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Vampire Diaries: Ian Somerhalder previews Damon and Stefan's 'season 1-like' dynamic

Plus: Find out which cast member’s song is used in the episode

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Bob Mahoney/The CW

The Salvatore brothers are back together!

After spending the first part of the season apart, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley), whose humanity is off, are on the road, playing pranks and collecting evil souls for Cade (Wolé Parks). However, the fun doesn’t last long because Stefan grows increasingly violent, much to Damon’s dismay.

“Stefan is taking the role that you would’ve typically seen Damon in,” says Somerhalder, who directed the playful hour. “Damon is finding his compassion, and he’s trying hard to battle the darkness inside of him.”

Although Damon isn’t having too much fun, the same can’t be said of Somerhalder, who loved the episode’s focus on relationships. “I really had a blast getting to see sides of the boys in a very season 1-like way,” he says. “[The episode] was about Stefan and Damon. It was about Matt [Zach Roerig] and Peter [Joel Gretsch], his dad. It was about relationships and the complexity and simplicity of literally people and just a camera.”

Somerhalder found exploring Matt’s relationship, or lack thereof, with his father was particularly powerful because Matt has been through the ringer on the show, and now he’s finally getting the opportunity to reconnect with his dad as a man. “They have a great sort of father-son relationship and it just works on screen,” says Somerhalder. “That dynamic is intense. We all know it. Parents really f— with our energy and it’s amazing to see people navigating that on screen. Whether you’re pulling up from your past, present, or future, it’s always powerful.”

The other highlight of The Vampire Diaries‘ first episode of 2017 is that it gave Somerhalder an opportunity to use a song written by one of his castmates. During a production meeting, executive producer Julie Plec played “Scars” by Michael Malarkey for Somerhalder and the rest of the team, and they all realized that the song, from Malarkey’s forthcoming album, fit the mood they wanted for the episode.

“The song basically sums up a lot of what we’re seeing in the episode, and it timed up perfectly with the last five minutes of this episode, which is this really beautiful montage that interacts with and is sort of scored by this song,” says Somerhalder, who adds that Malarkey went back into the studio and created an extended version for the show to use. “It was really special getting to work with someone who is dear to me.”

The Vampire Diaries returns Friday at 8 p.m. on The CW. Malarkey’s “Scars” will be available on iTunes and Spotify on Friday.