Vampire Diaries EP and Zach Roerig Analyze Matt's Daddy Issues, Preview His Emotional Road to Closure

The Vampire Diaries Spoilers

After seven long seasons, The Vampire Diaries has finally reunited Matt Donovan with his estranged father — but their road to recovery is only just beginning.

“Giving Matt those answers — Who is his father? Does he even exist? Why did he leave? — was important to us, because it was a dangling thread we’d never been able to tell a story about,” executive producer Julie Plec explains to TVLine. “I swear, all Zach Roerig does this season is cry, at least in his first few episodes.”

Adds Roerig, “Everyone has always wanted Matt to find some closure — with Penny’s death, or Vicki’s death, or even with the Elena thing at the beginning of the show — so he can finally understand why everything happened. … Matt’s a good dude, so I’m sure it’s hard for him to think, ‘Why wouldn’t my dad want to be a part of this? I’m badass!'”

Friday’s episode, during which Matt’s dad finally began to comprehend the depth of his suffering (“How did it come to this?”), marked the beginning of a long journey for the Donovan men.

“It’s sad if you think about everything Matt has been through, and that’s ultimately what he has to make his dad understand,” Plec explains. “It’s not just that he left, but the life he left Matt with took such a turn to sadness. That’s been the biggest struggle Matt’s had to fight against growing up.”

Roerig also extends kudos to the casting department for placing Joel Gretsch (NCIS, Witches of East End) in such a pivotal role.

“[Joel] could be my real dad, it’s crazy,” he notes. “He was born in Minnesota, not far from where my father was born in Minnesota — and the skin tone, and the eyes. He’s also just a really good dude and good actor; we really clicked and bonded well. … I like the idea of Matt not being a bastard. Whether it was tumultuous, or whatever issues there were involving his abandonment, at least people know that this is Matt’s dad — proof of his genetics. Maybe it’ll help Matt solve the mystery of why he feels so compelled to stay in Mystic Falls.”

Your thoughts on Matt and his dad’s road to recovery? Season 8 in general? Drop ’em in a comment below.