We only have four episodes left in the fourth season of The Vampire Diaries but there are still an awful lot of questions to be answered. Will Elena get her humanity back? Will Silas unleash an eternity of supernaturals onto the world? And what of the Originals if their show goes? We went straight to the source for answers: writer and producer Caroline Dries, who filled us in on what to expect for the rest of this season, and gives us a preview of season five.
What can we expect for the rest of the season?
They are filming the finale right now, that Julie [Plec] and I wrote. We are proud of the fact that... the first few episodes of the season - 401, 402 - all the mythology we started the show with, the massacres and the hunters - the chickens come home to roost in the finale. Everything we’ve been building towards happens as the students are graduating high school. It feels like a huge payoff. So things should feel surprising, but at the same time, we have really set them up.
We get to look forward to our gang graduating high school. We get to unfold the different layers of Silas as we get to know him better as the villain. There are some huge surprises with Bonnie and her magic that will shake us to our core, I think. We saw how Katherine and Elijah’s relationship kind of came out of left field, and yet made perfect sense - at least to me. We get to see that [relationship] evolve a little more and learn more of Katherine’s story. Then there is Elena, who we saw at prom as this heartless bitch who tried to kill her best friend. The boys need to put a stop to it because Elena is becoming her own worst nightmare. Elena has become the villain of the season at this point. So the Salvatores have to test their own limits with Elena, and do everything in their power to make her turn her emotions back on. It puts a huge strain on them because this is the woman they both love. How do you make her turn her emotions back on?
One of the things that was hinted at in the prom episode was that the only emotions Elena seems to respond to are fear and pain. Can we expect to see the boys just torturing the shit out of her?
Yes. In the least pretty fashion. This is where they realize - and the audience sees - how strong Elena is as a character - and as a villain, because she is able to withstand so much of their torture. [Damon and Stefan] torturing her is actually torture for them because they love her so much. So she is able to play with that dynamic. If you think Elena is a villain now, she manages to become an even greater villain. By the end of the season, we will find a way for her to become the Elena we know. Ultimately, we need to answer the question of the cure - the cure is still out there. And once Elena is back to being regular Elena Gilbert, with her emotions and her humanity, the question is hanging over our heads: were her feelings for Damon due to the sire bond? Were they real? Does she still love Stefan? So she has to answer that question, which is the big emotional journey for her this season.
The Vampire Diaries has never been afraid to kill off main characters, as we have seen time and again. Will everyone who was alive as of the prom episode survive the end of the season?
Um..... no. You know everything can’t go that well! There is always a body count.
That is one of the things I love about Vampire Diaries. It is “realistic” in the sense that, unlike in other TV shows, not everyone makes it to the end; they don’t all get out of their sticky situations. I think that is what keeps the show exciting and keeps viewers on their toes.
Yeah, it totally does. What I realized when I first started working on this show is that what really makes this show pop is that it lives in the truth. The truth is an ugly, uncomfortable place. Rather than running from it, you just charge into it, and that is where the best stories come from. That’s why I think Damon pops off the page so much, because he just says truthful things. They are hurtful, but that is what makes it shocking.
What can you tell us about The Originals pilot that airs this week?
It feels like [Vampire Diaries] but it has a new layer to it because it is set in New Orleans. It has a different vibe to it and it’s own set of characters. It’s a very compelling show. I feel like it was well done and a very interesting story.
If The Originals goes to series, will there be crossover episodes?
Yes. The plan is to do some crossover episodes. We don’t have any specifics yet.
The Vampire Diaries has already been picked up for a fifth season. Have you guys started breaking scripts yet? Do you know what will happen after the kids graduate?
Yeah. Even though we are done with season four story-wise, we do this thing called “Vampire Diaries Boot Camp.” We gather in the writer’s room, and now that we don’t have to deal with production phone calls and writing scripts, we just have full days of brainstorming the big ideas of the next season. That is what we are in the process of doing right now. We are thinking of the big stuff: Elena is going to go to college, which will be huge, but we want to keep it grounded in Mystic Falls as well. Obviously Damon isn’t going to go to college; but Caroline and Bonnie and Elena are roommates.... We want to keep the stories intertwined, and not just have separate college storylines.
A lot of shows set in high school seem to have a difficult time making that transition to college. Are you at all worried about that? I mean, truly, Vampire Diaries stopped being about high school long ago.
I think we will handle college the way we handle high school. They’re not going to be sitting in class every five minutes, but we are hyper-aware of it. We want to make sure the season feels fresh and new, like we are starting at a new place in Elena’s life. That’s what we like about college. What we don’t like about it is having these isolated college people in one place, then these other people in another place. So the challenge for us is to make sure all the storylines are intertwining and keeping the ensemble alive.