Death has loomed large over Elena Gilbert since The Vampire Diaries pilot, but absolutely nothing will compare with the pain she's forced to endure now that her brother, Jeremy, has fallen victim to vampires.
The shocking death not only devastated fans, but the actors -- Steven McQueen included -- as well. And anyone assuming TVD finds a way to make the best of a bad situation is wrong. Dead wrong. According to Nina Dobrev things are about to get real dark for Elena, whose grief will make her unrecognizable to fans in the coming weeks.
ETonline: This season has been a thrill from the start. What's your feeling about season four?
Nina Dobrev: It's been really cool, especially because you always hear actors say doing a TV show for X amount of years can be boring and repetitive, but over the last four years, Elena has been changing and evolving and growing so much. Julie [Plec, executive producer] has done such an incredible job of keeping it fresh and exciting and making me excited to come to work every day. Especially this season -- and especially with the death of Jeremy. Between last week's episode and this week's, it's been very challenging for me as an actress, but very fulfilling. It's an emotional rollercoaster and I had to go to some dark places.
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ETonline: What was your reaction to finding out Jeremy would be killed?
Dobrev: I think we were all shocked and surprised, but that's the show -- it's a vampire show, people have to die all the time. And for Elena, it was very important that she lose Jeremy for what she's about to go through. It becomes a big part of her journey. I know Steven was very bummed, but also excited because he had a lot to do leading up to it -- his character grew and became so strong. It's bittersweet but made for some amazing television.
ETonline: In many ways, Jeremy was the person who really kept Elena tethered to her humanity. Will this loss threaten to make Elena embrace the less desirable sides of vampirism?
Dobrev: Jeremy was the last person she had left, so it's very likely that Elena could go off the deep end now that she doesn't have the one thing that kept her human. Elena wants to protect the people she loves and saw this new-found strength as a way to protect everyone. But, in this case, she couldn't protect Jeremy and lost the only family member she had left. She won't take it lightly. It's going to destroy her.
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ETonline: Jeremy was also one of the only remaining characters who touched everyone in Mystic Falls. Will his death, in some ways, reinforce the group?
Dobrev: They do come together, but everyone is sort of walking on pins and needles around Elena so they don't trigger something and send her into a psychotic break. They live in a mystical world, so just because Jeremy's dead, it doesn't mean he's really dead in her mind. So she's looking for any solution she can to bring him back -- Elena is basically mentally unstable, going a little crazy and everyone is trying to help.
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ETonline: Obviously Elena still misses Jenna and Alaric, but I would imagine losing Jeremy has a much more profound and prolonged effect on her. True?
Dobrev: Losing Jeremy really, really, really changes Elena. Sometimes people recover from tragedy and sometimes they don't -- but it's a long journey for her. Elena's mourning peroid is much different than any I've ever seen depicted on TV before. She goes off the deep end and spirals downwards into a black hole of death and sadness and misery. I mean, your instinct is right when you asked if we'll see an Elena who embraces her vampire side to a different degree. It's an Elena we haven't seen before, and you'll be shocked, quite frankly. I was very surprised where the episodes take her because it's almost like she's a completely different person that you won't recognize to some degree.
The Vampire Diaries airs Thursday at 8 p.m. on The CW.