Fairies lobbing bombs. Dead parrots coming back to life. A doll-decapitating baby. Judging by all the strange things happening in the Season Four premiere of HBO’s “True Blood,” life is back to perfectly (ab)normal in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Where it appears there really is no such thing as a good day for anyone. “Everyone gets an episode to be happy,” jokes executive producer Alan Ball, “but then you have to mess it up because otherwise, it gets boring.”
That’s one word that can’t be used to describe the premiere episode, which brought up plenty of burning questions for fans of the series. XfinityTV asked Ball to deal with some of the more perplexing queries based on what we’ve seen of Season Four so far. Here’s what he had to say.
The first six minutes of the Season Four premiere felt like some summer action blockbuster. Why did you come up with something that big?
It was huge. We did a lot of research about all different kinds of fairies, alien abductions, relativity…..From the time we started writing to the time that episode was locked, it was about four months. What we wanted to do was just jump ahead in time, shake things up and start fresh. The second and third seasons started directly after the season prior. So we wanted to get people to a different place.
WATCH THE SEASON FOUR PREMIERE BELOW
And that place is a year later….why leap to that spot in time?
We could pick up this world and shake it like a snow globe. We could make everything different and there’s no real downside. You can make Jason a cop. Andy can be full-out addicted to V. Tara is fully ensconced in her new life. Terry and Arlene are married and the baby is born.
Your fairies seemed more like guerilla fighters. Will they be back?
That’s not the last we’ve seen of them. Time for fairies is different so it takes them a while to react. Our show has 12 episodes, and for them that’s like a minute. They will react (to Sookie’s escape) eventually.
Is there any significance to the watch that Sookie passed along to Jason from their grandfather?
The watch is basically to prove to Jason that she was there with her grandfather in the land of the fairies. The watch has no powers although maybe…now that I’ve got that thought in my head….
More than once, characters refer to AIK, the company that helped Eric purchase Sookie’s house. Do the initials stand for anything?
They don’t. I wish we were smart enough to have all that sort of stuff going on but we’re busy just getting the show done.
Speaking of Andy’s addiction, will you be tracking his downfall?
He’s going to struggle with V addiction most of the season. He is an alcoholic. He is an addict. It’s going to get him into trouble. We’ll learn more about the Bellefleur family, and meet its matriarch. We’ll also get into the history of Terry and Andy when they were children. There’s a nice scene at the end of the season that goes back into their history.
Who is Katie? We first meet her at the gathering of witches, but later she’s off with Bill.
She’s working in a dangerous world. She’s not seriously a witch, but she’s there with them as a mole for Bill. She definitely does have an impact and makes things happen this season.
Speaking of Bill, he’s the Vampire King now and also a local politician. Are you getting political this season?
There are levels of bureaucracy in the vampire world that we’ll be getting into. There are creepy, Dick Cheney-like figures within the vampire authority. I’m not saying we’ll meet them this season but I am saying the vampire bureaucracy goes deeper than you know.
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Is Nan Flanagan a part of that? Based on the season premiere, she seems like more than just the head of the American Vampire League.
Nan is going to be a regular this year. She’s in nine episodes and is definitely part of the major story that encompasses witchcraft versus vampires. Which is our main story this season.
There’s literally new life on “True Blood” this year, thanks to the arrival of Arlene’s baby. So, with hobbies like decapitating Barbie dolls, does this mean he should get a playdate with “Rosemary’s Baby?”
There is something up with Arlene’s baby. Whether that’s evil itself or he’s just attracting some sort of force, I can’t give that away. But Arlene’s fears are not completely unfounded. It’s just not what she thinks.
Of all the main characters, Tara seems to have changed the most. She’s gone from being constantly abused to being the abuser as a part of some female Fight Club deal. Where did she learn to punch like that?
Tara is tough. She’s had to fight figuratively her entire life. Probably once she left Bon Temps, she took some self-defense classes. Now she’s less of a victim and more of a bad-ass. She’s reinvented herself as Toni and put Tara Thornton down. What she has now may seem like happiness to her, but it’s based on a lie. The sexuality part of her new life isn’t a lie, but the idea that she can leave her life and issues behind….she’ll find that’s easier said than done.
