'Vampire Diaries' Boss on Season 6 'Reset': 'Everybody Gets to Start Over' (Q&A)
UPDATED: Following the season-five finale, executive producer Julie Plec talks to THR about the return of a fan favorite, Elena's devastation and the mysterious fates of Damon and Bonnie.
[WARNING: Spoilers ahead from Thursday's season finale of The Vampire Diaries, "Home"]
The Vampire Diaries is heading for a "reset."
With Mystic Falls still cloaked under the "no-magic" spell and Damon and Bonnie dead, The CW drama won't look the same when the new season kicks up again in the fall. A substantial amount of time will have passed, and the gang may not be in one place -- at least not initially.
"The way we look at it, season six is a beautiful and organic reset. The theme of the season is everybody gets to start over. That's what we're going to do," executive producer Julie Plec tells The Hollywood Reporter.
The new season will put the focus back on the characters and their often complicated internal and psychological conflicts. Among those joining the fray will be the welcomed return of Matt Davis (Alaric) and Michael Malarkey (Enzo), both back as series regulars.
"We're trying to take the show away from the massive genre extravaganza where each season we try to top each other with the bigger, bad, more exciting mythologies and boil it back down to the beginning, which is tension, suspense, romance, psychological horror, simple horror, vampires living in secret, people discovering their secret and coming after them," Plec promises.
"Our heroes who have splintered off need to find their way back to each other emotionally and geographically as they fight to restore order to their home so they can actually return and not be scattered for good."
Plec talks to THR about the mystery surrounding Damon and Bonnie, Elena's devastation and why she thinks season six is a new beginning.
Between the heart-wrenching finales of The Originals and The Vampire Diaries, it's been such a brutal week for viewers of both. Serious question: Do you have stock in Kleenex?
Someone tweeted me "Do you get off on causing people pain?" (Laughs.) It's like, um, no! As a fan of television, I love when I cry when I watch TV. As a storyteller, I want to take people on the deepest of emotional journeys. That's just my thing. Somebody said, "I feed on the tears on fangirls. That's how I survive." (Laughs.)
Last year, you said that the season-five finale was going to be a "mindf---," and you weren't kidding. Was this always the ending that you wanted the season to build up to, or were there hesitations about killing two core characters?
No. This was, for sure, the ending. When we decided that, once and for all, the Other Side was going to go away, we decided to put Bonnie and Damon into that predicament. This was a year ago. We all sort of said, "Oh my god, are we going to pull this off?" And we spent the year figuring our way there. Now we're left with the mystery of, with the Other Side gone, where the hell are they?
That was one of the biggest questions viewers seemed to have following the finale: Where did they go?
Did they find peace? Are we going to be left with Damon and [Bonnie] flashbacks and hallucinations and memories for the entirety of season six? Did they find their way somewhere else, and if so, where? I can you tell that the Other Side no longer exists, so they're not there. There's no more coming back from that. It's going to be a big mystery about what happens and what our heroes can do about it, if anything.
But the finale wasn't the last we've seen of Ian Somerhalder and Kat Graham, correct?
They're both contracted for next year. It's really more about the mystery of what happened to them and how we'll see them again -- and in what context will we see them again.
This introduces the possibility of seeing a new dimension for the show to explore. Have you set guidelines and a rulebook for this new "purgatory"?
We have so much that we've discussed for the next season that is thrilling. We had a writers' boot camp that lasted about a month, and we teed up our first five episodes pretty cleanly. We're going to come back in a whole new environment. A good amount of time would have passed. Our characters fundamentally will have had to come to terms with the fact that Damon and Bonnie are gone forever. There are those who refuse to give up. There are those who have given up. There are those who are living in denial. All of them have found ways to move forward and get on with their lives in really unique and distinct ways. Exploring that new reality -- the magic bubble, so to speak, that sits over Mystic Falls still exists, so they literally cannot go home again. That's a big theme of the early part of the season: How can we bring our heroes and our friends back together, and how can they find their way back home, literally and figuratively. That includes the Damon and Bonnie mystery as well.
A core part of the show's DNA is the trio of Damon, Elena and Stefan, so it's hard to imagine Damon permanently among the living. What are the odds he and Bonnie could return to the living?
