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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…

Last week, The Vampire Diaries said goodbye to Sheriff Forbes, a loss that leaves Caroline without a mother—in fact, without any living parents. And in Thursday night’s hour, Mystic Falls gathers to pay respect to Liz Forbes in something that’s rarely seen on the show—a funeral. And no, it’s not a funeral in the woods or something strange. Considering that this is a woman who served her town and died of natural causes, her funeral will take place in an actual church, with Damon giving the eulogy.

In honor of the loss and all that it will affect, we spoke with Candice Accola about what this will mean for Caroline, her relationship with Stefan, and more:

It really is just a funeral. The last time we were in a church to say goodbye to someone, a vampire hunter showed up and ruined everything. But Accola confirmed that won’t happen this time around. “What is really beautiful about the episode is that it’s a funeral,” she said. “No one is going to the funeral to save anyone from anything. No one’s trying to destroy anyone at the funeral. It’s just a funeral and it will be a tear-jerker, that’s for sure.”

Elena finally steps up. After weeks of hanging in the background while Stefan comforts Caroline, Elena will finally come forward and be there for her best friend in her time of need. “When we start off, we realize the support system that Caroline has around her immediately, and she realizes it too,” Accola said. “She’s very comfortable on leaning on her friends for what she needs from them, and Elena really steps up and is there for Caroline knowing as well that she has also lost both of her parents, so there’s a lot of really great Caroline and Elena moments.”

Caroline will get closure, but this isn’t the end of her grief. Unlike most people in this town, Caroline will get to say goodbye to her loved one in a proper way, which will help her move on. But don’t expect her to just flip a switch and be okay from here on out. “There will be a sense of closure for Caroline, but a lot of struggling in the future,” Accola said. “This will not be the last emotional tug of Caroline’s heart about the fact that her mother died. So that will definitely stay with Caroline in episodes to come ,but there will be a sense of closure in this episode and I think it’s really beautiful and the viewers will really appreciate it.”

Caroline and Damon will share a surprising moment. “I personally love that Damon is eulogizing Sheriff Forbes. I think it could not be more perfect,” Accola said, before adding, “But there will be a moment where Caroline has a reaction to the fact that he’s giving her eulogy, and I think the viewers will be very surprised at her reaction.”

Expect chaos … and a change in Caroline’s friend circle? “The event of her mother dying will definitely change Caroline as a person moving forward,” Accola said. “We’re going to see what she can handle and what she can’t handle. We’re going to see how much she needs the people around her and who she’s really not comfortable being around anymore. And we’re going to see her really grow as a character and challenge herself in new ways and just accept the chaos that comes with the death of a parent.”

Stefan and Caroline really need to have a talk, and they will. After sharing their first kiss last week—and then getting the call that Liz was dying—Stefan and Caroline have left their will-they-won’t-they relationship up in the air. And with some fans wondering whether the relationship is built solely out of comfort and tragedy, Accola shared her thoughts: “I think these are two characters that could make it work outside of a tragic situation. But as far as speculating on future episodes, I think it really depends. Right now, the two characters need to have a talk about what happened with them. They were obviously interrupted and Caroline’s mom died, so it’s a lot of emotions that she’s dealing with right now. And I can say that when they do have a talk, the results of that conversation will really establish what happens in their relationship moving forward.”

Could a messier Caroline be on the horizon? After six seasons of playing Vampire Barbie, there’s one side to Caroline that Accola would personally love to explore. “I’d love for Caroline just to like be a little messy, make more mistakes,” she said. “She’s been such a strong character and so [I’d like her] to just accept her faults a little bit more, like she kind of did in season one when she was gaining all this strength. I think that’s such a natural evolution in life to get to that point where you’re like, ‘I’ve figured it out,’ and then that’s of course when it all comes crumbling down again. You’re constantly growing up, so [I’d like] her to push those boundaries a little bit, and I think that there’s tons of room to do that in the future. But right now she’s really just focused on grief and how she’s going to handle that moving forward.”

Accola reveals her favorite Liz-Caroline moment. “It was so heartbreaking in season one when Sheriff Forbes comes in and tries to talk with Caroline and she says, ‘Go away mom, if I want to talk about boys, I’ll talk about it with dad.’ And she’s just so mean to her mom but I think it really set up how far they’ve come in their mother-daughter relationship. And I think it’s really honest,” Accola said. “There are ups and downs to every single mother-daughter relationship. It’s such a sacred bond when it’s good so seeing how beautifully their bond has grown over the seasons is so special, from the time when Caroline came out with blood all over her face and revealed to her mother that she was a vampire saying, ‘Hi mom’ and how much they grew from that moment as well. It’s a powerful mother-daughter relationship and it’s really sad to see it go.”

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursday at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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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