By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated March 16, 2012 at 04:08 AM EDT

At The Vampire Diaries‘ PaleyFest panel in Los Angeles last week, fans were treated to an early look at the just-aired episode of the heart-pounding series, and, as a result, were made aware of the shocking reveal that came at the end of the fantastic hour. [Don’t read on if you haven’t seen the episode! Seriously!]

The crowd was understandably floored to find out that Alaric (Matt Davis) is the person responsible for the string of murders in Mystic Falls, and equally stunned when it was revealed his killing streak is a result of his magic ring. (The ring begins to have bad consequences after being used to resurrect a person several times.) And boss Julie Plec told the crowd during an un-streamed portion of the panel, the bombshell is just the tip of the twist iceberg!

“It definitely has implications for Jeremy and for Elena,” she said. “[Elena realizes] not only that the ring may not be completely trusted to bring them back to life, but it might actually contribute in allowing a darker element of that person to take hold. Jeremy is now wildly unprotected. Elena is a character who is all about saving the ones she holds most dear, and now has to deal with her guardian in a difficult place and possibly her brother suffering the consequences of a ring that used to be so reliable. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

“The next few episodes are going to be shocking,” added Davis, who earlier that day told EW that he was excited that a payoff for Alaric’s storyline was on the way. (See the video below.)

For Plec, among the most tragic aspects of the twist was the fact that the ring holds such a deeper meaning to Elena. “In the second episode, he tried to refuse that ring and Elena asked him to take it back and be part of her family and now there’s a consequence for that,” said Plec. “Alaric is a character who is very near and dear to all of us, and Matt Davis as an actor is very near and dear to us…Getting to explore a darker side is both exciting for a character and exciting for an actor. And we wanted to showcase that.”

So can Alaric be saved/stopped? “I hope so,” said Plec.

Us, too!

Here’s a promo for next week’s episode:

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