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[04/26/12 - 09:01 PM]
Interview: "The Vampire Diaries" Executive Producer Julie Plec
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

[SPOILER ALERT: If you have not watched tonight's episode of "The Vampire Diaries" do not read ahead. Major plot spoilers discussed in the following interview.]

Tonight's "Do Not Go Gentle" episode of The CW hit drama "The Vampire Diaries" took a big step towards amping the action up in Mystic Falls for the remaining two episodes of the series' third season. The bulk of the action tonight revolved around Alaric (Matt Davis), who has been battling his dark alter ego recently but now, with the help of the newly revived Original, Esther (Alice Evans), became the ultimate vampire hunter with a super weapon that can kill Originals. But, in one of those landmark "Vampire Diaries" twists, Alaric, who has decided to let himself die after staking Esther, is given the blood of Bonnie (Kat Graham) to drink and awakens as a powerful vampire.

Things are only going to get worse from this point, warned Executive Producer Julie Plec, at a screening and discussion held yesterday at The CW offices in Burbank with series' actors Michael Trevino (Tyler), Candice Accola (Caroline), Steven R. McQueen (Jeremy) and Zach Roerig (Matt). Our Jim Halterman was present to see what Plec and her actors would spill about choices made in tonight's episode and where things are heading.

"He's very clearly a bad-ass vampire killer with a pretty magnificent, deadly and unburnable stake," Plec said about what to expect from new vampire Alaric moving forward. "I think he's going to be a conflict provider and, not to make it an understatement, but he's not going to be the friendliest version of Alaric that we've ever met. He's going to be pretty hardcore, which is going to be kind of equally exciting and devastating, obviously because he's one of our heroes who is no longer one of our heroes."

Unexpectedly, it was witch Bonnie who appeared in the forest to overpower Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and feed Alaric her blood so he would be transformed. Was Bonnie aware of her actions or did Esther's appearance in her dream tell her to act? Plec explained, "She was very clearly under some sort of witchy influence, which is really Bonnie's issue now. I mean, 'What the hell, man? I've got vampires telling me what to do. I've got other people telling me what to do and now I have freakin' 'my sisters,' the witches, telling me what do? Where's my free will? Where's my choice?' That's going to impact her character moving forward."

Of course, there's much more to "Vampire Diaries" than the conflict between witches and vampires. There are several love triangles that are also heating up, including the core triangle between Damon, Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Elena (Nina Dobrev). In tonight's episode, Stefan steps up for the first time in awhile to be an emotional rock for the distraught Elena. Is this a sign that the triangle is heating up? "Stefan's whole struggle, obviously this year, was one, he was hanging on by such a very, very, very tenuous thread for the first half of the season and then he lost his mind for a nice chunk in the middle," said Plec. She added that Stefan has been keeping his distance from his former love but "in this moment, seeing her at her most vulnerable and needing to give her the support that she's been trying to give him all season, it's finally him saying 'it is okay to feel and I heard you all those times when you told me that. It's okay to feel and it's okay to have hope. I heard you and now let me give that back to you."

Of course, the fact that Elena has recently locked lips with Damon complicates things and that, of course, will be a big part of the final third season episodes when Elena may finally choose between the two brothers. "I think that all of this is just illuminating for this girl at this point in her life with these two men that are so important to her and she has no one," Plec said. "She's lost almost everyone that's ever happened to her. How do you choose in a moment like that? The last two episodes of the season that follow this are really going to be about her asking herself that question and really trying to understand how she could possibly let one of them go when she's already lost so much."

One coupling that has already started seeing better days is that of brothers Stefan and Damon. Plec explained the evolution of the brothers' relationship this season and where it's heading. "One of the things that we set out to do during this whole year as Damon found himself more and more deeply in love with his brother's girl and all the things that came along with that was to make sure that when the brothers found their way back to each other, which happened about 2/3 of the way through the season, that they would get stronger instead of weaker as brothers in spite of this looming conflict, this looming decision... there's a really nice scene in next week's episode that kind of shows us that they might just survive this no matter how it plays out... which only makes her decision more difficult."

A newer triangle has been slowly taking shape in the form of Caroline, Tyler and Klaus (Joseph Morgan). Asked if there's more of that triangle to come beyond tonight's episode Plec teased, with a huge grin, "Big time. Capital B. Capital T. Exclamation point!"

Trevino also teased that Tyler may finally step it up and get into the fight, which is a tad complicated since Klaus still thinks he holds a sire bond over Tyler and is unaware that Tyler has broken it. "What we've seen [thus far] with Tyler is he's biting his tongue, especially with this sire bond that he has broken through Klaus's but that's enough [and] in that last scene he's like 'I shouldn't have let him dance with you' but in these last two episodes... we might see him actually take some action against Klaus and maybe not follow his orders when it comes to Caroline."

Accola, for one, is amused that she's constantly asked about Caroline's feelings for Klaus. "This is the first time where [Caroline's] staying true to her feelings and not getting caught up in the guy with the accent and sticking with that she loves her high school love/boyfriend." However, while Caroline may not have a true romantic attraction for Klaus, he is appealing to something within the young vampire. "How can you not think, all of a sudden, when someone starts putting into your head thoughts of places to travel and semesters abroad and all these experiences you're going to have as you grow up and grow older. It's hard not to think about them so I think that's the only way in which she's wooed in any sort by Klaus is the idea that there's another world out there but right now, in the present, she is fighting like hell to have a normal relationship with her boyfriend in high school. That's all she wants."

Word has already leaked that there will be a flashback in the season finale (which airs May 10th) and Plec offered up some insight into how what we'll see may not be what we expect. "The flashback in the finale is a nice small, little runner that goes through the entire episode as Elena is looking back on a part of her life when things were just more simple at least from a supernatural level. That's going to lead a lot people to think 'Oh, they're going to reveal something huge about the way that accident went down' and I will still say what I said three years ago which is that that was an accident, period, end of story, no supernatural influence, so this episode isn't about peeling back a layer of the mythology onion." However, ever the masterful teaser, Plec did reveal, "we actually will get a little flash of something else that happened during that time that we never even really considered and it's more of an emotional thing than it is a suspense thing."

In the meantime, the Executive Producer talked about season four, despite having yet to have gotten the green light from The CW network. "We're still awaiting official word, obviously, on season four but sort of feeling as confident as one can feel," she said, adding that she and the writers have been thinking about the fourth season, "which will take us through the rest of these guys' final year in high school. As they're all going through some pretty extraordinary changes in their own emotional lives, their own personal lives, romantic lives and supernatural lives, they're [also] making decisions about their future and what that will bring and all those great things leading up to graduation and the choice for 'Do I stay? Do I go?" She jokingly added that there would not suddenly be an appearance of a Mystic University for the post-high school years on the series.

In the meantime, we still have the final two episodes of the third season to look forward to and Plec previewed what's well see next week. "Alaric wants the Originals dead and the very first thing we see at the head of the next episode," she said, "is Alaric in the high school where Caroline and Rebekah (Claire Holt) are having a little post-dance clean-up so things only get worse from there. They start hot, they stay hot, it's a very, very extreme hardcore episode with Alaric on a tear and nobody is safe."

"The Vampire Diaries" airs Thursdays at 8:00/7:00c on The CW.





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· VAMPIRE DIARIES, THE (CW)









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