Credit: Quantrell D.Colbert/The CW

The Vampire Diaries returns with its first episode of 2012 tonight (The CW, 8 p.m. ET), but we’re already looking ahead to the Jan. 19 episode when we meet Abby Bennett (recurring guest star Persia White), estranged mother of Bonnie (Kat Graham). “There’s going to be some unanswered questions that Bonnie’s gonna have: Why did you leave me, or why did you disappear? What made you disappear? Where did you go? Why were you not in my life?” Graham says. “A lot of those questions will get answered and you will find out where her mom’s heart is and why she has to come back into Bonnie’s life. And that whole thing will surprise you, too, because it’s not what people think.”

“There’s gonna be a lot of really uncomfortable but ultimately rich mother-daughter stuff,” TVD exec producer Julie Plec teases. “With our witches, we’re always telling the story of how being a witch comes with its own set of life complications. You’re always getting yourself caught in the middle of the other supernaturals’ business. Bonnie’s mom Abby is a walking example of that.”

So, too, is Bonnie, it would seem. In tonight’s return, “Bonnie has to decide whether to work with Stefan,” Graham says. When we last saw him in November, before the show’s two-month hiatus, vampire Stefan (Paul Wesley) had just phoned hybrid Klaus (Joseph Morgan) to inform him that he’d stolen the coffins carrying Klaus’ siblings. They’ll enter a standoff: Klaus wants to traumatize Elena (Nina Dobrev) and those she loves so she’ll convince Stefan to return his family; that’s still not on Stefan’s agenda…

For a closer look at where we left off — and more teases from Plec on where the season is headed — click here.

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The Vampire Diaries

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

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