By Samantha Highfill
January 22, 2015 at 05:55 PM EST
Annette Brown/The CW
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When we last left Mystic Falls, Liz had been diagnosed with cancer, and Elena had found herself trapped with a very powerful Kai behind a cloaking spell. And when we pick back up the next morning, not much has changed: Caroline is still trying to find a supernatural way to save her mother, and Elena is still trying to get to Damon. Add in the introduction of Sarah Salvatore and a farewell to Jeremy, and you’ve got a pretty packed hour—even with the subtraction of a few shirtless Stefan scenes.

We sat down with Vampire Diaries executive producers Julie Plec and Caroline Dries to talk about what’s coming up for our favorite Virginia residents.

Kai might finally have magic, but that doesn’t mean he knows what he’s doing. In kidnapping Elena, Kai is certainly “trying to stick it to Damon,” according to Plec, but the twist is that Kai doesn’t really know what he’s doing. “He’s never had his own [magic] for any extended period of time, so he needs target practice,” Plec said. But he’s not the only one. Dries added that Jo is also struggling with getting back in touch with her magic. “She’s like, ‘Ah, I suck at this!’ And then Kai’s like, ‘Ah, I suck at this!’ He has too much, she has too little, and they’re both trying to, in their corners, figure it out.”

Kai’s magic is limited. “There’s not a proverbial ticking clock but at a certain point, that magic will drain out of his body,” Plec said. “But there’s a lot there, so our heroes kind of don’t really know how long they’re going to have to deal with him this powerful, which is why Jo is trying very hard to train and work herself so that she could actually take him on in a merge in hopes that, by that point his power will have diminished enough that she might have a shot at it.”

There will be a merge, and it won’t be pretty. “It’s pretty upsetting, it’s pretty big,” teased Plec when talking about the upcoming merge. “If Liv and Luke have to merge, then Tyler could lose Liv or Liv could lose her brother, so that’s horrible,” Plec added. “If Kai and Jo merge, then either the villain defeats Alaric’s girlfriend or Jo miraculously comes out victorious and that’s all good, but then there’s all kinds of consequences attached to that, so there’s really no happy ending. Jo beating Kai would be the happy ending, I suppose, but she’s really not that ready for it.”

And just to clarify, if Kai were to beat Jo, he would become a “true working witch,” according to Plec.

Elena could get her memories back, though she probably won’t anytime soon. Plec and Dries agreed that there is a possibility for Elena’s memories to return, but it’s not on the books in the near future. “I think the fun of that story actually is the fact that she kind of can’t get them back so it’s like realizing oh the feelings are inside you whether or not you get rid of them through compulsion,” Dries said, with Plec adding, “There’s no magic switch that we’re just going to come up with a loophole for.”

Could Liz Forbes become a vampire? “That’s the question,” Plec said. “Can you take someone dying of cancer and what happens if you were to turn them into a vampire? And that’s one of the experiments that Caroline is going to be pondering in her head. That happens right away, right when we get back we’ll see the medical miracle solutions that Caroline is exploring to try to help her mom and the consequences of all of it.”

Caroline will lean on Stefan during this difficult time. Caroline’s situation with her mother will strengthen Stefan and Caroline’s relationship, mostly due to the fact that he “gives her a shoulder to cry on that she really needs,” Plec said. But, that doesn’t mean we won’t see a darker side to Caroline. “This is a girl who’s always completely in control and she’s really struggling with how to look her mom in the face and help her mom through this hard time with the lack of control she has over the situation,” Plec said. “She’s quickly realizing that there’s probably nothing that she’s going to be able to do that’s going to work.”

Poor Sarah Salvatore just wants to take photos. A photographer at Duke, Sarah Salvatore has no idea what her life is about to become. But because Enzo is still being “an overall shit,” as Plec put it, he’s quickly going to realize that the way to get at Stefan is through using Sarah. “Her life is going to be flipped upside down,” Dries said. But could it end up in romance?

There’s hope for Bonnie and Damon. We know that Bonnie is set to return, but what we don’t know is when—she’s not in tonight’s hour—and how her experience will have changed her. “Bonnie comes back with a load of baggage,” Plec said. “She was alone for a really long time. She got a little depressed.” And with Steven R. McQueen’s exit from the show, things aren’t looking good for the once happy couple. The good news? Damon and Bonnie’s friendship remains intact. According to Plec, “They missed each other!”

The Vampire Diaries returns tonight at 8 p.m. on The CW.

–Reporting by Natalie Abrams

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