By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated July 23, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT

Wondering what the biggest moment was from The Vampire Diaries panel? Easy: The headline says it all.

Moments before the cast and showrunners (Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Candice Accola, Joseph Morgan and executive producers Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson) hit the stage, fans were shown a seconds-long peek at season 3. The highlight of the footage? Soapy, wet Damon surprising Elena. Dialogue = inconclusive, sadly. The screams that erupted from the crowd prevented proper listening, but the clip should appear online shortly.

Meanwhile, in the press room before the panel, Plec teased the season, saying, “We’ve got Stefan who is no longer Stefan, and Damon, who, in his own funny Damon way, has been left with the burden of playing hero and left at home with the girl. So we’ll have a lot of opportunities to play with that.”

“This is not going to be a short storyline. We’re going to be exploring the levels of Stefan and his dark side for, hopefully, a good amount of time. So while he might be separated [from Elena and Damon] in the beginning, [there are questions]. How long he’ll be separated, what will happen, will they be able to help him/find him/rescue him/bring him back from the edge, or will he keep fighting that? We will get a little bit of the Stefan/Klaus road show, which will be fun. But eventually he’ll make his way back through Mystic Falls and suddenly it will be an interesting dynamic for Damon.”

“It’s a reluctant hero story,” Williamson explained on the panel.

But will the sudden hero be able to keep his hands off his brother’s girlfriend? Somerhalder seemed to think so. But Williamson said,”Katharine said at the end of the season that ‘It’s okay to love both of them.’ So we’re going to see what that means,” he said. Plec added: “Katharine seems to know more what it feels like to care for both Salvatore brothers more than anything. And she didn’t say it for no reason.”

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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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