The CW’s breakout freshmen hit The Vampire Diaries at first look seems like diet True Blood or another attempt to cash in on Twilight-mania. Trust me on this, take a closer look and you’ll find a soapy guilty pleasure more satisfying than either of those former franchises.
At San Diego Comic Con I had a chance to talk with executive producers Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec about werewolves, witches and why exactly Katherine came back to Mystic Falls.
Josh Hatala: So Katherine’s back? And she came for Stefan?
Kevin Williamson: Katherine being back in Mystic Falls is a bit of a game changer for the show. How is this going to affect Damon and Stefan in terms of Katherine now being back in town? And it’s so hard to talk about it without giving anything away. Everything’s a surprise. She comes back and pretty much stated why she was back. It will be fun to sort of watch that play out. If you watched our show in the past, you know there’s always more than one reason someone’s there and some of the motives of our characters. It’s a huge journey.
JH: Last year, you were trying to establish the show. Now that you have, do you feel more pressure to add extra elements?
KW: To try and top ourselves? You know there is a lot of pressure to keep it up. It’s a very hard show to write at this moment, because there’s so much genre mixed with relationships and characters. I didn’t even realize how hard it was going to be. But I do think we kind of found the rhythm to our show which is [about] the human relationship and the mythology. And so yes, we are going to continue the mythology. We’re sort of going back to zero and telling a new story, but it’s a story that you already know half of it because you watched the first season, so it’s sort of the other half. We’re just going to continue the story. There’s so much you still don’t know about 1864. What happened? Why wasn’t Katherine in the tomb? How did she escape? Where did she go? Why did she come to Mystic Falls to begin with? What was in Mystic Falls? So there’s all these fun questions that we’re going to explore and how the Lockwood curse factors into it.
JH: How is 2010 Katherine different from Katherine in 1864?
KW: It’s going to be interesting to watch. I’m scared to say because it will give away where she’s been. It’s a bit of a secret what she’s been up to. It’s one of the shows you can’t talk about, it sucks.
JH: Will we see any characters we lost in season one? Maybe in flashback?
JH: Will we see any flashback episodes?
KW: Right now, we have three flashback episodes planned and I’m guessing there will be a fourth.
JH: Fans of the book will not be surprised to hear werewolves are finding their way to Mystic Falls. How will the show handle that mythology?
KW: Tyler’s going to sort of learn with the help of his Uncle Mason (who comes to town in the very first episode) who and what he is. He’s going to learn about the curse, who and what he is, and how he responds to it. It’s going to be a typical growing up story — a sort of coming-of-age story, but it’s horrible to have all these questions about why you’re the way you are, why you’re so angry and why you always feel so lost. And then you get the answer, and you don’t like it. So it’s going to be a fun journey for him, and violent.
JH: Kevin was just talking about the werewolf mythology. Can you expand?
Julie Plec: It’s a bloodline. A lot of our show has to do with bloodlines and who’s descended from who and what and where and family and what your family gives you and how you become what you are and the werewolf curse is in keeping with that.
JH: Will there be any new supernaturals making their way to town this season?
JP: Ultimately, that notion is what got Kevin and me to want to do the series in the first place. Because in the books, I think it was a huge Civil War battle that shed a lot of blood and because of all the blood that had been shed from the soldiers, it’s just sort of a heightened hot bed of activity, and when we read that, we thought this is a show that can be more than just these characters and just these creatures because this town for whatever reason draws that kind of element in. And the deeper the series gets, hopefully we’ll be able to hold on for as long as possible, but the deeper the series gets, the more we’ll start to get a sense of what other elements might be either long gestating in this town or coming to town because it’s got a strong supernatural pull.
JH” Poor Aunt Jenna! She went to bed that night with a possible undead nephew upstairs and her brother-in-law being murdered downstairs by her niece’s doppleganger! How is she going to handle waking up to that?
JP: Jenna is going to remain blissfully in the dark, actually. We’ll learn in the first episode that she was actually out talking to the Fire Marshall when all this went down. So she was not at least sleeping through the tornado of Katherine. Katherine sort of said “Oh you need to go downtown and talk to the Fire Marshall.” So we’ll learn that Katherine actually lured Aunt Jenna out of the house before all the craziness happened. One of the most important things in the series, in our opinion, is to keep some of our characters and some of the people that live in our world in the dark, as infuriating as it can be, or as silly as it can get, it’s actually very human. It keeps the character very human. So characters like Matt and Jenna for now are going to be those characters that are just sort of like “Hey, that was weird!”
JH: How will that affect her relationship with history teacher/vampire hunter Alaric?
JP: That’s the big problem in their relationship. No matter how strongly Alaric is drawn towards Jenna, there does come a certain point when you say “Wait a second, I’m into something here.” when everything is built on a lie, or an absence of the truth. And so that’s going to be a big source of conflict for his own character as well.
JH: What will resident witch Bonnie and were-Tyler’s journeys be like this season?
JP: We’re going to see Tyler — I know Kev touched on it — Tyler is…I heard what he said and it’s so good I’m going to repeat it…Tyler’s spent all this time asking questions “Why am I the way I am?” and very early in the season he’s going to learn the answer to that. And the struggle upon learning the answer to that — that he’s a recipient of this curse — the period of time between learning that and the curse itself being triggered is going to be a really dark, interesting time for him because of everything that comes along with it. There’s a little bit of wish fulfillment there. There’s a little bit of “Hey maybe I could be this, and maybe it wouldn’t be that bad but what does it involve and what would I become?” and there’s some great, great, great stuff for his character. And Bonnie of course is stronger than ever. Bonnie is kicking ass and taking names. And Bonnie’s going to be confronted with a lot of those issues of “You people are my friends, but I fundamentally have an issue with who you are, so how do I balance that, how do I balance my friendship with you with flat out distaste for vampires and what they’ve done to me and a long line of witches and all that.”
The Vampire Diares returns at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 9. You can catch up with the complete first season on DVD.