Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev

After three seasons, The Vampire Diaries' vampire hunter has become the creature he once so greatly loathed.

On Thursday's episode, "Do Not Go Gentle," Esther (Alice Evans) carried out her plan to have Alaric (Matt Davis) morph into the most powerful creature she could create and one that she hopes could help take down the entire breed of vamps.

Vampire Diaries Bite: Esther will reveal her plan for Alaric

"[There's an] ironic symmetry of having this witch who is desperate to eradicates vampires and this alter ego of Alaric's who hates vampires," executive producer Julie Plec explained to reporters at a special screening of the episode. "It's bringing the Original witch's heart in this whole mythology full circle and [and now she's] passing the baton to a villain that could actually succeed at the task that she's been failing at all season."

But will Alaric continue to fight the transition he so desperately tried to escape? And if his vampirism fully takes over, will it put all our Mystic Falls heroes at extreme risk? Plec answers these questions and more below. Plus: Find out more about the love triangle, what we'll learn from the finale's flashback and how Klaus is about to "reboot" his villainous side.

Alaric becoming a badass is an understatement
"He's going to be hardcore, which is equally exciting and devastating because he's one of our heroes who's no longer one of our heroes," Plec said. "[In next week's episode] Alaric goes on a tear and no one is safe. There's going to be a lot of people at one point or another that you're not sure are going to make it to Season 4." Oh, and she confirmed that Alaric is indeed the man responsible for the horrifying look on Damon and Rebekah's faces in this photo.

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Esther's really dead, but her exit will reignite Klaus (Joseph Morgan)
Plec says Klaus now realizes his mother will not stop coming after him. "This is a second call to arms for Klaus, who may have gotten distracted by pretty blondes," she said. "This is a reminder he's not going to let his guard down — it's a reboot of the villain."

If Esther — not the ring — was pushing Alaric to the bad side, does that mean Jeremy's ring is OK?
Yes and no. "It means that the stakes of death and resuscitation are possibly not as intense for Jeremy as they were for Alaric, but there's always going to be a concern of consequence for cheating death one too many times," Plec said.

Was that really Bonnie when she was bitten?
"She was very clearly under some sort of witchy influence," Plec said. "Bonnie's issue now is, 'What the hell? I've got vampires telling me what to do, [and] now I have the witches telling me what to do. Where's my free will? Where's my choice?' That's going to influence her character moving forward."

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Elena went to the dance with Stefan, but is still so conflicted
The emotional scene between the two only intensified the notion that Elena (Nina Dobrev) cannot risk losing either Stefan (Paul Wesley) or Damon (Ian Somerhalder) from her life right now. "These two men are so important to her and she has lost almost everyone that has ever mattered to her. So how do you choose in a moment like that?" Plec said. "The last two episodes of the season are really going to be about her asking herself that question and really trying to understand how she could possibly let one of them go when she's already lost so much."

Tyler (Michael Trevino) will stand up to his hybrid master
Our friendly werewolf is about to get some cojones, Trevino revealed. "In these last two episodes, you see him actually take some action against Klaus and maybe not follow his orders when it comes to Caroline. He's tired of getting bit--ed around and he acts on it and it gets messy."

Life wasn't completely peachy before Elena met the Salvatores
While Plec maintained that the finale flashback won't reveal a supernatural influence on the Gilbert car wreck (yes, it was really an accident), it will show that Elena's life has always been complicated. "We get a nice flash of what it was like when [Matt and Elena] were dating and they were themselves [in] a troubled relationship," Plec said. "So even though she's remembering a simpler time, her problems were just as complicated."

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The brothers could, for once, get past the love triangle
"There's a really nice scene in next week's episode that shows they might just survive this no matter how it plays out when it's all said and done," Plec said. "The cliché is that the girl tears them apart, so [we said], 'How can we have the girl bring them even closer together?'"

A final tease for the final two episodes
We're pretty sure your heart won't stop racing until the final moment of the season. "The penultimate episode is very adrenaline-infused and there are big mythology moves that happen," Plec said. "The finale is more emotional, but by no means the epilogue to the season. If anything it's half closing the door to one year and blowing the lid off the door to the next."

(Additional reporting by Natalie Abrams)