Writer/Producers Julie Plec and Michael Narducci Talk THE VAMPIRE DIARIES Season 4, the Holiday Episode, and Big Reveals

     November 9, 2012

the vampire diaries season 4 cast

Only a handful of episodes into Season 4 and already things are ramping up on the popular The CW drama series The Vampire Diaries. New mythologies are being explored, characters have died, love triangles have shifted and, yet again, everyone’s future is in question.

During this recent interview to promote the show, executive producer/writer Julie Plec and co-producer/writer Michael Narducci talked about the decision to bring back the actual diaries, what Elena (Nina Dobrev) will be going through now, the hunter tattoo affecting Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen), the need for a human foil, how Elena’s predicament could affect her relationships with Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder), what consequences a cure for vampirism could have on everyone in Mystic Falls, possibly meeting the rest of The Brotherhood of The Five, when the other Originals might return, what the holiday episode will focus on, and the importance of giving big reveals throughout the season. Check out what they had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are spoilers.

Question: What made you decide to bring back the actual diaries?

vampire-diaries-julie-plecJULIE PLEC: Well, it is the title of the show, so we always knew that we wanted it to exist out there in the ether. What we’ve said, since Season 1, is that a diary is your most personal place to give your most personal messages. When you’re in a functional friendship or a functional relationship, and you feel like you’ve got something to share, you can share it with a friend, a lover or whatever. Elena (Nina Dobrev) has always had that in Stefan (Paul Wesley) or Damon (Ian Somerhalder), but right now she feels more lost and alone than she ever has, so it felt like the right time for her to need to have a voice for that. She doesn’t feel she can admit to her friends and loved ones that she hates who she’s become. So, it felt like the right time.

Will it be around more now?

PLEC: No, it’s not going to be part of the week-to-week format, by any means. We’ll visit it at times where it feels like they need to have a private thought that we need to be invited into, more so than it being part of the narrative, every day.

Will Elena be able to forgive Stefan?

PLEC: Well, she’s mad at him, and she definitely starts next week really super mad at him. Forgiveness and understanding and learning the truth of what he’s up to and what he was up to are all up ahead, and we’ll see how she handles it.

Obviously, Elena would have to have a first kill eventually, but why did it have to be Connor (Todd Williams)?

MICHAEL NARDUCCI: We talked, in April, about what it would be like for Elena to become a vampire, and that very question, “What would her first kill be?” We knew that it would happen in Episode 5 and that it would be Connor, and I really wanted to write the episode. I’ve been on the show a little while and something that I struggle with is that I want Elena to do more things. I want her to not be a damsel in distress. I want her to go out and protect her brother. If Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) is in jeopardy, and we have Matt (Zach Roerig), who’s her high school sweetheart, in jeopardy, what’s Elena going to do? Is she going to wait for all these other people to get involved and save everyone for her, or will she get involved and do something? There were some key moments that I really loved in the episode, like when she turns to Damon and says, “I’m a monster, too.” She is now. She’s dangerous. I don’t think she went into those tunnels with the intention of killing Connor. I think she went into those tunnels with the intention of saying, “Stay the hell away from my family!” But, Connor never gives up. Connor is ready to kill a vampire, at any moment. When he stakes her, she loses it, in that moment. There’s something about vampires. They do go off. And Elena is one of them. So, we have to show that dark side, too, of what it is to be a vampire.

the vampire diaries nina dobrev ian somerhalder paul wesleyPLEC: We also like the idea that, just in the shadow of giving the first glimpse of hope for Elena’s predicament and situation, she, herself, was the one that broke that. She literally and metaphorically killed her hope without realizing it. The consequences of that first kill are pretty profound.

What will Elena go through, as a result of her first kill and the visions that she’s having now?

PLEC: Essentially, we learn, for the first time, that killing a hunter comes with a price. There’s a weird Dostoyevsky consequence to it all that she’s really going to have to deal with and that takes her to some dark, dark, dark places.

What effect will there be now, with the hunter tattoo transferring to Jeremy?

PLEC: Right now, it’s just the beginning of him being awakened. Connor had told him that he was a potential [hunter], so this is a hint that perhaps Connor was speaking the truth. We’ll see where that goes next.

Will he actively pursue that, right away?

PLEC: Yeah, it continues immediately, in that the question exists of, “What does it mean that he now has this mark on his hand, and what does that mean for the mythology of the Five?”

