Steven McQueen Steven McQueen

When Vicki and Anna, both heretofore known as "dead," appeared to Jeremy in the season finale of The Vampire Diaries, it raised a lot of questions. Can only Jeremy see them? Is it significant that the late former girlfriends were both also vampires? Will he see more dead people? Why have they returned? "They have their own master plan," executive producer Julie Plec tells "The minute you get any supernatural entity dropping into Mystic Falls, somebody is going to be at risk." Plec, co-executive producer Kevin Williamson, and their team of writers have just returned to the writers' room in Atlanta, where they're plugging away on scripts for Season 3, which Plec says will explore the history of the original vampire family. She hints at a flashback to the year 1000, deconstructs the "Delena" kiss and reveals the unique way they'll set the stage for the show's return in September. 

When and why did you decide to bring back Anna (Malese Jow) and Vicki (Kayla Ewell)?
Julie Plec:
Early on in the season, we started talking about how much fun it would be to bring favorite characters back. When we started thinking about where we were taking Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) over the course of this season and where we were going to end him, we thought of the idea of him seeing people from his past as a result of being brought back to life. The decision to bring Vicki back was instantaneous because Kayla was so well loved and it was devastating to say goodbye. Anna was such a fan favorite, and so we had the opportunity to take a character that the audience was outraged that we had the audacity to kill and give her another story. And it's just the beginning.

When will we learn what Jeremy seeing dead people means?
We'll get a good sense in the first episode or two how they're manifesting themselves and where they're coming from. As we get deeper into the season, we'll start to understand that they have a compass and they have their own master plan. You'll have to wait and see whether or not that's a diabolical master plan, [but] I think the minute you get any supernatural entity dropping into Mystic Falls, somebody is going to be at risk. The question is: Who do you like more — the supernatural person or the human?

What will the return of Jeremy's past loves mean for his present girlfriend Bonnie (Katerina Graham)?
Plec: There is a wonderful double meaning of what the witches said to Bonnie that there will be consequences. She went against the order of nature [to save Jeremy] and now there are obviously supernatural consequences for what she did, but clearly there are going to be emotional consequences. These two girls are girls Jeremy loved very profoundly. Bonnie is a nice, new, warm, wonderful, healthy relationship and inevitably it's always the healthy relationship that gets tested when the [more volatile] relationship comes back.

The season finale had another major moment: the kiss between Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Elena (Nina Dobrev). Did you hesitate giving the "Delena" fans that moment too soon?
I felt like it was something that needed to happen to end Damon's story line for the season. His entire journey had been, "I'm not worthy of you" and at the end of the season, as he's dying, she tells him, "Yes, you are; you're worthy." For her to be able to show that in a sweet kiss, telling him that she likes him the way he is and he doesn't need to change for her, I thought was really important and a really nice ending to that journey. Of course, in their world, the end of any journey opens up the beginning of a whole lot of drama.

How will that be addressed next season?
There are a lot of complicated feelings attached to that moment, the biggest being that Stefan was off saving Damon's life while Damon was confessing, yet again, his love for his brother's girlfriend. There's going to be a sense of obligation and guilt attached to it, but Damon does what Damon's going to do. And for now, Elena's boyfriend is gone, possibly dead, and Damon's there as a friend trying to help her save Stefan, and anything can happen there.

Will Stefan be back for Elena's big 18th birthday party in the premiere?
Plec: When we come back, no one will have heard from him, no one will have seen him and the audience won't know where he's been and what he's going through is going to be pretty surprising. One of the little big moments [in the episode] is wondering what Damon gives Elena for her birthday and if Stefan makes an appearance to blow out the candles on the cake. 

You dubbed Season 3 "The Year of the Originals."
Plec: In the beginning, we'll catch nice glimpses in flashbacks of a time when Stefan was a true ripper. We'll get to see what that was like and how he got this reputation that Klaus has been holding on to because Klaus wants Stefan to be his wingman. Then, once we get into our second chapter in mid-fall-early winter, that's when we're really going to be digging deeply into the history of the original family and go all the way back in flashbacks to the year 1000 approximately. We're going to tell their origin story, see where and who Klaus comes from, why he is the way he is and why he so desperately needs some therapy or a hug.

Will Elijah (Daniel Gillies) be back?
Plec: Yes. I can't live in a world in which Daniel Gillies is not a part of it in some way. He can go book the next Bourne Identity for all I care, I'm still going to make him come back.

After pulling out some pretty big guns in Season 2, how do you raise the stakes for Season 3?
The stakes are instantly raised because we have our good brother who is in the grip of Klaus' influence and demands and his own demons, so we're about to watch our hero go down a very dark road — and it's not going to be pretty. Then you have a character seeing people from his past and there are a lot of things that could open up because we've got a lot of people in the past that weren't necessarily so nice. We're also pushing all our relationships to the next level. We left Caroline and Tyler not really sure where they stood with each other. We've seen Tyler come to terms with himself and now we're going to get to see what that means for him in this town, in his family, and in his relationship and friendship with Caroline. I feel like there's more opportunity this season then there has been the first two seasons.

The Vampire Diaries returns Thursday, Sept. 15 at 8/7c on CW.

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