Nina Dobrev

The Vampire Diaries' Elena Gilbert may have made the biggest decision in her life thus far when choosing Stefan over Damon, but that will be nothing compared to the one she'll face when the series picks up in the fall.

In the final moments of Thursday's episode, Elena died with vampire blood in her, causing her to return to life, gasping for air. Now the Mystic Falls teen must choose if she should complete the transition and become a supernatural being like almost everyone else important in her life. How long will it be before viewers find out her life-altering decision? How will both Salvatores react? And when memories that she was compelled to forget come flooding back, will that change who she wants to be with? Executive producer Julie Plec answers all these questions plus whether or not Tyler is really dead, when Bonnie will spill her biggest secret and how Caroline will react to news of the switch.

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Why can't they take a route that doesn't include Wickery Bridge?
Julie Plec: It's the only way in and out of town, maybe, but I think from now on they'll be a little bit gun-shy.

Please tell me Tyler isn't really dead.
Plec: No, he's not dead. In fact, if you look at the times we've used the spell in the past with Klaus and Alaric and Esther and Rebekah the magic is the same. So if and when Klaus vacates Tyler's body, Tyler will still be there.

How will Stefan following Elena's orders to save Matt and not her affect him?
Plec: The first episode is a lot of people feeling a lot of guilt, a lot of torment and Elena having to manage all of that in the midst of realizing she has a big decision to make. Obviously Stefan knew he was going to come right back for Elena, but she ran out of time. That is a decision that's going to haunt him and infuriate Damon, but probably lead Elena to explain even more to Stefan why she chose him because of that.

How will Damon react to Stefan's fatal choice?
Plec: This could drive a pretty severe wedge between the brothers. Certainly the intention is not to subtly and forcefully rip them apart; it's more that they're going to have different points of view. It's going to bring back a lot of the issues about Damon when he came to Mystic Falls and what he expected his vampire life to be. They're just not going to agree. It's going to be frustrating for both of them, and even though they're in it together, they're coming at it from different sides.

Does the flashback scene between Elena and Damon soften the finality of Elena picking Stefan?
Plec: It was meant to illuminate that we don't have all the information and neither does Elena. She's made her decision and she believes in that decision wholeheartedly based on who she is in her life and what she knows, and now she's going to wake up and be a completely different person and have all this new information. Do I think it's going to immediately make her say, "Oh, I've chosen wrong?" No, but it's yet another thing that's going to be in her head confusing her about her feelings.

How soon will we see Elena's transition?
Plec: The transition of it all will take place in the first episode. There's a nice 24-hour window there and that will be particularly dramatic and traumatic. Looking past that, all I can say is if Elena becomes a vampire, if you really think about who she is and what we've seen in her, she's fiercely protective, she spent a lot of time in this last season getting physically stronger, her compassion is her greatest gift and her greatest weakness, so in death that becomes magnified.

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When will the others learn about Bonnie's spell?
Plec: Bonnie's first thing that's going to have to happen is that we're going to learn how long she has to keep this secret, what kind of bargain she made with Klaus, is she going to be able to tell her friends, specifically Caroline, right away? As a witch who can be looked at for solution, trying to figure out a way to keep Elena from having to be a vampire is going to be high on her priority list and she's going to have a very limited amount of time to do it. In the first episode, we'll see Bonnie step right up to the precipice of the darkest form of her magic and need to either jump on in or stay back on the ledge.

And how will Caroline react to all of this information?
Plec: She's just been completely bamboozled and experienced the most horrifying and devastating moment of her entire life, so realizing that it wasn't real and that all of those painful goodbyes were not Tyler but were with Klaus, that's going to be a low blow.

The finale was so action-packed. Was there anything you had to cut for time?
Plec: I loved a line where after Alaric confronts Meredith, he's walking out the door he looks back at her and says, "Too bad, you and me, it was kind of love at first sight, wasn't it?" I loved it, but ultimately the story was told just fine without it.

Are you relieved Tyler isn't really dead? Do you think Elena will change her mind after her transition?