[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the latest episode of Legacies, read at your own risk!]
Legacies has never been afraid to try out off-the-wall concepts for special episodes, which is probably why this week's film noir adventure felt like par for the course. What could have been a cheesy filler episode actually turned into a hilariously wild ride that still managed to deliver a few huge developments in the overarching storyline.
As part of a magical therapy exercise, the kids found themselves in a black-and-white murder mystery simulation that was supposed to help them deal with the trauma they've all been through this season. Unfortunately, Dark Josie (Kaylee Bryant) wasn't in the healing mood, and she decided to slowly but surely kill off everyone else in the game — vven Jade (Giorgia Whigham), who Josie has clearly developed an attraction to (an attraction that's totally reciprocated, by the way.)
They all made it out of the simulation, but not even Alaric's (Matthew Davis) underground cage could hold Josie, and now she's officially on the loose. TV Guide spoke to executive producer Brett Matthews about those vibes between Josie and Jade, Raf's (Peyton Alex Smith) mysterious connection to the Necromancer (Ben Geurens), and how worried we should be about Dark Josie's new supervillain status.
Where did the idea to do a film noir episode come from in the first place?
Brett Matthews: Well, we always start from a place of character, and we have some interesting character journeys going on right now. And it felt like it was a good time. One of the great things Legacies loves is to do these sort of format-break episodes. We knew our characters had sort of a lot of emotional trauma over the course of the season, and specifically coming out of episodes 12 and 13, which were sort of throwback, Vampire Diaries-style, intense episodes, that this notion of, of a group therapy project came about. Of course, it becomes magical therapy, and that sort of got us to the box.
Then it was about what genre sort of felt right, and we pitched on a lot of things. As the calendar to having to make the episode drew closer, film noir is just something that's really important to me and has been since I went to Wesleyan University. There's a an amazing woman there named Jeanine Basinger, who founded that film program, and she teaches classes by genre. That noir class she taught is just something that's going to stay with me forever, so it really is a love letter to that and those times. Noir thematics are so consistent, and it just lended itself to everything we were trying to do. When we break format, like to break format big, and so the opportunity to actually do a black and white episode as a black and white episode to sort of limit ourselves to the production techniques of the time and to really try to shoot it as if it were made during the period was just sort of a cherry on top of everything else and too get an opportunity to pass up.
When you told the cast about it, who was most excited and who took to it most naturally?
Matthews: Julie was like, "This is amazing, none of the cast is going to have any idea what you're talking about." I don't think that's necessarily true of everyone, but, you know, we did pull a couple sort of seminal noir films that we shared with the cast that sort of represented the archetype that they would be portraying. And you know what? They did their homework, and they really did just sort of lock in and understand that we were going for them playing the roles as if it was genuine. It's not characters playing characters, they don't have self-awareness in this moment. So they really are playing the type, and everybody just really, really embraced it and dove in.
It was such a joy to shine a light on our hair and makeup and wardrobe departments to really let them cut loose. So much of what we do is beauty work and they make the kids look amazing week in and week out, but this is one of those rare chances where they really get to be the star of the show along with the stars of our show. And under Mike Karasick's direction, who's our Director of Photography most weeks, but has directed for us going back to The Vampire Diaries — it was just sort of a perfect creative storm to make this happen. He was definitely the right person to direct it, and everybody was totally willing and gave him 110 percent, and I think it shows.
Now that Dark Josie has taken over, is real Josie still in there somewhere?
Matthews: In the same way dark Josie was always with Josie, Josie's probably in there somewhere, but she is not the one at the controls at the end of Episode 14. At the end of this episode, Dark Josie declares herself a supervillain, and that is going to be her path as we head into the next episode. It is going to have a profound impact on our characters and on the school. And we'll learn a lot more about what she wants, and why she wants it, and the lengths she's willing to go to get it.
What can you say about how the Super Squad is going to deal with this, especially given the twins 17th birthday is right around the corner?
Matthews: Yeah, that's going to be a real problem. Their idea of what Josie and Lizzie's (Jenny Boyd) birthday party should be is probably going to differ greatly from Dark Josie's, and it's a really good villainous turn... It's really exciting. Big moves happen in that one, and you will understand better Josie's agenda. Dark Josie really is just this reaction against the Josie we know and love, which is always helping people, often to the detriment of herself. Dark Josie is that side of your personality that says, "this is not right," — that selfish side that she usually represses so deeply because she is so selfless. But when that runs wild, it is going to be all about her and what she wants and how she wants it, and that's obviously a title shift from how she normally operate. That wave is going to be felt.
Speaking of what she wants, I did love to see something sparking between Jade and Josie this episode. What can you say about that pair and where they're headed?
Matthews: We really like that story. Giorgia Whigham is somebody who I worked with on Scream and have always just thought very highly of and thought played really well into those prison world episodes. They're two characters that have history, and so we want to explore that side of Josie in the same way we want to explore romantic opportunities with all of our characters. It just felt right as people who had shared history, who met in really extreme and intense circumstances. It was just something we wanted to look deeper into, and so it is a nice little story that will sort of play out over the coming episodes. We're excited. It's two really good actresses doing really good work and we love that dynamic.
Something is clearly off with Rafael. What can you say anything about what he's going through and how the Necromancer might be involved?
Matthews: We begin this mystery with Rafael in this episode, and it is a mystery that will play out over the course of the next couple episodes and has a real profound effect on the season, on the character, and on his relationships with all the other characters. Raf's obviously been a little in and out this season, and he's been out spending time with his father. Now that he's back, his presence is really going to shift us into the end run of the show. Like I said, it's a mystery so I don't want to give away too much but, generally speaking, if the Necromancer is involved, it's not awesome. So the question is why and what, and how did whatever happened between him and Rafael happen? That's a story that will really play out and and really influence the end run of the season.
How much of a problem is Hope's (Danielle Rose Russell) fear that she's going to have to pick someone or something over Landon (Aria Shahghasemi) going to be for that relationship?
Matthews: I think that's always Hope's existential crisis, right? It's like she wants to love people, but she's afraid to let her self love people. The show goes as Hope goes, and so that dilemma is going to be very front and center. Landon's new powers are sort of putting it to the test, and so it really is Hope's trauma. Having love lost so many times and having felt it so deeply, knowing what it does to her, can she allow herself to love knowing that in the world that these characters inhabit, love very well could become loss again? If she loses what she believes is kind of her soulmate, would she ever be able to recover from that, and does she believe that not loving is a safer solution? I think that's always in the character, and it's certainly something we will see more of, and it is a decision she will have to make by season's end.
Legacies airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.