Recently both Julie Plec and Caroline Dries spoke with Collider recently and spoke about bringing Damon & Elena back to the same page, getting rid of the other side and just how much longer the show may go.
Just when you finally get Elena and Damon almost back on the same page again, Kai gets in the middle of them. What can you say about how that will play out?
DRIES: Kai has a very specific need for Elena, which is that he has absorbed magic from the Traveler spell, and that’s way more magic than he’s ever had rippling through his veins. His goal, which he’s made very clear from day one, is to merge with Jo. But what he comes to realize is that he’s never had this much magic before, so what if he touches Jo and she eviscerates. So, he’s trying to learn how to hone his magic, and he’s using Elena as a crash test dummy because she can’t really die and he can keep at it. And Damon wonders, “Where the heck is my gal? She never showed up. What’s going on?” So, he makes it his mission to find her. As they finally do come face to face and reconnect, we get to play at the story that would have happened, if Kai hadn’t grabbed her. We show the beginning stages of the Damon-Elena relationship that we’ve never seen before, with beats of them trying to figure out where to go to dinner, what to do on a date, and really simple, human things that we’ve actually never gotten to witness in their relationship. It’s a story that reminds us why we love the Damon and Elena relationship. It reminds us that it’s a simple love story.
Was one of the advantages of taking those memories away the fact that it could allow Elena to find her own inner strength again?
DRIES: Yeah. As a feminist, I think you never want to have your characters defined by the relationships that they’re in, and it did give her a chance to be a sophomore in college without a boyfriend. She didn’t get that before. Who is she, as a student? Who does she want to be when she grows up, even though she’s never going to grow up? What are her career aspirations? Who is she besides Damon’s girlfriend, and besides being the object of his eye? It was fun to just see Elena as a growing woman.
Can Damon and Elena ever have more than one moment of happiness together, before it all blows up in their face?
DRIES: No, and that’s what you’ll find out. Their attempts are pretty funny. Their attempts at planning a date and the scenario it’s all happening in is so chaotic. But then, they remember to take these moments and really appreciate that they have each other. It actually hangs a lantern on how special they are to each other, when they only have these glimpses to be together.
During the panel you guys mentioned that we’re going to see Elena and Damon happy for a bit, but sort of the nature of the show is that’s probably not going to last too long. Talk a little bit about striking the balance where fans get to have their moment and see their favorite characters happy without losing the drama.
PLEC: I think because every other relationship is in a tumultuous place right now being able to take one couple and allow them some happiness will be fun. It will be fun. I always talk about Meredith and Derrick from Grey’s Anatomy, and I loved them the most when they sort of opened and closed each episode with them in bed, happy with each other, and you didn’t need to insert extra conflict into them, because there was plenty of conflict in the show. So they were this port in the storm of conflict.
Bonnie and Damon never liked each other, until they were really forced to depend on and be there for each other. And Caroline and Stefan gradually developed such a beautiful friendship that viewers just wanted to see more and more of. When did you start to realize that you could take both of those relationships in the way that you have?
DRIES: We saw the Caroline and Stefan one a few seasons ago, when he was teaching her how to control her vampirism. She kind of replaced Lexi in his life. She became that girl that would talk back to him, but there wasn’t a love chemistry between them. They were just friends. Now, she’s growing up and she’s realizing what she’s looking for in a partner, and Stefan has all of those qualities because he’s a really great, awesome guy, and it’s harder for her to just be friends with him, as she’s made clear. With the Damon-Bonnie thing, they’ve just always worked as not liking each other. They’re just the Bickersons, and that’s their dynamic, period. But when we decided that it was time for Bonnie to have to make this sacrifice and get whisked off, who better to put her with than the person she doesn’t want to be with, and vice versa for Damon. And then, all of a sudden, this great chemistry emerged. They still bickered the whole time that they were in the prison world, but you saw that they really care about each other. Damon’s arc will be, “How do I get my friend back?” He doesn’t even admit that he’s her friend, but we all know that he has a soft spot for her now. Fans want them to get together, but we’re going to keep it platonic. There’s just a deep friendship there. Damon has spent more time with Bonnie, on screen, than he’s spent with Alaric or the sheriff, or any of his other buddies. It’s probably the most earned friendship on the show. It was really defined when Kai came into it because the dynamic of that triangle is, “I can make fun of my family, but you can’t make fun of my family.”
With everything Bonnie has experienced in the prison world, how will that change her, if/when she ever gets back to her friends?
DRIES: We’re going to see Bonnie continue to try to adjust to life in the prison world. She tried to have Christmas, and it just made things worse for her. She’s going to have a birthday in the prison world, which is going to be worse. She’s really going to hit rock bottom before she pulls herself up by the bootstraps and says, “You know what? Let me get out of here!” She will finally find her way back, and it will come at the perfect time for our friends, who are in need of a friend rejuvenation and beautiful reunion. So, she comes back and is emotionally scarred from it. She doesn’t want to admit to that. She just wants to be like, “Great, I’m back! Let’s do this! Here are the clothes I left behind. Here’s my music. Let’s go to a party!” But, that’s not how reality actually works. She is scarred by it, and it will be a big issue for her. That feeling of being left behind is something where she’s like, “Never again!” That’s her motto.
What do you get out of writing for the same actors for this long?
PLEC: It’s perfect. TV writing, for me at least, is half original voice and half an embodiment and a representation of the spirit of the actors you’re writing for. Because they’re the ones – when you create the character you’ve got nobody in your head, or you’ve got like, Jennifer Lawrence, in your head. And then they come in and fill the role, so you’re listing to their voice, and meters, and patterns, and seeing what makes them sparkle and what their sweet spot is, and the more episodes you do the more you find yourself writing right into that pocket for them, and the more you get to know them, the more you write them in your head as well. So it’s a perfect way to feel comfortable with a character long term, because it’s a symbiotic relationship between the fictional character and the actor portraying the fictional character – at least for me. I like to delve into both of their worlds.
This show has passed the point that most shows never get to, with six seasons now and the renewal for a seventh. How much longer do you see it going?
DRIES: Every year, I’m like, “I don’t have any more ideas!” And then, we’ll think of something like Elena compelling Damon away and Kai, and there’s a whole season, right there. So, I’m going into Season 7 with that mind-set. We’ll think about it and, hopefully, we’ll strike gold again. We work with 10 really, really, really smart writers with big brains and a lot of ideas, so somebody has gotta think of something. Julie [Plec] would never let the show drive itself into the ground. If we’re out of ideas and we’re honest about it, we’ll end the show.
How do you balance between having a long term story plan and knowing where your headed, but also taking things as they come and letting the story open up naturally?
PLEC: Yeah, you always open up as you go, because you can get in the middle of a storyline that you thought was going to be great and whether you made a bad casting decision or the other writers just didn’t latch onto it, it can kind of fizzle and then you have to find your way out of it faster than you want to. There’s a lot of storylines over the years where you feel like it’s maybe meant to be more important than it ends up being, and that’s because we jump ship and you gracefully extricate yourself from that as well as you can.
You can read the full interview with Julie Plec HERE and the full interview with Caroline Dries HERE