Will Jeremy meet Professor Shane (David Alpay)?

PLEC: Definitely! Professor Shane starts to cross paths with our group next week, with some answers. But, whether they are legit or not remains to be seen.

What was going on in those seven hours, between Professor Shane and Bonnie (Kat Graham)? Are viewers supposed to trust that he just helped her light candles, or is there more shady business going on?

the vampire diaries nina dobrevPLEC: That’s a good question because, on one hand, there’s this mentor that’s appearing in her life, just as she’s in her own darkest place where she feels like she’s lost connection to her magic and that she’s being punished by the spirits, and then here’s this very wise, very bright, very connected professor who’s saying to her, “Hey, let me teach you how to get back in touch with who you really are.” There’s an allure to that, that’s really great. Unfortunately, as we’ve all already seen, he does have an alternate agenda that he’s hiding. We just don’t know if it’s in her best interest or not. A lot of that will start coming to light, over the next chapter.

Is Tyler going to be focused now on helping the hybrids break their sire bonds?

PLEC: That was a glimpse at the beginning of a story for Tyler (Michael Trevino) that we are excited about. After all this time, it pays off. We will get into his sire bond to Klaus (Joseph Morgan), the hybrid circumstance, Klaus’ Machiavellian control over these people, what part Tyler, who was able to break it himself, will ultimately play in this group of other hybrids, who are the last remaining hybrids in the world because of Elena’s predicament, and what Tyler is going to do to insight a revolution.

Should viewers expect to see Katherine (Nina Dobrev) sometime in the near future?

PLEC: The only thing I’ll say about Katherine is that we have not seen the last of her. That’s the only thing I can say.

Have viewers seen the last of Connor?

PLEC: Actually, believe it or not, we have not seen completely, totally the last of Connor.

Do you think Elena and Jeremy would ever turn against each other?

PLEC: Well, now they are supernaturally predisposed to be in conflict, so that’s going to make Sunday dinner a little awkward.

Alaric (Matthew Davis) was a vampire hunter, but Connor was an official hunter. Will you be going into that distinction more?

nina dobrev paul wesley the vampire diariesPLEC: Yeah, this is the mythology of the Brotherhood of the Five, born in the year 1100, and the mark and what it means and where it leads and what Jeremy is going to need to do to complete it. This is the origin story of the vampire hunter, told to its end, as opposed to Alaric, who was just really pissed off and had a good stake.

What purpose does April (Grace Phipps) serve, at this point?

PLEC: April, for us, is a fun little human foil. When we first started the season, we wanted a character that, now that most, if not all, of our heroes, as we call them, are supernatural, was a reminder that this town exists and there are people in this town that know nothing and can get caught up in this, in the same way that Elena and her friends got caught up in it, in Season 1. It’s a nice fresh set of eyes. Imagine, back in Season 1, what our characters went through. She’s the Aunt Jenna.

What can you say about what April’s father was really up to, when he blew up The Council?

PLEC: When all is said and done, April is our vessel to start getting some answers about that really surprising twist of events, at the end of the first episode. That mystery is yet to be solved, and she will be a part of putting the pieces together.

NARDUCCI: It’s tough to play that role. You’re a normal person, on a show that’s all about vampires. But, it’s important because Elena is swimming in this big ocean and April is a marker to see how far Elena has gone from when she was human. When you look at April, that’s kind of what Elena was in Season 1, and Elena is absolutely not there anymore. It’s shocking to hold that mirror up and see where you are.

You planted the seeds of a friendship for April and Rebekah (Claire Holt), and then you took Rebekah away. How and when will Rebekah come back, and how will that friendship play out?

the vampire diaries season 4PLEC: That will all pay off, down the road, with a vengeance. That’s the best I can do for you there.

NARDUCCI: That’s a great question.

The search for a cure is a personal story for Elena, even though she doesn’t know it yet, and the discovery of a cure would be huge for the entire universe of the show because every character would have a decision to make. Are viewers going to start to see that filtering out and see what the consequences would be, if the cure were will?

