Now that The Vampire Diaries' Elena Gilbert is becoming a vampire, how will it change the course of her life and will it alter the big decision she made in choosing Stefan over Damon in last season's finale?
"Without a doubt the triangle has been refreshed and reset with the actions of Elena going over that bridge and becoming a vampire," executive producer Julie Plec tells TVGuide.com about the series' fourth season, which kicks of Thursday (8/7c, The CW).
For three seasons, viewers watched Elena (Nina Dobrev) fall in love with vampire Stefan (Paul Wesley), learn the truth about her supernatural history, lose Stefan to his Ripper side, develop strong feelings for his brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and ultimately decide that Stefan was the one she wanted to be with. But everything changed in the final moment of the Season 3 finale when Elena died only to come back in the transition stage of becoming a vampire. The question now on (mostly) everyone's mind: Will Stefan remain the Salvatore she chooses?
"If you look at it purely from a human point of view, we fall deeply in love, we grow, we change, our love changes and shifts and we find ourselves attracted to other people," Plec says. "But as we go from adolescence to adulthood, what do we need in our lives, the love we had or the love we wish we had? That's going to be a big part of the season: What does Elena becoming a vampire do to both her relationship with Stefan and her friendship with Damon? It's the same question [she previously] asked but from a different perspective."
Of course, before Elena can even think about life as a vampire, she must go through the toughest part, the transition. And trust us, it won't be easy on the stomach for her or viewers.
"We didn't want to make it easy or over-romanticize it or glamourize it, but we also didn't want to make it devastatingly depressing, so we're going to explore her highest of highs and lowest of lows," Plec says. "Episode 2 gives us a glimpse of what she's going through and then every episode that follows centers on some element of being a new vampire, for better or for worse, and what it's doing to her."
Although Stefan remains by her side when the show picks up, Elena becoming a vampire has a few positives, but quite a few negatives for the former Ripper who's worked so hard to avoid returning to the bloodthirsty guy he recently was. "What's nice about it is that they realize if they want to they can be together forever so in a small way it's a small victory in this whole catastrophe," Plec says. "What's not so nice is that a newbie vampire is a bundle of emotions and rage and hunger and bloodlust and desire and all those things that are really Stefan's Achilles heel. I like to use the analogy of being sober, but your girlfriend just turned 21 and wants to party. For Stefan, Elena usually supports him and is now the one needing to be supported, so who's going to keep Stefan from falling over the edge?"
Ultimately, Plec says, it'll be a long journey for the girl who was once everyone's rock and compassionate to a fault because, at the end of the day, there's no telling what will diminish (or intensify) as her new self takes form. "Elena is uncompromising about is the length she'll go to protect the people she cares about and as a vampire that takes on a whole new meaning. So I do think there is some element of concern on the part of her closest friends to make sure she's not losing her way or losing sight of herself in all this --especially how it relates to the Salvatore brothers."
Watch our Season 2 premiere of The Vampire Diaries Bite for more:
Vampire Diaries airs Thusdays at 8/7c on The CW.