In the aftermath of the vampire-werewolf hybrid war initiated by original vampire Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan), much has changed in Mystic Falls. But unlike The Twilight Saga’s Bella Swan, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) grapples with her new vampire status. Once again, century-old vampire brothers Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) fight over what’s best for the |girl they both love. This season, Somerhalder says his character, on the back of Elena’s rejection, reverts to his unremorseful sinister self, writes Debashine Thangevelo

THE global fascination with vampire stories – especially among teenagers – has kept Hollywood’s scriptwriters in steady employment.

Aside from The Twilight Saga or Underworld: The Awakening, TV series such as True Blood and Vampire Diaries have been appeasing the voracious appetites for all things horrifying and supernatural.

And in the latter offering, much has changed in the lives of the weary neighbours, with werewolves, vampires and vampire hunters among the townsfolk in Mystic Falls.

At the heart of the series is the age-old love triangle between Stefan (Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Somerhalder, pictured) for Elena Gilbert (Dobrev).

Somerhalder says: “I’m incredibly excited about season four because there’s so much going on. I love the way season three ended and I think fans are going to be thrilled when they see what happens next, especially with Elena as a vampire.”

Season three ended with a déjà vu moment for Elena when Matt accidentally drove his truck, with her in the passenger seat, off Wickery Bridge. Amid flashbacks to a similar fate suffered by her parents at the outset of the series, she delivers her final selfless act by forcing Stefan to save Matt.

Damon still hasn’t forgiven Stefan for doing so.

He admits: “Damon is very angry with Stefan. What an idiot! Seriously, why would you do that? Elena is 18 years old. I’m not saying she can’t have her own thoughts, feelings and desires, but when someone is 18 and they say they want to die, don’t let them.”

And the sequel unveils a very much alive Elena – thanks to a transfusion of vampire blood.

As for her begrudging decision to transform rather than face death, again, Somerhalder shares: “We know Elena to be this phenomenally solid human being. She is an amazing individual, a beacon of light who is shepherded through the valley of darkness – but Damon and Stefan have these tendencies to be highly volatile and very, very, very unpredictable. They are crazy.

“Maybe there’s some unpre- dictable craziness in store for Elena when she turns into a vampire and her emotions are amplified 10 000-fold. She might become a super unbelievably volatile being.”

Interestingly, the truth about Elena first meeting Damon and him compelling her to forget comes out.

He reveals: “I think that adds a very interesting layer to the show. She’ll realise, ‘Wait a minute, I did meet him and all he did was wish me the best?’ It’s really tragic and sad.”

Last season, Stefan almost lost his humanity when he succumbed to his Ripper roots while doing Klaus’ bidding. This season, chances are that Damon, still crushed by Elena’s decision to be with Stefan especially after their tongue-tango – twice – might return to his blood-curdling ways.

The 33-year-old actor, who has been dating Dobrev in real life, laughs: “Well, I’m sure there’s going to be some hot vamp sex there. And then, when she gets tired of Stefan, maybe she’ll come to Damon? That would be cool!”

An überdreamy Somerhalder continues: “He’s not going to be pining. Damon did everything Elena and Stefan wanted him to do in season two and three. He tried to be the person they wanted him to be. And guess what? It didn’t work.

“None of it worked. Now he can say: ‘This is who I am, like it or not. Seriously, if you don’t like who I am, then you have no business being in my face, so get out of it.’ This year, he has this great sense of self-worth.”

By the way, Somerhalder is relishing the thought of his character “going back to that dark side”.

“There’s a certain honesty to Damon that I love to play. He has the balls to say what everyone else won’t.”

Fans can sink their teeth into another juicy season with more curveballs that include the intro- duction of a mysterious new villain and the comeback of Klaus… in the body of another popular character.

• The Vampire Diaries, season four, starts on Saturday on M-Net Series (DStv channel 114) at 10.30pm.