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Spoiler alert: This post contains plot details from the Jan. 29 episode of The Vampire Diaries.

Who would’ve thought that the worst thing about Damon being stuck in the Phoenix Stone would be the moment he finally got OUT of it? And yet, The Vampire Diaries‘ first episode of 2016 ended with Damon standing in a room full of his loved ones, all of whom he’s just seriously injured.

We asked executive producer Caroline Dries about that ending and what comes next.

That ending

No, everyone’s not dead. “It’s teeing up that even though Damon has escaped hell, so to speak, emotionally and psychologically when you exit that Phoenix Stone, you’re a changed person and the decisions that you make as a result of that don’t necessarily reflect the decisions you would’ve made before you go in there,” Dries says. And in the next episode, we’ll see if Stefan can teach his brother about what it means to get out of the stone. “It’s sort of like Damon’s hell on earth now, moving forward,” Dries says.

Future flash-forwards

In terms of what’s to come, Dries pointed out that we still haven’t seen Matt Donovan in the future, and soon enough, we’ll start to understand why that is. And then, when it comes to the hunter who’s after Stefan, Dries says, “We’ll slowly but surely start to piece together this mythology that we’ve been building with that sword and the stone and why that’s the spine of this season.”

How Nora will affect Matt

Nora might’ve stabbed Stefan, but there’s more to her than meets the eye. “Nora starts to show other layers of her personality,” Dries says. “She’s still the villain because she’s a little bit selfish and reckless, but at the same time, she’s also very likable because she makes herself vulnerable in that same way that Rebekah kind of used to do. We’ll see her [enter] the fold in our hero group, which will make Matt uncomfortable, because Matt’s trying to stay staunch anti-vampire. So the heretics start to pull at his belief system.”

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Valerie … stealing Stefan?

“With Valerie, she has become this third wheel in the Caroline-Stefan relationship,” Dries says, referencing Stefan and Caroline’s almost constant need for Valerie’s magic. “She genuinely cares about Stefan [and] genuinely cares about what Caroline’s going through with these babies,” she says. “So she’s become this accidental third wheel that we’ll actually start to evolve into a bigger friendship with Stefan and Valerie, leaving Caroline to be like, ‘Where’d my boyfriend go?’ “

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Where in the world is Enzo?

Last time we saw Enzo, he was kidnapped by mysterious individuals. “One thing we haven’t talked about is where the heck is Enzo and you won’t see him in the next episode and we’ll be wondering who the heck were those people, where did they take him, what’s going on,” Dries says. “So Enzo’s new universe is going to broaden basically the scope of the show towards the second half of the season, and so that’s going to give us more stories but it’s also going to enlighten us into Enzo’s backstory a little bit, finally. We’ll get to know him. That’s what will kind of help bring him closer to Bonnie.”

Additionally, Dries added that she’s excited to see Tyler again, along with the fact that “Caroline’s getting more and more pregnant, so those babies have to come out at some point.”

Finally, Dries leaves us with this: “One of my favorite scenes is coming up in the next episode directed by Paul Wesley. It involves three men, three babies, [and] blindfolds.” Now that’s a mystery.

The Vampire Diaries airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

–Reporting by Natalie Abrams

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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