Is it really almost here?

This Friday, The Vampire Diaries airs its final hour. And judging by the episode title, "I Was Feeling Epic," fans are in for one hell of an epic ride. But with so much left to wrap up -- Katherine's (Nina Dobrev) return as the Queen of Hell, Elena finally reuniting with Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and whatever happened to Bonnie (Kat Graham) after the Maxwell Bell was rung immediately come to mind -- we have a lot of questions about what to expect when The Vampire Diaries ends its eight-season run this week.

Fortunately, we had an opportunity to speak to creator Julie Plec about everything that goes down in The Vampire Diaries finale.

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Why is Katherine the perfect villain to end the series with?
Julie Plec:
Well, when you think about it, Katherine is the villain who launched the series. We didn't know it at the time, but she was the reason our brothers were vampires. Their shared love for her was the thing that put them at odds, which was then repeated 145 years later with Elena. She has had a hand in the torture, discomfort and/or misery of pretty much every single regular character that's ever crossed through the doors of Mystic Falls. And so to be able to bring it full circle and say that she is the ultimate Big Bad was an idea that made us so excited when we landed on it. And we were really happy we were able to get Nina back so we could execute it.

How early in the episode does Elena wake up? Will we get to spend a lot of time with her?
Plec: I'm not going to speak about at what point she wakes up, but I will say that between Elena and Katherine there is quite a lot of screentime. And I think fans who are excited to see Nina back are going to be really happy with what they get.

Damon has been through so much since Elena was put in her magical coma. What is it like for him to see her again and experience this moment he's imagined so often?
Plec: I think poor Damon has just been knocked down and dragged through the mud so much in his efforts to be the kind of man he wants to be for her return in allegedly 80 years, that seeing her right right now in the present is shocking and probably a little bit of a concern for him that he's not quite there, that he's not quite ready for her yet.

Stefan and Damon have been through so many ups and downs over the years. Where does the finale leave their relationship, and will the brothers have finally achieved real closure on all the issues they've had with each other over the course of their lives?
Plec:
I will say that I feel like this episode really brings the brothers' relationship full circle in a way that is really powerful.

The penultimate episode ended on quite the cliffhanger and we know Elena wakes up in the finale, so how worried should fans be about Bonnie?
Plec: Fans should always be worried about Bonnie, but I think that we'll have to wait and see if it's in fact Bonnie's death that wakes Elena up or if something else is going on.

Did you always plan on having someone die in the finale or did the death come up more organically?
Plec: We didn't set out to kill someone in the finale, but it definitely felt like there would have to be a sacrifice that was made as there often is when one is trying to save the day.

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Without giving away who it is, what can you say about your experience deciding who to kill off and what it was like saying goodbye to a major character this way?
Plec: I can say that up until about two weeks before the script was written, somebody else was dying. And so the choice of who ultimately did die is actually something I'm very happy with because it wasn't what we intended to do. And when we made the change, it felt so right and so pure that it was obvious that it was the road we needed to go down.

Even though Enzo's dead, he's still with Bonnie in a way. Does that mean there's still hope for them to get some version of a happy ending together?
Plec: I can't really speak to that without illuminating too much about Bonnie's fate, but they do seem to have an otherwordly connection with each other. If anything, their love is the most eternal, probably.

Stefan and Caroline decided not to let his mortality get in the way of their love, but how does this potentially shift the dynamic of their relationship?
Plec: That's the big question. It's the question that almost prevented them from getting married. It's the question that they will have to live with every day. How do you, as a human, grow old when your partner in life does not? I think it's a really great question to explore.

Now that Stefan is human, there's a ticking clock on his relationship with Caroline even if he does survive the finale. Given his mortality, does that mean there is still some hope for Klaroline fans since Klaus always did promise he'd be Caroline's last?
Plec: I think whilst certainly a very vocal and not always kind demographic of our fandom, the Klaroline relationship has also been a personal favorite of the writers since the beginning. So at least being able to acknowledge that it exists is something we wanted to do in the finale without making any real promises for the future.

I'm so excited that Vicki's back, but now she's a villain! How hard will it be for Matt to face his sister knowing she's working for Katherine?
Plec: It's incredibly difficult for him because his goal, of course, is to save Mystic Falls and save his friends. And for Vicki, he realizes, her goal is just to get sweet release from Hell. So her task is in conflict with what his is, and he understands why she feels like she has to do what she has to do, but he's still going to do anything he can to stop her.

Jeremy also returns in the finale! How much has he changed since we last saw him and how does he factor into the finale?
Plec: I can say that we've got a good menagerie of familiar faces who all get their single moments before the end of the show.

Alaric has had a really rough go of it on this show. Will the finale leave us with the sense that Alaric has found his happiness again?
Plec: I think Alaric's happiness has come in the form of being able to pull his family together and keep them safe and look towards the future of how he's going to raise his girls and keep them safe in this world where people like them are not necessarily embraced. So there is a sense of strength and confidence that he can leave with before the series is over.

Was there anyone you would have loved to bring back this season that you weren't able to get?
Plec:
There were a couple availability issues on our wishlist, but for the most part I'm really happy with what we were able to accomplish.

What was it like for you to write the finale and bring the show to a close?
Plec: It was surprisingly -- actually, I shouldn't even say surprisingly because it's just par for the course for my writing habits. I thought about it and fretted over it and stressed about it for two months and then wrote it in a stressed out deadline-pushed bubble over the last four days. Which is basically how I've written everything in my life back to high school papers.

What do you expect the fan reaction will be -- will they be more satisfied or heartbroken?
Plec: Hopefully, all of the above.

The Vampire Diaries series finale airs Friday at 9/8c on the CW after a one-hour retrospective.

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