True Blood had quite an action-packed Season 4 finale: Sookie renounced Bill and Eric. They killed a Vampire Authority member. Tara took a bullet for Sookie, who shot Debbie Pelt in the head. Alcide murdered the packmaster. Lafayette killed Jesus. Jason revealed to Hoyt that he slept with Jessica. Steve Newlin showed up as a vampire. And Russell Edgington escaped. All caught up?
If your head is still spinning from all that, then Sunday's fifth season premiere (10/9c, HBO) won't make it slow down anytime soon. We're sworn to secrecy from revealing just about anything from Season 5... but the cast isn't! Creator Alan Ball, stars Anna Paquin, Joe Manganiello and more open up about what's in store, including new romance, Tara's fate and the return of the most dangerous vampire on earth: Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare). Get the scoop:
1. Sookie's future: As if the Stackhouse home hasn't seen enough damage, now there's at least one, possibly two dead bodies in Gran's kitchen— both of which could be blamed on Sookie herself. "She has a lot on her plate," Ball says. "She just blew Debbie Pelt's [Brit Morgan] head off with a shotgun, and her best friend just got shot in the head, so there's a lot to deal with just taking care of those things." Still, that's not to say there isn't hope on the horizon. "Sookie may have renounced both Bill [Stephen Moyer] and Eric [Alexander Skarsgard], but that doesn't mean that there's not other hot supernatural men that are interested in her." Alcide, perhaps? As for Paquin, she says Sookie's decision to give up both Bill and Eric gets "complicated."
2. Bill and Eric team up: After killing Vampire Authority member Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck) together, Bill and Eric will really have to rely on each other this season, which may make their shared recent heartbreak easier. "This is the season of the bromance," Ball says. "Bill and Eric have a rocky history, we all know this, and it got particularly rocky when they both wanted the same thing: Sookie. But when Sookie is out of the picture, there just might be hope for friendship." Still, taking on the most powerful vampire organization won't be easy. "You don't want to be on the bad side of the Authority," he adds.
3. The Vampire Authority: Speaking of the Authority, Ball likens the organization to "the Catholic Church for vampires," noting that Christopher Meloni's Authority Guardian Roman is quite like the Pope. "The Vampire Authority is the governing body for vampires across the world. They're incredibly old, incredibly powerful, and not very forgiving. If you're a vampire, there's a very good chance they know almost everything about you." There's also a vampire civil war brewing between the mainstreamers, like the Authority, and the Sangunistas, a faction that believes humans are just food. "No pun intended, everything is at stake," says new castmember Carolyn Hennesy, who plays Authority Chancellor Rosalyn Harris. "It's the fate of vampires all over the world — those who want mainstreaming, those who do not — and even the Authority itself is divided. If the Vatican is divided, where do they go?"
4. From bromance to romance: Just because Sookie has given up on Bill and Eric, doesn't mean they'll be without lovin' this season. In fact, they'll both have a new love interest, who just happens to be the same lady. (Déjà vu!) Authority Chancellor Salome — yes, that Salome — will be taken with the duo. "She has a different relationship with both of them," portrayer Valentina Cervi says. "She will have feelings for both of them during the season. She's full of love and needs to be loved." Also, we'll meet Eric's devoted vampire sister, Nora (Lucy Griffiths), also sired by Godric. "She loves him very much," Griffiths says. "She would do anything to make him happy, and she thinks she knows what would make him happy, and it may or may not be right."
5. For the good of the pack: With former packmaster Marcus dead, the pack is now without a leader and they'll certainly be on the hunt to find out what happened to him. Will Alcide take his place as the rightful new packmaster? "[Marcus' death] will cause the pack to split into two factions: One that will immediately worship Alcide as the new packmaster, and the other faction that believes that he has no claim," Manganiello says. "Werewolves are a very tribal and ritualistic bunch, and you will find out this season how deep that goes. Because he didn't do it in the ritualistic fashion, they'll oppose him, and therefore there will be fighting within the pack."