PLEC: Here’s what I’ll say about that: First of all, everything you just said is 100% right, in that it’s going to ask a lot of questions, and it’s going to make our characters ask a lot of questions about themselves. What would they want? Would they want it? What would they do, in order to get it? It’s going to make them realize, “Wait a second, Klaus is an immortal hybrid who has been relatively indestructible. Is there somehow a way to make him suddenly destructible?” There’s going to be a whole lot of questions asked about what could happen, if this cure were to be uncovered, and who would go to great lengths to make sure that ultimately it didn’t fall into the wrongs hands. That all being said, our mythologies, season to season, all have a nice beginning. Right now, this announcement of a cure, at this point in the narrative, is equal to Katherine wanting a moonstone, or to Damon looking for a crystal. It’s just the beginning. It’s the beginning of a lot of roads that we can travel down.

When you kill an Original, that whole line of vampires dies, so in that same vein, what happens if an Original takes a cure? Does their whole line get cured?

PLEC: That is, without a doubt, a question that our characters are going to be asking, at a certain point. What the answer is, I can’t tell you, but it’s definitely a valid question.

Two major deaths have been teased for this season. Is that true?

ian somerhalder the vampire diariesPLEC: That’s what I head. Nina [Dobrev] got on Ryan Seacrest and said, “Two people are dying this year.” Statistically, yeah, maybe. We do tend to trim the ranks of the family, once a year. But, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about! So, I can’t really comment on that. Well, Connor is one. We don’t look at death as gratuitous, on this show. We like to kill characters with very profound purpose, and profound purpose is one of the things that we like to do a lot. So, I’m not saying that everybody is safe. I’m just saying that that number she threw out there was based on incomplete information.

What’s going to happen between Caroline (Candice Accola), Klaus, Tyler and Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), moving forward?

PLEC: Here’s the thing: Maybe it’s obnoxious and maybe we should stop, but every now and then, what we like to do is introduce a trope and you think you know where it’s going, so everyone gets all up-in-arms. People are like, “Oh, here comes the slutty little vixen into the show and Tyler is a cheater, so that’s how they’re going to break up Tyler and Caroline to get Caroline to Klaus.” We like to do that and invite that attack because we’re masochists. No, we like to feel badly about ourselves. And then, we like to be like, “No, that’s not at all what we’re doing.” It’s not to say that Hayley doesn’t have her own strong attachment to Tyler, but she is there for a reason, and it’s about Tyler’s story and what he wants to accomplish, as a hybrid free of Klaus, with the people who are a part of his pack. If anything, it will give Klaus this gleeful, perverse little power thing he thinks he holds over Caroline and Tyler, that will allow him to be emboldened enough to try to squeeze in there and make a move or two. But, when all is said and done, they’re pulling one over his eyes, a little bit. It will be interesting to see how that goes.

NARDUCCI: This show is so much about compulsion and addiction and urges that you can’t fight. Tyler is someone who beat the sire bond, and now he’s free. He looks at all these other hybrids that are around, that Klaus is using to do whatever, including being canon fodder. A hero would say, “This is wrong. I should be involved and do something about that.” And Hayley is someone who helps him act on that heroic desire.

the vampire diaries season 4PLEC: I gotta say that I just saw Episode 8, and Tyler is still being heroic in Episode 8, so spoiler alert. But, Michael Trevino is on fire. With a strong point of view, Tyler is stepping up, becoming a man and really taking a stand, and it’s good for him. I like seeing it, and he’s doing a really good job at it.

What does Matt have coming up?

NARDUCCI: Well, Matt and Jeremy are going to become closer as Jeremy takes on an older brother role to help his buddy, who’s going through these difficult problems with what happens with the mark on Jeremy’s hand.

PLEC: Matt is the last man standing human. In a lot of ways, that’s going to come in really handy, as Jeremy is struggling with supernatural urges to kill vampires and Elena is going down the rabbit hole of the consequences of having killed someone. As always, Matt is going to be that good, reliable voice of reason, which I think some people might find boring, but I find beautifully reassuring and good.

Vampire Elena seems to have a lot more in common with Damon than with Stefan. How will that impact the triangle, down the road?

PLEC: When you say, “How is that going to impact the triangle, down the road?,” you need to just ask, “How does that impact the triangle next week?” I’m just going to leave it at that.

Now that she’s killed one person, will that open the floodgates?

PLEC: Everything is about to change, in some way or another, and those changes are going to have a ripple effect through the entire season. I’m not saying it’s all going to change next Thursday at 8 o’clock, but there are some pretty big moves next week, as a result of this.

