''The idea of chasing our tails in Mystic Falls isn't necessarily the most appealing thing in the world to Elijah, but the opportunity of a…
Credit: Skip Bolen/The CW
When the Saints Go Marching In

Daniel Gillies’ Elijah returns to The Vampire Diaries tonight, and as he’s already teased for us, Elijah’s going to “shock and possibly even horrify.” That’s something fans might need to get comfortable with…

In the issue of Entertainment Weekly hitting stands Friday, we have the exclusive first look at the April 25 backdoor pilot for the Originals spin-off. When Klaus (Joseph Morgan) gets word that witches in New Orleans — a town now run by his protégé Marcel (The Game‘s Charles Michael Davis) — are conspiring against him, he goes to the French Quarter to explore the threat and Elijah follows. What they find is an opportunity to reunite their family in a city they helped settle, but the larger arc for the show might surprise fans even more: “With luck, over a long stretch of time and many, many seasons,” Plec says, “The Originals will ultimately be the redemption tale of Klaus and, possibly, the unraveling of Elijah, who is going to have to maybe get his hands dirty in an effort to keep his brother in check.”

As she’s stated before, it was producers’ appreciation for Gillies’ controlled turn as noble Elijah that birthed the idea of an Original family in season 2 (as initially conceived, he and Klaus weren’t brothers). Gillies says he’s excited to see whatever future the writers script for Elijah, but frankly, he’s more interested in how they could exploit the millennium-old Originals’ pasts. “I’d like to see more of what they’ve uncovered about being vampires, whether that’s flight, or jumping, or invisibility. Those are the supernatural abilities,” he says, “and then you’ve got the abilities that you could learn within a thousand years: What instruments do they play? What degree have they earned in a certain type of kung fu? Which one of them ice sculpts? I’d love to see the extent of their knowledge and skill.”

Klaus, on the other hand, was never supposed to survive season 3: “He was the big bad. You don’t let the big bad live. The big bad’s gotta go, otherwise your heroes start to look foolish for being unable to destroy him,” Plec says. One full season of Klaus was all Morgan wanted too, at first. “I thought that’s sort of enough, because where can it go from there? I don’t want him to turn good and hanging out at the Mystic Grill,” he recalls. But then came Klaus’ teary-eyed, fatal standoff with Mikael in season 3’s ninth episode. “It was one of the first chances I had to really show another side to Klaus entirely with someone who had persecuted him all of his life and where some of that hatred and evil comes from,” Morgan says. “That was when I started to think there’s something in this. He’s not just there as a device to serve the hero’s story line.” (Luckily, he mentioned that to the show’s line producer. “And he said, ‘You know, you should tell Julie because everybody’s under the impression that you want to be done after this season,'” Morgan says.)

“The choice to keep Klaus past season 3,” Plec adds, “was truly born out of how magnificent Joseph is and how much the audience was connecting to him in spite of hating him. They loved to hate him. So knowing that we had a character that powerful, and that there was a spin-off opportunity there, it let us spend season 4 getting Klaus to the place where the character was ready to be the lead of another show. He’s a villain whose family and the people in his life are constantly searching for ways to find redemption for him, and he’s constantly fighting against that instinct. So now, with luck, we get to make a whole series about it.”

And how does Morgan feel now about the possibility of Klaus being saved? “I can say I trust the writers a lot more than I did initially,” he admits, laughing again. “I know wherever they take Klaus, it will be layers on the character that he already is. It won’t be a sudden change of direction where he’s suddenly good. He will always have done these terrible things which he has done, and so he will always have these things to haunt him. I think he possibly is capable of redemption, if there was someone understanding enough to forgive him…. It would be a tremendous character arc.”

For more on the spin-off episode — seven exclusive photos and more plot details, plus what it means for The Vampire Diaries if it turns into a series (and for the Originals if it doesn’t) — pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday, March 29.

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Episode Recaps

When the Saints Go Marching In
The Originals

Joseph Morgan and Daniel Gillies star as Klaus and Elijah Mikaelson in this Vampire Dairies spin-off about the first family of vampires, their life in New Orleans, and the witches and werewolves who live there.

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