'Vampire Diaries' has new characters, the old Damon, no happy endings | EW.com

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'Vampire Diaries' has new characters, the old Damon, 'no happy endings'

Vampire Diaries

(Frank Ockenfels 3/The CW)

When we left The Vampire Diaries last season, Mystic Falls had become a vampire-free zone, Damon and Bonnie had died, and Alaric had returned to the land of the living. But four months later, what’s everyone up to?

“This season is about how to bring everyone back together,” executive producer Caroline Dries said. “It’s like, ‘How can you come back together if you don’t even have your home?’ But there’s a deeper, hopefully more profound, resonance with it where it’s like, ‘Their home is their friends.’”

And with that in mind, Dries also promised that not everyone will have given up hope for saving Damon and Bonnie, though that mystery will not be short-lived. According to Dries, the mystery of “what the heck happened to them” will be solved within the first (of four) chapters of the season, but “it will spread out through the course of the season,” she said. “It will have ripple effects. But in general, that’s the big thrust of the beginning of the season.”

Oh, and don’t expect another super-complicated mythology right off the bat. “We’re not inundating the audience with really dense mythology. We’re trying to keep it very simple in changing up all of the character dynamics. That’s actually what’s creating the drama, not like this outside force,” Dries said.

As for what everyone within this world is up to, check out our character-by-character guide below:

Mystic Falls
Where we left off: The Travelers had cast a spell over the town that would kill any vampire who entered. Then, Damon and Elena blew up The Grill to kill enough Travelers for Liv’s spell.
What’s next: Mystic Falls has officially become what Dries referred to as “the anti-magic bubble,” therefore exiling all of our favorite vamps from their hometown and forcing Sheriff Forbes to meet her daughter at the border. But don’t worry, Dries promised that The Grill will be renovated post-explosion.

Elena Gilbert
Where we left off: Luke cut Liv’s spell short, trapping Bonnie and Damon on the Other Side as it disappeared and forcing Elena to say goodbye to her best friend and the man that she loved.
What’s next: When we catch back up with Elena, she will be in the second phase of her grief, which Nina Dobrev said will be “the most extreme version” of all the characters. However, “extreme” doesn’t necessarily mean dark. “I definitely get to have lighter moments, and that’s part of what makes it so eery. You wouldn’t expect somebody to have any light moments in the wake of this kind of an experience,” Dobrev said.

Jeremy Gilbert
Where we left off: Jeremy got a goodbye phone call from girlfriend Bonnie as she disappeared with the Other Side.
What’s next: Executive producer Julie Plec has said that everyone will be grieving in their own way, with some coping better than others, but as for Jeremy? Plec said the youngest Gilbert is “flat-out spiraling.” And considering he’s human and living in Mystic Falls, Jeremy spends most of his time with Matt and Tyler. Dries added: “Jeremy continues to live in Mystic Falls so it’s basically like he doesn’t have any adult supervision because they literally cannot get to him.”

Alaric Saltzman
Where we left off: Alaric made it back from the Other Side.
What’s next: For the first time, Alaric is going to have to deal with being a vampire (minus his Esther-induced homicidal tendencies). “The problem he’s dealing with is that everyone else around him is even more f–ked up, so he doesn’t exactly have a shoulder to cry on because he’s supposed to be the adult in the room. He’s kind of left to his own devices,” Dries said. And one of those devices might not work as well as it used to. “He still is a day drinker, but one of his issues is he is a vampire now and he cannot get drunk. His favor hobby basically was taken away from him.”

Damon Salvatore
Where we left off: Damon held hands with Bonnie as the Other Side disappeared and the two of them … went somewhere.
What’s next: After evolving from the bad guy to the romantic lead, it sounds like Damon could return to his season-one ways. According to Ian Somerhalder, “This guy is 170 years old, and in three years of his life, he totally turned into a Hallmark card? No, that’s not him. Go back to season one and two. This is a guy who would murder his family, and this is what I want to bring back.”

He continued, “Be prepared to have that again, because this is a guy who has the same look on his face if he’s saving a kitten out of a tree or ripping some sorority girl’s throat out. I’m serious. He’s a very f–ked up dude. He just happens to be fiercely loyal to his family and his girlfriend. That’s it. So I wouldn’t expect a bunch of goo goo gaga. Expect it to be complicated. Expect him to probably f–k up a number of times just because that’s what he does. There are no happy endings in Mystic Falls.”

Bonnie Bennett
Where we left off: Bonnie said a quick goodbye to Jer before sacrificing herself to save her friends.
What’s next: Despite the fact that nobody seems to know where Bonnie and Damon are, the duo will still get plenty of screen time. In fact, Dries teased that “We’ve seen them before together on screen a number of times, but seeing them this way I actually have enjoyed it almost more than anything on the show so far.” And according to Somerhalder, the duo will get some quality bonding time despite being very, very confused.

