At the end of season three, The Vampire Diaries did something showrunner Julie Plec had once promised herself she would never do: she turned Elena (Nina Dobrev) into a vampire. But while she once read the source material novels and vowed to do something different, she realized pretty early on that she needed to raise the stakes and what better way to do that than to play with the hero/heroine dynamic?
“We did an about-face as we were breaking season two and said ‘You know what? We can get there by the end of season two, and it would be pretty bad-ass!’ But we put the kibosh on that and decided ‘Not yet, but soon.’ And so, when we started season three, we knew that’s what we would do, and everything that we did, every choice that we made, all season long was leading to that moment,” Plec said.
“Elena’s classic promise is she’s never really going to be able to make choices [like to turn] for herself,” Plec continued. “She’s got Jeremy as Jeremy’s only remaining guardian, so she realizes very quickly [in season three] how selfish it would be to just leave him, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to go gently into the transition. The first episode deals with that.”
Therefore, the first episode will also see Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) reinvigorating a desire to protect his sister much the way she has vowed to protect him.
“He’s going to feel very committed to protecting her as we get a new vampire hunter that comes to town,” Plec revealed. “He gets put right smack in the middle of his sister’s secret and protecting it against this guy who takes a special interest in [him]. We’ll find out in a few episodes in as to why he has an interest in him.”
Calling Jeremy “as always, a nice work in progress,” Plec wouldn’t say whether or not he was completely ready to take on the new hunter Connor (Todd Williams). However, there are at least two other men on the show who will always fight for Elena, and may be more equipped to deal with such threats. Plec previewed that Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) will be as protective as always about her, as well, just in new ways.
“Now she doesn’t physically need protecting, but emotionally, she needs mentoring,” Plec pointed out.
“It’s a shift in the hero/heroine and the ingenue dynamic. But the biggest shift will be in how the brothers see each other. They’ve been closer than ever, but they do not see eye to eye about what Elena should be and how…A lot of the season is about ‘Who is Elena now? And how do they feel about who Elena is now?'”
In keeping with the physical transformations that kick off season three, Plec also promised the return of Joseph Morgan as Klaus, coming back “singed and burned and dusty and crusty.” After a “nice blood cocktail he will be back to business”– and pretty quickly because Plec doesn’t want to lose the power of Morgan on-screen.
Klaus returning means Tyler (Michael Trevino) will go back to just being Tyler, without memories of what happened but getting an “earful” about what went down. Caroline (Candice Accola) and Tyler may still have a solid relationship “for now,” but Tyler and Klaus will continue to butt heads, often times over her.
“Tyler and Klaus’ relationship is going to be a big part of the first half of the season. We’re playing with [the love triangle] in that Klaus isn’t giving up any time soon. He’s just going to adopt new means to try and break them up– almost as if it’s a sport! He’s getting a perverse little thrill over trying to find ways to make that relationship end.”
And then there is Bonnie (Kat Graham) who will see a new relationship of her own emerge– with a new mentor who Plec said is a “professor at the college where her grandmother used to teach.”
“We’re not, by any means, trying to fill Alaric’s shoes,” Plec explained, “but we definitely like populating our universe!”
Plec called The Vampire Diaries a “marathon” of a show that is “only at mile thirteen.” That may be the half-way point to most traditional marathons, but this one certainly doesn’t show any sign of slowing down!
The Vampire Diaries returns to The CW on October 11th 2012 at 8 p.m.
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