This article contains spoilers for First Kill season 1.
First Kill tells the story of a forbidden romance between Legacy vampire Juliette and monster hunter Calliope. Adapted from the short story of the same name by author V.E. Schwab, the series introduces us to two opposing families, and explores both the world of Legacies and the world of hunters. The show gives us bits and pieces of mythology, with hints that there is much more yet to be revealed. We break down the show’s lore, and discuss worldbuilding with showrunner Felicia Henderson.
Juliette and her family are Legacy vampires, which means they were born not made, pure-bloods. Unlike made vampires, Legacies cannot be killed with wooden stakes to the heart, but they are weak to pure silver. They are also able to walk in the sun, and can eat human food, even if it does not nourish them. Legacies can basically appear human. On top of being effectively unkillable, their blood is paralyzing, their bite fades, and it can create a psychic connection between the vampire and their victim. They can also create other vampires.
Legacy vampires are matriarchal, and have their own culture and aristocracy. The most powerful family is whoever is the Keeper of the Emerald Malkia, the serpent from the garden of Eden that created Legacies. Currently, Juliette’s grandmother is the Keeper. For Legacies, the first kill is a rite of passage. They hold consecration ceremonies, vampire cotillions, on the first full moon after it’s done. During this ceremony, the Emerald Malkia either accepts or rejects them, but it’s unclear what happens if a Legacy is rejected.
It is taboo for a Legacy to marry a non-Legacy, and Juliette’s mother Margot is somewhat shunned for marrying Sebastian, her human lover that she turned. When Sebastian is fatally wounded, the Emerald Malkia is able to heal him and turn him into a Legacy, which makes Legacies as much of an exclusive club—where entry can be granted—as it does a species in and of itself.
The Guardian Guild
The Burns are part of the Guardian Guild, which is the organization that protects the human world from monsters.
“The Guild started as sort of a religious order to protect churches from demons in our mythology,” Henderson says. “So it’s a multicultural order, and goes back thousands of years. Then we come forward and in the contemporary world, it is now monsters in general.”
We see Guardians creating warding in the Burns’ new home, and providing other kinds of support, but do not know much about them. There is a series bible and Henderson hopes for future seasons to be able to explore how folks are brought into the Guild.
“You don’t just walk up and go, ‘hey, I’m here.’ You’re chosen.”
We are given some hints in the show as to the Guild hierarchy and what their organizational structure might be like, but there is a lot more we haven’t seen.
“You hear when Apollo and Theo are fighting, Apollo’s like ‘I’m ready to go to Guild training right now.’ So you’re like, Hmm, he hasn’t even been to training. And since a baby, he’s been taught to fight as a hunter, as a Burns family member. But then what does it mean to go to Guild training? What does that mean his life is going to be, when you hear his big brother say ‘you’re not ready, you have to be 24.’ So we’re just giving you these little Easter eggs of what we might explore in the future in terms of the true and thorough mythology of the Guild.”
First Kill is set in Savannah, Georgia, something that was integral to Henderson’s vision. “You go there and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I want to live here.’ It’s so beautiful and just has so much character. Savannah is very much a character in the show, and I love that.”
The city is believed to be one of the most haunted places in the country, which made it the perfect setting for the show. In the show’s mythology, monsters are a known entity, but had been driven out of Savannah 25 years ago.
“When we come to Savannah, it has been clean, as they call it, for a quarter century. Then the Burns family, because they are some of the best in the business, have been sent there because there have been monster sightings again.”
Savannah has already survived monsters, and the people of the city quickly adapt to the possibility that monsters have returned.
Vampires aren’t the only monsters in the series. The Burns face off against ghouls, which look like zombies, shamblers, which look like malformed Predators without the dreads, and zombies, who have fine motor skills and the ability to speak.
“It started as there was the devil and there were demons. But of course they multiplied just like every other living thing. And now there are all kinds of monsters.”
We get brief glimpses at other creatures, including some that can appear to be human, which offers a lot of opportunity for cool fights and interesting kills. At some point, everyone knew about monsters, but the Guild are good at what they do and people have largely forgotten. Monsters were in Savannah recently enough though that folks remember when they were rampant in the city.
“Having them as a known quantity allowed us to also let monsters versus humans stand in for some intolerance.”
In the show, a group forms to flush out the monsters in the city. It could be analogous to a hate group.
“You often hear people say, ‘well, if we just focus more on how we’re all the same…,’ and my opinion may not be that popular, I don’t think that’s right. I think that if we got to learn more about how we are different, then you can accept people who are different and not go, ‘I wish we were more the same’ instead of going, ‘thank you for teaching me about you. Now I can celebrate your difference.’”
Monsters in First Kill are literal, and explorations of the figurative. The relationship between Calliope and Juliette may be at the center of First Kill, but there is a rich mythology that backdrops the series. We have only seen glimpses of the larger worldbuilding, but It’s clear that the writers have a firm grasp on the history and the lore. If there are more seasons to come, and we hope there are, we can expect to learn more about the Guardians and the Legacies, and how Cal and Juliette fit inside those worlds.
All eight episodes of First Kill are now streaming on Netflix.