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The Vampire Diaries: Paul Wesley Opens Up About the Future of Steroline

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When we last left the denizens of Mystic Falls, many of them were in mortal (or immortal) peril. Obviously.

Elena (Nina Dobrev) was kidnapped by Kai (Chris Wood), Enzo (Michael Malarkey) has vowed to ruin Stefan’s life, and Matt (Zach Roerig) has been roped into helping him. Meanwhile, Caroline’s (Candice Accola) mother has an inoperable brain tumor that vampire blood can’t cure.

To find out whether our intrepid heroes will ever experience any modicum of happiness, The Vampire Diaries returns from its midseason hiatus on Thursday, with Paul Wesley at the helm as director.

This isn’t his first time behind the camera: Wesley, 32, also directed the episode “Resident Evil” from season 5.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Wesley revealed what it’s been like to direct for a second time, and why his episode, “Woke Up with a Monster,” will be important to the development of the relationship between Caroline and Stefan moving forward throughout the rest of season 6. He also revealed whether there’s any prayer for Stelena fans still holding tight onto their OTP dreams, and how he’d like The Vampire Diaries to end.

(Hint: In Wesley’s vision, some of the characters don’t make it out alive.)

How did your experience directing the second time compare to the first time around?
I found myself to be a lot more relaxed and a lot more confident about it. For obvious reasons, because I had done it once before, but also because I got a little lucky this episode. I had no location shots, so I didn’t have to worry about daylight, I didn’t have to worry about weather it was technically an easier shoot, and I was in love with the script. It was amazing, and I just got really fortunate. I was also working with a new director of photography – they’re both amazing – and I just realized, you know, a lot of directing is trusting your DP, and the experience really helped me.

Are your costars good sports when you direct them, or do they mess around with you a little bit?
They all say they prefer me when I’m directing, for whatever reason! I think a lot of it is because directing is such a you have to rely so heavily on the actors, and so, your episode is going to suck unless the actors really nail their performances and so I found myself really having to connect with the actors and understand where they’re coming from and really emotionally connect with them, and people respond to that.

What can you tell me about your episode in relation to the cliffhanger from “Christmas Through Your Eyes”, when Enzo threatened to ruin Stefan’s life?
Enzo has a vendetta against Stefan, but in my episode, it doesn’t necessarily end on a really dramatic note. But, there’s a lot of foreshadowing of things to come.

Candice Accola (as Caroline Forbes) and Paul Wesley (as Stefan Salvatore) on <em>The Vampire Dairies</em>
Obviously, Caroline has a lot to worry about right now, but as you know, there are a lot of people that want to see Stefan and Caroline get together. Will there be any more romantic development on that front?
They have a really beautiful thing that starts blossoming. But, you know, it’s a little confusing for both of them, but there’s definitely going to be some exploration of that. And I really enjoy working with [Candice] and there’s definitely going to be a little bit of that going on. But, you know, I don’t really know whether it’s going to last, or whether the friendship is going to override that romance, but I think, eventually, we are going to get what we want – which is them coming together and having some sort of a romance. I just don’t know to what degree.

Can you point to any significant moment where Stefan may have realized he started to feel feelings for Caroline in the past?
No, not really. I think it’s been a slow kind of with it being so dramatic with her mom, I think that when things are dramatic, people come together and connect. I think that maybe plays a huge role in [Stefan and Caroline’s relationship].

Speaking of Stefan’s relationships, his distant niece, Sarah, will be joining the fold. Are we going to see any familial bond between them?
I think he views her as his little sister, in a way. He feels a responsibility, like a godfather, to her. I’m not really sure what happens between them, necessarily, because I actually haven’t gotten that far into [filming]. I don’t really know how that’s going to go. But, in “Woke Up with a Monster,” the audience sees her for the first time.

Paul Wesley (as Stefan Salvatore) and Nina Dobrev (as Elena Gilbert) on <em>The Vampire Dairies</em>
As a couple, are Stefan and Elena dead and gone forever? Or is there hope for Stelena yet?
I don’t think it’s out of the question. I think it’s contingent upon the writing – writers are really magicians. They can come up with anything, and it just depends on what the audience wants. Writers can make it seem like Caroline and Stefan are the end game, and suddenly switch it on a dime and then everyone is rooting for Stefan and Elena. You never know on this show, but I think that’s what keeps it fresh and exciting. If you do have a preconceived notion of what’s going to happen next, it just becomes unreliably boring, and so I don’t think you could ever rule anything out.

How does “Woke Up with a Monster” set up the rest of the season? What can we expect to see in Stefan’s storyline?
The stuff between Stefan and Caroline is what’s really going to be the driving point, the focal effort of season 6. I think that their interactions – their potential romance and friendship – are what really make Stefan’s storyline come to life.

The Vampire Diaries isn’t ending any time soon, of course, but what would you see as the perfect end?
I think Elena should go back to being human, if that’s at all humanly [laughs] if that’s at all possible with the mythology of our show. I think Damon and Stefan, to be honest with you, I think they’ve had a long run. I think that maybe when the show ends, they should sort of end as well. I don’t meant to be morbid, but they’ve been around for 160 years – I think they’ve had their fun. I think that would be a really poetic ending to the story.

The Vampire Diaries airs on Thursdays (8 p.m. ET) on The CW.