'The Vampire Diaries': Julie Plec and Ian Somerhalder on the Format-Busting Premiere Twist

Plec and Somerhalder dish on the season seven mystery, that mysterious woman, Alaric's journey and more.
Courtesy of The CW

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Vampire Diaries' season seven premiere.]

The Vampire Diaries is playing with time in a whole new way in season seven.

Although The CW drama has often showcased flashbacks and dabbled in flash-forwards, season seven will explore two different points of time: the present and three years in the future.

"It really mixes up the format a great deal, which makes it fun," The Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder (Damon) tells The Hollywood Reporter. "You get to see these characters in two different times in the same episode, which is cool because you also get to see where they end up. So you see them in the future, and therefore you can understand them a little more in the present. … We see Alaric, we understand what happened to Caroline. We see how Damon is coping."

To get a better idea of what to expect from the remainder of the season, THR turned to The Vampire Diaries co-creator Julie Plec.

What can you share about the flash-forward device? Will it be utilized every episode? Is there a chance we could get a full flash-forward hour?

We are going to spend this season catching up to the three years from now. These flash-forwards are a lot of fun, because they give you little pieces of mystery, and it's going to leave you wondering what the big story is. How did these people get to where they are? There should be a flash-forward in almost every -- if not every -- episode this season. 

That mysterious figure who was attacking the brothers -- can you say if it was Caroline (Candice King)? Or was it meant to be ambiguous?

It is supposed to be ambiguous; you're supposed to wonder who it is, and one day we will tell you!

Before the brother got attacked by the mysterious woman in the future, Damon got angry with Stefan (Paul Wesley) for waking him up before Elena (Nina Dobrev) was revived. What pushed Damon to that point where he opted to just put himself to sleep versus live without her?

This entire season's journey is taking us to the place where Damon makes that decision. He starts the season trying his best to live his life without Elena Gilbert. And over the course of his run, he'll have a lot of highs, a lot of lows, and ultimately, in a very sad and strange and poetic -- and probably selfish -- decision to put himself down. We'll get to see what happens along the way to that point.

In the present day, Alaric (Matt Davis) is on a quest to revive his dead fiancee, Jo (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe). What will that journey look like?

We say in our writers' room that death is final, but our characters don't know that yet. And in their mind, every time they've tried to rescue someone from the great beyond, they've been successful. Alaric has a big come to Jesus moment when he starts to share his intentions with other people. There is no other side, there is no other place to pull these people back from. It's not going to be as easy as he thinks it is. And his obsession is going to get him in some trouble. His storyline is one of my favorites for this first chapter. It's so sad,  beautiful and tragic. And the end result of the storyline tees up a massive story shift that takes us through the rest of the season.

The guys tried unsuccessfully to take out the heretics with a bomb. What kind of rift that might that cause?

They're sticking their claim on the Salvatore house, and that is not something that is going to sit well with Damon. And even though Stefan, for all the right reasons, is trying not to rock the boat,  Damon is going to go out of his way to keep rocking it. He's going to learn really quickly how nasty heretics can be when they are annoyed.

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW. What did you think of the flash-forward twist? And who do you think is attacking the Salvatore brothers in the future? Sound off in the comments section, below.