‘Legacies’ Said Goodbye to an Original Character — for Now

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They say there are only two sure things in life: death, and taxes. But when it comes to the Vampire Diaries universe, even Death isn’t sure, as plenty of characters have wriggled their way out of his cold, skeletal grasp, time and again. Thankfully, this week’s episode of Legacies figured out an entirely different way to say goodbye to one of their original characters. And though there are sure to be certain frustrations with the method of this character’s exit, as well as consternation about the choice of character entirely, at least the door is open for them to return.

Spoilers for Legacies Season 3, Episode 2 “Goodbyes Sure Do Suck” past this point.

I’m talking, of course, about Rafael Waithe (Peyton Alex Smith), a.k.a. Raf.

The character was one of the first to be introduced on Legacies, a werewolf and foster brother to Landon Kirby (Aria Shahghasemi). Because of his supernatural powers, Raf was recruited by the Salvatore School for supernatural kids; but it was clear from the beginning that Landon was the Harry Potter of the story, not Raf.

Sure, plenty of things happened around and to Raf over the past two seasons and change. He crushed on Hope (Danielle Rose Russell), who ended up in an on-again, off-again, very intense relationship with Landon instead. He briefly got stuck in wolf form, which in theory meant Raf was still around, but in practice Smith disappeared for a good chunk of filming.

This is a long way of saying that other than as Landon’s entrée to the Salvatore School, Legacies has struggled to figure out what to do with Raf. While Landon has turned out to be a Phoenix, and a key part of the overarching mystery of the monster-spewing mud puddle Malivore, Raf has faded into the background, sometimes literally.

…and then finally, in the Season 3 premiere, it seemed like Raf found his place. After basically every other student tried to pull a sword — not just a sword, but the sword, Excalibur — from a stone and failed, Raf walked up and casually plucked it out, killing Malivore’s latest monster in the process. Turns out that Raf has Arthurian blood, something the show delightfully picked up with in this week’s opening scene. As Landon excitedly read through Arthurian legends, picturing Hope in some extremely cool red armor in the process, Raf practically giggled.

It’s a dynamic we haven’t really seen since the beginning of Season 1, as the two have been embroiled in supernatural crisis after supernatural crisis. And it’s something that would have been exciting to follow forward, given Raf’s new destiny… That is, if the show didn’t have something else in mind.

Instead, Raf dies. Or rather, he died, last season, and was brought back to life by a villain named The Necromancer (Ben Geurens); but thanks to some supernatural hiccups with that deal, Raf is dying, again, for real this time. Hope and Lizzie Saltzman (Jenny Boyd), as well as the rest of the witches at the Salvatore School desperately try to reverse the process, only managing to slow things down for about 24 hours.

Raf decides to live his last day the way he would want: with his Dad (Jason Turner) and best friend, Landon, fishing. Meanwhile, the school’s headmaster Alaric (Matthew Davis) tracks down Raf’s long-absent mother, and convinces her to say goodbye to her kid before he goes.

Hope, naturally, figures out another way. Using a Prison World — basically a static, empty, mostly inescapable universe, though it’s a bit more complicated than that — Hope and the other witches are able to transport Raf to his literal happy place: fishing, forever, with his Mom and Dad. Speaking as a parent, that sounds like a nice idea for about six hours, versus eternity. But whatever, I’m not a fictional character on the TV show Legacies.

Regardless! This is Legacies’ way of having their cake, and eating it, too — and credit where it’s due, I’m glad they didn’t kill of Raf, which would have been an optics nightmare, and also a real bummer of a way of ending his story. Instead, he’s bopping around a Prison World with Excalibur, which means there’s every chance the Salvatore folks will need to visit him at some point, probably before season’s end.

But on the other hand, it’s still a bummer. There was always a lot of potential with Raf, and Smith’s puppy-eyed performance showed a ton of promise, something the series never really picked up on. While background cast-members thrived — think Wade (Elijah B. Moore), a frequent butt of jokes who turned out to be a powerful fairy, for example — Raf always stood by the edges, never quite moving to the foreground. The Excalibur/Arthurian legacy plot seemed a step to right that wrong; but instead, it was a swerve, one that maybe will be picked up on as the series continues. And even with a poignant, well-acted showcase episode like this one, which allowed Smith to play multiple emotional modes over the 42ish minutes, it feels a little too late.

Like everything The Vampire DiariesThe Originals and Legacies, Raf isn’t gone for good. The door is open for him to return, some time. If he does, though, I hope they figure out how to treat him like the royalty he is.

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

Where to watch Legacies

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