Warning! The following contains spoilers for the latest episodes of Legacies, so read at your own risk!
Legacies went all Star Wars with the applicably titled episode "A New Hope,", and in true fashion to the beloved sci-fi franchise, it revealed that a certain someone all the other characters (and viewers) thought was dead was actually still alive. Once Hope, Josie, and Lizzie emerged from their drug-fueled vision quest, they tracked the villain to a cabin and were greeted by none other than Nick Fink's Ryan Clarke. It wasn't quite as stunning a reveal as Darth Vader being Anakin Skywalker, to be sure, but still a shock, considering his previous appearance.
Everyone was pretty shocked to see Clarke, perhaps Hope most of all. That may have to do with the fact that Clarke was decapitated by The Necromancer when he attempted to return to the Malivore portal in Season 2's winter finale. Apparently, he was able to shake off that injury and return to Earth, which isn't too surprising given his body is comprised muddy DNA prettied up to look human. It isn't too crazy to think Malivore rebuilt/resurrected him and sent him back. And I don't think anyone's shock carried over to the fact that he wasn't wearing a shirt, because of course he wasn't.
Perhaps the craziest aspect to this unexpected return, at least to me, is that Clarke arrived back in Legacies just one episode before the end of Season 3. On the one hand, if he's returning in a somewhat permanent role to return as an antagonist, it's obviously timely since his actions could set in motion the events of Season 4. If he's here to play the anti-hero by sorta-teaming up with the protagonists... Well, there's not really a lot of overwhelming evil to fight at the moment besides his father, who hasn't been seen since he linked up with Landon in the prison world.
Still, I don't think it's any random fan service or a coincidence that Ryan Clarke, Landon's brother of sorts, arrived just after the latter called it quits with Hope. This return could easily turn into a typical teen drama love triangle that The CW's teen dramas could write a textbook on at this point. Let's not forget that Clarke and Hope's last exchange was somewhat pleasant before he was murdered anyway. With Landon out of the picture, a notion that isn't displeasing to one section of the fanbase, now might be as good a time as any for another love interest to create some drama. As much as one would want to start drama that involves making out with a resurrected mud-man.
As mentioned, the timing of Clarke's return is a little odd no matter what the circumstances are narratively speaking, but that's possibly more a product of productions being shortened due to COVID-19. Legacies and many other shows on The CW had to spend some of their current seasons' episodes to wrap up prior storylines that industry-wide shutdowns disrupted. So it's possibly Clarke's reemergence was ideally meant to happen with more episodes to follow. Obviously, we can only speculate what Legacies reasoning is for Ryan Clarke's return, or how long he may stick around. In either case, the return was a great attention-grabber ahead of the season finale.