If you think True Blood was crazy last season, get ready for a whole new level of insanity when season four premieres Sunday on HBO at 9 p.m. What that means is that Sookie Stackhouse, the hot telepathic waitress who's part fairy and who just happens to have a thing for vampires, is not going to live happily ever after anytime soon.
True Blood "may be the craziest thing on television," said co-executive producer Alexander Woo in an exclusive interview. "It's great fun. We have a sequence in the premiere that I think is extraordinary, and is not something you see every day on TV. It's not too late to jump on the bandwagon [and start watching the show]. It's a crazy ride."
While last season left us with a stack of cliffhangers—Sookie vanished, Tara left Bon Temps, Sam shot his brother, Bill and Sophie-Anne went to war, Russell got buried in cement (to name a few)—Woo promised that most of those cliffhangers will be resolved within the first couple of episodes.
"It's not just going to be a continuation of what happened in season three. We're starting a new chapter, if you will. In the book, of course, the witches are front and center, and they will be in the series as well. So that's certainly a major storyline," said Woo. The book he's talking about is the fourth book in Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, Dead to the World.
"I don't think it's a huge spoiler for me to tell you Sookie's not dead," added Woo. And since the first 7:57 has been released (which you can see at the bottom of this article), we know two things. One, Sookie is indeed not dead; and two, if you're a fan of the books, get ready for some big story changes when it comes to the TV show.
Sookie (Anna Paquin) ends up in "a surprising metaphysical, metaphorical place. And, I think, what Sookie gets out of that experience will inform a lot of what happens to her in season four."
As for Eric (Alexander Skarsgard), he's "caught in the middle of this witch/vampire struggle, and he falls victim," said Woo.
"Our witches summon spirits, which ... have a spiritual manifestation. That kind of stands in stark contrast to the vampires. That became a very rich notion for us, that the witches, because they were able to summon spirits, have a certain power over the undead, the vampires. And the vampires are a great threat to the witches in return. Because of that face-off that we've set up, a lot of these themes of mortality and what it means to be alive have come up. And in other storylines, there's themes of betrayal. Notions of identity are very, very strong. In fact, if there's anything that runs throughout all the storylines, there's questions of what makes you who you are. ... So that, we found, weaves throughout a great deal of the season," he added.
Another significant departure from the book's storyline involves Bill (Stephen Moyer). "In the book, he's in Peru for most of the book. But Bill is a very big part of our world." And that means a surprising development for the vampire, which we're not going to spoil here.
"I think part of the fun of our show in not necessarily always adhering to the books is that it leaves room for surprise. There are times when we will follow the books quite closely, but other times we will stray quite far. And for fans of the books, on a certain level everyone wants to see their favorite scenes played out exactly the way they were written. But we still need to surprise people as well," said Woo.
One of those big surprises happened last season, with the character of Russell Edgington, especially when he ripped a newscaster's spine out on live TV. That's a scene that Woo himself wrote.
"It was my favorite thing to write," said Woo. "One of the unique things about television, which I've discovered really working on this show—I didn't really learn it on other shows I've worked on—is that TV is unique among dramatic media in that the story can evolve as it's being told. And as we were telling the Russell story, we wanted him to make a big theatrical move, which he doesn't quite, certainly not publicly, in the books. But it seems that the Russell that we had created, with Denis O'Hare, wanted to do that. He had been speaking about it. That character had a grandiose philosophy that he didn't quite have in the books, and we needed to honor that. I was lucky enough to be writing that episode. And because we have an actor as great as Denis O'Hare, we could really give him something meaty."
Because of that type of approach, True Blood has "evolved into its own parallel universe," said Woo. "I mean, we've seen this happen also with the comic books. That takes place in the same world, but the events do not all line up. The events of the comic books and the events of the books and the events of the show do not all line up. They are three completely different stories, entities, that have evolved out of the same world that Charlaine Harris created."
Here's the first 7:57 of True Blood's season-four premiere:
Are you ready for a crazy new season of True Blood?