Thursday’s Vampire Diaries — unquestionably one of the series’ finest hours to date — bid two very different farewells to fan-favorite characters, allowed a long-awaited ‘ship to finally set sail and revealed more buried secrets than you could shake an Ascendant at.
A quick recap of the episode: Sheriff Forbes finally, tragically succumbed to her cancer (without her doting daughter by her side); Caroline found comfort in Stefan’s arms (and lips!); Jeremy left Mystic Falls behind to become a roving hunter, despite telling everyone (but Alaric) that he’s going to art school; Enzo exposed his vampirism to Sarah; and it was revealed that Elena’s adoptive parents’ car accident was, in fact, just an accident.
Below, executive producers Julie Plec and Caroline Dries, along with actress Marguerite McIntyre and writer Brian Young, break down the episode’s biggest twists and preview the tear-jerking events still to come.
SHERIFF FORBES’ DEATH | If you thought Sheriff Forbes’ death was too much to bear, you’re not alone; Dries reveals that the network asked if she could insert a “silver lining” into the moment, which led to Liz’s speech to Damon about how Caroline is “meant to be extraordinary.” Plec asked McIntyre, who has penned several Originals episodes, to write what she thought Liz would want to say to Caroline at her funeral, and her words were used in the final draft of the script. “To me, it felt like … the most important thing she’d want [Caroline] to know is that she’s OK … and how much [Liz] felt about her,” McIntyre says. “Inside her head, that would be the message.”
As for the mood on set, McIntyre says she was surprised at how melancholy her co-stars became — particularly one Ian Somerhalder: “Everybody knew it was coming, so for weeks beforehand, everybody was being so emotional with me in this way that I’m like, “Dudes, I’m fine!” … Every time [Ian would] see me, he’d [whisper], ‘Hi.’ When we did that table read, after the table read, he was like, ‘By the way, you get well, right?’ From then on, he’s been very clingy.”
STEROLINE’S FUTURE | Fans might have been ‘shipping “Steroline” for years, but in Stefan and Caroline’s minds, the concept of them dating is still rocky territory. “What’s the first conversation you have after your first kiss?” Plec poses. “Right now, something pretty dramatic has happened, so [next Thursday’s] episode is all about judging what and when and how that first conversation is going to go.”
JEREMY’S (SURPRISE) EXIT | Though Plec assures us Jeremy has “a standing invite for weddings, funerals and whatever else comes along,” we have seen the last of him for a long while. “[His departure] couldn’t really line up with Bonnie’s [return], because her journey is never-ending. We don’t know when she’ll be back or what will become of her, so he really needed to make decisions for himself.” As for why he didn’t simply go to art school, “When you come out of Mystic Falls, there is no such thing as a normal life. … Jeremy was someone who went through so much and needed a purpose. … Jeremy’s secret is, ‘I’m forever changed, but I’m going to use this change for the powers of good.'”
Adds Young, “It feels like a victory in a way. Like, he got out. He made it out.” (And before you ask, yes, the possibility of a spinoff or “summer series” revolving around Jeremy, or even a visit to The Originals, has been bandied about in the writers’ room. Quoth Plec, “You never know!”)
MATT’S NEXT STEP | First of all, don’t worry about losing Matt next; “I will never kill Matt Donovan,” Plec insists — ignoring, of course, that she once said the same thing about the late, great Sheriff Forbes. Do, however, prepare for a major change in the blue-eyed wonder’s life. “He’s about to embark on a new path for himself,” Plec teases. “This experience, what he’s had to go through being Enzo’s little bitch boy and watching his friends all sink deeper into their supernatural lives, is going to make him take a stand and have a really clear point of view on who he wants to be.” (Before you go naming him the new sheriff of Mystic Falls, Plec says Caroline’s mom’s vacant seat will “remain open” until at least Season 7.)
ENZO’S MASTER PLAN | Speaking of he who made Matt his “bitch boy,” Enzo will be thrown for “a bit of a loop” the next time he encounters Sarah, who now knows he’s a vampire. “He’s going to be surprised by her response,” Plec hints. Additionally, the final chapter of the season — once we collectively mourn Sheriff Forbes — will explore “the backstory of Enzo and what makes him tick.”
BONNIE’S RETURN | If spoilers about Bonnie’s future are out there somewhere, know this: They’re not coming from Plec. All she’ll say about Bon-Bon’s return to present-day Mystic Falls is that it’ll happen “soon.” So… do with that what you will.
Vampire Diaries fans, once you’ve dried your tears, try to form some thoughts: Were you surprised by Jeremy’s shady exit? How devastated were you by that final Sheriff Forbes scene? And what was your knee-jerk reaction to that Stefan-Caroline kiss? Drop a comment with your thoughts, however candid, below.
Reporting by Vlada Gelman