[GUIDE] ‘Legacies’ Showrunner Brett Matthews Teases Season 3’s Final Episodes – Review

Like most shows on TV, The CW’s Legacies has had to grapple with insane new realities thanks to the initial COVID shutdown back in March of 2020, and then the realities of filming during a pandemic throughout the following year. It’s also led to a season that started with four episodes left over from Season 2, and then was rather abruptly shortened to 16 episodes. The final four are being filmed now, but will air in the Fall when the show returns for Season 4.

“Is it told exactly the way we would choose to tell it?” Legacies EP Brett Matthews told Decider. “It’s frustrating. We share the fans frustration, but it also allows the show to come back in the Fall. It also allows you to get nice, interrupted blocks of Legacies moving forward, god-willing.”

Despite the constantly shifting nature of the episodes, Matthews lauded his cast and crew (“I just am so damn proud of everybody,” he added), and happily, Season 3 will still end in a cliffhanger than he says has some of that “finale juice,” even if it doesn’t end the story as planned.

Before, that, though, Legacies still has two episodes left to air in Season 3, after this week’s episode, “This Feels a Little Cult-y.” In the hour — and spoilers past this point — Hope (Danielle Rose Russell) and Josie (Kaylee Bryant) head off to rescue Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) from a Midsommar-esque cult for witches, only instead they get high, picture themselves as pandas, and accidentally open up a portal that releases some massive, armored being. Meanwhile, back at the Salvatore School, Josie’s girlfriend Finch (Courtney Bandeko) challenges werewolf pack Alpha, Jed (Ben Levin), to a dangerous game of pool, and MG (Quincy Fouse) grapples with the realities of being a vampire superhero.

So what’s next until we reach the — for now — abbreviated endgame of Season 3? We discussed all that with Matthews, what’s next for the otherwise absent team-up of Landon (Aria Shahghasemi) and Cleo (Omono Okojie), and what he and the production have learned from this extraordinary year.

Decider: I don’t need to tell you this, but this season has been completely unprecedented and led to a number of challenges in terms of structuring an overall story. What have you learned while tackling Season 3 from a writing and production perspective, other than “please don’t make me do this ever again?”

Brett Matthews: Yeah, no, that would be great, for the world at large. I mean, in some ways it’s taught me what I already know, which is that we really have the best cast and crew in the business. Some of these people we’ve been working with for ten years, but everybody has really stepped up their game. It would have been impossible without everybody being committed to the cause. And the one beautiful thing about it is just watching people pull together as a unit and really work hard to protect each other. But I don’t think you can overstate how difficult it has been just, you try wearing the mask for 14 hours a day. This is what people are doing, day after day, and it is exhausting and draining and they have just done a heroic job for themselves and for each other.

And yes, it has been very hard, but from a production angle, we’ve just thrown every trick at the book at it. It’s not been a fun challenge, because nothing about making television in a pandemic is fun, per se. But if you’re a showrunner, you genuinely enjoy challenges and how to solve these problems. So it’s been a super unique year in that way that really has asked a lot of weird questions of us all. Things like storylines in terms of, well, the school has funding problems and is at reduced capacity because we just can’t have a functional high school. We can’t keep 150 extras sequestered. Things like that arose. I don’t think it’s super perceptible in the way the show presents, but there’s a lot more two-handers this year, because it’s a lot easier to keep two people safe in the scene.

There are little shifts like that. And then for us, it was also, when we first started, we were hit with COVID a time or two and we just didn’t know how many of these we could make. So every fourth episode has a cliffhanger element to it because in the beginning we were just like, “All right. If we’re making 20 and we’re making 16 new ones, it’s every fourth episode has to have a cliffhanger.” It’s just, please end the show on a multiple of four, always hoping we would get to a multiple of four… But as I sit out here producing what was meant to be our finale, which is episode 3×20, in that sense, it means we made it.

I just am so damn proud of everybody. Some of my writers, I have not seen in person in over a year. Just a very strange way to do work, but everybody said, “How do we get this done?” And so [I’m] very proud as we finished up, and I’m sure one day I will be able to look back on it all, but [we’re] still pushing hard to get to the finish line. It probably won’t hit us all until we’ve gotten to the other side.

Legacies -- “This Feels a Little Cult-y” -- Image Number: LGC314fg_0011r -- Pictured: Jenny Boyd as Lizzie Saltzman -- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: THE CW

On the note, there were potentially supposed to be 20 episodes in the season and it got cut down to 16, right?

That’s a recent development. We are going to successfully complete what we set out to do, which is to get through 3×20, though even that’s weird because the ending of Season 2 was where the pandemic hit and truncated that season. And so [after] the very recent word, we find ourselves in that same situation, which is creatively frustrating in the sense of, well, we’ve really built this season to be 20. At the same time, the greatest joy [is] that it will air, and ultimately that story will be told.

Is it told exactly the way we would choose to tell it? It’s frustrating. We share the fans frustration, but it also allows the show to come back in the Fall. It also allows you to get nice, interrupted blocks of Legacies moving forward, god-willing.

