The Vampire Diaries No Exit
Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW
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…

Elena Gilbert is going to get her body back from Katherine sooner rather than later, and when she does, there is going to be some major life cleanup needed.

How much? Executive producer Caroline Dries goes into more detail in this Q&A with EW, in which she teases Thursday night’s episode and all the Mystic Falls drama to come.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We have to start by talking about Elena. One of our gang now knows the secret, how quickly is the truth going to unravel?

DRIES: Matt is really the only person who knows coming into this episode. And that’s going to be knowledge that is tricky for him to harbor because it’s quite literally holding him hostage. Nadia has figured out that Matt knows. So Matt’s like, “What do I do with this information and how do I get people to know what I know without them being killed by Nadia — and without me being killed?” So our people are thrown into situations with Katherine — who they think is Elena — where the actions don’t necessarily start adding up. And that combined with Matt’s knowledge. I think our characters sooner rather than later are going to start putting it together that, “What the heck? This is not Elena.” So that will be happening soon.

Speaking of un-Elena-like actions, we saw a glimpse of a possible hookup in the preview. Tell me about that.

So everything Katherine does is obviously very calculated and manipulative, but she’s also very thoughtful. So she isn’t going to do anything too extreme. Everything’s going to feel natural, but it’s just one of several things. She takes a road trip with Stefan, essentially, to go find Damon, and so she manipulates the situation so she can make a real move on Stefan. So all of her little actions on their own don’t seem that suspicious, but when you start adding one after the next, after the next, it starts to be like, “OK, something’s up here.” That’s definitely my favorite storyline of the episode — those two together. We see her mind turning and trying to get Stefan alone and we see how devious she can really be.

Talk to me about the logistics of Elena’s situation. Are we going to learn how much she knows about what’s going on?

For sure. It’s funny to talk about logistics when you have a traveler inside your body. [Laughs] But, yes, Elena will eventually come back to our crew and she has to deal with all of the fallout that Katherine did to her life, including making a move on Stefan, breaking up Caroline and Tyler…and, of course, trying to deal with the fallout of Damon going on a killing spree — killing Aaron Whitmore, almost killing Jeremy. So Elena is like, “Geez. How do I reconcile all of these things.” Also, “What the heck? My friends didn’t even realize I was missing this whole time?” So she’s got a lot that she’s dealing with and will deal with moving forward.

What’s going on with Tyler and Caroline, since you mentioned them? Is there hope for those two crazy kids?

I think there’s definitely hope for friendship. But Tyler has ever right, in my mind, to be mad at Caroline for sleeping with the guy who killed his mom. At the same time, Caroline is a character who is pretty hard on herself, who is pretty tortured. So she’s pretty capable of feeling guilty all on her own. She doesn’t need Tyler reminding her of what she did every 30 seconds. So, you know, once she’s able to speak her mind, I think the two will be able to form a friendship, at least.

We saw some promo photos of a Caroline/Nadia confrontation. Can you preview that?

As Matt is harboring this secret, he’s basically thrown into the storyline with Caroline and Tyler, where Caroline starts to be suspicious that Matt is hanging out with Nadia, like, “What’s going on with those two?” I just don’t trust anybody who is the offspring of Katherine Pierce. And she gets into it with Nadia and that’s how that confrontation happens.

We need to talk about Damon, who’s now a vampire feeder, crazy man. Tease for me what’s going on with Damon this week and episodes to come.

Well, when we knew we were going to create the Ripper virus, we thought, “Who should get infected?” And we said if we’re going to do it, let’s go big or go home. So we created this storyline around Damon getting infected and now his conflict is, “Well, how do I continue to satiate myself and feed on vampires, who, it turns out, I have to actually kill and feed [on] until they die in order to be satiated. So how do I go about doing that without killing all the people I love?” So he partners with his wingman Enzo and they go about trying to find vampire blood for Damon to drink. Ultimately, Damon, Stefan and Elena will come face to face and the question is, is he going to kill these people or are they going to have a way to save him? Our characters will hopefully track him down and be able to save him.

Should Enzo be worried? I mean, I was worried about him at the end of last week’s episode.

Yes, Enzo should be very worried. But Enzo, if you remember, is a solider and has been in prison, basically, and experimented on for 70 years. So Enzo has a pretty high fear threshold, and also has no friends, no family outside of Damon. So he’s decided I’m going to stick by my friend.

Are you worried at all that, in making Damon the one infected, it will be hard to bring him back from this as a character? Any concerns about making him unredeemable?

I think what we decided as writers was that instead of running from the problem of creating a villain like Damon, who is also one of the lead love interests, we lean into it harder. We threw Elena into this situation where she is still in love with this guy, who we all have known as the guy who killed her brother and has done all these horrible things. [When Elena returns] it makes her question, “Have I changed? Has my outlook on what I deem acceptable and moral changed? Who am I?” And Damon will have the same look at her and himself, too. It’s made the relationship a very grey, confusing, turbulent thing as opposed to just black and white.

Last, I’d like to talk to you about Slates for Sarah. (Note: Former TVD crew member, Sarah Jones, was killed while working on a movie Feb. 20. A Facebook page has been set up in her honor, and many in the entertainment industry are now calling for more on-set safety precautions.) What has it been like seeing her honored in this way?

It has been this emotional wave and outpouring of support. And it has been so moving to watch. For me, personally, I can’t even speak as somebody who was very close with her, but I knew her from when I visited Atlanta and being on set, your first instinct when you find out what happened is just anger and rage. “How could somebody make a mistake like this? How could this happen?” And then this Slates for Sarah campaign has just turned the tides of that. It’s made it a positive and inspiring movement. I find it so uplifting.

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.

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