Quantrell Colbert/The CW
November 10, 2011 at 07:28 PM EST

“Poor Tyler.” Anytime The Vampire Diaries executive producer Julie Plec uses the word “poor” in front of a character’s name, fans know they’re in for a good episode. It usually means bloodshed. “Blood or heartache. One of the two. Sometimes both,” Plec says. What’s in store with tonight’s midseason finale (The CW, 8 p.m. ET), which finds Klaus back in Mystic Falls and Damon, Elena, and Stefan hoping that his abusive father figure Mikael can kill him and free Stefan from being Klaus’ wingman and Elena from being his hybrid-making blood donor? Here are a few more teases from Plec and Michael Trevino (a.k.a. Poor Tyler):

• “We open up the episode with Stefan making the call to get Klaus back to town. The way in which he’s able to successfully do that is actually part of the fun of the beginning of the episode,” Plec says. Translation: She will not be telling us? “Precisely,” she says. She will tease that Rebekah’s role in coming up with the plan is crucial. “Our characters have to decide if she’s ultimately trustworthy, or is the same thing gonna happen that happened with Elijah,” Plec says. “Last season, our characters tried to kill Klaus and thought they had a perfect plan. They thought they had a witch who was strong enough. They thought they had a spell that could save Elena’s life. They thought they had Elijah in their corner. Everything went horribly, horribly, horribly wrong. So the entire conceit of this episode is: How can we learn from our past mistakes and make sure those very mistakes don’t happen again — even though we have to rely on people we don’t want to rely on or can’t trust in order to execute this plan? [Laughs] It’s a bit of a head-scratcher when all is said and done. Everybody’s got a plan and a backup plan. They have to have thought of everything. They have come up against a foe who is thinking of everything. The episode is a bit of chess match between our heroes and our villain as they each try to anticipate what move the other is gonna make.”

• We haven’t seen Tyler for two episodes. Turns out, he hasn’t just been hanging around Lockwood Mansion in that chenille blanket. “No, he has showered up and has clothes on,” Trevino laughs. He’s been adjusting to hybrid life off-camera. How does he get back into the action? “An event occurs and the homecoming dance is canceled,” Trevino says, “so Klaus and Tyler decide to move it to the Lockwood mansion. That’s where the majority of our episode takes place. With that, there’s gonna be some chaos. Klaus might have some ulterior motive in throwing this event to the Lockwood mansion. I really don’t think Klaus cares about homecoming much, I think he just wants to have a little congregation and get a lot of people together in one place for something … It’s kind of just an obstacle. Everybody is in the way of things that are supposed to be getting done.” Adds Plec, “Klaus ending up at the Lockwood mansion, with a house full of people, a band, and a huge raging party right when our heroes are expecting him to walk through the door of the Salvatore house all by himself is the first of many moves in the game.”

• Tyler’s bond with Klaus will cause more trouble with Caroline. “Caroline is still questioning how loyal Tyler is to Klaus. At the end of the day, Klaus is evil.* She understands that because of being sired by him, he feels this allegiance toward him. But with that, you can only take so much and become so annoyed to the point that you’ve had enough and you don’t want to be with that person anymore,” Trevino says. Will we know at the end of the episode where their relationship stands? “We will have an answer,” he says. Fans will also have decided how they feel about Tyler, he suspects. “I think this episode shows both sides of Tyler. It shows a side of Tyler that people aren’t gonna be a fan of with his loyalty to Klaus, and then there’s another side that you will see toward the end of the episode where he explains himself as to why he has this loyalty to Klaus. After this episode, people are gonna be on one side or the other and stick to it for the remainder of the season,” he says. “Either you’re a fan of hybrid Tyler, or you’d rather have the old werewolf Tyler who has no allegiance to Klaus [back].”