And so in that sense, the studio and the network have been such great partners in getting us through this season. Ultimately, I find peace in that, in the sense of, ultimately they allow us to make this show. And so it’s ultimately their right to air it as they choose. What really matters to us is that the story continues, and that we are successfully making the show.

Well, that all said, since you are heading into the final two here, out of four, if we’re talking about that block, what was important to accomplish, leaving off on this cliffhanger that we’re heading up to?

I mean all the things, again, the true end of what should have been the season is episode 20, make no mistake, much like last season. The season was built to be that. But in COVID times, we really built to every four episodes. If we had to end the season here, could we? And so if the season weren’t going to end at episode 20, I am very happy it ends at 16 because it’s a real good one in that sense. And it will have some finale juice.

But yeah, it’s tough because you plan out these stories… Best laid plans of mice and men. I plan out this whole thing, and you got this great plan, and then last two years, something has thrown a curve ball into it. So, frustrating, and yet ultimately the show exists and people will consume it as uninterrupted. So what really matters to me is just making the show and making it in a safe way. We don’t have any control or say over how that ultimately works out. And at the end of the day, the studio network do, and they are our partners, and that they guarantee that they have a reason for what they’re doing, they really want the show to return in the Fall. So that is their right, and we support that.

Legacies -- “This Feels a Little Cult-y” -- Image Number: LGC314fg_0047r -- Pictured: Danielle Rose Russell as Hope Mikaelson -- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: THE CW

Jumping into this week’s episode, though, it really re-centers the show on the core trio of Hope, Lizzie, and Josie. Why was that important? And why have they been so relatively separate until now? I mean the answer might be “COVID protocols,” but I’m curious to hear from you.

Yeah. I mean, it’s part of it for sure. But at the end of the day, they’re also characters who are having their own stories. Josie, Lizzie, and Hope, they will always, to grow as characters, they will occasionally grow away from one another and hopefully they always find their way back to each other, and grow together. No question, that trio is at the very heart of the show, and they’re the literal legacies of the show. It’s something we really wanted to get back to. Even though they’d been having their own storylines this year in some episodes, to really bring those stories together and see what they all think about each other, and move the show forward, it’s just essential because they’re so rooted. They are the show, in many senses. That is just a very important thing for us to do. You’ll see that continue next week as well, and it’s a beautiful thing.

It’s always a balance with things. You want characters to grow independently, you want them to grow together. So it all takes different shapes.

On the other hand, we don’t get the post-prison world, jacked up and traumatized Landon this week. What, if anything, can we expect going down the road with this Landon/Cleo pairing that we were left off on?

Landon and Cleo [have] very similar stories in a weird way this year, in that [they’re] not exactly who they were presenting to be. That’s what’s been interesting about this story. So they’re characters who haven’t really directly interacted, [except] for a scene at the end of the episode, and yet they have knowledge and kind of know one another. And obviously Cleo, from what she did to deceive Hope, knows a lot about Landon… But she’s never actually met this version of Landon.

So that’s where we really saw synchronicity… She was obviously trying to murder the lead of a show. When Cleo tried to murder Hope, that is a typically villainous move, and yet we’ve never thought of Cleo as a villain. We actually think what’s interesting about it is, this is a character who is coming to the school that’s all super-intertwined and interconnected [with] complicated relationships, and viewing situations with a more objective eye. She is an interesting, outside presence.

But the thing they share in common, and specifically she and Landon share in common, is this mission and this drive to destroy Malivore, this hatred for Malivore. On some level, they know nothing, their lives will never be what they want them to be as long as Malivore exists. So they are very united in this common goal. To see them explore that together will certainly be fun. And to see what skill sets they bring — and how those two get together. It’s one of the fun things as a writer is to put two characters who don’t spend a lot of time together, together on a scene. And to just sees how it works. They’re wonderful actors and we hope people enjoy the story.

Legacies -- “One Day You Will Understand” -- Image Number: LGC313fg_0002r -- Pictured: Omono Okojie as Cleo -- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: THE CW

I mean on the Malivore killing thing, and I say this is as a fan of the monster of the week format… Do you see a time where the show would move post-Malivore? That you’d figure out a new Big Bad, or come out with a new twist so it’s not quite that monster of the week? Or is that not in the cards?

Legacies was built to be a monster of the week show. At its core, that’s what it is. There’s definitely people who don’t enjoy that about the show and want it to be exactly like The Vampire Diaries or The Originals, which I would argue are pretty distinct from each other in a certain way, but they share a certain tonality.

We made those shows for 15 years. That was not what the goal of making Legacies was. Legacies was meant to be something different. And so that heartbeat is different and that element is different and the thematic monster is a big part of what we do here. People can love them or hate them, but that was always in the show’s DNA. But at the same time, the show will grow up and evolve as our actors grow up and evolve.

