Trying to get True Blood executive producer Alan Ball and the cast of the HBO series to give away anything about the upcoming fourth season is not easy. Oh, but how they love to tease! During Saturday's PaleyFest panel, we heard all about fairies, demon babies, amnesia (poor Eric!) and why — brace yourselves — Sookie and Bill are doomed for the time being.
Bill's not getting back into Sookie's, er, good graces any time soon. It's going to take a long while for her to get past Eric's big revelation in last seaon's finale: Bill (Stephen Moyer) had been sent for Sookie by Queen Sophie-Anne (Evan Rachel Wood) from the very beginning. (Bill even let Sookie get beaten to a pulp in the first episode just so she'd have to drink his blood and ensure a connection!) "The betrayal is so deep that I don't think she sees a way back from that," Ball says. "That's why we need 17 seasons!"
Speaking of Bill, we last saw him and the Queen, midair, ready to fight. They're weren't alone! Yes, Sookie can uninvite him from her home if she wants — Bill's still not done protecting her. "There is a bite-off [between Bill and the Queen]. Things happen," Ball says. "It's not just the two of them involved."
How did Eric know about Bill's original motives for seeking out Sookie anyway? Blame the Queen. "Eric has a relationship with the Queen," Ball reminded the audience. She was "loose-lipped" and "probably told him a thing or two."
But enough about Sookie ... Eric will have much bigger problems coming up. What kind of problems, you ask? Well, for starters, his memory will be erased. "He messed with the wrong people," Alexander Skarsgard says. When next we meet Eric, he's "definitely not stable." And it gets worse, too. "He doesn't know who he is anymore ... Eric needs help." Help from Sookie? Not exactly. "There are a lot of friendly people in Bon Temps kind enough to help," the actor continues. But the bottom line is Eric is a changed man. "The powerful character he was is just gone. He's the polar opposite of who he used to be. He's just completely lost ... and very vulnerable," the actor says.
Meanwhile, Sookie's been having quite an adventure with the fairies. Of course, Ball and the cast weren't telling what kind of adventures. Anna Paquin says she's learned a few things, just not how to control her "microwave fingers." Says the actress: "I believe that's the technical term for them ... and no, she doesn't have control, but she's still new to all this fairy stuff." At the same time, "we will see what she learned from tempering the way she goes about looking for independence."
Demon baby lives! Oh yes, Arlene (Carrie Preston) will have Rene's (Michael Raymond James) baby sooner than you can say "season premiere." And the baby won't exactly be a bundle of joy. "Evil" is he word Ball uses. Unfortunately, Terry (Todd Lowe) will be smitten from the get-go. "That problem grows exponentially," Preston says.
Tara will be back with a new 'do and a new 'tude. Whew! Tara will be back in Bon Temps as soon as the season returns. "We'll see a new Tara," Rutina Wesley says. She's "a lot more stable." (It's about time! We want tough Tara back!) "She may find some happiness, but just for a bit ... You'll find out early on where she's been."
Lafayette is under the spell of Jesus, recently revealed to be a male witch. At least that's what Nelsan Ellis says. "I think Lafayette can trust Jesus," the actor says. "He does. He has him under a spell so he has no choice but to trust." So their romance isn't real? Kevin Alejandro says maybe, but Lafayette still needs to be careful. "You can never trust anyone," he says. The witches story line will be introduced through a coven of Wiccans (but the Wiccans won't be the "bringers of evil," says Ball.)
Expect good things for Hoyt and Jessica. All signs point to them being soul mates, but they're going to be challenged from all sides. Hoyt's mama will make things even more difficult for the happy couple. (Remember that gun she bought?) "Mom is awful," Parrack says. And then there's the vampire-hating public. "The fairytale can't go on forever," Deborah Ann Woll says. "But maybe the reality is better than the fairy tale." Jim Parrack says viewers should keep the faith. "Jessica is the one."
Is Alcide still going to be hung up on Debbie? "She did have a gun pointed at his head," Joe Manganiello says, laughing. But "she's still alive and at large, so you never know." He and Sookie will be spending more time together too, which won't be making Deb too happy.
Long live the King -- 'cause he ain't dead yet! Ball says the writers made the specific and deliberate decision to not kill the King, Russell Edgington (Dennis O'Hare), in last season's finale. He was merely burned in the sun and buried in cement. "We have definite plans to bring him back — and he's gonna be pissed," Ball says.
Sam's getting another love interest. "I get another shot," Sam Trammell says. "I'm at bat again. I think Sam will sober up." But Alan Ball says sobriety won't last too long. "He can do that for one episode." Why? Well, he did shoot his brother, Tommy, at the end of last season. That's going to cause some problems.
Good luck trying to figure out what Jason Stackhouse is up to this season. All Ryan Kwanten will say is that "he should not be looking after an entire village of meth addicts — he's Jason Stackhouse."
Meanwhile, Andy will be discovering the ups and downs of V. It was no coincidence that viewers saw Andy (Chris Bauer) keep a vial of the potent vampire blood last season. He doesn't exactly know what it does yet, but he'll find out very soon.
Godric will be back, too, but he's still dead. Godric (Allan Hyde) remains a pile of ashes. Ball says with the ancient vampires, "you can go back [in time]... or they can appear in people's dreams." Gary Cole and Fiona Shaw will also guest-star this season. No word on who — or what — Cole will be, but Ball says Shaw will be playing "a witch — among other things."
The panel was moderated by TVGuide magazine Editor-in-Chief Debra Birnbaum.
The new season of True Blood premieres in June.