6. The death of Debbie Pelt: Ding dong, the wolf is dead! Sorry, we've been holding that in a while. But certain characters may not feel the same way as we do. "You know that Alcide's going to find out she's dead, and there will be fallout," Manganiello says. "He and Sookie will deal with it. The question is how he's going to deal with it, which is a very complex emotional web." With Eric and Bill gone, could the time be ripe for Alcide and Sookie to finally get together? "There are some complicated things that need to be dealt with," he adds. "Timing has always been an issue for them, but maybe there's a way through that?"
7. Russell returns! The former King of Mississippi has been rescued from his cement grave, but the question is: Who helped him? O'Hare would only tease that we'll find out sooner rather than later, but added that we may see a different Russell than we have before — one who may not immediately seek revenge on Bill and Eric. "He's never a character who's going to adhere to any conventional thinking," he says. "He's also a guy who has a lot of mixed motives. He gets what he wants and he learns how to forgive when he needs to." But will Russell be making a big public splash once again this season? "He goes public unintentionally," O'Hare adds. "Something happens and he gets caught." Plus: He's getting a new love interest!
8. So, is Tara dead or what? As we previously reported, Tara (Rutina Wesley) will still be on the show, but the big question is how? That will be answered in the season premiere. "We will see a lighter side to her," Wesley promises. "I hope we do get back to that Season 1 Tara where she has that flippant sense of humor that we all love. I just think she's guarded and I know sometimes it comes off as being angry at everyone in the world, but it's all earned."
9. Jessica, all grown up: Since Bill is dealing with the impending vampire civil war, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) will have the run of Bon Temps. "She's starting to grow up, she's not really a baby vamp anymore," Ball says. "She's going to do what any teenager would do when her parents are out of town... party!" It won't be all fun and games this season, though. Jessica will have to navigate her new relationship with Jason (Ryan Kwanten) — with ex-boyfriend Hoyt (Jim Parrack) watching from the sidelines. "They're extremely attracted to one another, and there's a natural chemistry there, but it was born out of this guilty thing that they did," Woll says. "That's rough and they're going to have to overcome that somehow."
10. Steve Newlin... vampire? The former vampire-hater is now a vampire, but he'll still fit right in. "The role that [the Authority] finds for him in the vampire community is really smart on their choice," Michael McMillian says. But before Steve can get down to business, he has some unresolved issues to deal with. Namely, that Jason once slept with his wife. "He and Jason obviously have history," he says. "Jason was hand selected in Season 2 to be the el primo Soldier of the Sun. Steve has just been fascinated from Day 1. In his eye, to use a biblical reference, Jason is Steve's Adam. But Jason is instrumental to Steve's downfall because he slept with his wife." Fortunately for Jason, he'll have Jessica on his side. "Anytime you try to cause trouble for Jason, you're causing trouble for Jessica," McMillian adds.
11. A Pam-tastic voyage into the past: We've seen how Eric met Godric and how Bill became a vampire, but this season, it's Pam's (Kristin Bauer van Straten) turn. "We're going to see how Pam and Eric found each other and we learn how Pam became a vampire," Ball says. But Pam isn't the only focus of this year's flashbacks. We "even get a glimpse into some of Sookie and Jason's past," he adds.
12. Magic isn't gone! Marnie (Fiona Shaw) may be out of our lives, but that doesn't mean magic is. In fact, Lauren Bowles says, "Those powers are definitely going to be utilized because it's kind of a free-for-all this year. The power of the goddess can be used in many ways and will be relied on."
13. And neither are the faeries! Sookie's faerie family will be back in full force this season, but they're different from what we saw before, according to Giles Matthey, who plays Claude, the brother to Sookie's now dead faerie godmother, Claudine (Lara Pulver). "The role that my character plays is a mentor figure and he cares about Sookie," he says. Still, there are some who aren't pleased that Claudine was drained by a vampire.
The fifth season of True Blood premieres Sunday at 10/9c on HBO.