Image Credit: Nicole Rivelli/The CWI’ve never met a Gossip Girl fan who doesn’t think Eric (Connor Paolo) is the most together/sane/adult character on that show — and he can’t even legally vote yet.

But as recent episodes have indicated, Eric is about to be faced with some very adult challenges. Perhaps, crushing challenges.

“I think it does get a little darker before an eventual dawn,” says Paolo. “So I guess you can look forward — or not look forward to — things spiraling a little bit more for Eric and [there will be] a few things he’ll have to deal with”

Among them? An all-too-familiar fight with depression following the betrayal and blackmail by Damien (Kevin Zegers).

“I think that throughout the season — and series, really — a lot of what Eric does or doesn’t do comes out of that he’s been struggling with severe feelings of loneliness since we first met him,” the actor told EW. “He’s not the type of person who’s going to bring that up or talk about that, and it’s not something the family likes to talk about. It’s still very much a part of his life. He’s always going through a struggle not to get back to that dark palce where he almost died [in season one following a suicide attempt]. That’s very much a real thing for him. As you can see with his relationship with Damien in the past couple of episodes, all it really takes is somebody making any type of effort that Eric can construe as friendship because he really isn’t totally out of the woods yet.

Luckily, big brother Dan (Penn Badgley) will be there to lend support.

“More than we have in the past, we see Eric’s relationship to Dan begin to grow and change because Dan has been in his family through Serena [played by Blake Lively] really since the first season. And I think it’s about time that we saw what their relationship is and Dan really starts to be a big brother to Eric. And that’s been nice. There’s some nice stuff between me and him.”

Ugh. Okay, Dan Humphrey, because you’re nice to Eric, I have to admit you’re growing on me…

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