And I certainly [could] see a time where we will move past that storyline. I don’t think that’s impossible, and we certainly have ideas of what those things might look like. Which is to say, we love the show as we make it. And some people love the show as we make it. I’m sure some people hate the show as we make it. That’s just the reality of making television in the modern era. But the heartbeat of the show is the heartbeat of the show, and it is the characters, and it is that there is a relentless optimism to what we do on Legacies. And that is if people criticize as much as they want, that is very much by design.

The world is a very dark place around us at times. Certainly during the genesis of this show, it felt very irresponsible to us to introduce something that was just relentlessly dark on top of that. Legacies has always attempted to be the antidote to that, and to bring to people a little bit of happiness, a little bit of joy, a little bit of comfort, a little bit of a warmth. It does have this very big, bleeding heart, and that’s just what this show is. But will it grow up, will it evolve? Absolutely, like all shows do. And I’m excited for that chapter, too.

That’s probably a good segue to talk about MG, because he has been taken to a very dark place. You’ve taken this sweet, funny nerd and really broken him down to his elements here. He seems to be turning around the corner at the end of this week’s episode, but why was this arc important for him over the course of the season? And what can we expect as we head into these final episodes?

I’ve really loved MG’s story this year. Quincy [Fouse] brings that character to life in such an earnest way. MG, to me, is a character that looked at comic books and saw himself. And I love that. And he started doing the math and gradually realizing that he has a skill set. You and I can read comic books, but we don’t have powers. And that’s generally a non-starter unless you’re Batman. Batman, by himself, is the world’s greatest gymnast and the world’s greatest detective and a billionaire, all these things that make this possible. But vampirism in these shows is often looked at as such a weakness, and yet it gives [MG] a very unique skill set. So when he looks at that comic book and he sees heroism, he is uniquely suited to do that.

And yet the message of the Salvatore School is largely one of protection for the supernatural beings that inhabit it. That’s been the journey of this, that’s been the school’s story over the three years of the show, which is: how do you go from a place that is seeking to protect these kids, and what happens when these kids need to protect the world? Which is something that is in the ether in America and other countries right now. You used to look to the older generation for hope and for how the world is going to figure its shit out. And now, ironically, you look to the younger generation, if you’ve got a brain and you say, “These are the kids who are going to save the world because it’s not going to be us.”

That’s at the core. It’s just fun to explore, but like you said, it’s been a little bit more of a somber chapter for MG. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He’s a character who wants to return home because he misses his friends. But then, because I return home does not mean I do not need to answer this calling that I have. How can I do more? How can I use these powers beyond the walls of the school? I think that will be something that remains on his mind.

Legacies -- “This Feels a Little Cult-y” -- Image Number: LGC314fg_0049r -- Pictured (L-R): Ben Levin as Jed and Courtney Bandeko as Finch-- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: THE CW

I did want to ask you about Finch because a lot of time is spent on her in this episode and her relationship to the wolf pack. Fans have been a little hesitant to get into her, I’d venture at least in part because Josie’s romantic interests have a habit of dating her and then leaving town forever. Is this wolf pack plot line a way of giving Finch a backup there, beyond just being Josie’s love interest?

Finch, as her own character, is somebody who is introduced to this school, and the product of a broken home, and the product of being a wolf with this nasty secret, something nobody really shared with her. And what we like about Finch’s story very much is it’s a character who goes and experiences something that they’ve never had before, and rather than reject it, she’s actually embracing it. There’s a certain beauty to that rather than being, oh, all my problems, and I can’t. She is a character who says, “I can. And I enjoy this.” That’s what’s fun about that.

Obviously, werewolf pack structure is very old and hierarchical and a little bit outdated. So it’s nice to see a character come in and shake things up a little bit. But also, she’s not challenging Jed because she wants to be the Alpha. That is genuinely not what this character wants to be. And Jed, to his credit, is open-minded enough to take that question to heart. Hopefully they give us a lot of good story, both for Finch and for Jed moving forward.

Anything that you can tease as we head into these final episodes? We have that demon dude who pops out of the pit at the end of this week’s episode, and he seems like bad news. Is he our final uber-bad for the season? Or is there more to come?

I mean, it all ties together for sure, but is that an uber-villain? It’s a character who, after next week’s episode, you will know exactly who is in that suit of armor and where we stand on it. Next week’s episode is super zany. We’ve always wanted to do a sci-fi episode. And so we’re finally taking that on. We’re weirdly heading off to space, and you will find out who is in that suit of armor and what it means.

The next episode is a really big one again for Hope, Lizzie, and Josie and their friendship and what that means. It’s really an episode that explores Hope as we knew her before in The Originals. And how far she’s come, and where she is going in the series proper. It’s a really deep exploration of Hope, and how long her relationship with the twins has been, and what has been in the past, and what has been now, and where it might go moving forward. It’s really about that trio at the heart of the show. That’s what next week will bring. But yes, next week you will certainly know who is inside the suit of armor, I guess is the easy answer.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Legacies airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.

This article has been updated to reflect that there are two episodes left after this week’s episode, not three.

Where to watch Legacies

[GUIDE] ‘Legacies’ Showrunner Brett Matthews Teases Season 3’s Final Episodes – Review
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