Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin)
“At the end of last season, Sookie shut the door on Bill, and I think, at least at the beginning of the season, that door is still very tightly shut,” said Ball. “She cannot forgive him for his lie, for him never being honest about why he was sent to meet her. Even though he clearly did fall in love with her and all of the things that he said and felt were every genuine and a lot of the things he did were to protect her, she just can’t get past that.”
Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård)
As the books’ readers know, the predatory Eric Northman falls prey to amnesia, something that changes his outlook on life and the world in general… and likely will affect his strained relationship with his would-be paramour, Sookie. “As fans of the fourth book in the series know, when Eric gets amnesia he’s a different guy,” said Ball.
“He’s kind of ‘emo Eric’ and soft and romantic and gentle and tender. That’s just what Sookie needs right now.” But don’t think that Eric has become, well, toothless. “And, of course, you have Alcide lurking around, like, “I’m here, hello! I won’t bite you!” But we basically explore the Sookie/Eric arc. We’re very true to the books in that sense.”
Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley)
Tara remains one of the few strictly human characters left within True Blood, but don’t expect her to fall into old patterns. “Her journey this year is that she’s not a victim anymore,” said Ball. “She is not going to be a fucking victim. All of that rage that she feels at having been victimized is going to get channeled towards the vampires, so you’ll end up with a basic witches/necromancers versus vampires.
Tara’s going to be on one side and Sookie is going to be on the other. We wanted to explore maybe how the desire for empowerment can lead you to do stupid things. I didn’t want to bring another love interest in for her, although there is, but I didn’t want her story to be, like, oh, she’s falling in love, because we did that… We didn’t want to see her weepy… We wanted to see her really fighting back… And it’s going to go to really interesting places in Season 5, but I can’t tell you any of that.”
Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Hoyt (Jim Parrack)
Bon Temps’ favorite human-vampire couple returns with some new problems in Season 4. When we last saw the young lovers at the end of Season 3, they decided to move in together. But are these two destined for happiness, or is their attempt to play house doomed to fail? “They’re both really young,” said Ball. “They’ve never been in a relationship. They were both virgins. She didn’t go to public schools; she was home-schooled. So, they don’t really have a lot of perspective and a lot of training in what a relationship is and what it requires. Plus, she’s a vampire so her needs are different.”
“Relationships are hard and they’re finding out that it’s hard and they’re both going to be tested in some pretty severe ways,” he continued. “The honeymoon’s definitely over. It doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. It doesn’t mean that they’re both not good people, but how interesting is it to watch a couple be happy for a season?”
Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten)
Fan favorite Pam is still at Fangtasia this season and back with her trademark rapier wit very much intact. “We will even see a very vulnerable side of Pam and we’ll get a sense of what truly, truly matters to her and she cares about, even though she pretends she doesn’t care about anything,” said Ball.
“I know she’s one of everybody’s favorite characters to write, but she is the one who will say she has no filter. She’ll say whatever she thinks and she’ll say it in a way that is really hilarious. And then Kristin will take that line and deliver it in this way that is only her. Yeah, there’s a really fun ride for her this season, as well.”
If that weren’t enough, Ball teased a storyline involving Pam and Wesley’s Tara. “There is a whole Pam/Tara thread that’s beginning to be woven together which I think is really interesting… We love the Pam.”
Living in a Post-Russell Edgington World
Last season, Denis O’Hare’s Russell Edgington set vampire rights back a century or two when he killed a human news anchor on the air.
“The vampires can’t really say, ‘Hey, you have nothing to fear,’ because one of them viciously murdered a guy in full view of the entire world,” said Ball. “The approach of ‘we’re going to assimilate, we’re going to get the vampire rights amendment passed,’ that ship has sailed… Any vampire who is caught on film doing anything untoward to a human, that vampire is gone. They’re taken out. They’re executed. Because the vampires feel like they can’t afford that.”
“I think next season there will be a real reveal of perhaps different factions within the vampire power organization that really are just like, ‘Why are we even bothering to win hearts and minds? We have this power.’ I see it as a little metaphor for the Koch brothers.”
So will we get to eventually see what The Authority is? “We will definitely get into that in Season 5,” said Ball. As for Russell, “We will not see him this season, but he is not dead. That’s all I can say.”
While we’ve had vampires, werewolves, shifters, werepanthers, and even a maenad sniffing around Bon Temps, Season 4 will see the inclusion of witches to the supernatural mix. And not just witches, according to Ball.
“There are different kinds of witches,” he said. “There are Wiccans. There are necromancers. There are Brujeria, which is a Mexican witch tradition. And then there are also disembodied spirits. I hesitate to call them ghosts, but there are spirits without bodies… And witches aren’t necessarily supernaturals because genetically they’re humans… who are able to access a kind of magic through practice and/or just an innate aptitude.”
Practitioners of Wicca shouldn’t be concerned about its portrayal here. “Wicca is basically the doorway into the darker stuff,” said Ball. “I’m not saying Wicca is a gateway drug for evil witchcraft, I’m saying for our characters, they join a Wicca circle for all the right reasons, to practice nature magic and goddess worship… Marnie, who is leading that group… [her] lust for power takes her and her group in a different direction than what actual Wicca is. I have a lot of respect for Wicca. We are not in any way portraying Wicca as something… malevolent.”
There are a whole host of new characters turning up in Bon Temps this season, as well as many returning favorites. So who should viewers be keeping an eye on this season?
“[Kevin Alejandro’s] Jesus is amazing this season,” said Ball. “He gets some really, really good stuff. Sam Trammell, it’s a quandary how to describe this: Sam Trammell gets to act some amazing stuff. And, of course, Fiona [Shaw]. She’s amazing.”
As for Marnie, Ball said that it was fantastic to get Fiona Shaw, an actress “who is known for being the preeminent interpreter of Medea” to get to “play some pretty great stuff” here. Look for some serious darkness to descend upon the seemingly harmless Marnie.
Sookie learned of her faerie heritage last season and we’ll get to learn a bit more about the entities in Season 4. But don’t think of them as the Disney versions of those creatures from folklore.
“In my mind, the fairies occupy the same place in our collective mythology as aliens do,” said Ball. “They come from somewhere else. They’re mysterious and kind of alluring, but also dangerous. If you believe stories of abduction and those kinds of things, they like to have their way with humans. If you get into the really esoteric stuff and the belief that humans are the result of genetic manipulation by alien people from thousands of years ago, they occupy the same space.”
“Obviously, we wanted to give a nod to the tradition of fairies as we think of them, as benevolent woodland creatures but, of course, you don’t want to just have that. The fact that they’re kind of venal and horrible at their core is what makes them interesting.”