'The Vampire Diaries' Season 4: Elena's vampire side may see Damon in a new light as the love triangle deepens

tvd-322-elena-stefan.jpg "The Vampire Diaries" finale blew us away on Thursday night. There were some tragic goodbyes, the death of an anti-hero, and a breathtaking final reveal that will have us talking (and tweeting!) all summer long. Of course, with all those answers came some big questions, so we grilled executive producer Julie Plec on what's to come in Season 4 and just how the finale decisions were made.

Zap2it: In Season 2, you guys told the story of Caroline's transition to being a vampire so beautifully. How do you expect Elena's transition to be different, so that it feels like a new story?

Plec: I think the differnce here is that you have two vampires, two brothers who love this girl equally, who are going to have significantly diverging opinions about how it should all go down and what the most effective way to be a vampire is. One of the things we've seen in the last three years, especially this season in the [1912] flashback, is that neither of them particularly took to vampire life all that well. Damon was bitter and pissed off about it for 50 years before he realized he could have fun, and Stefan had his own demons, his Ripperhood. They're both going to have an opinion on how to help Elena. Stefan's method was very successful for Caroline, and we'll see him trying to teach Elena, where Damon is taking the opposite point of view. We're going to have a lot of conflict attached to those opinions.

Do we know whose blood Meredith used to turn her? We know she did have a stash of Damon's blood.

That will be a good question to ask and answer when we come back.

Was there a debate in the writer's room as to whether she would choose Stefan or Damon in this episode, or did you always agree that it would be Stefan?

We were heading toward the end of the road knowing that as a human, Stefan was Elena's choice. We also knew what was going to happen at the end of the episode. Elena is no longer a human when she wakes up and when the memories come back and when her whole life goes upside-down. Who's to say what that does to her? Who's to say what kind of person she becomes, and how that impacts who she loves and why she loves them? I'm not saying that's going to send her running instantly into Damon's arms, absolutely not, but it's going to cloud the issue even more.

Her kiss with Stefan in her house was the first one they've shared all season.

We really wanted to see Stefan and Elena come back together after a really long and really horrible season. She was his champion and fought for him, even when he didn't deserve to be fought for, she still came back and said "I couldn't stop loving you, I could never stop loving you." That deserved payoff. When we wrote "The Last Day" last year, we knew where Stefan was going, and that was the last romantic episode those two were going to have probably for a year. We knew it was all going to go to hell, so finally being able to have one tiny moment of intimacy was nice.

The flashback to Elena and Damon's first meeting was a big shock for fans. In terms of your thought process there, what was the purpose of it? How did it drive the story?

It serves multiple functions. When Damon shows up in the pilot, he knows a lot about Elena, so there's always been a question about where he's been and what he was up to. How did he know all this? He clearly didn't just walk into Mystic Falls with his crow. He's been around too. We always said that one day we'd find out what he's been doing. It was us wanting to give Damon something to fight for. Ric is unbeatable, a jillion times stronger than Damon. Damon was a dead man, and Ric was relishing beating him, and Damon had nothing left to live for, having been passed over once again. It was just that slight little thing that she said to him, when she was just trying to take the sting off: "Hey, maybe if you and I had met first." She was just trying to soften the blow. But in reality, he had this memory that gave him the will to fight back. I love that moment, where Ric's about to drive the stake into him, and he's like "You know what? I'm not ready to die today."

Bonnie took charge in this episode, helping Klaus into Tyler's body. Was that a function of her being tired of being kicked around all season, or was it the influence of the dark magic she tapped into for the spell last week?

It's definitely a result of being kicked around all season. It's Bonnie saying, "I'm not the pawn anymore. Don't underestimate me and don't tell me what to do." I think the witches sending her to Alaric really burned her, because she'd already been fighting to get her strength against the vampires, and then her own "sisters," as they said, betrayed her. For Bonnie, this is like "Hey, look. I've got a point of view, I've got the ability to do something about it, and damn it, I'm going to do it." To tap into that kind of power she had to dig even deeper into her darkness. In the first episode back, I can't imagine that we won't be looking for some kind of magic to prevent Elena from having to transition. It'll be a question of how far Bonnie is willing to go to help her friend, and what are the repercussions and consequences attached to that.

Does Klaus owe Bonnie one now? Or does he never owe anyone anything?

I think that this definitely changes the dynamic between Klaus and Bonnie a little bit.

When "Tyler" was saying goodbye to Caroline and talking about her beautiful future, was he already Klaus, at that point?

Yeah. We definitely were hinting at that with the "you're beautiful and you'll have a great future" line. That was a classic Klaus-Caroline line, so we wanted to give a little hint there. All that smooching and all that emotion wasn't Tyler at all, in fact, was Klaus.

We didn't see Klaus's body turn to ash, so I assume there's some plan in place to keep Joseph Morgan in the mix.

Yep. I'd say there's a fairly significant chance, if not a 99.9% likelihood that body did not burn up in that coffin.

Before we see him return to that body, is he going to have a little fun being Tyler?

Yep. He's definitely going to prolong his stay, at least in the first episode, due to circumstance. Whatever goes down between Caroline and "Tyler" in the first episode will actually be happening between Caroline and Klaus, so we'll have some fun there.

I know you said Stefan and Elena will definitely make a go of being in a relationship again, but outside of that, where is Stefan's head right now? How is he looking at the choices that he made? He looked absolutely wrecked in that final scene.

He was destroyed for so many reasons. Meredith had already broken the news to him, so in that moment of lying over Elena's body, he was mourning her as a human and realizing that ultimately he was unable to save her from the one thing she never wanted, which was to be a vampire. That's going to weigh on him really heavily and it's going to piss Damon off like nobody's business, that Stefan saved Matt instead of Elena. Stefan had a big burden in that moment and what he had to do was be true to Elena. It's like choosing to take someone off life support because it was their wish or to keep them on because you can't let them go. It was what she wanted, and Stefan, if nothing else, has always been able to let her make her decision. If, as a vampire, she starts to make the wrong decisions, then we'll see a shift in Stefan and how he feels about helping Elena through things. I think we'll start to get a glimpse at the different sides of Stefan in a relationship, where it's not going to be all peaches and cream and love and unconditional, unwavering support of Elena's decision. Elena is no longer Elena.

Would you say that the love triangle will be stronger than ever next season?

Yes. I say that at my own peril, but yes. People can get frustrated by the love triangle, people can find it grating or whatever, but the premise of the show is two vampire brothers and their love for the same girl. That's where we started and it's always going to exist in the landscape of "The Vampire Diaries." Some years it'll be more in the forefront than other years, when it's delicately laid in the background. Elena becoming a vampire will make it fresh. It changes things, and makes us ask new questions. It makes things a lot deeper. It's all part of this process of growing up. As our characters are working toward graduation and all kinds of life decisions -- do I go to college, do I leave my hometown, is my high school boyfriend going to be my college boyfriend -- all those life things, it's all going to be supported where Elena is with Damon and Stefan.

Stay tuned to Zap2it for lots more "Vampire Diaries" fun all summer as we lead up to Season 4!
Photo/Video credit: The CW