[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Sunday's episode of True Blood. Read at your own risk!]
Just three episodes into the final season, and True Blood is once again proving that anyone and everyone can be killed off.
It's never been safe to be friends with Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) — See: Pretty much everyone who has ever died on this show — but poor Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello) never really stood a chance. The moment that the HBO series paired the fan-favorite werewolf with its leading heroine, he seemed destined to meet a grim fate, especially since this is the final season, and Sookie still has unfinished business with original suitors Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard). But the real surprise was that he was killed off by a nameless character well after danger seemed to have passed.
How does Manganiello feel about Alcide's unceremonious death? Below, the actor discusses why Alcide had to go, the "polarizing" series finale, and whether he'll return before the end:
When did you find out that Alcide would die so soon into the final season?
Joe Manganiello: When I read the script for the finale of last year, I called it. I put it down and I was like, "Oh, Alcide and Sookie are together? They're going to kill me." Story-wise, you can't have her break his heart because then the audience isn't going to side with her. You have to get her to Bill and Eric because they have to tie up the A and B plot. If you're looking at a show like this where they're looking for characters to help the show be vital, meaning you can kill off main characters and all of a sudden anyone can be killed off at any time, there is no one else my character is connected to except for Sam (Sam Trammell). So by default, I did some quick math in my head and was like, "They're going to kill me really quickly."
I always used to have lunch with [former showrunner] Alan Ball before every season to talk about what they were going to do with my character. Sure enough [new showrunner Brian Buckner] called me up and said, "Hey, let's go out to dinner." It's like that scene in Jerry Maguire with Bob Sugar (Jay Mohr). I was like, "OK, this is going down right now." We went to get something to eat, and he had the first three scripts with him and he's like, "We're killing you." and I was like, "I called it!" He's like, "You know we have to do this, there is no way around it." That was how I found out.
How do you feel about the way in which Alcide was killed off?
Manganiello: Getting shot in the head by some nameless, faceless hillbilly, dying naked in the woods on the ground and then being in Malibu when it was about 30 degrees out and try not to shiver? [Laughs] That's not exactly how I saw it going down, but I guess it's better than giving one of the vampires the bragging rights.
Why do you think they bothered to even put him with Sookie when he was just going to die anyways?
Manganiello: They want to give the audience that. It was the one relationship that they didn't cover that actually still had mileage. The two of them probably should've been together in Season 5. They probably would've been best served to follow the books and have Sookie be the one to help Alcide become the packmaster rather than introduce a female werewolf character that really didn't get explored or go anywhere. In the books, Sookie helped him. Also, that was the one season that they decided to have her be single, which, looking back was a mistake because it's a sexy show. "Let's have our ingénue be single this season?" No! You want to have her at least try it out with the good guy who was in love with her from the time he met her. Hell, HBO had Team Alcide t-shirts. It's capitalism. We've got to sell t-shirts.
With Alcide's death, do you think this opens up the door for Sookie to end up with Bill?
Manganiello: I think it paves the way for resolution of those plot lines going back to Season 1. I don't know if it paves the way for her to wind up with somebody, but it definitely paves the way for resolution. You have to have some sort of tie-up one way or the other, whether that's an endgame situation or a confrontation. In Charlaine [Harris'] book, she winds up with Sam, so that's a completely different choice. Obviously we now know that it won't be Alcide. There are infinite possibilities. The ending will be controversial, I will say that. It's going to be polarizing.
Sookie said no to Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) turning Alcide into a vampire. Are you a little disappointed that you never got to be a vampire or are you glad they didn't go that route?
Manganiello: Not with this character. It would've wrecked the character, so I think that was the right choice. I can see myself playing a vampire at some point down the road, but in a different project. I don't think that wrecking this character by turning him into a vampire would've benefited the show very much. Once again, you have to get him out of the way. He has to be gone. He can't be hanging around. You have to have him gone and you can't have her break his heart, so you have to kill him off.
Do you think Alcide had his defining moment narratively speaking, or do you think he still had more to do?
Manganiello: I feel like there was so much left unexplored. You never really got into Robert Patrick's character, you never found out where his mom went and why [he and his father] didn't get along. He had a love interest that really didn't go anywhere. There was this little girl, Emma, that he orphaned by murdering her father — rightfully so, but still. He didn't want to have kids because he didn't want to pass his genes on. He is then given custody of this little girl who is a werewolf and there was no real resolution to that or exploration of him, out of guilt, helping to raise this little girl in the pack. You never really explored the guy. I would play him again in a movie if the rights became available. I would do a spin-off. I actually started writing a story line for that guy intended to be for the comic books, but then they got canceled, I guess.
Is there a possibility that Alcide will return in some way, shape or form before the series ends?
Manganiello: If anybody has been following my Twitter feed, I've been flying around all over the place. I've been super busy running around, so I really haven't had any time to do that, which I don't think is much of a secret. Once he's gone, he's done. That's it.
Did you bond with Rutina Wesley over both being killed off so quickly?
Manganiello: I don't think we got to talk about it because she was out of there so quick and then I was out of there so quick. I didn't bump into her at the premiere. Going out in the cold open! The good news for her is that she showed up for one day of filming and got paid for an entire season. That's probably a record.
Any chance of seeing you back on TV soon?
Manganiello: Not anytime soon. I was offered roles while I was on True Blood. The reason that I was being offered roles was because of the popularity of the show. But I was offered roles that I literally couldn't show up to on the first day of filming or we couldn't clear however many days off away from the show that I needed to go and shoot that. I then had to go to the theater and watch other people playing those parts. There was give and take with the show in terms of my film career, so there was a lot of stuff that I really didn't get to do that I wanted to do.
Right now, it's about movies and getting out there and really keeping myself open to be able to capitalize on those opportunities when they come up. It seems like a lot of my favorite comic book and fantasy properties are being made into shows, like American Gods or Preacher. I just chase good material. It seems like a lot of the really great material that I love and have responded to growing up is winding up going to TV. For right now, it's probably going to be film.
Were you surprised that Alcide was killed off? Hit the comments!
True Blood airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.