When The Vampire Diaries premieres its third season tonight, you can expect a bloody good time, promises executive producer Julie Plec.
The action will pick up a couple months after big events of last season, which saw the sacrifice of Elena's Aunt Jenna so big bad Klaus could become a vampire/werewolf hybrid, Stefan was forced to embrace the dark side by Klaus in order to save Damon, and Jeremy died briefly before being magically revived.
"We are fortunate in that this season, as a result of where we ended last season, there's a lot of new roads to travel down, both for our characters who we think we know, and also in the supernatural world that we had only previously tapped into, which is werewolves and vampires," said Plec in an exclusive interview.
"The biggest thing, obviously, is that Stefan has left Mystic Falls with Klaus and is on what I jokingly call the Ripper Road Tour," she said. Joseph Morgan, who played last season's Big Bad, Klaus, is now a series regular. And apparently Klaus's mission is to remind Stefan of his bloody history and that he wasn't always a diary-writing vamp romantic.
Klaus "is here to stay until he isn't. As is true with everybody. And he's got a purpose for Stefan and a reason for wanting Stefan to be his wingman that he's not quite sharing, but that we'll learn eventually. It's not just about two bad guys going across the country and killing and feeding and being vampires. There's a quest of Klaus', wanting to figure out how to create more [vampire/werwolf] hybrids like himself. And Stefan is going to play a part in Klaus' desire to build what he calls an army, but ultimately, in keeping with our show really, thematically, is a family," says Plec.
Tonight we'll learn "our heroes Damon and Elena are trying very, very, very hard to find Stefan and to bring him home and to help pull him back from the edge. And off on Ripper Road Tour, Stefan is trying everything in his power to keep Klaus away from Mystic Falls so that he knows that the people that he left behind will, if nothing else, remain safe. And so we've got a lot of fun in the first part of the season, where we won't necessarily be in Mystic Falls all the time and where Damon and Elena will hit the road in search of Stefan, and Stefan and Klaus will be moving from one place to the next, and so there'll be some good new fun to be had there. And then, as always, we've got Klaus and what he's trying to do, and ultimately his desire to build these hybrids will bring him back to Mystic Falls later, and everything will collide amongst all the characters as Klaus' plan gets underway and we start to learn some other things about where he comes from and his past and how everything ties together."
And there's one other little issue when it comes to the Stefan/Elena/Damon triangle, according to Plec. There's "lots and lots of sexual tension brewing between them. And as a result of that, we've got a lot of guilt, we've got a lot of romantic comedy banter and bickering, we've got some people who are finally starting to notice the chemistry between them. Specifically Alaric, who may or may not appreciate what he sees there as he is cast with more of a guardianship role of Elena. And so there's a lot of shifts in friendships and dynamics that we have in the story as well."
As for the rest of the Mystic Falls crew, Jeremy, who died briefly at the end of last season before being magically revived by witch Bonnie, can suddenly see the dead. "Jeremy's got his hands full, unfortunately, with being haunted by the ghost of his first and second loves while trying to keep the secret of that from his current love. So he's got a lot going on," she says.
And Bonnie finds herself in a "very complicated personal situation as a girl who has a boy in her life that she cares for as a friend and as a human, just dealing with the fact that the boy that she loves is carrying on, so to speak, with his exes. And as we get deeper into the season, of course, her ability as a witch and her history as a witch will come very much into play with both the ghosts, and as we start to dig deeper into the history of the Original Family, we'll start to maybe learn a little bit more about Bonnie's family as well," says Plec.
Then there's the friendship between vampire Caroline and werewolf Tyler. "We hit the ground running with them at the beginning of the season. We pick up a couple months after we left off, and so off-camera they've been very good friends spending a lot of time together. It's a hot summer and there's some tension boiling between them as well."
We'll also finally get more Matt action this season, says Plec. "And one of the people that Jeremy's seeing as a ghost is Vicki, who's Matt's sister. And there was never a goodbye said there. There was a lot of unfinished business there, and for Matt, just the idea that first terrifies but then fascinates him, that he might be able to get some kind of closure with his sister. It's become something that really drives him and puts him right at the center of that story."
And speaking of Jeremy's ghostly connections,"You know what? If you've got a character who can see ghosts ... You may catch a glimpse of some old favorites. But no promises."
As for perpetual troublemaker Katherine, she "should be as far away as humanly possible from Klaus, but she can't resist her some Stefan," she adds.
Plec says that one thing they haven't had any trouble with this season is coming up with new stories. "You'd think [developing stories would get] more difficult as you get deeper into the show. And instead it becomes easier, because you know these characters so well and you know this world so well that it's an embarrassment of riches."
The Vampire Diaries premieres tonight on The CW at 8 p.m. ET.
Are you ready to have a bloody good time?