Kai Parker is back, and he hasn't changed a bit.
Tonight's episode of Legacies welcomes back Chris Wood as The Vampire Diaries' most infamous, most evil bad guy. He's been trapped in a prison world created by his witch nieces for the past decade, but in "Kai Parker Screwed Us," he's ready to party once again.
A couple of episodes ago, Alaric (Matthew Davis), Josie (Kaylee Bryant), and Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) found themselves trapped in the prison world, all because of the very annoying Alyssa Chang (Olivia Liang), which means they have to contend with whatever else is down there, including their worst nightmare Kai Parker.
Even if you haven't seen The Vampire Diaries in a while, it's hard to forget that wedding scene, where Alaric's pregnant wife Jo was murdered by her twin brother Kai. Kai then later tried to kill Alaric's daughters (who had been magically transported as fetuses into Caroline Forbes, very normal), so you can understand why this family hates him with everything they've got.
Chris Wood says that wedding murder is his favorite evil thing Kai did.
"I mean, it's really, really evil, but that whole wedding thing was pretty dreadful, where he killed his entire family," he told us over the phone. "And I think the reason i would cite that is because it may be the biggest smile we've ever seen on his face in the moment when he's doing it, and that was very fun to play. That's really dark and awful, but it was a great episode."
Wood said he didn't have much trouble getting back into character for Kai, mostly thanks to the writing and the fact that Kai is the kind of completely deranged person who would be thrilled to murder his entire family at a wedding.
"He has kind of no boundaries in terms of what is OK, and what is normal behavior, and he's such an eccentric that he's very freeing as an actor to play him," he says. "No choice is really wrong with him, and the wrong choice would be not making a big one, so that part was easy to rediscover because it's like, oh yeah, I can do whatever I want."
Kai has truly done some of the worst things that anyone ever did on The Vampire Diaries, but we all love him anyway for some reason. Wood can only guess why.
"I honestly don't know. I don't know if I should be concerned," he said, laughing. "I think what's so fun about it is how irredeemable he is, paired with how goofy he is. On a surface level, he seems like kind of awkward and annoying and his sense of humor is really strange. But then he's done all these atrocious things, some of the worst things the history of the Vampire Diaries universe. I mean, he essentially killed Elena. He's pretty terrible."
(For the record, Kai just put a really mean eternal slumber curse on her while Nina Dobrev left the show, but she did get to wake up in the series finale.)
Legacies isn't used to monsters like Kai. He's not an evil Cupid or a dragon or even on the level of the Necromancer, but he's a beast all his own, with a much deeper in-show history than any of the big bads have had before.
"Honestly it was so great to be that sort of unique monster, because the show has a very different approach to this Salvatore-based universe," Wood says. "Kai is very different from anyone they've ever dealt with, and also he has, you know, not to quote the title of the show, but he has this deep legacy where all the characters there have heard the horror stories and know how awful he was. It just presents a really different interaction with a monster, because he is a monster, just one in human form."
He's also a monster who killed Alaric's wife and Josie and Lizzie's mother, so while he's technically the twins' uncle and this is technically a family reunion, it's not a happy one at all. You can imagine how Alaric will react to his greatest enemy: badly.
"[The reunion] is every bit as confusing and full of anger and spite as you would imagine that it would be," Wood says. "Kai loves nothing more than a toy, and for him, someone to play mind games with, to torture, to trick, I mean that's when he feels things. So that's his one fuzzy place is ruining people's equilibrium, so it's full of that."
Josie in particular finds herself going head to head with Kai in unexpected ways, and Wood says the teen witch surprises her evil uncle a little bit, in a way that's almost not so horrible. Almost. Sort of.
"Kai at first still views her as that little kid, the one death that got away. He at first thinks it's going to be easy, and that she's stupid, and he can just get her to do whatever, and then I think there's a weird pride that eventually comes up when he starts to see her fight back and trying to outsmart him," he says. "But you know it's the Kai Parker brand of pride, because it still involves wanting to chop her head off."
Will Kai chop Josie's head off? Will he murder another entire family? Will he prompt another deranged storyline about unborn babies moving wombs, or will he surprise us all and do something brand new?
You'll have to wait until tonight's episode to find out!
Legacies airs at 9 p.m. on The CW.