Welcome to Julie’s Diary! Every week during the season, Vampire Diaries showrunner Julie Plec will add an entry to her diary. From answering burning questions to sharing behind-the-scenes stories and more, this is a place for fans to hear directly from Plec about the episode they just watched.
And there you have it, Friday fans: the season 7 finale of The Vampire Diaries, “Gods and Monsters,” written by Brian Young and directed by Michael Allowitz. This episode makes me very nostalgic for many reasons (seeing Elena’s face, for one), but mostly because it marks the departure of some people who have become very important to me over the years. I’ve touched on them along the way, but allow me the liberty to repeat myself as I honor the dynamic duo of Caroline Dries and Brian Young.
Brian, as I’ve discussed, came to me over 10 years ago as a fresh-faced, young twenty-something, an accountant from Florida who wanted so badly to be a writer. He was dating a friend of mine at the time, and I was so taken with his passion and positive energy that I brought him in to interview for the writers’ assistant position on Kyle XY. After realizing he was probably the best writers’ assistant any TV show could ever wish for (he could type over 100 words per minute and record quite literally every word uttered in the room — with zero typos), we got canceled, and he and I were ripped apart by the demons who make bad television programming decisions.
Five months later, TVD got ordered to series, and Brian was back in my life, this time as a full-fledged writer. He was there in the beginning. A baby writer. During the writing process of his first script, episode 114 (“A Few Good Men”), I walked in on him having an anxiety attack in his office. By this point, I was having anxiety attacks thrice daily, so I did my best to make him understand that whether it’s your first script or your 20th, panic means you care; you care about the story, and you care about your job. I like people who care. And he cared the most of all. I believe I’ve said it before, but if anyone is wondering where the Delena dance in Miss Mystic Falls originated, or why Damon and Elena shared one magical night in a motel room in season 3, look no further. He’s the originator of some of the most beautiful moments this show has had.
Now after seven years, many scripts, and probably many further bouts of panic and misery (that’s a writer’s life, after all), Brian has decided to take off his Vampire hat and see what the rest of the world looks like. This is his last episode for us. I shall miss him terribly. But I’m so excited to see what he accomplishes next, and I’m happy to call him a friend.
As for Caroline (Dries, or Driesy, as I call her), Kevin and I robbed the fresh grave of the newly canceled Melrose Place to get her on to TVD in the middle of season 1. We had made some huge changes in the writing staff and suddenly found ourselves with only two writers left. Caroline was dropped into the fire instantly, and when she delivered her first pages, Kevin and I breathed a sigh of relief: This girl was good.
She had “grown up” working on Smallville, starting as an assistant and working her way up to writer. I put quotes around “grown up,” because when she started with us, she was still incredibly young. Kevin made her nervous because she had been a teenager during the Dawson’s Creek era, and working with him was a dream come true. After he left the show, she was stuck with me and my paltry one-year’s worth of Dawson’s stories, but I asked her to be my right hand, to help me make sure season 3 could be as good as possible in Kevin’s absence. I remember being so exhausted and panicked (as I said, the panic never ends) about one-third of the way through the season that I sat in her office and burst into tears. She almost started to cry too (she has much better control over her emotions than I do), and the two of us sat there and stared at each other wondering if we would survive.
We squeaked by, picked our heads up, worked our asses off, and season 3 turned into season 4, when Caroline started sharing showrunner responsibilities with me while I launched The Originals, and then 5, 6, and 7, when she mostly took over. Now, as I write this, she is sitting and waiting to hear the fate of her first pilot. She’s a force to be reckoned with, a superstar, and while I’m very sorry to see her go, I know that she’s just at the beginning of a journey of massive success.
The best part of the story of Caroline and Brian is that somewhere along the way, they became best friends. That’s what working on a series for seven years can bring you (in addition to the panic attacks and the tears). Join me in wishing them well.
Tidbits from Brian:
- The Mechanic is our transportation coordinator Keith. Call it nepotism, but believe us when we say: He was truly the best audition for the part. Authenticity goes a long way.
- Standards and Practices asked us to be careful with exactly how many bodies we put in the warehouse in the coda. Because apparently under 100 = acceptable. Over? Too much.
- We had two scenes that we had to shoot early due to the availability of Mouzam Makkar, who plays Alex. She booked a pilot that would be shooting every day during our finale. We scrambled to get the set ready and release script pages (even though the actual script wasn’t done yet) and get it shot in time before we lost her. We didn’t want to kill her, because we really liked her as an actress, and it turns out that we had to cut the scenes when the first cut came in 10 minutes long, so now I guess you can technically say Alex could be alive and well (or not well, considering what happened to the rest of her co-workers) somewhere inside the Armory. Maybe we’ll get to see her again.
- Because I came back to LA before we had fully wrapped, the last scene of my Vampire Diaries career after seven years ended up being Bonnie pulling up in her car to the cabin. Very anti-climatic, and also cut. And thank goodness it was night time, so I could sneak away when we wrapped, and the crew wouldn’t see me crying.
- I mentioned one time in a concept meeting how much I hated pie, and now there’s at least one waiting on my desk when I arrive (sometimes many, many more). Everyone in Atlanta is very sweet, and I will miss them all dearly. It’s the little things.