'The Vampire Diaries': Damon's demons surface; Can Elena forgive Stefan's dark past?

tvd-elena-damon-1.jpgIn the most recent episodes of "The Vampire Diaries," Damon ( Ian Somerhalder) seems to be indulging in a whole lot of wine, women, and blood. Mix that up with some pesky unwanted human emotion and Mystic Falls' favorite bad boy has himself quite the lethal cocktail.

Zap2it caught up with executive producer Julie Plec to discuss Damon's apparent downward spiral. She reminded us of something Stefan said to Damon in the Season 2 premiere. "At the beginning of the season, Stefan said to Damon, 'Katherine ruined you once. Don't let it happen again,'" she says.

Katherine's absence in Damon's life over the last 145 years left room for what Plec calls "the parts of Damon that are so self-destructive and so violent and so aggressive." Damon has lived in that dark place for so long that it's become his nature. Of course, there's something to be said for nurture - and Damon has changed.

"He keeps himself in check because he wants to be, as Elena says, the better man," Plec says. "Not because of who Katherine was, but because of who Elena is."

The struggle, now, is that Damon has to watch while Elena's ( Nina Dobrev) affections are directed toward Stefan ( Paul Wesley). "He doesn't have Elena, and he doesn't want to be a hero. When things happen that make him look in the mirror and not recognize himself, he's going to go back in search of that person that he's been for the last 145 years. Unfortunately, that means reverting to some old habits that kind of defined him for a very long time."

When "The Vampire Diaries" writers' room first broke the story for the episode in which Rose dies, the hour had a very different ending. "We had written that entire script, and we had ended Damon's journey on that hug with Elena. We were done with the script and we were moving forward, and somebody said, have we taken Damon to too emotional of a place? He's sad, and he's upset, and he's struggling with dealing with his feelings," Plec says.

The writers realized that Damon's response to the overwhelming emotion of losing Rose and having a breakthrough moment with Elena would send him over the edge. "The idea came up that maybe he should just completely regress as a knee-jerk response to having too many emotions," Plec says." That changed everything."

And thus, Damon wandered drunkenly into the road, where he confessed his desire to be human again to a stranger -- and then killed her, just because he could. It's something Damon hasn't done in all season.

"We just sort of added it in," Plec says. " Kevin [Williamson] wrote his speech at the end, which was just brilliance in action. It changed everything. It really reinvigorated all of us for that character because Damon is all about how deliciously bad he can be and how epically good he can be, and how the two are always at odds with each other." tvd-triangle1.jpg

Somerhalder has his work cut out for him on Damon's journey this season. Somerhalder has told us several times that Damon's more vulnerable scenes take a toll on him. Things are only going to get more difficult for him.

"It's no secret that having to play emotional Damon makes Ian really uncomfortable as a person, as an actor," Plec says. "It's hard, because you have to tap into your own emotional stuff, and now we keep challenging him. We're going to keep making him dig deeper and deeper."

Right now, Elena is blissfully ignorant of Damon's new taste for human blood straight from the source, but when she sees Damon with Andie ( Dawn Olivieri) she's not going to let her opinion go unspoken.

"Damon's continued association with Andie will start to make Elena look at him and wonder. It's obvious that Damon is 'Carolining' Andie," Plec says. "So once Elena kind of figures that out and has time to have a heart to heart with Damon, it's certainly something that she's going to discuss with him. He's kind of exploiting this woman and our girl Elena is not going to be so down with that."

Speaking of Elena -- she's been particularly proactive lately, refusing to sit back and let her circumstances determine her destiny. We're loving new badass Ponytail Elena, and Plec is, too.

"Nina's so good!" she says. "The non-supernatural heroine in a show like this is hard to write. You want her to be strong-willed and you want her to be fierce, but also, by definition of being at the center of it all, she's often the damsel in distress. Trying to find the balance between putting her in jeopardy and also letting her be badass is something we deal with every week. With 'Rose,' I loved that shot where she kicks the chair and she grabs the chair leg and she holds it up, because it was so 'Buffy.' It's such a badass, 'Buffy' moment, and that really embodies Elena."

Elena the Vampire Slayer is going to be put on hold in an upcoming episode when she and Stefan take a well-deserved romantic vacation that... doesn't go too well. "They do have a good five minutes, give or take. Elena smiles a couple times," Dobrev tells us. She wasn't kidding about those five minutes. Things take a turn for the worst when Elena is confronted with the harsh truth of Stefan's dark past.

tvd-el-stef.jpg"Stefan and Elena are going through a little bit of a struggle after next week's episode with each other, because of the stories coming to light about who Stefan was," Plec says. "She's confronted with details about that period in his life, and it puts him in an uncomfortable place."

Through an upcoming flashback episode, we'll see the gory reality. Stefan's demons are just as dark as Damon's -- he just doesn't let the demons control him as often. When we look back at a time when those demons did control him, we'll get a much more complete picture of Stefan's character.

"The flashbacks have a big impact on Elena, as far as her willingness to trust Stefan and to trust herself when it comes to how to deal with this Klaus situation and her willingness to sacrifice herself, versus his insistence that she really needs to stand up and fight," Plec says.

What do you think, vamp fans? Is Damon going to be able to come back from this dramatic regression? Will Elena be able to forgive Stefan's past once she knows all the dirty details? Weigh in below in our comments section. Keep your eyes peeled for more scoop from our chat with Julie Plec, coming soon! In the meantime, here's all the dish on our other favorite love triangle -- Matt/Caroline/Tyler.
Photo/Video credit: CW