• Our opinion of the new Stefan may still be murky. Does Stefan breaking Klaus’ compulsion in last week’s episode to save Damon from Mikael mean he’s had an emotional breakthrough? “We’re supposed to be asking ourselves that question,” Plec says. “Is it just that his freedom from Klaus made him recognize the opportunity to find the loophole in Klaus’ compulsion, or did he actually have a moment where he was concerned about his brother? I don’t know that anybody, including Stefan, knows that answer.” Will we get one in tonight’s episode? “We’ll ask a lot more questions,” Plec laughs. Will we get a Delena moment as good as the one last week when Elena told Damon that it would be Stefan’s love for him, not her, that would save Stefan from himself? “It won’t involve sheets or a mattress or pillows, but yes, there’s been an evolution of a friendship and an emotional intimacy between Damon and Elena since Stefan left, and we’ll continue to see growth in that area.”

• Jeremy isn’t in tonight’s episode. “Jeremy and Bonnie are still very much on the rocks. They haven’t had any closure to their relationship, and it’s something that Elena expresses her concern about in this episode and Bonnie doesn’t actually want to talk about [with her] because as much as Elena doesn’t look favorably on what Jeremy did, I think she says something like, ‘You can be mad at him, but he’s still your brother.’ And that, of course, ties into Elena and Damon’s concern about the faith that they’re having to put into members of the Original family as they make a move against Klaus.” Does that free up Bonnie to do witch business tonight? “Bonnie’s mostly just bummed out that she’s got to go to the homecoming dance without a date and that Caroline will kill her if she bails.” Is there any hope for fans who want to see Bonnie and Matt get together? “The best thing that we got to see in the first batch of episodes this season was the strength of the friendship amongst our humans and, even in spite of really severe and extreme supernatural circumstances, that they can still find those human moments with each other. Matt represents our humans in the best way,” Plec says. “That moment [between them], for us, was two people connecting, and Bonnie expressing that she understood what his loss was and him expressing that he wasn’t so sure he’s happy with where he was in his life. And anything that happens in the future is the future.” (And as for anyone rooting for a totally inappropriate teacher-student relationship between Alaric and Bonnie… “Ohmygod,” Plec says. “Nobody can have a nice moment without somebody putting them in bed together.”)

• Speaking of Alaric, he isn’t in tonight’s episode either. “We will get to see his ring in action when we come back in the winter after our hiatus,” Plec promises. “He’ll draw the attention of a doctor [played by Pretty Little Liars‘ Torrey DeVitto, wife of Paul Wesley] who’s sorta like, ‘Wait a second, how are you walkin’ around?'”

• Katherine may or may not be in tonight’s episode. “Katherine, last we saw of her, she’s been drained of all her blood in the tomb. I think that we all know that, of course, we haven’t seen the last of Katherine,” Plec confirms. “But I’m not gonna make any promises about when we’re gonna see her again.”

• In general, tonight’s episode is more about setting the stage for the show’s January return than leaving us with cliffhangers. “Rather than makin’ you suffer with ‘Oh god, what’s gonna happen?’, it’s more like, ‘Hey, this is the next part of the roller coaster that you’re about to jump on,'” Plec says. “So it will very much get the audience talking about the next chapter.”

* Is Klaus, who killed his mother after she made sure he’d be the only hybrid of his kind and blamed her death on Mikael so Rebekah and Elijah wouldn’t desert him, pure evil? If you’re still undecided, that’s okay. “This is a woman who, in order to try to preserve her marriage, turned her back on and basically cut her son out of her life. You mix that with some incredibly heightened emotions and an incredibly difficult time for [Klaus], who grew up with an abusive father, bad things happen. I’m certainly not saying it’s forgivable,” Plec says. “I’m just saying that in the context of villainy, it does give us a few extra layers to look at as far as how we want to label Klaus.”

Follow Mandi on Twitter. Join her and other fans tonight to chat live while watching the East Coast airing of The Vampire Diaries‘ midseason finale on EW.com’s ViEWer. Fans in other time zones or using a DVR can replay the track as the episode airs in their area or later. Click here for more information.

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Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.
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