The Vampire Diaries will be back on January 23 – and we are so ready for it. More than that, we have our own list of expectations of we want to see from the series as it launches into the back half of its fifth season. Check out our top five below!

A compelling villain. As funny as Silas and Tessa could be, we were never really afraid of what they could do to our fang gangers. Sure, they wreaked havoc and cause pain amongst our protagonists, but it was usually in an inadvertent way as they waged war against one another. Collateral damage can be interesting, but it lacks the drama of a villain with a person connection to our heroes. In the second half of the season, we hope the show changes that. We want the villainy to feel personal again. Dream plot: the return of Grayson Gilbert, aka Elena and Jeremy’s allegedly dead father.

Some college drama. We know that TVD has never been heavy on the class load, but we’re weirded out by the fact we still haven’t seen Elena, Caroline, or Bonnie deal with any real-life college drama. Where are all the other annoying freshman who want to be friends? Or the struggles in trying to determine a major or figure out class load? Come to think of it, where are the classes at all? We’ll always be for the supernatural drama, but it works best when its grounded by real-life dilemmas we can relate to – and not just of the love triangle variety. (Because who hasn’t been entrenched in a love triangle with two vampire brothers?)

More Matt! Yeah, that’s pretty much it. We think Matt is one of the most compelling characters on this show and, in the vein of the last expectation on our list, one of the most relatable. He’s still human, so there’s that. But he’s also a high school graduate with seemingly no plans to go to college, struggling to get by without his friends’ powers of compulsion.  (Though, admittedly, with the gift of one of his friends’ mansions.)

We’ve always dug that Matt came from a working class background. Sometimes, watching him struggle to keep his family together or pay the bills was way more compelling – and seemed to have much higher stakes – than anything that was going on with Elena and the Salvatores’ most recent supernatural dilemma. How does he feel about the fact that all of his friends have moved onto college? What kind of future does he want for himself? How has he changed since his summer European adventure? These are things we want to know.

An appearance from the Travelers. TVD has always been heavy on the mythology, which is why we’re surprised we haven’t learned more about the gypsy witch faction known as the Travelers. We hope this changes in the second half of the season. Is Nadia still working with the Travelers, or has she abandoned their agenda now that she has found her mother? If not, what is her plan? If so, will the Travelers send someone to find her and complete their endgame – whatever that may be? We hope so! We could always do with some nefarious forces that might actually be able to threaten our heroes in a believable way.

A good story from the Other Side. Another underutilized plot point TVD has lingering is the infamous Other Side. We know it exists. We kind of spent a half-season hanging there with Bonnie, but still know so little about it. We really hope that the show does something interesting with it this half season – if only because that means they will be doing something interesting with Bonnie’s often underutilized character.

Now that she’s the anchor, what sort of role can she play in helping her friends? In theory, she has access to a wealth of resources in the people who have passed over. Will Bonnie be happy staying as the anchor, or will she try to find a way out of the gig? And does she have afternoon tea with Grams, Silas, and Alaric on a daily basis? Because we think that should be a storyline. Thanks.

What expectations do you have for the rest of Season 5? Share your most pressing desires in the comments below!

Catch the next episode of The Vampire Diaries on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 8 p.m. ET on the CW, followed by an all-new episode of Reign.

Kayti Burt is a contributing writer for Wetpaint Entertainment with a penchant for all things pop culture. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!