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The Originals boss explains Cami's season 4 return

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Bob Mahoney/The CW

The brave bartender is back… sort of.

When The Originals released the first promo for its upcoming fourth season, there was one face fans were especially shocked to see: Cami O’Connell sitting next to Klaus. Now, just to clarify: Cami died during the show’s third season, and considering that Klaus has been imprisoned for five years when season 4 picks up, there’s a good chance he’s simply imagining her. But for fans of Klaus and Cami, does it really matter?

“It’s pretty clear that Cami was someone who had a massive impact on the entire show and our entire cast of characters but in particular, Klaus,” showrunner Michael Narducci tells EW. “I am positive that the words that she shared with him before she died were echoing in his mind as he went through that trial, as he was stabbed by Marcel, and while he has been tormented and incarcerated for the past five years.”

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And even though the show picks up five years after Klaus’ sacrifice, fans can bet that the characters are still dealing with what happened during that time. As Narducci puts it, “[Klaus] felt every moment of that five years, in terms of the solitude and the pain and being ripped away, not only from his family, but his daughter. Coming out of that, he’s going to struggle a bit, and we will see some of that struggle. We’ll also get a sense of how he managed to endure and what was going on psychologically with him in his mind for all that time.”

There’s a good chance that Cami’s return has everything to do with “what was going on psychologically” with Klaus during those years. “It gets into the question of once someone comes into your life and influences you in that kind of way, are they ever really separate from you or are they always a part of you?” Narducci says. “I think the show definitely answers that question.”

The Originals returns for season 4 on Friday, March 17 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.