At San Diego Comic-Con’s panel for The Vampire Diaries, series creator Julie Plec tearfully announced that Season 8 will be the final season of the beloved CW program. The assembled crowd gasped and whined, but she reassured them that there will be plenty of great content in the coming season to wrap things up.
“The greatest honor you have as a storyteller in the business of television is to make those decisions (about when to end a series). This is it, you guys are here for our final Comic-Con. This is the final season of The Vampire Diaries,” she said. “It’s bittersweet and emotional but we wanted to be the ones to tell you guys first and it’s been a beautiful run.”
After concerns about cancellation last season, Plec and co. were careful to make sure the season 7 finale wrapped things up in case they didn’t get a chance to tell the rest of the story.
“For us it was (about) being able to resolve relationships and tee up a hint of a new villain and a new problem. We really got to start really fresh this year,” she said. She noted that the new season is really about homecoming and that the first episode begins back in Mystic Falls, where it all began.
A New Evil
The creators were careful not to spill too much information about the new villain for Season 8, but the teaser clip showed her bloody hand rising from a tomb with the caption “this season, get ready to meet evil herself.”
“It’s a new take on villains for us,” Plec said. “It’s something that’s rooted all the way back into ancient times.”
“It’s a really great mythology, I’m actually very excited about it,” agreed Kevin Williamson, who has returned to the The Vampire Diaries as a writer and executive producer. “Now at Season 8, what has yet to happen in Mystic Falls and we’re all up here trying not to spoil it and there’s this great thing that’s going to happen. There’s this final bad. When Julie pitched it I was like “oh that’s really cool”. I kinda knew a bit about this mythology that they’re utilizing and to infuse Mystic Falls with this ultimate evil is this little cherry on top.”
The new villain apparently has some sort of mind control powers, as stars Ian Somerhalder and Michael Malarkey pointed out.
“There’s mysterious elements of mind control going on which we really haven’t done before,” Malarkey, who plays vampire Enzo.
“You’re used to seeing Damon or Enzo, you’re used to seeing them use that power (mind control) on other people,” said Somerhalder, who plays Damon. “(They’re) very in their minds, they’re still them, so it’s that conflict, that struggle, it’s a gem for an actor to play.”
A great deal of the conflict on The Vampire Diaries revolves around the complex relationships between the Salvatore brothers and everyone they interact with. Last season saw a number of relationships begin and end, and each cast member was anxious to talk about where their characters are starting the new season.
“A lot of last season was about the development of the relationship Bonnie had with Enzo, and Bonnie and Damon. You see the crumbling in the season finale of her and she also doesn’t have her magic so the thing that made her feel like herself and also her best friends are not there,” said Kat Graham, who plays witch Bonnie. “You start the new season and that’s not there. She’s literally at ground zero.”
Damon and Enzo, two of the central forces in The Vampire Diaries, are missing and forcing the other characters to go on a hunt for them, including new mother Caroline.
“She’s very busy splitting family life and trying to track down Damon and Enzo. I think she has a wonderful outlet, a whole new department in her life to be incredible neurotic. I think motherhood suits her,” said Candice King, who plays Caroline. “She wants to be safer in her adventures, she now has children to watch out for, she’s very protective which is a quality she’s had for a while but now it’s more important to her.”
Paul Wesley, who plays Damon’s brother Stefan, was glad to get to go back to the uniquely complex relationship between the vampire brothers.
“It’s back to the original dynamic of the brothers, it was always Damon getting in trouble and Stefan trying to save him. We’ll see how long that lasts, but at the current time he has a broken heart over his uh, bro,” he said.
Somerhalder and Wesley had fun discussing a scene from season seven where the brothers had a tense phone conversation while Stefan was trapped in the snow.
“The snow is fake and you know the snow is fake and yet you’re still freezing. I had come off of directing my episode so I was a total wackadoodle, and I’m watching (Wesley) crawl through the snow and do this emotional journey, it was cool,” Somerhalder recalled.
“For some reason, that scene, we both just cared about it so much,” Wesley said.
“It was a payoff for these brothers. It was a cool moment,” Somerhalder agreed.
The relationship between Bonnie and Enzo also had a payoff in season seven, much to the delight of the actors who play them.
“I love how beautifully intense both of these characters are. They’ve both gone to the edge and back and they can both be really good and can both be really evil and they both have these redeeming qualities. I love how passionate they both are and it’s really sexy,” Graham said.
“Giggity,” Malarkey joked. “I always thought that Enzo brought the fire out in Bonnie and Bonnie brought the goodness out in Enzo and it brought this great dynamic and groundedness to these two characters who didn’t have those roots before. Enzo never had a family at all so falling in love with somebody was the best thing that could happen to him, but now it’s all been ripped away from him.”
Fun With Fans
“We’re so lucky to have the most incredible fandom,” Somerhalder gushed to the assembled crowd before fielding questions from the audience.
Question One: If your characters had a theme song what would it be and why?
King: “Caroline’s would be ‘I’m a Barbie Girl!'”
Wesley: “Stefan’s would be ‘When a Man Loves a Woman.’ Is that Michael Bolton? I think that’s Michael Bolton. That’s Stefan’s song.”
Graham: “Writing’s on the Wall.”
Somerhalder: “Damon’s would be ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ see Damon in his Camaro going to the blood bank all pissed off because Stefan won’t let him eat people.”
(To Somerhalder) How do you do that signature smoldering look?
“When I conceived this character I wanted him to be Mick Jagger by way of Marlon Brando by way of Cary Grant,” Somerhalder said.
“It’s a sandstorm, it’s sand in your eyes,” Wesley interrupted. “It’s an actor trick.”
“It’s not a sandstorm, it’s just wind,” Somerhalder replied, then mugged it up for the attendees.
What kind of projects do you want to do next and how do you feel about the end?
Graham: “Vampire Diaries is like the ultimate boot camp, we’ve learned how to do anything.”
Somerhalder: “We’ve been doing this for so long now and we’ve learned so much and our passions and skill sets have been altering. My wife and I just started a production company.”
King: “Not only have we become a family, but Caroline feels like a sense of home. To play her feels like home. It’s hard to say goodbye to these characters who you have become a part of and who have become a part of you.”
Season 8 of the The Vampire Diaries premieres October 21 at 8 p.m. EST on the CW.