Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW

If you haven’t seen tonight’s episode of The Vampire Diaries, stop reading now. We talked to exec producer Julie Plec about the moments that have fans buzzing…

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The kiss! Why was the time finally right for Damon and Elena to share a kiss that doesn’t involve her actually being Katherine or him dying?

JULIE PLEC: We’ve been building to it all season, and believe it or not, we actually thought that we would get there by the end of the ninth episode. And then when we got there [to the end of November’s midseason finale], it didn’t feel right. It felt like it wasn’t ready to happen yet. And so, even though god knows who’s gonna have tuned in tonight [Laughs], it finally felt right by the time we got to the end of tonight’s story. It felt like their relationship had evolved to the point where it wasn’t something that Elena would necessarily fight off, or push away, or reject, or even regret.

And why have Damon walk away, then come back? To give fans a heart attack?

We wanted him to have that moment of F— it. [Laughs] You know, I’ve been through a lot. I’ve loved this girl for a really long time. I shouldn’t be kissing her. It’s not right. My brother’s saving my life left, right, and center. I shouldn’t be doing this, but damn it, I want to, so f— it. [Laughs] And that’s kinda what he does.

When we chatted last month for’s Best of 2011 (Behind the Scenes) package, about the moments in the show that made you cry last year, you mentioned that the porch was a special place in their evolving relationship. I should have seen that kiss coming.

The porch is the site of their first fake kiss, when it turned out to be Katherine. It’s the site of her telling him that their friendship was over and that she would never trust him again in the second season. And now, it’s the site of this really sudden and surprising but nice moment between the two of them.

I was afraid the camera would pull back and Stefan would be standing there. I’m glad he wasn’t. It would have been too predictable.

It felt like we didn’t need to use that kind of device. It felt like it was a private moment between these two characters that have developed a friendship and an intimate bond over a very, very long time. It felt very separate of Stefan, and it felt like they deserved to have it on their own.

What I liked about it was that it was satisfying, but you never felt like he was going to pressure her for more. Looking ahead, how do they react to it?

One of my favorite moments of that whole scene, weirdly, is after he kisses her. It’s very clear that her breath has been kinda taken away and that he’s knocked her socks off a little. Then he just looks at her and says “goodnight” and walks away. He said, “If I’m gonna feel guilty about something, I’m gonna feel guilty about this.” He took the moment, he seized the day, he was a cowboy. [Laughs] And now, he’s a man who can walk off and say, “Hey, I did what I needed to do, and now let’s get back to life as we know it.”

After Thanksgiving, Ian Somerhalder tweeted, “Of course 1st day back from a stuffing-your-face holiday, Damon Salvatore is naked. WTF?!” I’m doing the math. Will we see him naked in next week’s episode?

Yes. [Laughs] He’s got a reason to be in a good mood when we come back next week. We start the episode with him in the shower starting his day off with a smile.

This week’s other big moment was with Jeremy. First, let’s talk about the beheading of the hybrid. The blood splatter on his face was awesome.

The blood splatter was a very well-executed blood splatter.

Elena and Alaric had Damon compel Jeremy. He was told he would leave Mystic Falls for a long time, not think twice about it, and live a better life with family friends in Denver. What can you tease about where that’s headed?

I don’t want to say too much about it, but Elena learned a very difficult lesson in the first season when she made decisions for Jeremy, and he found out about them and felt like she had taken his choices away and manipulated him and not given him his own sense of life choice. That lesson didn’t disappear from her. She’s still very much aware of what she’s doing to him when she does this. But I think the moment when she says, “He’s 16 years old. He’s just a kid. He shouldn’t have to live like this,” when all is said and done, that’s the absolute truth. If there’s something you could do to protect a kid from the horrors and the hells of living in Mystic Falls, especially in this scenario, I think as the person who cares about him most, she probably has every right to do that. But it’s certainly not gonna come without more conversations and more drama attached to it.

Did you cry watching that scene?

I did. I cried watching Elena have to stand there as Damon tells her little brother that it’s time for him to go and live a better life, and Alaric supporting that, and Damon being so gentle and honest with Jeremy. Just this idea of this kid who in the most unconventional way might actually have a shot.

What would you like to say to fans worried that Steven R. McQueen’s leaving the show?

I think certainly we’re gonna still see Steven in next week’s episode, and then they’ll have to see where it goes from there.

We need to touch on Tyler. He’s such a douche in this episode.

He is. He’s such a douche. Well unfortunately, Tyler thinks he has free will and is starting to fully realize that that might not be so true. That plays out over the next couple of episodes. The consequences of him thinking he actually has a say in his own destiny are pretty tragic and definitely shake up his world and make his relationship with Caroline very compromised. But, you know, he’s got to learn a lesson and realize, Oh god, maybe this gratefulness to Klaus isn’t as good as I thought it was.

When he was talking about the sire bond, it almost felt like his dialogue didn’t fit in with the rest of the show now. It’s a weird dynamic.

Yeah. It’s a cult logic, and whether you look at it like a religious thing or a drink-the-Kool-Aid thing, it’s a very strange predicament for one of our heroes to find themselves in, because of course he’s not being who he is. And even though he doesn’t recognize it, he’s changed, and it’s all as a result of this supernatural link to Klaus.

Shifting gears, what should we assume is in the coffin that Stefan and Bonnie are now trying to open? One of Klaus’ siblings?

We are to make no assumptions about anything. [Laughs] We are to wonder what could be in that coffin. Because if you do the math, there’s one more coffin than there is remaining siblings of the Original family.

I wanted to touch on that recent “Human or Stefan?” promo. That shot of Stefan speeding with Elena in the passenger seat, saying maybe he should turn her into a vampire, and biting his wrist — totally hot.

Yeah. I love that episode. That’s next week’s episode. Stefan goes to such terrible extremes to make his point and to get Klaus to back down. It’s really devastating what he does, and it really cuts right to the core of his love story with Elena. It’s a big Stefan-and-Elena relationship episode in that you get a sense of how tragic and sad it is that such a great love has been ripped apart as a result of everything that Klaus has done.

So that scene is real. It’s not some kind of a dream?

Oh, that scene is very real and very hard on Elena. The one thing that Stefan always protected for her was her choice, and here he is, threatening to take it away.

Follow Mandi on Twitter: @EWMandiBierly

Read more:

Episode Recaps

Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…

The Vampire Diaries

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

  • TV Show
  • The CW