Tying up a four-year-old show and a 13-year-old franchise with an episode that wasn't initially planned as a finale can't have been an easy task, but Legacies Season 4 Episode 20 was a near-perfect installment that left me feeling both satisfied and excited for the future of the characters.
He died saving her from the Hollow, alongside her uncle Elijah, and ever since, she's struggled to come to terms with the fact that she's lost such significant influences in her life.
Joseph Morgan has been vocal about not returning to the franchise. Given that he's been busy filming Titans Season 4, there was no way to tell whether his social media teases would lead to anything of substance.
Thankfully, fans got their wish, and a message from beyond the grave was the nudge Hope needed to come to terms with the loss and look to the future.
My only negative about the big return was that it completely negated Elijah's sacrifice. There should have been more mentions of Elijah following his passing.
I can understand the lack of Hayley because Hope saw her on the other side at the end of The Originals, proving that her mother found peace.
But Hope's journey has widely been about where her father went after his sacrifice, and it's nice to know that she will be able to move on with the next chapter of her life, whatever that may be.
Another positive was that Landon remained in Limbo.
Unlike The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, Legacies has been largely devoid of stakes and keeping Landon there as the Ferryman is a bittersweet ending to this love story.
He was vocal about the feelings of love for Hope still being there, but this series has highlighted time and time again that the universe will continue to drive a wedge between them.
Klaus: My dearest Hope, my littlest wolf, my miracle child. What a gift to be able to leave you one last message, so please carry it with you in the years to come. I want you to know this: You will make mistakes in your life. That comes with being a Mikaelsson. You will go through hard times, for no one with your power always knows how to use it properly. You will find love and you will lose it, for such is the burden of immortality. But the most important thing about your life is that you live it, because you are my peace. And I regret a lot of things, but I don’t regret a single moment I spent with you. I love you so much. Always and forever.
Hope telling him not to be a stranger was a stark reminder that they could no longer be together.
The thought of losing the school being too much for Hope was understandable. She may not have made friends initially, but the school has helped her through some of the biggest moments of her life.
Where would she be right now if not for the Salvatore School?
It is a beautiful touch that she got to open the doors to the school to usher in the new era of supernatural beings.
Caroline fully understood that Hope's journey has not been without hurdles, but I wish there had been more interaction between the pair throughout the series finale.
At one point, Caroline loved Klaus and vice-versa, so it would have had a more significant emotional thud and payoff for fans if Caroline was there for the message from beyond the grave.
Then again, maybe the series would have delved deeper into the Caroline and Hope dynamic had The CW issued a renewal for Season 5.
Caroline's return was a long time coming. Her absence has long been the thorn in the side of fans of the last series in the franchise.
So much has happened that Caroline should have been a part of, and honestly, I wouldn't mind seeing the school under her leadership.
I don't know whether the intent was to make Caroline a recurring player, a regular, or a guest star in a potential fifth season, but the emphasis on "interim" certainly made it feel like this was just a cameo.
Alaric leaving the school was a long time coming. I know he had to change to lead a group of supernatural beings, but there was a lot of character assassination.
He's been around since The Vampire Diaries Season 1, so fans knew what he was like. These last few episodes really had excellent writing for Alaric, highlighting his want to keep the students safe.
Leaving the school to write a book about supernatural beings to help the students prepare for the next big threat is probably the most Alaric thing he's done on this series.
His farewell to Hope tugged at the heartstrings. Leaving in the dead of night isn't usually a good thing, but he clearly understood there was no way he could say goodbye in-person.
His bond with Hope has been a big part of the series, and it was good to see them saying this bittersweet goodbye, especially after everything that's happened this season.
The big surprise to me was that her presence was still felt even though Josie wasn't there.
Helping save Hope from the darker shades of her psyche was another satisfying development. There's always been a connection between Hope and Josie, which was beautifully reiterated when Hope sent the only weapon that could kill her to Europe.
The Originals had this overarching theme of dread because of the white oak stake, and Klaus always wanted to have them at arm's length to put his siblings down for a spell.
Hope giving this weapon to Josie in another country shows how much she's thought this through. She doesn't need to have it under her nose, she needs it under the care of someone she trusts.
The closure for Kaleb and Cleo was a nice touch. I was worried that in winding down this universe, they would fall by the wayside, but they've been a real breath of fresh air as a couple.
I appreciate that we know Cleo will lead the school at one point in her life. It makes you wonder about what will happen between now and then to get to that point.
Speaking of leading the school, a part of me expected Alaric to turn the school over to Freya. I know they haven't seen eye-to-eye, but Freya has a grip on magic that would make her a great teacher.
This brings me to Ben and Jed. The series threw them together in these last few episodes, and I almost wish this relationship started much sooner.
Jed realizing there had been a significant shift in his abilities was a real shocker, but it was great to see how Ben supported him throughout.
"Just Don't Be A Stranger, Okay?" might have felt low-key to some viewers, but it was tipping the hat to the wider franchise, all the while wrapping this chapter up to leave us with a sense of ambiguity about the future.
I genuinely thought we'd be left hanging off a cliff after the cancellation, but this will go down as one of my favorite series finales.
What did you think of Hope's message from her father?
Do you think the school will thrive under Caroline's leadership?
What are your thoughts on Cleo's vision of the future?
Are you surprised Alaric left the school behind?
Hit the comments.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.