While death was the end for some (R.I.P. The Council), it was only the beginning for others, and Elena's rebirth as a full-fledged vampire was just one of the amazing moments that played out in tonight's Vampire Diaries season four premiere!
To make sense of all the drama, TheInsider.com caught up with TVD executive producer Julie Plec to walk us through the epic-sode, explain what it all meant and tease what's to come in episode two and beyond!
TheInsider.com: Coming into season four, what were your priorities?
Julie Plec: We really wanted to show the struggle of Elena's journey. We didn't want to be one and done. It's not, "Boom! You're a vampire! Weee! Isn't this fun?" Our show has always tried to balance the wish fulfillment of vampirism versus the hard cold reality of that circumstance. And for Elena, someone who never, ever wanted to be this, we didn't want to make it a cake walk. In making that decision, we are slow playing a lot in the beginning of the season. We're eeking out small nuggets of our mythology over the first few episodes as opposed to slamming into it. We are really focusing on Elena's journey; how she's changed, what this means for her, the ups and the downs of what transitioning does to her, her friendships and her relationships.
Insider.com: Inevitably a lot of fans are wondering what went into Pastor Young's decision to blow up the council. What can you say about his choice and what it means for this season?
Julie: What it means tragically, and yet ironically, is that there's a big reset button pushed for our supernatural creatures because their human enemies have basically been annihilated. At the end of episode one, they think everything is about to change, but no -- we dodge that bullet and so the supernatural creatures of Mystic Falls can live in peace and harmony ... or so they think until a new vampire hunter rolls in next week. He becomes the singular thorn in their side as opposed to the council. What it means for the mythology is something different entirely. This isn't something we're going to answer right away. In fact, it's going to be a dangling mystery for some time because there will be a big question of who did it, who's responsible for it and it happened. I mean, why did the pastor feel necessary to light a whole room of people on fire? Was he compelled? What went into that decision? That answer isn't coming any time soon, but we'll keep introducing a lot of clues.
Insider.com: For me, one of the big question marks over this season involves Rebekah. She's separated from her brother and has no strong ties to the core characters. How does she fit into season four?
Julie: Interestingly enough, episode three kind of answers your question. She shows up at school with a chip on her shoulder and this wall built 10 feet high because she knows that she's the most hated creature in Mystic Falls. It's what she does to defend herself against that unpopularity that will define who she is and what she'll be to the story this season. There are, of course, a couple of surprises in store for her early this season that shake things up.
Insider.com: Now that Klaus-in-Tyler is resolved, what's his mission? Is he still trying to create a family of hybrids?
Julie: It's certainly what he says his goal is. Klaus returns in episode three with a bit of a vengeance – he's pissed off and resentful that all these people bound themselves together to defeat him. He won't let them off the hook very easily and by the end of episode three, we start to get a sense that Klaus is putting together some pieces that the rest of our heroes aren't, that gives him a window into this new season four mythology. That makes him a very important player in this new season.
Insider.com: It was also amazing to see Grams again, but what exactly happened to Bonnie's power in that transfer moment?
Julie: It was basically a conditioned response. It was the witches saying, "If you go down this road, it will not just hurt you, but [those you love too]." It's the witches way of sending out a very, very dire warning: Do not meddle in that stuff. And that will scare Bonnie straight in episode two. Hopefully she can figure out a way to get access to her abilities again without having to go through that pain every time.
Insider.com: Earlier you mentioned that you were slow playing these first few episodes. Does that allow these characters, whose lives whoosh by, to take stock of everything that's happened?
Julie: For sure. I look at episode two in my own special way as the finale of last season's journey. We never got a chance to mourn, we never got a chance to properly grieve Alaric. In a way, our characters are never given the opportunity to sit and think about the terrible things that happen to them. This is a way of saying to the audience, we are allowing ourselves this moment to grieve. We are putting this away and moving forward. In many ways, episode three is truly the launch of season three in that we're really beginning a new chapter. Episode one and two are almost like a nice bow wrapped on end of season three.
Insider.com: Given that, what excites you about the beginning of season four, which begins in episode three?
Julie: The beginnings of some very interesting relationship shifts, across the board, for every character. The hints of what we like to call Something Wicked This Way Comes. The door opening to some really big mythology reveals that we'll launch into with episode four, which is our first flashback episode. There will be some conflicts between characters we want to see getting along and some nice moments between characters we're not used to getting along. And there's a couple sexy make out moments ... the show doesn't do enough of those!
The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
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