By Samantha Highfill
Updated May 14, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Annette Brown/The CW

For Vampire Diaries fans, losing Elena Gilbert was heartbreaking. However, there is some good news that comes from Elena’s long slumber: Thanks to her loss, the show will gain an old friend. Or rather, viewers will be reintroduced to a specific side of an old friend.

As executive producer Julie Plec told us, the loss of Elena will open doors for many of the characters in season 7. And for Damon Salvatore, it means getting back to being the not-so-sweet Salvatore that fans first met in season 1. “That’s what I’m very excited about,” Ian Somerhalder said. “Season 1 and 2 of the show is where people fell in love with this guy; it’s where I fell in love with this guy.”

And now, with all of the changes in Mystic Falls, Somerhalder said, “The story is just going to change form and I think that we get to go back to this really awesome dark, edgy, volatile [story]—all the s–t that we all love.”

But perhaps most importantly, Somerhalder thinks it’s time for Damon to move on from being the lovey boyfriend. And thanks to Elena’s final speech to Damon, in which she told him to be happy and live his life, Somerhalder doesn’t think moving on will be a problem. “Elena told him some things that allow him to move on,” he said, adding, “He’s a 170-year-old man with an endless amount of wisdom.”

So, as Somerhalder put it: “It’s time for the clouds to come to [Mystic Falls], and it’s time to go back to that kind of storytelling that’s what was so genius about this show,” Somerhalder said. And if fans are looking for a hint of what that new—or old—outlook will feel like, Somerhalder added, “The last two shots of this show truly depict where this show is going to be and we see characters moving into spaces and places we never thought they’d be.”

In other words, the post-apocalyptic Mystic Falls could be sticking around.

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The Vampire Diaries

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

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