Things don’t seem to be going so well for young lovers Hoyt and Jessica. You’re not thinking of breaking them up, are you?
They’re really young, and each other’s first real love. They’ve moved in together and, even if they were both human, that’d be difficult. But she’s a vampire and has a hunger in the center of her, which may mean it’s not possible for her to be in this relationship. We will see an un-sweet side of Hoyt this year. There’s more to come with him. You’ll see that when he gets hurt, he can lash out.
The premiere had no sign of the creepy doll that was on the floor of their new home at the end of last season. What happened to it?
That doll appears in episode three. Be on the lookout for it. It’s not just a doll. It is, but there is an energy attached to it that is specific to the house. It was my idea. They moved in, he asked to marry her and it was all peachy keen. So I thought, “How can we mess that up?” We put the doll in that final shot of Hoyt and Jessica last season, then spent the first part of this season going, “What is that doll?” Now we have to pay that off, so it’s layered into another story. It’ll have impact on a lot of characters. The doll is a recurring character.
Eric and Bill are still fighting over Sookie like a couple of high school boys trying to get a date to the prom. A lot of fans seem to be on Eric’s side in all of this, so does he get the girl?
He gets derailed in the second episode, and goes through a kind of major story. Fans of the books (by Charlaine Harris, upon which the show is based), especially the fourth, will not be disappointed. This is vry much based on what is in the book. Eric becomes a person who feels very vulnerable. Surprisingly vulnerable. Sookie sees a side of him never seen before. And fans will get to see everything they want to see.
What about Bill? As you mentioned earlier, he’s bit of a bureaucrat now.
He’s putting on a good face for the humans. As King, Bill is going to definitely be in charge. He’s the point person for the war between vampires and witches. He’s going to be tested by a dangerous adversary. He’s going to have to be on his toes and fight for vampires in general because he’s up pretty much up against an entity that has dreams of vampire genocide.
So Bill and Sookie? Are they through?
He can’t turn a switch and say he has no feelings for her anymore. You will get to understand more about his motivation, why he did what he did to her in the past and how ultimately he was protecting her. Bill did generally fall in love with her. Up to the point where he was going to either kill Sophie-Anne or die himself.
Speaking of the men in Sookie’s life, where is werewolf Alcide? He was nowhere to be seen in the premiere.
Sookie finds herself in situation soon where she needs help and she turns to him. You’ll see that his life is also very complicated.
Even though you said nobody is allowed to be happy for too long on this show, Sam seems to be doing all right. He throws the best dinner parties, where people can turn into horses and run through the woods after dessert.
It’s a great season for him. He gets to do some great stuff. It’s not all torment for him. He’s fallen in love. He has found himself in situation where he meets a fellow shifter and she’s really gorgeous and smart and there’s a lot of attraction. But obviously there are going to be complications.
Of all the characters, Jason seems like the least likely to be able to take care of himself, let alone others. Yet with Crystal gone, he now seems to be the caretaker of the Hot Shot kids. Is that really the best job for him?
Jason made a promise he’d take care of them and underneath all his stupidity and immaturity, he’s a man of honor. He’s grown to believe if he doesn’t do this, this tribe of freaks is going to suffer and may not survive. He’s trying to do the right thing, and that’s going to take him to a surprising place. It’s a place where he may finally meet his real match. None of the women in his life so far really challenged him to be something more than what he’s comfortable being.
You’ve mentioned that the big story for this year is the ultimate grudge match, Vampires Vs. Witches. In the premiere, we did get to meet the mystical Marnie. Is she a part of the battle?
There is one other witch who will figure prominently. And who may not be from this century. Marnie is our big villain, the Russell Edgington of this season. She seems sweet, but wait!
Can’t wait to see what happens next? You don’t have to. Here is episode two of this season, available right now to Xfinity HBO subscribers.