Guy D'Alema
Samantha Highfill
March 12, 2015 AT 04:01 PM EDT

When we left The Vampire Diaries, Caroline had just lost her mother—and her humanity—and Damon had just rediscovered his mother after Bonnie ran into her in a witch prison world. And as always, Enzo’s still lurking around the edges of town trying to insert himself into Sarah Salvatore’s life. So what happens now?

We spoke with Ian Somerhalder, who is making his directorial debut with tonight’s episode, about Stefan’s tough decision, Bonnie’s journey, and what comes next with all the mama drama:

Damon’s mom is a lot like Katherine. Okay, that might not mean what you think it does. As Somerhalder put it: “For Damon, the two most important women in his life—his mother and Katherine—both abandoned him because they didn’t love him. He thought that they were someplace they weren’t, and it crushed him. These two extraordinary women both abandoned him. That’s a serious realization. And it’s one that really is going to throw him.”

Damon’s realization could hurt his relationship with Bonnie. Here’s the thing about witch prisons: Kai is the best source of information. But here’s the thing about Bonnie: She hates Kai. So when Damon goes to Kai for help, there could be a clash. “Bonnie doesn’t want to see him. This man destroyed her life,” Somerhalder said. However, that won’t stop Damon. “He’s just doing it as a man trying to find out information about his mother. He needs to find out about his mom and he has to subject Bonnie to some pretty gnarly stuff to get to this information, and it doesn’t necessarily go the way he wants it to. What’s great about this episode is there are a lot of changing dynamics.”

That being said, Somerhalder did say that Bonnie and Damon’s friendship isn’t ruined by being back in present day—though it’s definitely challenged. “She knows him really really well now, and they’re close. For all intents and purposes, he loves the shit out of Bonnie. She’s become a very special person to him,” he said. “But again, he’s Damon and he does dumb stuff and he does things that really upset a lot of people around him, but he always does them for either righteous reasons or reasons of family. This time it’s his mother. He’s got to find out about her. It’s his sole purpose at this moment. He’s got to find out what happened to this woman who made him.”

The hour focuses heavily on Caroline and Bonnie. “I wasn’t in the episode very much obviously because I was going to direct it,” Somerhalder said. “So what’s cool about that is that I really got to spend time with these two characters, two really awesome girls, who are shape-shifting. Caroline went through a terrible terrible thing with her mom and shutting off her humanity and killing a bunch of people—but as a character and as a director, it’s quite the jackpot because you got a lot to play with. There’s a lot of cool stuff you can do with those dynamics. And then watching Bonnie go through this metamorphosis—she’s getting her power back from people that took it from her and abused her, then abandoned her. 

“Watching Caroline and Bonnie go through this was really a cool thing to play because it’s not the norm and I’m really grateful that we got to shoot this stuff, and the performances are rad. Being able to do that was just really incredible.”

Even Damon isn’t on board with Dark Caroline. Although Somerhalder admits that the Damon of season 1 or 2 would’ve loved Caroline flipping her humanity switch, he said that right now, “It’s not necessarily the time for this. It’s going to cause a lot of problems. It makes her dangerous. It makes her run around and kill people. It also upsets his girl and his brother,” he said. “He definitely finds it problematic that she’s going to go off the rails.” 

And with that in mind, Somerhalder would like to clear something up: “I think people sometimes mistake Damon being caring for someone else. In all actuality, the only thing Damon cares about is his brother and his girl. And is there bourbon, and is there gas in my Camaro? That’s really about all that Damon truly cares about. He’s a fiercely loyal friend and boyfriend and a protector of his home, but that’s really all.” 

Don’t expect Damon-Enzo scenes anytime soon. “Mikael Malarkey and I really miss doing scenes together,” Somerhalder said. “When [Damon] finds out Sarah’s alive, I don’t know what he’s going to do. I know a lot of peole are trying to protect her from Damon, but I think it’s Enzo’s journey. It really becomes Enzo’s journey, the whole Sarah thing, because Damon’s really tied up with things right now. I think Damon’s focus is really in another place.” 

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

Reporting by Natalie Abrams

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