I think all the questions you're asking are good questions because that's part of the mystery that will unfold in season six. Will Stefan and Elena have turned to each other for comfort? Or are they completely estranged? Will Damon ever be able to be in the same corporeal room as his brother or the woman he loves, or is he forever doomed to be apart from them? There are all of these questions that really give us the shape of the whole season.
Elena's plea at the end for Damon to return to her was devastating. How is she going to handle his death? With the time jump, she would have had time to grieve and mourn.
Elena Gilbert has lost so much and has dealt with grief in so many different ways and dealt with loss. This particular way will be surprising because it's a little bit of a new side of her that we haven't seen before. As she's trying to move on with her life, what coping mechanisms is she using to deal with the fact that it seems she may never see these two people who were so important to her ever again?
Stefan also had a wonderful line in the cemetery, when he said, "Damon finally had everything he wanted. He was happy. He should be here." If he could do it all over again, would he have sacrificed his spot if it meant Damon could return?
I think in that moment Stefan profoundly believed that his accidental slip as he was helping Bonnie, he holds himself to blame for that moment. I think that he would have thrown himself into the path of oblivion to make sure his brother got out alive. He didn't get that chance because of a mistake, and I think that'll eat at him and haunt him for quite some time.
Will he deal with his brother's death in a different way than Elena?
Yeah. Again, the surprise of how each of these characters is dealing with it and where they are and how they're living their lives is how we're going to get the season started.
Is Tyler the only one who came back as a human?
Just Tyler, because of the way he died within the boundaries of Mystic Falls.
What's his arc going to look like now that he's found himself in a new form?
It's a do-over. A big theme of season six is second chances, and Tyler has this do-over but along with it, comes all this hostility and rage and aggression that gets so bottled up in you when you have a latent werewolf gene. Now that he knows what he knows and just how wrong it can go, he's going to work really hard to keep himself walking a straight line and to keep his temper in check and to be a good guy in spite of all that anger and ugliness that simmers inside him. It's going to be a struggle, but it's going to be a good struggle. I'm excited about Tyler's storyline this year. It's time for him to find somebody new to love, because one thing that can help us with the darkest parts inside ourselves is the light of love, so I'm looking forward to exploring that with him.
On a slightly happier note, Alaric is back. (Matt Davis will be a series regular in season six.) What kind of role will he have in the new season?
Alaric is back! Yeah. (Laughs.) I'm so excited about Alaric's role in the new season. There's so much going on with him. One, he's now back in the situation where he can be a mentor, a brother or a father figure to Elena and Jeremy, which is his sweet spot. He's struggling with the fact that he's this vampire hunter. Back when he got turned, it all happened so quickly. He went out of his mind; he never really had the human experience of living the life of a vampire. Now they can't be in Mystic Falls, so they're in a place outside of Mystic Falls where they have to keep it secret and be very discreet. Elena has to teach Alaric a tip or two about discretion. I think as we watched Alaric struggle with living the hidden life of a vampire, wouldn't it be nice if a woman entered his life who he had interest in, that he had to hide that from? You get a little fun Stefan-and-Elena stuff in season one with Alaric, who is trying to get his life together.
Where have they set up shop temporarily since Mystic Falls is a no-fly zone at the moment?
Where are they living? What are they doing? How are they acting? And how are they going to find a solution to this circumstance that the Travelers created for them. It seems fairly permanent. With the time jump, they've had to come to terms that it is permanent. Who's going to fix that problem and how?
Could there be one last loophole or spell that they haven't yet discovered that could bring Damon and Bonnie back?
Never say never. That's again the big mystery of season six. Where are Damon and Bonnie? What happened to them? And is it possible to get them back? In the midst of all that, if anybody else dies, there's no more Other Side, so they're pretty screwed. (Laughs.)
Is that the last we saw of Grams, Lexi and Silas?
That is definitely the last we've seen of those characters either get ripped into oblivion or, in Lexi's case, she seemed to find peace. It's a true goodbye. Lexi is great in our flashbacks and part of Stefan's life, all the way from 1864 on, so we might see Arielle [Kebbel] again as Lexi in the past. As for the present, she sacrificed herself for her friend. And I cried and I cried.
You mentioned a time jump. Can you say how much time will have passed?
It's more than a couple of months.