Stefan Salvatore
Where we left off: Stefan lost his brother and Lexie when the Other Side disappeared.
What’s next: When season six picks up, the big question surrounds Stefan’s whereabouts. “He isolates himself,” Dries said. But from the teaser, we know that said isolation involves a new potential love interest named Ivy. What does that mean for his relationship with Caroline? “Their story lines are directly connected for most of the season,” Dries said.” However, “their friendship is going to suffer in the wake of Damon’s death, and so we get to watch as they grow back together hopefully.” P.S. Stefan’s no longer a high school student.

Bonus Salvatore scoop: Episode four will feature Stefan and Damon flashbacks to an era we haven’t seen before. According to Dries, “it will help tie together a bunch of storylines.”

Caroline Forbes
Where we left off: After a season of growth for her friendship with Stefan, Caroline sat and comforted her best friend over the loss of his brother.
What’s next: More than anyone else, the former Miss Mystic Falls will be the most impacted by the loss of her hometown, where her mom still lives. And in terms of Stefan, “Caroline’s not even realizing how deep her feelings are,” Dries said. But considering Stefan “can’t even fathom the idea of another heavy emotional connection,” Dries said that “it’s a very slow build for them.”

Tyler Lockwood
Where we left off: After crossing the town line to Mystic Falls, Tyler reverted back to being a human with a werewolf gene.
What’s next: Being one of the few people who can enter and leave Mystic Falls as he pleases, Tyler “believes he was given a free pass, a do-over,” Dries said. “He is going to totally take full advantage of that and reboot his life.” But let’s not forget the old, pre-werewolf Tyler. “What he comes to realize is that just because he’s trying to start over doesn’t mean his problems haven’t followed him. What we remember with the gene is, even in season one, he had all those anger issues, so he’s still dealing with that. He can’t run from his problems.”

Matt Donovan
Where we left off: Somehow, Matt’s still human.
What’s next: For the first time in a long time, Matt finds himself in a supernatural-free Mystic Falls. And according to Dries, “This is the first time he’s gotten to live in a town where his life isn’t in jeopardy every five minutes, so it’s like, how will Matt Donovan thrive in this environment?” And as it turns out, Matt’s thriving has a lot to do with the introduction of new character Tripp. “We kind of wanted to give him like a father figure,” Dries said. “That’s what Tripp came out of.”

Enzo
Where we left off: Enzo made it back from the Other Side only to lose Damon.
What’s next: Let’s just say that Enzo is one to hold grudges. “He’ll become an interesting foil character to Stefan,” Dries said. “If you remember, Stefan killed him last season, so they continue to be on uneasy terms with each other even though they’re both dealing with the loss of a very loved one. They’re going through the same thing; they’re just dealing with it two completely different way.”

Liv and Luke
Where we left off: Luke stopped Liv’s spell, thereby trapping Bonnie and Damon on the Other Side.
What’s next: Expect to see Liv and Luke in the college world, where Luke will have a not-so-pleasant run-in with Elena, and Liv might get to know Tyler a little better. As for their longer arc, the twins will play a part in this season’s mythology, which will come into play around mid-season. After all, what’s a mythology without a witch or two?

Now for the newcomers…

Tripp
Other than being a father figure to Matt and the leader of the new community militia, Dries said Tripp will “become an intensely layered dynamic character that’s not necessarily a good guy or a bad guy but he actually represents a normal person’s point of view on the whole vampire world.”

Jo
As a doctor and the head of the Coronary Care Unit at Whitmore, Jo “is all about her job,” Jodi Lyn O’Keefe said. “She’s definitely a woman with a career.” As for any potential romance with Alaric, O’Keefe teased that the duo’s first interaction is “really awkward.” “They’re the same age and they’re working in the same place and she’s trying to say hello to the first adult that she’s seen outside of work in a while because she’s either busy saving lives or she’s teaching the interns, so it’s just an awkward first meeting.” Specifically, back-from-the-dead Alaric has “zero game.” “Here’s a woman who is putting herself in front of him and he’s got no game,” O’Keefe said.

As for later in the season, O’Keefe seems to believe that Jo is one of the good guys. “She’s got a really good moral compass and she’s a good doctor above all. Her decisions and the things she’ll do, it will all come from the place of her being a good doctor, which is great because then she’s a good guy, really. She’s trying to help people.” And no, unlike the show’s other doctors, she doesn’t seem to know anything about the supernatural world. But like the show’s other doctors, expect Jo’s backstory to play a part in the season.

Kai
Plec has teased a villain-esque person that has allowed writers “to explore the deep, dark minds of a psychopathic personality,” with Dries adding that Chris Wood plays Kai, who’s “charismatic and charming and psychotic and likable and unlikable in all the right ways.” Although we won’t meet him in the premiere, they are hoping he’ll stick around for a while.

Final tease: One thing you definitely shouldn’t expect this season: doppelgängers. (Except for Tatia on The Originals.)

The Vampire Diaries returns tonight at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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