has changed so radically in the small span of time between those two shows. Being a vampire has changed. So Sebastian is very frustrated with this modern world and its modern ways. And that is… the sweet spot in which Legacies exists…. We will learn much more about him. We will learn more about where it comes from. We will learn about why he feels the way he does. And, as [with] all Julie Plec shows, we’ll learn about his damage.

CBR: [Sebastian] really seems like a throwback. He's got the romanticism of The Vampire Diaries or even going back to something like the Anne Rice vampires. That was intentional?

Matthews: Oh, 100 percent. And by the way, that stuff isn’t really cool in this day and age. And so taking somebody because you want to be with them and compelling them and drinking their blood against their will, all those things do not fly in the Salvatore School and the world in which Legacies exists. By the way, they totally flew in The Vampire Diaries, but the world changed and Legacies is very much now that that is 100 percent [wrong]. What makes the character interesting to us is that dichotomy and the shifting of the world.

Brandon: It’s honestly inspiring to be in the writers’ room and watch Brett and Julie, who came from Vampire Diaries. It’s almost like they’re interrogating the stories they've been telling, and saying what do we believe and what do we believe about kids in the future as they look back at these stories. What are the valuable things we want to keep and what are the things we would let go. And it’s been really fun to use Sebastian as that kind of character and say, yeah, there's some awful things about vampires…, but isn’t chivalry kind of nice and isn't the fact that he smolders kind of nice. So it’s really interesting to explore the conflict and tension of that.

CBR: Speaking of vampires, will Hope ever trigger her vampire side?

Brandon: Only when we’re out of ideas.

Matthews: Never say never. It depends on how long this show goes, one assumes… That’s obviously the story everybody's waiting for us to tell. And if it ever becomes the right story to tell I’m sure we will tell it. In the immediate future, we have a lot of other stories we're very excited about telling, and so for me there's no rush… The way we run things over here is the best story wins. And so if and when it ever becomes the best story, we’ll go down that road. If it never does, I'm excited to see that show too.

CBR: Hope’s aunt, Freya, and Lizzie and Josie’s uncle, Kai, are going to be making appearances later in the season. Can you tease anything about what leads to their appearances and if we might be seeing any other Vampire Diaries or Originals characters?

Matthews: Well we don’t want to say too much in scenarios like this. Freya will appear in the very immediate future and will be sort of directly tied to the events of this episode. So she will be part of… a bold attempt to find answers to the questions that this episode posed.

Brandon: Our episode leaves one character specifically with some big questions that she might need a magical expert’s help with.

Matthews: And so that'll drive her [to] Freya. And then for Kai…

Brandon: We’ve already seen the things that’s [will] motivate that...

Matthews: Yeah, we’re building to it. It’s a natural extension. We don’t want to give too much away. Other than we think it tracks with everything we've done in The Vampire Diaries previously, so it'll just be a natural extension of that, and we're excited to find him in whatever state we find him in. We're as curious and excited as our audience.

Can’t tell you how much we love that character and [Kai actor] Chris Wood and [Freya actor] Riley [Voelkel] and thank them for coming back. It's an open-door policy here if anybody wants to come play, we will try to find the right story because we miss those people as much as our fans do.

Airing Thursdays at 9 pm ET on The CW, Legacies stars Danielle Rose Russell as Hope Mikaelson, Jenny Boyd as Lizzie Saltzman, Kaylee Bryant as Josie Saltzman, Quincy Fouse as Milton Greasley/MG, Aria Shahghasemi as Landon Kirby, Peyton Alex Smith as Rafael Waithe and Matt Davis as Alaric Saltzman.

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