Whether you loved him or hated him (and you probably hated him), Kai was the charismatic villain The Vampire Diaries needed in its sixth season. He was the only Big Bad who could go toe-to-toe with Damon Salvatore. Whenever Damon thought Kai was going to zig, he zagged, and that unpredictability is what made Kai such a captivating presence. He was also fucking crazy.
Of course, Kai will always been remembered as the guy who ruined Elena and Damon's epic love story when he linked Elena's life with Bonnie. As long as Bonnie is alive, Elena has to remain unconscious in an endless slumber — or does she? Chris Wood's maniacal baddie returns to The Vampire Diaries in Friday night's episode ("The Lies Will Catch Up to You"), which finds Damon and Alaric running into the trickster in the Armory — a shocking discovery because when Kai left at the end of Season 6, he was very dead (more like decapitated).
While Wood couldn't reveal why Kai was back in the land of the living, we're going to assume it has something to do with the Maxwell bell, which we know can breach the walls of hell. So how has Kai's time in eternal damnation changed the big, bad warlock?
"If anything, when he first gets out, we see that he's a little bit more manic than he was before. He's been tortured and locked up with someone who he claims is worse than he is, which is kind of hard to imagine," Wood told MTV News. "He gets out and he's just jazzed to be there."
Kai's first stop in the real world? The Mystic Grill, of course. He's ravenous after those two years in hell. But Kai soon realizes that though you can take the man out of hell, you can't take hell out of the man. "He orders a bunch of food at the Mystic Grill, trying to live his life, and he realizes that he can't taste anything. And he can't feeling anything," Wood said. "He starts to put it all together. He's not alive, and he didn't just break out of hell. But he's actually in this unnatural state where hell's trying to pull him back, and he's got to find a way to stay because obviously hell is not Kai's favorite place."
There's also Kai's hate-hate relationship with Damon: The last time these two saw each other, one of them ended up without a head, so needless to say, the wounds are still fresh. However, Kai just might be the guy Damon needs to help him figure out how to destroy Cade. So they make a deal: Damon won't kill Kai if Kai promises to find a way to bring Elena back.
"Kai is someone who uses any tool at his disposal, and one of those is almost always Damon," Wood said. "This might be an unpopular opinion, but Kai is a lot smarter than Damon, and he can see that even teasing him ... with the prospect of [Elena] coming back, that [Damon's] just suckered into whatever plan [Kai] wants. So he's able to do that when he realizes that the more evil deeds he commits, the longer his time on earth expands. He convinces Damon to help him on this quest for blood."
While the thought of Damon and Kai working together sounds like a very bad idea, Wood and TVD star Ian Somerhalder have combustible onscreen chemistry. Damon's apathy and Kai's propensity to give zero fucks about anything are a perfect recipe for mayhem. "Kai doesn't get scared in the way that most people would," Wood said. "We don't really see him live in fear, and when we do, a lot of times it's dishonest."
With three episodes left until the epic series finale, Wood was grateful for the opportunity to return to the character.
"There was definitely an air of finality that wasn't there before," Wood said. "Coming back, I tried to focus on the entertainment Kai adds to a scene. Amidst all of the darkness and evil deeds that he's doing on his quest for carnage, he's a larger-than-life sociopath."
That sounds like the kind of character you can only find on The Vampire Diaries.