Chris Grismer, we just said, ‘Milk every single beat out of this that you can. It’s so much about what’s not being said. It’s so much about them just lying next to each other, the beauty and intimacy and sexual chemistry of just being near each other is what needs to be telling the story here. So take as long as you want, and shoot it as much as you want, and we’ll put it together from there.’ They definitely gave us everything we needed.”
By the end of the episode, Elena had pulled back from Damon, even though the audience (along with Jeremy) had heard ghost Rose’s passionate plea for why she should choose Damon. So where does that leave us? With some hope for those rooting for Stefan. “Stefan was very, very gracious to encourage her to go on this road trip with Damon. His point of view, as he expressed to Alaric, is that all this work that I’ve done to get myself to be worthy of her and how much I care for her doesn’t matter if she has feelings for someone else. He’s allowing that room for her to explore that, which is a fairly magnanimous gesture for a dude, truthfully,” Plec says. “Elena, still being very confused about her feelings for Damon — which obviously exist, it’s just how does she want to define them — gets schooled by Caroline, who is proudly wearing her Team Stefan T-shirt at the beginning of this episode, metaphorically speaking. She’s basically saying, ‘You’re supposed to be exploring, so explore both sides. You and Stefan, in my opinion, are meant to be. So make sure that you explore him, too.’ That encourages Elena to reach out to Stefan and say, ‘Look, I don’t know what’s going on with us, or if anything can ever go on with us, but why don’t we give this one night a shot to just spend some time together.” (Will Stefan find out about Damon and Elena’s steamy makeout session? “Elena doesn’t keep it a secret. What gets said about it is part of the episode. It’s addressed but not addressed,” Plec says.)
The night that Stefan and Elena spend together is, of course, the Roaring ’20s Decade Dance. “Damon comes in at an unfortunately romantically inopportune moment to say, ‘Fun’s over. We’ve got a problem.’ Damon is actually, like, a double c—blocker in this episode,’ now that I think about it,” Plec laughs. “There’s two moments where Damon interrupts something romantic accidentally.” The problem has to do with last week’s big Rebesther twist, in which Esther took over Rebekah’s body to get to Alaric (or Evilaric), who fetched the white oak stake that can kill an Original. “Last year at the decade dance, we had Alaric being possessed by Klaus though a bodyswapping spell. It felt poetic to bookend this year’s decade dance with the same trick,” Plec says. “Earlier in the season, we actually talked about having Esther take the form of somebody else, whether it be Bonnie or Rebekah, before we met her in present day. And then we ditched that plan early on, and came back around to it for this episode.” She doesn’t want to say too much, but she will tease this: “That story line takes instantly a left turn right at the beginning of the episode. So everything everybody thinks they’re gonna see is actually different.” We wouldn’t expect anything less.