ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How long have you known Elena would end season 3 in transition to become a vampire?
JULIE PLEC: The ending had been in the works for about two years. In the first series of books, that’s what happens to her. When Kevin [Williamson] and I first came on the show, we said, “Well, it can’t happen to her the way it happens in the books,” which is on, like, page 200 of the first book. [Laughs] That felt obviously too soon, and rushed, and we didn’t want to make a show about a teenage girl who instantly becomes a vampire. But we always knew that her journey would take her there eventually, and we just kept riding the wave of when it felt right. You’ve got a girl who just sorta lost her last adult living family member when Aunt Jenna died last year, so when we started this season, what we really wanted to do was begin this relationship with Alaric as her guardian and mentor, and then tear that away from her at the end leaving her and her brother with nobody. It felt like now was the time — when you’re left with no grownup, no adult supervision, no parent, no guardian — for Elena to experience the next evolution of her journey. All the stuff that we did with having her get stronger over the course of the year, training and getting in touch with her physical self, and all the grief and all the emotion that she went through, all the compassion that she has for everybody, it will all play into next year and what kind of person and vampire she will actually be — if she should choose to see the transition through.
And just checking: Matt did survive, right?
I think for Matt to not survive that after everything would be just too damn tragic.
One of the twists we didn’t see coming — conveniently after Elena said maybe her choice would have been different if she’d met Damon first — was that Damon HAD actually met her first on the night of her parents’ crash, but he compelled her to forget because he didn’t want anyone else to know he was in town.
Damon now has a small collection of things that he’s compelled her to forget. If there’s one thing that everyone knows about our vampire rules it’s that when you die and are in transition, your memories start to come back. So, there’s some new information that will be introduced to Elena in the first episode of next season. I think it’s just all part of the ongoing friendship and romantic entanglement that Elena has with Damon. She’s never gonna be able to shake it completely, and new information is only gonna get under her skin and embed itself into her even more. And so, it will cause complications with Stefan, of course. But she’s committed to Stefan. She loves Stefan. We’ll get to actually see them be together for a little while.