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'Vampire Diaries' Boss: Phoenix Stone Twist Will Have "Powerful" Impact on Salvatore Brothers

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the The Vampire Diaries' midseason finale, "Cold As Ice."]

Christmas came to Mystic Falls early on Thursday, just in time for The Vampire Diaries to deliver another monster of a twist by the closing moments of the midseason finale. After arguing over whether to kill Julian (Todd Lasance), Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) finally tracked the hateful Heretic down during a festive Santa-themed bar hop.

Sadly, Julian got the upper hand in the end when he fought off the brothers and plunged the sword with the Phoenix stone right into Damon, sending him to his own personal version of hell. Meanwhile, Nora (Scarlett Byrne) retaliated to the brothers kidnapping her on-again, off-again girlfriend Mary Louise (Terresa Liane) by taking that same sword and plunging it into Stefan, also sending him to his own personalized hell.

To find out where the story goes next, what's going on with the three-year time jump and what Mystic Falls can look like without the brothers, THR caught up with showrunner Julie Plec.

Both the guys are trapped in the Phoenix stone, but will viewers see them there together?

It’s a designed hell for each individual person. The question is how is it designed for each of them, and we’ll start to see that as soon as we return from the holiday.

Does that mean more period scenes to the guys' former lives?

Yes, it’s no secret that Episode 10, which is our winter premiere, has a lot of Civil War elements to it. We see a lot of Damon back before he was a vampire and we put him through a pretty big ringer as his experience. It all ties into his childhood and his relationship with his brother and his mother.

How does that compare to when he was in 1994 purgatory last season?

Last season was more about isolation, and Damon and Bonnie (Kat Graham) being removed from everyone they cared about. But at least they had each other — which at the beginning seemed like a fate worse than death and by the end turned them into best friends. There was a frustration to 1994 that certainly will feel that same. The frustration of the trickery of the circumstance back in 1994 was that they were trapped in an era where nothing ever changed. And we have a similar kind of fun with the trickery of what that stone does to his mind.

Will there be a time lapse when we return?

Yes and no. For Damon it won’t feel like much time at all, but in our actual present day we’ll have to wonder how much time has passed since that sword got jammed into his heart.

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How will the sword affect Stefan?

What we’ll learn eventually is that it’s difficult for Stefan to express what happened to him. And so we will actually unravel the mystery of what his experience was like after the fact. So people have to wait for a little bit.

Will it have anything to do with catching up to the three-year flash-forward?

It doesn’t specifically connect to the flash-forward but the fallout of their experiences absolutely impacts where their characters go to get Damon to the point where he puts himself down and to get Stefan to the point where he finds himself on the run again, waking up his brother. The second half of the season is all about exploring the dynamic between the brothers and the lengths that they’re willing to go to protect each other but also epic ways that they have disappointed each other and have continued to do so. It’s a really powerful brother storyline that I’m really excited about.

Is that sort of a throwback to the first season?

Yes, absolutely, we’re now seven years later and they’ve been through a lot more present day experiences but these are patterns of behavior that have been established since they were teenagers, real teenagers. It’s a cycle that Stefan is starting to understand his role in Damon’s life and Damon’s priorities and where he sits on that list and vice versa.

This episode it looked as though Nora was turning around, and then there was that twist. Is it safe to say she’ll continue to be an antagonist in the back half?

The mystery of Nora is trying to predict what will make her fight for the powers of good versus her natural instincts to always be as nasty and evil as she can be. I think her mercurial personality is part of why even when she seems trust worthy she’s difficult to put your faith in her. So sometimes she’ll be willing to fight the good fight, but our heroes have to decide if she’s the kind of person they want on her side or not.

Is there hope for her and Mary Louise after everything they've been through?

They’ve been together for an extremely long time and it seems that they’re a couple that has probably had their fair share of fights over the years. They’ve been really impacted by their experience living in the modern times and present day and wanting different things out of their lives. The break will be impactful and they’ll have to decide if they want to fight their way back to each other or not.

Now that the pact is off, what does this mean for Mystic Falls?

The problem with Mystic Falls is that it’s become such a wasteland. And it will become even more so because Julian still lives to tell the tale. We haven’t yet seen the implications of what it means to have Julian sleeping in the Salvatore house and inviting his friends over to play. That’s something we’ll get into in the next batch of episodes.

Was it always the plan to save the Gemini twins, or did that come as a result of Candice King's real-life pregnancy?

Reintroducing the babies back into Alaric’s life as a way of saying all hope is not lost was something that we had talked about quite a lot before we started breaking this season, feeling what he went through was so horrific and so awful that we wanted to give him just a sliver of hope. So we started playing with the idea of how those babies could have survived based on what happened at that wedding and we came up with this great pitch that we were going to explore via another character who we’ve never met before. And then Candice called and said she was pregnant. So we had to decide … the first instinct was, should we just swap that story and make it Caroline’s journey? We had to talk through all the emotional implications of that and realized that it gave us so much more opportunity than we’d even had in the first place.

Caroline was struggling with her pregnancy symptoms in the finale. Will they worsen?

She’s certainly not going to have the world’s most glorious pregnancy. There are two witch babies inside of her. There are definitely going to be some hurdles that she’ll have to cross before she gives birth. I can’t guarantee that the birth is going to be the easiest thing in the world. I think that Caroline wants everything to go perfectly and as such, anything that goes wrong is going to shake her. And shake Stefan because of course even though they’re not his, he’s there to support her and he cares for her so deeply that seeing her in any kind of jeopardy is going to be a profound experience. But that’s all stuff that we get to play with in the next chapter.

Are you anywhere near approaching the point of thinking about winding down this series now that it's hit seven seasons?

I don’t have the kind of control over how the show ends that one might have attributed to say, Matt Weiner, who knew that Mad Men just needed to be done. It is a little bit of a fluid circumstance in that as long as I feel like there are still stories to tell and the creative team wants to continue telling them, the actors want to continue being a part of it, then the end isn’t right in front of us. At any given point you could realize that your key players are ready to move on, like what Nina [Dobrev] decided to do last year, or you could start to break a season and realize that you don’t know where to go. That’s always the sense of the beginning of the end. And we haven’t hit that yet, so right now we’re all committed to just staying and doing it as long as we can until we all collectively realize that it’s time to be done.

The Vampire Diaries returns Friday, Jan. 29 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

What did you think of the midseason finale? Sound off in the comments below.

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