It's 'one of the best scenes we've ever done'

By Samantha Highfill
April 08, 2016 at 04:52 PM EDT
Tina Rowden/The CW
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For Stefan and Damon Salvatore, 1864 changed everything. Not only did they become immortal, but their relationship became more complex than they ever could’ve predicted. But at the end of the day, they’re brothers (literally forever). So will their relationship make it through Stefan’s time in the Phoenix Stone?

We talked with Vampire Diaries showrunner — and this week’s director — Julie Plec about what’s to come for the brothers.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is the second episode you’ve directed, so how was this experience different from your last?

JULIE PLEC: My first go-round directing I felt like I had everything teed up for success because I had the funeral of a beloved character, resulting in the humanity flip of another beloved character, so I had guaranteed tears and tone and excitement and thrills. In this case, I was working with another writer and he wrote the script and diving into something where I had to take someone else’s words and put them on the screen was so fun and a great challenge. When you’ve originated the beats and the words, you see the movie in your head. And when you’re doing it with someone else’s words, you have to create the movie from scratch. So I loved that part because it was really truly different then having done it the first time.

What can you tell me about this new guy who’s in Stefan’s body?

I can say that Stefan himself is in a very peculiar circumstance where he has to face life in absolutely human ways and get himself out of a total survivalist predicament. And then you’ve got Paul Wesley in Stefan’s body that is inhabited by a pretty messed up, evil vampire, so Paul Wesley is really playing two completely separate characters in two completely separate circumstances. 

I’m curious how you crafted Stefan’s hell. What was the journey you all wanted to put this character on?

We knew that we really wanted to continue this burden that Stefan’s been experiencing this whole season, which is what are the consequences of putting too much faith in his brother, and yet ultimately wanted to bring it around back again to the realization that I can love him. It is okay to love him, he just has a lot of work he needs to do. So we wanted to put Stefan in a really life-threatening and emotional and vulnerable predicament and give Damon the responsibility of having to save him so that we can really see the lengths Damon’s willing to go to make amends. 

Has Damon finally realized what his decisions are doing to his brother?

Damon starts the episode feeling like, “Uh-oh, I broke something and I need to fix it,” but I don’t think he truly understands the depth of the damage that he’s done until this really beautiful conversation that the two brothers have late in the episode that’s one of the best scenes we’ve ever done just in terms of the two of them discussing their relationship and the layers of damage around it. It’s a really eye-opening moment for Damon as Stefan kind of finally has his say about the way Damon’s been living his life.

Do they hug? You know how much I love brother hugs.

[Laughs] I think we’re building our way back to a bro hug, but by season’s end, we’ll see if Damon makes the right choices.

I’m obsessed with his brother parallel between Stefan and Damon and Elijah and Klaus. Is Stefan doomed to repeat Elijah’s mistakes?

It’s an endless repeating cycle that has positive movement over the years and constant setbacks. It’s funny, Daniel Gillies will say, “I don’t understand why Elijah just keeps making the same mistake over and over again,” and I say. “Because that’s family.” And ultimately, I do believe that at the end of the series, Klaus’ redemption, whatever forms it comes in as it relates to Elijah, will have made the whole experience worth it. And I fundamentally believe that at the end of The Vampire Diaries, that the Salvatore brothers will have survived everything together and it will elevate them to the next level of, whether in life or in death, of eternal family love. It’s a love story. Both of them are love stories. They’re family stories but they’re love stories. It’s not just about the power of a girl that can come between these two brothers, it’s the power of the love between these brothers as well.

So what you’re saying is that the final shot of the series is them hugging.

[Laughs] Certainly it’s a pitch on the table, yes. 

On another note, I’m also excited that Stefan’s situation brings Alaric back into the fold.

It sure does and Alaric is none too happy about it. [Laughs] As Valerie in Friday night’s episode reminds him, you may not give a s— if he lives or dies, but someone you care about certainly probably has a vested interest in it. So Alaric is begrudgingly brought into the mission to save Stefan’s life and then continues to be called on for favors when all he’s trying to do is live a nice quiet life in Dallas with his fiance and his kids and be as far away from the supernatural universe as possible.

Poor Alaric will never escape.

[Laughs] He likes it, he just doesn’t want to admit it. He misses it. 

The Vampire Diaries airs Fridays at 8 p.m., followed by The Originals at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.

Episode Recaps

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