The Vampire Diaries is taking a page out of an award-winning blockbuster movie for tonight’s episode. When Stefan (Paul Wesley) finds himself inside the hell of the Phoenix Stone for the second time, his life will become a lot like Leonardo DiCaprio’s in The Revenant.
“The writer Neil [Reynolds] and I had talked a lot as we were breaking the story about what we wanted the episode to feel like,” executive producer Julie Plec, who also directed the episode, tells Nerdist. “We made jokes that we called it our Revenant episode because what Stefan goes through is so harrowing and so difficult. It’s just one bad experience after the next. We were looking forward to letting Paul Wesley just be uninhibited with his acting and we put him through a lot of trials and tribulations.”
The last time Stefan was trapped in the Phoenix Stone, The Vampire Diaries focused only on Damon’s (Ian Somerhalder) journey inside of it. Now, The CW’s hit series will show Stefan’s struggles inside of the now-destroyed stone.
“It’s a completely different experience, but at its core, it’s the same thing which is questioning, as you fight for your own physical and mental survival, what does this person, Damon, mean to Stefan?” Plec reveals. “For Damon it was, what do I owe myself that I have to admit about how I feel about my mother? They have to be very brutally honest with themselves about where they stand in these very potent relationships. It’s a question Stefan has been struggling with all year and it really comes to a head in this episode.”
Back in the real world, Damon will be feeling Stefan’s absence in a big way. “Damon is a man on a mission,” Plec says. “He recognizes it’s his fault this is all happening. He is not willing to accept the reality that his brother might be dead or lost forever inside that Phoenix Stone. He is going to do whatever he can to save Stefan, only it’s not as easy as it sounds.”
From the very beginning of the series, this show, regardless of all the romantic relationships, has always been about the bond between the Salvatore brothers. Despite all the horrible things they’ve done to each other and for each other over the years, they still find a way to come back to each other and forgive one another because no matter what, they’re family. But has Plec ever envisioned telling a story where one goes too far and the other actually can’t forgive him?
“Well this definitely takes us further down that road that we’ve gone for a while, where it’s not as easy as just Damon showing up and saving the day to earn Stefan’s forgiveness,” Plec says. “Stefan’s experience sheds a light emotionally for him on just how damaged his relationship with his brother is. Damon is going to have to do more than just play the hero to earn his brother’s forgiveness. That story is going to stretch past this episode.”
And now that Mary Louise (Teressa Liane) and Nora (Scarlett Byrne) destroyed the Phoenix Stone, resulting in their deaths, expect the vampire huntress Rayna Cruz (Leslie-Ann Huff) to down a dark path, separated from the one thing she needed to hunt vampires.
“We’ll learn very quickly that the destruction of the sword and the stone are doing quite a number on the inside of Rayna’s brain and driving her a little bit mad,” Plec reveals. “She’s got a predicament that she’s got to get out of, which makes her partially willing, begrudgingly willing to partner up with our heroes in an effort to make the voices stop in her head.”
When The Vampire Diaries first began season seven, it introduced the concept of the flash forward storyline, giving viewers peeks into what all the characters were up to three years in the future. Last week’s episode finally caught up the timeline to the flash forwards, but there’s still so much of the three years left to show.
“We actually have a couple dangling threads,” Plec agrees. “And we’re going to tell what we call ‘bridgebacks,’ to answer some of them. Like Bonnie [Kat Graham] and Enzo [Michael Malarkey], Caroline [Candice King] and Alaric [Matt Davis] and Matt [Zach Roerig].”
One glimpse into Matt’s present (now that the show caught up to the “future” storyline) revealed that the girl he was just getting to know and teach how to hunt vampires was dead, and he seemed to blame Stefan for her death. That caused him to free Rayna from her cell in the Armory, resulting in Stefan’s journey back inside the Phoenix Stone.
“There’s an interesting mystery there and a question of not only why he freed Rayna but it’s starting to look like he’s got a personal vendetta against Stefan, one that Stefan doesn’t even totally understand,” Plec says. “As we move forward to the end of the season, we’re actually going to show what that’s all about and why that came to be.”
What mystery are you most excited to see play out as we gear up for the end of the season? Tweet me at @SydneyBucksbaum!
Images: The CW
The Vampire Diaries airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on The CW.