The Vampire Diaries returned for Season 4 on Thursday night with the town council rounding up all of Mystic Falls’ vampires — including Elena (once they caught on to her transformation). But with a little help from Stefan and, surprisingly, Rebekah, she was able to complete her transition into a vampire. Meanwhile, Bonnie’s attempts to stop the inevitable had dire consequences on the other side for — unexpected guest star alert! — Grams, and Klaus got his own body back, but alienated both his sister and Caroline. Oh, and the Pastor blew up himself — and the rest of the council, to boot.
Below, executive producer Julie Plec talks about the season premiere’s big transformations and teases the major challenges still ahead for the newbie vamp, Damon, Klaus & Co.
TVLINE | How are we to take the Pastor’s last words, “We are the beginning”?
[Laughs] We are to wonder what the hell he was talking about — triple question mark. And we’re going to keep wondering what the hell he’s talking about for several, if not more than several, episodes to come. What happened there, why it happened, what it all means — those are big questions that we’ll keep asking in the first part of the season.
TVLINE | On the surface, it seems weird to blow yourself up and eliminate yourself from stopping the vampires. Is this part of a larger plan?
It’s definitely say to safe that something strange is afoot at the Circle-K.
TVLINE | Does this eliminate the Council as a threat to Elena and the gang? Are there any other members out there aside from Liz and Carol?
Fortunately for Elena and her friends, there’s been a little bit of a reset button on the risk being presented to them by the humans in the town. It did, in fact, wipe out anybody who was ready to make their move against the vampires. Now we’re back to the friendly mayor and the friendly sheriff protecting their kids at all costs. That being said, peace does not last long when a new vampire hunter arrives in town in the next episode.
TVLINE | Is Connor’s arrival connected to the explosion?
It’s very well possible that it is.
TVLINE | Moving on to Elena’s transition, we saw her take a little taste of blood, but next week is the real test for her in terms of feeding. How will she deal with that?
That is the big struggle that’s driving her for the first part of the season. She’s terrified of hurting someone. She’s terrified [of] that great fear — “What if I’m a ripper just like Stefan is?” She’s definitely not comfortable with that part of being a vampire, and she’s getting conflicting advice about how she should handle it. It doesn’t come easily to her, and she’s not quite sure what kind of vampire she’s supposed to be. So probably I would say the first four episodes really focus on getting her to a place where she can at least try to be comfortable with it and [exploring] what that does in the meantime to her friendships and her relationships.
TVLINE | What can you tease about what resources and unexpected helpers will guide her on that journey?
It’s centered around Stefan’s point of view versus Damon’s point of view. Both of them are seasoned and experienced vampires who had very different experiences and who have very aggressive opinions about the right way to do it. Elena’s going to have to wade through the push and pull between the brothers and their conflict and try to come out the other side of it with a point of view of her own, which is going to take some time.
TVLINE | Elena and Stefan are on pretty solid ground right now. What’s the biggest upcoming challenge to their relationship?
Without a doubt, the biggest threat to their relationship is, in fact, that she is a vampire. [Laughs] She’s going through things that she never expected to go through and feeling emotions that she never expected to feel. And things are heightened – not just her love for him, but the residual feelings that she had for Damon. There’s a lot of things that are changing inside of her that are going to impact the strength of her relationship [with Stefan]. They love each other as deeply as two people can love each other, but that doesn’t mean that their relationship is infallible.
TVLINE | Damon’s confessions were exposed, but it didn’t make a difference. Where does that leave him? Is he moving on? Is he pining?
Damon’s in this glorious place of, “You know what? I am who I am. Deal with it or get out of my way.” What that does is free him from the active need to be sad or to pine for the relationship that he didn’t get. It’s made him realize, “I don’t have to change my behavior. I am who I am. I can be who I am and do what I do. And if you don’t like it, you can go to hell.” So it allows us to get back to the fun of the early-series Damon where he had a devil-may-care, “you don’t like me, go screw yourself” attitude, which of course is always delicious and delightful for Ian [Somerhalder] to be able to play.
TVLINE | In the beginning of the series, he was also a bit of a playboy. Will we see him juggling girls again?
The playboy angle might have to wait just a little bit. He’s got his hands very full with a newbie vampire that he needs to help take care of. [Laughs] He doesn’t have as much time for playboy hijinks as one would think.
TVLINE | Rebekah and Klaus had a falling out. Will the two siblings be playing on opposite sides?
Yes. They are not in a good place by the end of this first episode, and they will not be in a good place for quite some time. It will be a conflict that is both delicious and terribly heartbreaking throughout a good run of the season. Two people who need family more than anything wind up estranged from each other: That’s an interesting dynamic.
TVLINE | Was that the last of Klaus’ blood supply for creating hybrids?
Yes, it was, and he is not going to be forgiving any time soon.
TVLINE | Where did he go? And when can we expect to see him back?
He was just licking his wounds and packing his bags, intent on heading out of Mystic Falls as promised at the end of last season. Only the incident of Episode 2 brings him back around when he realizes that Tyler, one of his small group of remaining hybrids, has been put in danger. So suddenly, he’s the world’s most irritating bodyguard.
TVLINE | Does the fact that he came back and tried to save Caroline count for anything?
That’s the thing with Caroline – as much as she hates him, she also can’t shake him. Hopefully [Elena and Caroline] will realize for each other that in a strange way, it’s incredibly similar to the early Damon/Elena relationship. I’m not saying that it’s going down the same road, by any means. I’m just saying that Caroline, for all her judgement directed at Elena about having any kind of feelings in the past for Damon, may find herself surprised to be struggling with a similar, dangerous attraction to Klaus.
TVLINE | Will Bonnie continue to suffer consequences for what she did?
Bonnie will, hopefully, not be suffering at all past a certain point because she’s got to meet a new mentor in the form of the professor who took over her grandmother’s old job. She’s finally got someone who can look at her and see who she is and what her worth is. This is someone who’ll try to inspire her to tap back into her magic in a way that makes her comfortable and makes her come alive again with her powers.
Vampire Diaries fans, what are you most looking forward to seeing this season? And did the premiere live up to your expectations? Grade the episode below and then hit the comments to justify your pick!