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"Stefan makes it very hard for her to stay focused on her self-righteous journey through grief," Candice King says of Caroline

By Michele Corriston
Updated December 02, 2020 12:05 AM
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Credit: CW

With her best friend entombed until the natural death of her other best friend, her mom dead from cancer and her hometown overrun by vampire/witch hybrids, Caroline Forbes isn’t exactly her sunny self when The Vampire Diaries returns.

“Caroline is is trying to make sense of what is happening in Mystic Falls,” star Candice King tells PEOPLE of the season 7 premiere. “She’s dealing with the separation from Elena (Nina Dobrev), knowing that she will be gone for a while. She’s still mourning the death of her mother, and she’s also starting to mourn the death of Mystic Falls. In the season opener, we get to see how Mystic Falls became the desolate shell of what it was that we saw at the end of season 6 when Damon (Ian Somerhalder) was standing on the clock tower.”

While Caroline knows she’ll see fellow bloodsucker Elena in 60 or so years (“She’s got eternal life on her side!”), King, 28, says Bonnie (Kat Graham) is grieving more.

There’s still plenty to look forward to Thursday: Though the new flash-forwards won’t entail any lavish period costumes like TVD‘s antebellum flashbacks, King says they are “a huge part of the whole arc of the season.” Plus, Team Steroline won’t be disappointed by the burning tension between Caroline and Stefan (Paul Wesley) after they parted ways in the finale.

“Caroline ended season 6 telling Stefan that she really needs to figure out how to grieve and needs to take time for herself. So we’re going to see her attempting to do that. Being around Stefan makes it very hard for her to stay focused on her self-righteous journey through grief,” King says, laughing. “We’re going to see her decide if she’s willing to be comforted or if she just is kind of in denial of what she really needs. That’s going to be her biggest struggle throughout the first episode.”

When asked if she thinks Stefan and Caroline will wind up together forever, King points out that nothing is for certain on a paranormal show.

“I think there’s definitely a chance for Caroline and Stefan to be end game, but you still never know, and I think that’s what’s been really an exciting world for the writers and also a great perspective for the actors, is that it’s this kind of supernatural magical world where people can die and there’s other sides and there’s witches and vampires and this idea of eternal life that can easily be taken away, and anything really is possible,” she says. “The idea of anything being concrete just goes away.”

That’s especially true now that leading lady Dobrev has left, effectively ending the love triangle – well, square if you count Katherine – that has dominated TVD since it premiered in 2009. (Sorry, fellow Stelena shippers – we lost.)

“Elena was such a driving force for these brothers,” King says of the Salvatores. “On the flip side, I also think it’s really interesting to see how the brothers are interacting now that Elena isn’t there and we’re kind of figuring out this new familial relationship and dynamic that they have – and that they haven’t had as just brothers without a girl in between them in a really long time.”

As for those hybrid Heretics?

“We’re going to get to know them a lot better as the season goes on,” King says. “There’s going to be a better understanding of what makes them either inherently evil or potentially maybe not so bad. I think getting to know Mama Salvatore (Annie Werschingis) a really important aspect to understanding who these characters are and why they are the way that they are.”

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.