Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen the second episode of The CW’s “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.”

When you’re tasked with changing the future, the stakes couldn’t be higher, a lesson that the “Legends of Tomorrow” team learned the hard way in episode 2, when Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) succeeded in killing Carter Hall (Falk Hentschel), just as his reincarnated soulmate Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renee) was finally starting to come to terms with her feelings for him.

Why Carter? According to “Legends” executive producer Marc Guggenheim, the painful choice also seemed to make the most sense, from a storytelling standpoint.

“The first thing we were searching for was, how do we establish very quickly the stakes of the show, particularly when you have all these people who are so powerful? The idea of losing one of their own spoke to us very strongly,” he told Variety. “It’s always a decision based on what’s gonna give us the most story, and the idea of Kendra losing the person who is helping guide her through this brand new experience of being a reincarnated hawk demigoddess, taking that support system away from her so that A: she’d have to deal with it and B: she’d have to lean on the other members of our team… that really spoke to us. We realized, as with all things, an idea comes up and if we start going ‘oh, then this can happen, and this can happen, and this…’ that’s when we know it’s the right idea.”

Hawkman may be dead, but this is a time-travel show, so Guggenheim was willing to concede, “You haven’t seen the last of Falk Hentschel — I will say that in episode 3 we very clearly state that we can’t go back and just save Carter’s life. Because that would be way too convenient and also, quite frankly, completely vitiate the point of killing off a character in the first place. So we’re very clear about the rules.”

Renee admitted that losing Carter just when they were starting to grow closer is a devastating blow for Kendra, but since they’ll be traveling to other time periods, she’s aware of the possibility that she might run into another version of her reincarnated lover. “It’s absolutely something she’s hoping for, but the thing is, if she finds a past Carter, would he have already found [that time period’s version of] her?” Renee pointed out. “It’s not as if the romantic part of it can be realized for her. She understands that that part, for this incarnation, is done, and that’s really, really hard. But it’s also like, ‘if we kill Savage, does Carter ever get to come back, or is that it?’ We don’t know.”

Past or future versions of Hawkman might be a possibility, but Guggenheim confirmed that, at least in Kendra’s current life, Carter is gone. “The thing about Carter is, he doesn’t resurrect, he reincarnates, and when you reincarnate, you come back as a baby. You haven’t seen the last of Falk, but at the same time, we’re not doing Hawkbaby on the show,” he promised with a laugh.

Kendra and Carter already met — and lost — a son from one of their previous lives, after he was killed in last week’s pilot, and Renee noted that while loss is undeniably an ongoing part of Kendra’s journey towards becoming Hawkgirl, it also helps to narrow her focus towards defeating Savage.

“Losing all this, and meeting [her son] in the first place, it allows her to really understand the gravity of the situation, that it does affect other people,” Renee told Variety. “There’s a big part of her that wants to protect, even if it’s not necessarily a revenge thing; she wants to protect and she’s seeing that the only way that that can really be accomplished is to destroy Savage, because he’s constantly been recklessly destroying other people. I think that sparks something in her where she’s like ‘alright, I’m in this. I have to do this, because there are people out there who are counting on us doing this.’”

Carter’s death also serves as the catalyst that brings the team closer together, now that the realities of their mission have hit home, and Renee previewed that Kendra “gets surprised by a lot of people, because she is a bit of an outlier and we have villains in this, so I think she’s wary of a lot of people, but then gets surprised that she’s bonding with a lot of people. She bonds with Sara (Caity Lotz), she bonds with Firestorm (Victor Garber and Franz Drameh), she bonds with Ray (Brandon Routh), they’re all being thrown together in different ways.”

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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