The Paley Center for Media hosted the stars and producers of The CW's hit series The Vampire Diaries on March 6 in Los Angeles. Stars Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder joined producers Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec and Bob Levy at the Saban Theatre as part of PaleyFest2010.
We spoke with the gang on the red carpet before their presentation began. They showed the upcoming new episode "A Few Good Men" and then took more questions. Here's what we found out from our interviews, the screening and the panel. The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW. (Spoilers follow!)Big reveals about Isobel right away
"A Few Good Men" features major information about Isobel, Elena's birth mother and Alaric's (Matthew Davis) murdered wife. Flashbacks show what Isobel was up to while married to Alaric. Elena traces a chain of creepy characters up to Isobel herself. Damon even flat-out taunts Alaric in public.
"The first one back is pretty killer, because there's a lot of new information revealed for our characters that's going to take us all the way through to the end of the season," Plec said in a group interview on the red carpet. "Alaric and Elena and Damon all learn something pretty earth-shattering about Elena's birth mother, and crazy things happen between Alaric and Damon that sets up a rivalry for them for a long time." Indeed, Alaric fights Damon in the episode.Civil War vamps come to town
With the tomb left open, that African-American vampire you saw at the end of the last episode gets free. In "A Few Good Men" we learn his name is Harper. Harper encounters a Mystic Falls resident, gets confused by a modern-day cell phone and ultimately finds Pearl to regroup and prepare for more havoc. "You take some angry vampires and drop them into Mystic Falls, there's going to be a lot of chaos, a lot of good action and stunts, badass kind of stuff," Plec said on the red carpet.Guest stars galore
"A Few Good Men" introduces Melinda Clarke as Mrs. Donovan. She's not very nice to Matt's girlfriend, Caroline.
"Melinda Clarke, who's joining the show, she's with us for as long as she'll have us, basically," Plec said on the red carpet. "We're big fans of her. Spencer Locke is with us for an episode. Stephen Martines is with us for a few episodes, who is very sexy and very, very smoldering."Has Damon met his match?
The big new casting is Alias, Heroes and 24's David Anders as Jonathan Gilbert, to whom Williamson lovingly refers as Uncle John. He will be seen in subsequent episodes.
"I'm a big fan of David Anders," Williamson said. "He's proving to be really exciting. He's also someone who can really go up against Damon. The scenes between Ian and David Anders are a lot of fun to watch, because it really is quid pro quo."You'll learn more about the Gilberts when Uncle John comes to town
Uncle John isn't just a force of conflict for the Salvatore family. He shakes things up with the young Gilberts, too.
"Uncle John is going to sort of come in and stir things up for Damon and, oddly enough, Jeremy," Williamson said. "So I think Jeremy and his relationship with Anna now that he's going to learn—"
Afraid of spoiling too much, Williamson turned to Plec to finish that comment. "The Gilbert legacy dating back to the original Jonathan Gilbert back in 1864 has been very much about finding and destroying vampires in Mystic Falls," Plec said. "So [Jonathan is] putting Jeremy into that situation where he has the option to follow his family footsteps or not."Changes are coming for Damon and Stefan
During the panel, Plec and Williamson said the Salvatore brothers will need to support each other.
"There's a shift in the dynamic where Stefan has always been the guy who's trying to curtail Damon and try to keep him in check, trying to keep him from killing people," Williamson told the audience. "The dynamic is going to shift in which Damon's going to have to try to be the big brother that loving big brothers have to be."
Plec added, "They share the common interest now, which is keep the town off their back. Later in the season, when David Anders' character arrives in town, he's very intent on making the town aware of the vampires again, so Damon and Stefan, who have been at odds, really need to work together to make sure that their secret stays safe and that they can stay in town. Oddly enough, Damon has decided he kind of likes being in Mystic Falls, and he's not too quick to take off, doesn't really want to go anywhere yet."Damon acts out after his heartbreak
After finding out that Katherine wasn't buried in the tomb, Damon deals with his abandonment issues the only way Damon knows how. You'll see his sorority babe fang-bang orgy in "A Few Good Men." "Booze and girls," Somerhalder said on the red carpet. "It works, I guess." Damon spends the whole episode drunk, and fans in the audience were also happy to see another topless Ian Somerhalder scene during his bender. "I ask and beg and call Julie and Kevin all the time: 'Can I please get naked?'" Somerhalder told the cheering audience.Stefan goes a little crazy, too
Stefan may have expected to finally get some closure if they found Katherine in the tomb. Now that she's out there, and with all the other secrets coming to light, Stefan's going to lose some of his cool veneer.
"We're going to see some complexities and layers that we probably haven't seen before," Wesley said on the red carpet. "I think that's just a natural progression with any complex character. I think it would be unrealistic, as realistic as a vampire show is, unrealistic to not see that." During the panel, he explained further, "He's hiding from something by being Stefan, and that's going to come out eventually."More flashbacks are coming
Williamson told the panel that he's scripting another flashback that will reveal more of Damon and Stefan's emotional history. "My favorite is watching some of the flashbacks where you get to see Damon in such a vulnerable place," Williamson said during the panel. "You can see his essence, you can see his relationship to Stefan at a time when their relationship was different. I say that now because we're writing another flashback episode where we show the next chapter of their journey. It's an interesting relationship."Brace yourself for the season finale
You must be expecting The Vampire Diaries to wrap up its first season with a cliffhanger. If the thought of waiting a whole summer for one answer makes you antsy, what if you have to wait for nine?
"We have nine cliffhangers in the last episode," Plec warned the panel audience. "It could be seven," Williamson clarified, "Act six is just one after the other, not really cliffhangers but big story points where you'll hopefully tease the next season, but at the same time just answer things, reveal things, create more questions and just sort of end with a bang."The orange peeling is coming
Fans of the L.J. Smith books have been asking the series creators to include a scene where Damon eats an orange. Plec promised it's coming, and explained for those who aren't quite superfan enough to get it.
"Apparently, for two lines in one of six books, Damon is peeling and eating an orange," Plec said during the panel. "Book fans really latch onto that because it shows somebody who doesn't have to eat real food to survive would get such pleasure out of the fruit and of food. It illuminated a lot about his character, and we have a lot of things like that in the show, not orange-specific yet, but one day ..."This Katherine thing won't be resolved anytime soon
Damon and Stefan will be dealing with the aftermath of not finding Katherine in the tomb for a long time. In "A Few Good Men," Damon goes from rebound flings to hoping Katherine is still out there in a single episode. Williamson plans to keep toying with that one.
"I think the resolution of that one might take 100 episodes," he said on the red carpet. "However, there are surprises afoot." Wesley also weighed in on how Stefan deals with not finding Katherine. "It's kind of like this odd thing where you feel like somebody's watching over you and you have no idea if they're there or not," Wesley said on the red carpet. "It's like, how aware is she of their presence? Does she still have a thing for Damon or Stefan? Has she been doing anything manipulative? Is she behind some master scheme? There are so many possibilities."Damon may fall in love with Elena
So far it seems like Damon only toys with Elena to mess with Stefan. Soon it may become apparent that Damon has genuine feelings for her.
"They're becoming such unlikely friends, and that's a slow road, because she's finding something good in him and she's kind of pulling it to the surface," Williamson said during the panel. "It's going to be an interesting journey now that he's been slapped royally in the face by Katherine." Plec tantalizingly added, "I think that Damon is going to realize that he has a crush on Elena a long time before Elena would ever consider having a crush on Damon. One of those things will happen sooner than the other."