We have a confession to make.
We've already seen tonight's nail-bitingly new episode of The Vampire Diaries and it is -- without a doubt -- the best episode of the season. (Hell, it's one of our favorite episodes of all time!)
So what makes "The Downward Spiral" so incredible? Three things: The episode is jam-packed with even more heart-stopping moments than usual. The now humanity-less Caroline (Candice Accola) is ruthless and brilliant, which makes for a terrifying combination. And, most importantly, the episode features a unique visual style that is unlike any other, thanks to the directorial signature of Ian Somerhalder.
ETonline had the pleasure of sitting down with Somerhalder to discuss the actor's first time in the Vampire Diaries director's chair, and why this episode in particular was the perfect hour for him to shape.
"I've known this show for six and a half seasons but what I'm excited about is just being there with our team. These people are not going to let me fail," Somerhalder said of this support he's received from the TVD cast. "We just want to tell a great story and make it look really cool."
Watching Caroline unleash her 'don’t-eff-with-me' plans as an emotionless vampire is further highlighted by Somerhalder's stunning scene choices.
Without giving anything away plot-wise, there is one moment where Caroline is sitting with her legs crossed on top of a bar with her back to the camera. The silhouette lighting is both beautiful and terrifying, and most of all, it highlights Somerhalder's distinctive choices as a director.
"The episode is actually a great episode," the actor confessed. "There's a lot of fun stuff to do." Fun is certainly an understatement considering there's a massive rave in tonight's hour complete with cage dancers, glow-in-the-dark body paint, and a no-nonsense Elena, Bonnie and Stefan weaving in and out of the drunk crowd.
As if that doesn’t sound amazing enough, fans should be prepared for old faces, new revelations and a mind-blowing twist that will cause this season to take a sharp turn into unprecedented chaos.
In order to highlight gravity of the episode, Somerhalder revealed that he picked up some tips from his on-screen brother, Paul Wesley, after watching him direct two episodes. "Paul is a phenomenal director. Actually, I absorbed a lot from Paul and he was really great with his information," he said. "One thing that Paul and [creator] Julie [Plec] have is they've known this show since its conception."
The 36-year-old actor attributes his closeness with the cast and crew, which he calls his "family," to be his best asset as a director for an episode with such high stakes.
"Being able to talk to a team with shorthand and without any ego is really important. It saves a lot of time and energy that you typically would otherwise be spending on etiquette," Somerhalder explained. "We fire off of each other and it's filled with nothing but love and the idea to get it done as quickly, and as beautifully, as possible."
Somerhalder added, "I've been doing this for so long and I'm excited to be able to -- from a performance level – tell a great story with my cast mates. That's all I want to do."
With Vampire Diaries nearing the end of its sixth season, we’re baffled that it has taken Somerhalder this long to step behind the camera. And, based off of what we've seen tonight, we're keeping our fingers crossed that he will do it many more times in season seven.
The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
For a deeper peek at the episode that Somerhalder directed, press play on our first look video below to watch Damon and Kai hunting for clues for the mystery surrounding Mama Salvatore.