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'Vampire Diaries' Boss Spills Season 4 Secrets (Q&A)

"We’re telling the same series all over again but with a different point of view and a different context," executive producer Julie Plec told THR of the new season at the CBS/Showtime/CW summer press tour party Sunday.

The Vampire Diaries The Departed - H 2012
Annette Brown/The CW Network
"The Vampire Diaries"

After that surprising season three finale, which effectively changed the course of Mystic Falls forever, who wouldn't want the dirt on The Vampire Diaries?

Though Diaries fans will have to wait a little more than two months for season four to kick back up on the CW, executive producer Julie Plec shared with The Hollywood Reporter some teases at the CBS/Showtime/CW summer press tour party at the Beverly Hilton on Sunday for the new episodes -- which should whet appetites. Plec chatted about Bonnie and Elena's forthcoming hardships, Matt's journey and hints at the identity of the new baddie for season four, and much more.

The Hollywood Reporter: In one of the first few episodes of season four, there are rumblings that there may be a "surprise" return. What intel can you offer there?

Julie Plec: I can say that what [Bonnie] did, the choice she made in the last episode – to swap Tyler (Michael Trevino) and Klaus’ (Joseph Morgan) bodies – comes back to bite her in the butt a little bit. Not from her friends, who would understand why she did what she did; she did it to save their lives. But the witches aren’t necessarily too happy with Bonnie (Kat Graham) dabbling in the dark side so she goes through a pretty rough time in the first episode as she tries to do what she does best, which is save her friends and finds the witches pushing back a little too hard.

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THR: Bonnie and Elena (Nina Dobrev) seem to both be dealing with their own issues at the moment. How soon will we see them come together?

Plec: Bonnie is going to be going through her own emotional crisis at the beginning of the season as Elena goes through hers. It’ll take the girls a couple of episodes before they realize that they can go through it together. I think that the good news is that Elena’s friendships will remain solid as she herself is crumbling a little bit.

THR: The season three finale cliffhanger had the Twittersphere abuzz. How has reaction been?

Plec: The reaction has, honestly, been extraordinary. If people are hating it, then no one’s told me and thank god, because I wouldn’t want to know that. We were toying with it for a long time and we started season three knowing how he would end season three so we were able to lay out all the groundwork for it really quietly and subtly so it makes sense that this girl is mourning who she used to be and wondering if her parents would still be proud of her and missing her human life before vampires were in it and making this choice between these two brothers and what they mean to her, to take her to that point and to rip the rug out from under her and have everything change is almost like we’re starting over. We’re telling the same series all over again but with a different point of view and a different context.

THR: How does Elena sparing Matt’s (Zach Roerig) life in the episode affect his standing and outlook?

Plec: As Damon says to him early on, “Why do you get to live?” What the hell was so special about you that you still are breathing air on this earth and Matt takes that to heart a little bit. He feels the guilt, the survivor’s guilt, because he feels why me and not her. He feels like he’s got to earn that for her and be that for her. We’re going to see Matt be a champion for Elena. It’s going to be a nice friendship. Matt’s going to be strong and he’s going to try and stay strong. It’s not going to be easy for him. He knows he’s got to live well to earn the fact that he’s still alive and be a man about it.

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THR: Will Elena turn to Matt in a significant way?

Plec: All I can say is, as a human he is definitely a blood source so we’ll see where that goes.

THR: Is there hope for more Matt and Rebekah (Claire Holt)?

Plec: Rebekah, poor thing, is still harboring her secret fling for Matt – and it isn’t so secret any more. First thing that she tries to do with him is apologize for running him off the road and he pretty much tells her to go to hell. If she’s ever going to get any attention with Matt, she’s going to have to change her behavior and go about it a different way.

THR: How do Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan’s (Paul Wesley) reactions to Elena’s new state of being affect their relationship?

Plec: They definitely are dealing with [Elena's change] in the same in that they are both traumatized by it but differently in that they both have different points of view as to how she should be living her life as a vampire, what kind of vampire could be or should be or that they want her to be. It’s going to put them at odds which is a shame because they’ve never been stronger than at the end of last season and I’m hoping that they can survive this new problem in their relationship.

THR: Does that mean that the love triangle will, in a sense, be put on the backburner?

Plec: The love triangle is always there underneath. It’s not driving the show. Elena is changing as a character and Stefan is changing as a result of what she’s going through, Damon is changing as a result of what she’s going through so there’s always going to be shifts and turns and evolution of their relationships to each other that are always going to be right there.

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THR: Several months ago, you mentioned to us that you were toying with a new villain for season four. Has that character been created?

Plec: Yup and I ain’t sayin’. It’s funny, I realized as we look back at the first three seasons, we’ve always known who our [villain] was – at least we thought we knew – from the very beginning. This year, we’re trying something a little bit different where we’re not so sure who’s pulling the strings and why. The mystery of that is going to be something new and different for us.

THR: A few new characters are coming into Mystic Falls, like a vampire hunter (Todd Williams) and a 16-year-old tied to the Gilberts (Grace Phipps). Who else can we expect?

Plec: We’ve got a new character named Hailey who will be showing up around the third episode, who Tyler is going to know from his own past. Bonnie’s going to find a new mentor in a professor at the local university, where her grandmother used to teach. For Bonnie, who has been absent with any good mentor figure, she’s going to connect with this guy. He’s going to be very, very, very, very brilliant and well-versed in the world of the supernatural. We haven’t cast Hailey or the professor yet.

THR: How early in the season will we see Joseph Morgan (aka Klaus) back?

Plec: You’ll see Joseph Morgan sooner than you think. He won’t be gone for long. In present day, as Klaus, in your face.

The Vampire Diaries premieres Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. on the CW.