By Mandi Bierly
Updated October 18, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched this week’s episode of The Vampire Diaries (our full recap), stop reading now. Exec producer Julie Plec answers a few burning questions:

• Why is Elena feeding on Damon’s blood such a big deal? “That’s a little bit of a shout-out to the books, but also just to vampire folklore in general. If you look at any of it metaphorically, it’s a very intimate exchange of bodily fluids. So you can read into that what you will,” she says. So is it fair to equate it to vampire sex, or should we not go that far? “Well, it’s like vampire naked cuddling,” Plec says, laughing. Does it come with any side effects? “No,” she says. “Elena doesn’t know what she’s doing, but Damon damn well knows what she’s doing. That’s really Stefan’s point: It meant something to him, which means it means something to me.”

• When we will find out the meaning of Connor’s arm tattoo, which was visible to Jeremy but not to Matt? “We will know what that tattoo is and what it means by the end of episode 4,” she says.

• Did the final scene with ghost Alaric sitting at his grave with a grieving Damon make her cry, too? “Yes. I cried when we pitched it. I cried when it was written. I cry every time I see it,” she says. “I miss Matt Davis so much, as does everybody on the show. This was our opportunity to just show him some of that love, and tell him he will never be forgotten and that he always has a home in Mystic Falls.” Does she anticipate us seeing Alaric again? “I have no idea. But it sure would be nice.”

Here are a few teases about next week’s episode, “The Rager”:

• Elena’s back at school. How will that go? “Not well,” Plec says. “We have a little bit of fun in that episode in that we get to play that Mean Girl bully thing that we don’t do very often, really because we don’t spend much time in high school in this show at all. We get to embrace the social politics of high school. Elena’s just a roller coaster of anger, and hostility, and compassion, and sadness. Watching Rebekah push her buttons to the extreme drives Elena to a pretty dark place.”

• Klaus and Rebekah return. What’s their relationship like? “Their relationship will be nonexistent. She is mad at him, and he is mad at her. So she moves out, and the first thing that she does is try to throw a party at her new place even though she’s about the most unpopular girl in school at this point, at least certainly from where our heroes are concerned,” she says. “Meanwhile Klaus, who was perfectly willing to pack his bags and leave town for good, finds a reason that he has to stick around in Mystic Falls, and he’s glad he did, because by the end of the episode, everything changes for him.”

• We’ll meet Hayley (guest star Phoebe Tonkin), a werewolf who helped Tyler through the ordeal of breaking his sire-bond to Klaus. She’ll factor into the Tyler-Caroline-Klaus triangle? “The expression of glee that Klaus gets on his face when he realizes that Tyler might have been holding this as a secret from Caroline is priceless,” Plec says. “Klaus is up to no good for a good portion of this season. He’s not on his best behavior. But watching him try to drive a wedge between Caroline and Tyler with just the control of gossip is actually superfun. Of course, Tyler is gonna have to try to take back that power and save his relationship and convince Caroline that she can still trust him.”

• Damon and Klaus will question Connor, and according to episode synopsis, “the confrontation takes a lethal turn.” Will we see new forms of torture this season? Plec just laughs. “I will say this season that we blow a lot of s— up,” she teases, “and episode 3 is no exception to that.”

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