It's a big night for Legacies.
Twins Josie (Kaylee Bryant) and Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) are turning 16 and throwing a giant party in their own honor (though let's be honest, it's mostly for Lizzie), which means everybody's all dressed up and on the hunt for the perfect date. For Hope, that perfect date just left on a bus to New Orleans in search of his mother, and she's losing it in a way we have never seen Hope lose it (seriously, watch the exclusive clip above). For Lizzie, that means going after Rafael (Peyton Alex Smith), and for Josie, that means trying not to step on her sister's toes while she also wants to date Rafael (who is, admittedly, extremely cute).
That slight rift between the sisters is made all the more complicated when they find out their mother, Caroline, isn't coming back to visit for their birthday, and then when they discover that their biological mother, Jo (Jodi Lynn O'Keefe), has returned from the dead. The hard life of a supernatural teen, man!
In case you somehow forgot that very simple and straightforward plot from season six of The Vampire Diaries, retired witch Jo was pregnant with Josie and Lizzie when she and Alaric (Matthew Davis) were getting married, but then she was murdered (stabbed in the stomach, even) by her evil twin brother Kai (Christopher Wood) during the wedding. Thanks to some help from Jo's Gemini coven family members, Josie and Lizzie were magically transferred to the vampire womb of Caroline Forbes (Candice King), who then gave birth to the girls and raised them with Alaric. Just typical family stuff, really.
"You just have to grin and bear it and have fun with it," creator Julie Plec said when we asked what it was like to revisit some of those insane TVD moments for storylines like these. "You just have to have fun with how outrageous the backstory is, but we are having fun revealing the existence of secrets that if you watched The Vampire Diaries you might know about, but if you didn't, you wouldn't know about."
Jo's return goes right along with the arrival of a new monster each week, all somehow connected to that knife Landon (Aria Shahghasemi) inexplicably stole.
"Every week we've been introducing a new monster into the world of our characters, and so when a beloved person from Alaric's past walks in the door as though she hasn't been gone for the last 16 years, obviously his first instinct is going to be, what is this monster? Why is it messing with me?" Plec says. "The more real she seems to be, the harder it's gonna be for him to separate his feelings for the love of his life from this knowledge that she certainly must be connected to these Malivore creatures, and so the episode really unfolds from that question."
Last week's episode revealed that these creatures all are possessed by this idea that they have to get the knife and take it to a place called Malivore, and while much of the episode is about figuring out who or what Jo actually is and what she has to do with the knife, a good amount of time is spent giving the girls a chance to get to know more about their biological family.
"I felt like it felt like with the twins turning 16, it was a really good opportunity to get to know more about their past at the start to unveil a few of the cards that had been built in whether through Vampire Diaries mythology or through their individual personalities and how they developed over the years," Plec explained. "We thought a glimpse into where they came from and what their history was would be nice. And we liked the idea of an emotional monster coming in to wreak havoc as opposed to a, you know, a winged creature."
And wreak havoc she does. Jo (if it even is Jo) shows up at a pretty emotional time for both girls, especially as they're missing Caroline, the only other woman they know as Mom, and continuing to deal with their own complicated relationship.
"Up to now, we've seen that the twins are set in a very clear dynamic which is that Lizzie steals the spotlight and Josie sits in her shadow, and the return of their biological mother gives them both a lot to think about in terms of the role that they're playing in each other's lives and who they are as individual people," Plec tells us. And as for Alaric, who has been missing the love of his life for 16 years, the return is even tougher.
"For Alaric, who's just been putting his head down and try to be the best dad, the best headmaster, having a second chance with the one love of his life knocks him down and gut punches him in ways that he never could have expected."
In fact, prepare yourselves for a lot of metaphorical (and a few physical) gut punches in tonight's episode, especially on the romantic side. 16th birthday parties are serious business, even for vampires, werewolves, and witches.
Legacies airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the CW.