If The Vampire Diaries is supposed to suffer from a second-season curse, someone forgot to send the supernatural romance the memo. Feeding the public's continuing thirst for vampire love, lust and blood, Season 2's ratings have been steady and fan frenzy has multiplied. The CW's highest-rated series' place in the TV firmament was cemented when Nina Dobrev, who plays long-suffering teen heroine Elena Gilbert (plus her evil vamp doppelgänger, Katherine Pierce), was chosen for Jimmy Fallon's buzzy Emmy opening number. "We're definitely not in a sophomore slump," says exec producer Kevin Williamson. "The actors are still so enthusiastic."
That excitement is palpable as they shoot their biggest episode yet. Dozens of extras dressed in formal wear and masks pose as partygoers at a massive mansion just outside
of Atlanta. And when there's a party in Mystic Falls, it's a safe bet that someone — or something — will die. More than one in this case, promises Williamson. "This episode is a fun, eventful, scary, Halloween-week thriller," he says. "There will be a bloodbath."
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First though, it's time to cue the music as couples twirl around the dance floor. Vamp Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) has a fetching woman in his arms. But it isn't his high-school human love, Elena. Family drama has kept her at home and in her place is look-alike Katherine, the 500-year-old vamp bitch who seduced then turned both Stefan and his brother, Damon (Ian Somerhalder), into bloodsuckers 146 years ago. Tonight, for her usual wicked reasons, Katherine is impersonating Elena, and Stefan must keep up the charade.
The masquerade ball is a handy metaphor for "the masks we wear in life," says Williamson, who flew in from Los Angeles to watch over the night's filming. "Katherine always plays games, she's always wearing masks. And at the party, when she's alone with both Stefan and Damon for the first time since she's come back to town, Katherine rips the masks off their faces."
When Katherine is frustrated, though, she can rip off more than just a mask. And these days, she is very frustrated. The power-hungry vamp is on a quest to get back the now-missing moonstone that her werewolf lover Mason Lockwood (Taylor Kinney) had obtained for her.
Just how much Katherine wants the mysterious stone is evident in a scene filmed earlier in which she nearly throttles Caroline (Candice Accola), the perky cheerleader she recently turned. "What are Stefan and Damon up to? Who has the moonstone? Don't lie to me, Caroline," she says as she chokes the fledgling vampire. Accola, her neck still red, says Dobrev plays her evil double role all too well. "When you see her coming it's 'Oh, man, that's Katherine! Something's gonna happen.' That shows just how incredible an actress Nina is," she says before leaving for more punishment.
"You're used to seeing Nina as Elena, this sweet, caring teenager," adds Somerhalder. "Cut to an hour later and you're getting this little temptress — sexy, sadistic and manipulative," he says. "Did I mention sexy?"
The sexy — and powerful — Katherine is at her bloody worst this week. "However horrible we thought Katherine was before, that was just her nice side!" teases Dobrev. "Now that Stefan's rejected her, she has no ties to the town anymore, so she'll do anything and everything. She doesn't care who she kills. Even if it's in front of a room of people. There's almost no way to stop her."
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