Did that just happen?!
That was the reaction heard around the Internet after the shocking season finale of The Vampire Diaries. Now that you’ve had time to absorb it all, read on to find out what executive producer Julie Plec told TVLine about Elena’s new life as a bloodsucker, the love triangle that won’t quit, the death that stuck and the one that didn’t.
TVLINE | How did the cast react to the finale, especially given how much is changing for their characters?
They were very, very, very positive and supportive of the finale. So many of them found a beauty in what they felt like was returning to all the things they loved most about the show in the early episodes of the series. Stuff that was simple and pure and steeped in character and emotional. And they loved having Sara Canning back in their world.
TVLINE | At PaleyFest, when someone asked if Elena will become a vampire like in the books, you very coyly replied, “We’ll see.” How hard was it to keep this secret?
Oh my God, when that person asked, my heart just fell down from my chest to my toes! All I thought was, “Answer this as though she isn’t. As you would answer it if you hadn’t spend the entire year in the writers room planning for this.” [Laughs]
TVLINE | So she’s definitely becoming a vampire?
They’re going to try to pull out all the stops to try to prevent it when we come back, but I think the writing is on the wall as far as her journey.
TVLINE | In the past, Elena’s been very adamant about not wanting that life. How will this affect her?
It’s going to affect her in a lot of ways. It changes everything for her. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a struggle. It’s going to illuminate a lot of things about who she is, and it’s going to screw with her head and her emotions. It’s going to be tough. But the beauty of Elena is now we’ll get to see her try to rise above it and be a champion in spite of this. We’ll see how hard that is and how long it takes her to become a functioning vampire, if at all.
TVLINE | Given how crazy her life has become and all the supernatural elements in it, was this inevitable for Elena?
Yeah, I think so. Who knows if the books hadn’t turned her into a vampire at the end of book one if we would have gone down this road or if it never would have occurred to us to go down this road? That’s hard to say. But when [executive producer Kevin Williamson and I] signed on to this project, we did know that, at some point, we would be turning her. It really just was a matter of when. It’s definitely the next chapter in her story.
TVLINE | Were you surprised it came this early? Most shows would save this for a series finale.
No, there was actually a moment at the beginning of Season 2 where Kevin and I thought we would get here by the end of Season 2. We didn’t want to, so I’m glad we didn’t. But we were following the path of her character. Heroines are very difficult to write. It’s very difficult to keep them dynamic and fresh and new. We knew that we would reach a breaking point where we didn’t really want to see Elena continue to go through the same thing again and again and again.
TVLINE | At what point did you come up with the idea that Damon met Elena first and erased her memory of that moment?
The details of that scene happened as we were talking about the end of the season. But the question that we’ve always had since the beginning of the series in the writers room is, “Where was Damon while Stefan was entering school and meeting Elena?” Damon came into the pilot armed with a lot of knowledge, which, in my opinion, implies that he’s been there for a little while. So we’ve always wanted to ask and answer that question. It felt like the right answer there was [that] he was having his own experience with Elena. [Laughs]
TVLINE | One of the side effects of becoming a vampire is that she’ll remember all the things Damon compelled her to forget. How will that effect Elena’s choice?
It’s just more information. I don’t think anything is going to make her sit up and say, “Oh my God, I made the wrong decision!” and change her mind in Episode 1 [of next season]. But in the ongoing journey of her point of view about how she feels about each of these brothers, it’s going to impact her feelings for Damon and her understanding of Damon.
TVLINE | Does Damon stand more of a fighting chance with her now?
Both brothers continue to stand a fighting chance because we’re only halfway through the series. So yes. [Laughs]
TVLINE | This does redefine the love triangle in a way.
Yeah. We’ve been in the writers room for four weeks after we wrapped the season, talking about Season 4. The one thing that got us all so excited is that everything we’re talking about feels both familiar in all the right ways, of the early parts of the series, and also fresh. It feels so fresh. And yet, it’s the same people that we know and love. They’re just going through new experiences. There’s a lot we can do here. We’re really excited about it.
TVLINE | Two burning questions about Stefan: Does he know she picked him? And when he was crying over her body, was it because she had died or because he knew she was going to come back as a vampire?
He does not know that she picked him. I like to think that that moment when he’s crying over her body, he’s crying over the loss of her human life and that now she’s going to be the thing that she never wanted. I don’t think Meredith would have been like, “Oh, I’m going to keep that secret from Stefan, but tell Damon.” [Laughs]
TVLINE | Tell me about the decision to kill off Alaric.
Oh… [Long pause] It’s too painful. [Laughs] What was really important to us was that Elena lost everything, as far as adult parenting [and] that she as a human had no support structure in her home. So Alaric as the guardian of Elena and Jeremy had a shelf life at the end of this season because of where we were going with [her]. Alaric’s character, in my opinion, could have been sitting in that bar next to Damon for the next four years, every episode, having a bourbon, and we all would have been perfectly happy. But Matt Davis is better than that and deserves more than that. Now’s his time to shine. [If he has] the opportunity to go out there and shine on another show while still being available to us should we decide to have a few ghostly visits from dear, departed Alaric, then it’s the best of both worlds. That being said, every single scene that I had my hands in from the time he became his alter-ego to the end of this season, I would sit at the computer and weep. Tears would fall onto the keys, knowing that in a lot of ways this was goodbye. It was definitely very emotionally traumatic for me. [Laughs]
TVLINE | What about Joseph Morgan? Have we seen the last of him?
No, we have not. It is as temporary as when he was inside Alaric’s body.
TVLINE | So both of their vessels are OK should Klaus get out of the Tyler’s body?
Yes. Desiccated Klaus is a little crispy right now, but he’s probably salvageable.
TVLINE | It seemed for a little while there that Klaus was being written off. Why did you decide to bring him back in this way?
Rarely do you have a character that comes in [during] the middle of the series and just explodes and an actor that embodies him so well that people love to hate him and hate to love him. Joseph Morgan as Klaus is pretty special. Though we wanted our heroes to have a victory after all this time, we also realized that there’s still so much more of Joseph Morgan as Klaus that we need to see on the show. We tried to make sure we got both the win for our heroes and the win for our show, which is still having Joseph a part of it.