There are going to be many “lasts” this season on The Vampire Diaries, as The CW’s long-running supernatural series approaches the conclusion of its eight-season run. When the season premiere airs tonight with “Hello Brother,” it will be the last time the show debuts a new season with a mystery. It will be the last time fans will have to suffer through the long summer hiatus after a crazy cliffhanger closes a season finale. In fact, one last has already happened, as the showrunners Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson, along with the main cast, took to the Comic-Con stage this past summer for one final panel as they tearfully announced the news that TVD would end after the current season.
While news of the series ending sent the fandom into a frenzy almost immediately, the mind behind one of TV’s biggest phenomenons is feeling the same mixed emotions as well.
“Tell me about it! I cry in random, little surprising moments in the writers room or on set or watching an episode,” Plec tells Nerdist with a laugh. “The floodgates are trickling already. It’s still bittersweet, because on the one hand you think, ‘Gosh, I could probably keep doing this forever.’ But on the other hand you think, ‘It’s going to end so well.’ And that’s been the goal since the very beginning, to make sure that we stayed with it as long as we could but not too long, before it fell apart. You feel like you’re taking a big leap in ending it but it feels so right. It doesn’t make it any less sad, though.”
While most shows don’t get the advantage of knowing when it’s in its final season, Plec is happy that she can craft this last year as a satisfying ending for the fans.
“We actually entered the season as writers in the writers room not having decided if it was the end or not,” Plec says. “Knowing that it was something I had talked about, knowing that it was something on my mind, I wanted to see where the story took us. Every direction it took us in thematically, and all the character journeys, it really felt like it was begging to be leading up to an ultimate conclusion. So then, once we made that decision, then it was a matter of: What’s everything that we haven’t had a chance to do yet?”
That’s right, the TVD writers have an ultimate wish list of things they want to accomplish on the show before it ends, and they’re making it their mission to cross them all off before the series finale.
“What are all the things on our list of ‘One day we’ll get to…’ story pitches, where do these characters need to go to resolve themselves completely?” Plec says. “It’s been so much fun because you’re working off this beautiful list of ideas that you’ve had over the years that you’ve been holding back from or waiting to use, and now we get to do whatever we want.”
While Plec hasn’t gotten to the development of the series finale just yet, she’s hopeful that she’ll accomplish everything she wanted to do in the final season.
“I think we’re going to hit most of it if not all of it,” she says. “I know there’s little details of things that we really want to figure out a way to answer, that we haven’t done yet but [which are] on our list of things to accomplish before it’s over. So you can ask me that same question when we get to the end and I might have a few that I’m sad that we didn’t figure out.”
When it comes to the final episode of the fan-favorite series, Plec has always been pretty outspoken about how she has had the same idea for the series ending since the very beginning. Is that still going to happen the way she imagined it, even eight years later?
“The content of it has definitely had to shift as a result of Nina [Dobrev] leaving the show and the disintegration of the Other Side as a story concept,” Plec says. “When we got rid of those two things, Kevin’s and my original pitch definitely had to adapt to the new world that we were working in. But thematically and emotionally, it’s still incredibly similar to what he and I always talked about.”
Series star Dobrev exited TVD at the end of season six, but Plec has previously said that Elena plays a role in that dream ending of hers and she hopes to have Dobrev come back for the milestone episode. Fans and critics alike have wondered if that means Dobrev will return for the season eight finale, but Plec has no news to share on that front just yet.
“The only thing I have been saying and will continue to say is that she is 100 percent committed to coming and we’re 100 percent committed to having her,” Plec says. “At this point, it’s just logistics and I don’t want to speak too soon because that would be crushing if we couldn’t figure it out, but we’re all extremely determined to.”
But before we can start freaking out about what the finale holds, we still have the entire final season to break our hearts, make us cry happy/sad tears and generally keep us on the edge of our seats as it has done for seven years so far. And it’s going to be an intense run, according to Plec, as the show deals with a new theme that they’ve never touched on before.
“The one big theme that we’ve never confronted head on is the idea of redemption in terms of it being a tangible need for our characters,” Plec says. “This season really deals with the theme of good vs. evil. Can you recover from the mistakes that you’ve made, can you make amends for the pain you’ve inflicted on others, is there hope for you or are you doomed to be punished for all eternity? We don’t really deal in specifics of heaven and hell on this show but we have always talked about peace, and we’ve never really explored what the opposite of peace might be. In that vein of it being a series ender, we finally felt like we could start exploring those issues.”
She pauses to laugh, then adds, “It’s dark.”
And the main villain for this season fits into that quite perfectly, as TVD introduces “evil herself” as the mysterious force that took over Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Enzo (Michael Malarkey) at the end of season seven.
“The ‘she’ in quotes is a fascinating entity because we start the season and no one knows what it is, our evil, how it works, what it wants. And part of the mystery of the first episode is actually trying to identify the villain,” Plec says. “Once we do and ‘it’ becomes ‘she,’ then she’s going to have a whole story of her own moving forward that is going to tie into all these things that we’ve been talking about.”
One of the biggest reasons that TVD became such a pop culture phenomenon is how it has told epic love stories between all the characters. And when it comes to all the fan-favorite relationships, Plec is going to make sure that each one gets a “satisfying” end. But note that she says “satisfying,” and not “happy.” That’s going to be very important to remember. In other words, get the kleenex ready now.
“I wanted to be able to take all the love stories to their best possible conclusion, whether it be a happy ending, a tragic ending, a sad parting, whatever it was that each relationship in my mind needed in order to properly resolve itself,” Plec teases. “I wanted to make sure we did that so there was nothing left unanswered.”
What are you hoping to see from the final season of TVD? Tweet me your thoughts at @SydneyBucksbaum!
The Vampire Diaries airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
Images: The CWx