What will happen with Stefan and Damon’s relationship?

the vampire diaries season 4PLEC: I love when those boys are together and when they’re working on the same team. We will continue to hope and pray that they’ll be able to find those moments with each other, all season long, but there is going to be a lot conspiring against them, as all of the aftershocks of the events of this episode start to do their damage.

Since they’re called The Brotherhood of The Five, might viewers meet the other four, now that Jeremy has taken Connor’s place?

PLEC: Not in the very near future. But, never say never, as far as the distant future goes.

Are they all men?

PLEC: That’s a good question.

Elijah (Daniel Gillies) just appeared briefly in that flashback episode. Are there plans to bring him back again soon?

PLEC: Soon, in that we’re already talking Episode 16 and 17 in the room right now and Elijah’s name is all over the board. The scripts aren’t written yet and the stories aren’t broken yet, but our game plan is to have him come in, as we get closer to the last chapter of the season.

How soon will everyone else find out that Jeremy has the hunter’s mark now?

PLEC: Things pretty much start to get revealed to our characters, starting next week. Our gang tends to work its best when they all have a singular goal and the same information, so we don’t linger in Secret Land much longer.

Is Elena going to find out?

the vampire diaries season 4 ian somerhalderPLEC: Yes.

What can you say about the Miss Mystic Falls episode?

PLEC: We’ve had a pretty dark run of it, for these last couple of episodes. Elena has certainly been in a pretty dark place. Next week, we hit dark rock bottom. And then, the episode that follows is this episode of light and pretty and sun and dancing.

NARDUCCI: It’s still pretty dark.

PLEC: Well, yeah! It’s always going to be fucked up and twisted, but it’s a nice, refreshing change of pace. It gets us back to a little bit of romance and a little bit of good Mystic Falls events, at their finest. It evokes a memory of Season 1, very deliberately, and what was going on with the triangle back then.

So, this is yet another dance that Rebekah will miss?

PLEC: Yeah, but it’s not really a dance. They do the thing with the bow and the curtsey, and the art of the non-touch.

NARDUCCI: It’s interesting ‘cause a lot of your questions are things we do talk about in the writers’ room. We do talk about Rebekah missing all these dances and what we can do about that and what the best way is to pay that off, for that character.

What can you tease about the holiday episode?

PLEC: It’s not Christmas. People who try to follow the timeline of the show, their heads will explode in rapid succession, one neuron at a time. We try not to be too specific about the seasonal timeline of the show, but this is the first time in four years where we’ve actually aired close enough to Christmas where we thought, “Gosh, wouldn’t it be fun to have at least a little bit of holiday spirit woven through the episode?” So, it’s a charity event that the town is throwing with a winter wonderland theme, that gives us that feeling that the holidays have come to Mystic Falls. The episode is very much about loyalty and relationships and some betrayals, and all that drama that tends to come around family holidays.

Will viewers see Bonnie’s family members?

the vampire diaries season 4PLEC: Yes. I think we get our first meet of her dad, after we come back from the holidays.

What about Esther (Alice Evans)?

PLEC: I don’t know about her. We’ll have to see, if we see her again.

Because this show is so fast-paced, is your general rule, “When in doubt, let’s have that reveal happen quickly”?

PLEC: Yeah. I watched a lot of soap operas, when I was growing up, and a lot of those great serialized soap dramas. The one thing that always drove me crazy, especially on soaps, was when someone would have something they were hiding, and then six months later, they were still holding onto that secret, and the world has come to a complete, total end, as a result of it. If they’d only just confessed! It’s like Landry (Jesse Plemmons) and Tyra (Adrianne Palicki). If they had just confessed, then that whole run of Season 2 (of Friday Night Lights) would never have had to happen. We wanted to put the burden on Stefan, which was legitimate, and then have that completely collapse on him and blow up in his face, and then have to deal with the consequences of that. We didn’t really want to drag that out. It was more about how that instant response of having to keep Klaus’ secret just shattered him and Elena, as a result.

Are there any hopes of seeing Kol again?

PLEC: I do believe that Nathaniel Buzolic has been spotted Tweeting from Atlanta recently, yes.

Will it be through flashbacks, or will the Originals be reunited again?

PLEC: I would say neither. It will be real time, but I wouldn’t attach the word reunion to it.

The Vampire Diaries airs on Thursday nights on The CW.