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'The Vampire Diaries': Candice King Loves Steroline As Much As You Do

"Things keep exploding! And Caroline is close to all of them!" says King.

Caroline Forbes has always been the emotional compass of "The Vampire Diaries," and that's especially true for Season 7, premiering tonight (Oct. 8), as the show treads into Elena-less territory. According to Candice King, however, Elena is still very much part of the show.

"We're seeing how all of these characters relate in this new way without Elena," King told MTV News. "That character was and still is a huge part of the series, and I love the way the writers have kept her a part of all of these characters lives because she isn't dead. She's still in the back of everyone's minds -- and they know that they will see her again."

But when Elena wakes up from her 75-year slumber, will there even be a Mystic Falls for her to come home to? That's what Caroline, Damon and co. are trying to figure out. At the end of the Season 6 finale, we saw a dark and dilapidated Mystic Falls, at at the start of Season 7, you'll see the pieces fall into place for the small town's destruction.

For the most part, the season premiere feels like a return to the edgy vibe of the show's early days, before "TVD" got buried in its own mythology. And most importantly, it's fun again.

"When you're shooting these episodes, you have no idea how it's all going to come together, so it's really great to hear that it has that cadence from the first season," King said. "It's gripping and you get to see the characters in a whole new light this year... There's been a lot of new elements, but at the same time, we're just such a well-formed family that it's kind of this weird thing where even though we're doing new things, it still feels like we're coming home."

According to King, the characters are "a little more spread out" this season, which means she's gotten the chance to share plenty of screen time with the show's new Big Bads, the Heretics.

"Caroline does not like these Heretics and she's not hiding it," King said. "She's struggling to figure out what their place is and how to accept them and how to get to know all of the different personalities of these Heretics. We'll see how Caroline relates to them individually as well. It's really fun once you get to know these characters a little bit more. You'll see which ones are good, and which ones are definitely evil."

Of course, this does put Caroline in serious danger. (What else is knew, really?) "We'll see Caroline in some peculiar situations that she definitely wants to get out of," she said. "She likes to be part of the master plans and taking down the bad guys, and every once in a while that leaves her in a sticky situation. You might see Caroline's death once or twice this season."

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Seeing how Damon and co. are literally waging war with the Heretics in Mystic Falls, you can expect plenty of action... mostly in the form of explosions.

"What's funny is that when we filmed that first episode, I said, 'I just feel like things keep exploding! And Caroline is close to all of them!'" King said. "There's a lot of action when we come into the season."

But Season 7 isn't all explosives, mass murders and mayhem. When things do slow down, the show is able to explore exciting new dynamics.

"Caroline is definitely part of the action, but what we're seeing as well, as the season goes on, it's not just what's happening with Caroline and her relationship with Stefan, but Stefan's independent relationship with his mother -- and also, this is the first time we're seeing Stefan and Damon have a relationship without Elena around," she said. "It's really about these brothers rediscovering their familial existence and what their relationship means when they don't have a girl in between them."

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Meanwhile, Stefan and Caroline will hit the gas on their relationship this season, something that King is personally excited to delve into. (Of course, expect a curveball to derail things pretty quickly. MTV News will have the scoop on that twist after tonight's episode.)

"I've always loved those characters together because they're so different, and in Season 2, when Stefan was teaching Caroline how to hunt for bunnies, that was the first time I realized how funny they were together," King said. "And I love slow-burning relationships on TV series, just as a television viewer. Things definitely intensify for them this season."