'Vampire Diaries' Exec Producer Previews "Big Moves" in Midseason Finale

"There's a lot I'm excited about in terms of moving forward," Caroline Dries tells THR
Bob Mahoney/The CW

As The Vampire Diaries' fall finale approaches, the CW series is juggling a whole lot of stories. Kai (Christopher Wood) has broken free from the 1994 Prison World and is causing havoc in present-day Mystic Falls. Bonnie (Kat Graham) has again missed the chance to break out of the Prison World. Damon (Ian Somerhalder) is burning bridges in an attempt to find a way to free Bonnie. And Matt (Zach Roerig) is determined to get rid of Enzo (Michael Malarkey). And all of these stories come to a head as the gang prepares for Christmas.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with The Vampire Diaries showrunner Caroline Dries to get a preview of what's in store for the current (and banished) Mystic Falls residents.

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What has you most excited about the midseason finale?

There's a lot I'm excited about in terms of moving forward. With what we're setting up for the Caroline (Candice Accola)-Stefan (Paul Wesley) relationship, they're going to go through some hardships, and their relationship is going to evolve as they support each other.

[As for] the origin of this episode, I was talking to [Vampire Diaries executive producer] Julie [Plec], because I sat down to brainstorm, and I called her because she was out of town, and I was like, "I'm having a hard time thinking of what to do in this episode." And she was like, "Ugh, all of our characters can't be together in Mystic Falls, because of the Travelers' spell over the town. I just wish they could be together, in a way. Like, in the town square." And I'm like, "Yeah, but that can't happen, because they would all die if they tried to reunite." (Laughs.) And then we came up with a flashback idea, which we've never really done before, as we flash back to a couple of different years, and we're seeing people happy, for once on our show, which is a nice little reminder of the core group of our show, what it used to be before all the chaos in their lives. And that's what I like about this episode. And so I also think in terms of the mythology of our show, Kai's big move at the end of the episode is what we were excited about in the writers' room when we came up with [the episode]: how Kai can use his talent to get the upper hand on the town, and also allow everyone to reunite again.

Kai did take the step to approach Tyler (Michael Trevino) with a proposition in the last episode that would keep Liv (Penelope Mitchell) alive. How will Tyler react to it, and how will it impact the rest of the characters?

What I like about that story line is Tyler's wants are against the wants of Elena (Nina Dobrev), Damon, Alaric (Matt Davis) and Jo (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe). So it's nice to have opposing forces among the same group of friends. And so Tyler is going to do whatever he can in his power to protect Liv. And so, even though Kai is, like, the bad guy, teaming with him is the smartest move. And Kai, who needs a little bit of help because he's not an actual witch with normal witch powers, he needs to recruit Tyler, to then recruit Luke (Chris Brochu) so Luke can do his bidding.

Kai had a violent reunion with Liv last week, but what will be in store when he and Jo see each other again?

Kai's want is to basically be face-to-face with Jo so he can merge with her. There are several things he needs to do before that, which is equip Jo with magic, so she's actually an actual witch again. But that [reunion] is his goal, and that's why he's going to recruit Tyler to make his main mission. But he's going to go up against Damon, Alaric and Elena, so it's not going to be as easy as he wishes it were.

It seems like a lot of fans are responding to the Kai character. Is the plan to keep him around long-term?

We love working with Christopher Wood. He is super charismatic, and he can spit out a mouthful of dialog and make it sound funny and crazy. He's been a real treat to have on the show, so we want to keep him around. But we also want to maintain the notion that people can die at any moment, so there's always stakes. And so we're trying to find the middle ground for that. But we do plan on using him as a villain for a bunch more episodes after this one.

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Alaric was pretty unhappy when he realized Damon had betrayed his trust by compelling him. How will that tension play out?

One of the core friendships of our show, in terms of bromances, is the Alaric-Damon friendship. And Damon is known for doing anything he needs to do to satisfy his goal. So when he compels Alaric, he puts a huge wedge into that friendship. In this episode, he'll try to make amends, because in his mind, he can rationalize it as, we need to get Bonnie back. But Alaric makes a good point, which is, getting Bonnie back — or killing Kai, whatever it is that Damon wants to do — is for Damon's own selfish wants, not really for anyone else. So they're a little icy by the end of the episode; it's not something that will mend itself easily.

Bonnie came so close to actually being saved in the last episode. What will the latest setback do to her emotional mindset?

I actually love the Bonnie storyline in this; it's very simple, she's just in a few scenes by herself, and she is by herself. And she is trying to make the best of a horrible situation. And what happens to Bonnie is what happens to a lot of prisoners or survivors — you develop this shell. So she will definitely harden from this experience and start to transition into a newer woman.

How long will Bonnie's storyline in that prison world actually play out?

It is a storyline that will continue to play out into 2015. What we tried to do in the last episode, episode nine, is that when Kai destroys that Ascendant, we were saying, at least from our side of reality, it's almost now going to be impossible to reopen that [gate into the] prison world. So our guys' hands are sort of tied. So all they can kind of do is miss Bonnie, and hope that she figures out a way to get the hell out of there. It's going to continue to be [an arc]. In 2015, it'll continue to be their goal, but they don't have a lot they can do about it. It's more about Bonnie fortifying herself and trying to figure it out on her own.

Elsewhere, Matt and Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) are attempting to take on EnzoWhat can you preview about how that will turn out?

What we've teed up this season is that Matt has been training with Tripp (Colin Ferguson). And I know that Tripp died, but Matt has taken on this new mantle of protecting the town; he feels responsible for the humans. So, he recruits Jeremy, who is a badass vampire hunter, and so the two of them — Matt has been training, and we never got to see him use the skills that Tripp taught him. So I do think they actually do stand a pretty good chance against Enzo. And Matt has a pretty good plan. But it's Vampire Diaries, so there's always a twist in there somewhere. We don't know if it's going to go as well as he hopes.

There was a tease that Caroline will get some devastating news. Is there anything you can elaborate about that?

It's kind of what I was talking about at the beginning, which is Caroline and Stefan go through this hardship together; they bond in a way that deepens their friendship. They've gone through so much at the beginning of this season: that she had feelings for him and he rejected her, and then she said she hated him. This sort of brings him back to being her friend, and somebody she can trust and lean on. So even though it's devastating, there is a little silver lining to it.

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW. What are you looking forward to seeing? Sound off in the comments section below. Check back to THR's The Live Feed after the episode for more scoop from Dries.

Twitter: @marisaroffman

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