12:36pm PT by Austin Siegemund-Broka
'True Blood' Showrunner Talks Finale Death and Giving Sookie "A Happy Ending"
[Warning: Spoilers ahead from the series finale of True Blood, "Thank You."]
The biggest question remaining from True Blood's series finale on Sunday might be who Sookie (Anna Paquin) ended up with romantically: She is pregnant in the flash-forward epilogue, and while viewers see her husband, his face is never revealed.
It was a decision the show's writers made, showrunner Brian Buckner says, to keep Sookie at True Blood's center.
"We felt like it was irrelevant, honestly, who Sookie wound up with," he said in a conference call with reporters. "What we wanted to know was that she was happy and living the life that she wanted to lead. To introduce some other stranger in the last five minutes of the finale wouldn’t have made a lot of sense. We made a choice to say it’s every man."
It wasn't really "every man" — it was stuntman Tim Eulich, who was chosen for the part because he "had the best arms," Buckner revealed. "He’s just an unassuming stunt guy where we said, 'he’s got great arms and would look good frying a turkey.' "
Buckner explained Bill's (Stephen Moyer) choice to die, not from Hep-V in the finale but by a staking from Sookie. Part of Bill's decision was to give her a normal life by having her use her fairy light on him, Buckner said, but his other motivation was the point of Bill's flashbacks throughout the season. "It was all meant to tell the story of the natural course of a human life, and I think what Bill came around to was similar to what Godric [Allan Hyde] came around to [in season 2], which is that a human life is extraordinary too."
Buckner, who has written for every season of the HBO drama and served as showrunner for the latest two, wanted to bring the story back to Sookie and Bill because their relationship "launched" the series, he said. But "I think it’s obvious from these seven years that Sookie and Bill were not meant to be true love forever," he said.
He pondered a finale — and even pitched it to HBO — in which Sookie gives up her powers, but it "felt really wrong," he said. "The idea was that we wanted Bill to be correct when he said that Sookie could have a normal life, the twist of course being that Sookie choose to keep her power and specialness and persevere despite his belief that she couldn’t be OK without giving up her powers."
And the rest of the characters? Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Sookie didn't share as much screentime this season because of Skarsgard's shooting schedule for Tarzan, Buckner said. He defended the decision not to renew their romance in the final season, however. "I was really impressed with the romantic undertones of [their] scene, but nothing was overt. We didn’t go back there because it would have been sloppier storytelling-wise."
He said, though, that if there were to be a True Blood spinoff, it might center on a certain other blood substitute. "I believe that there is life in Eric and Pam [Kristin Bauer van Straten] running a multinational corporation," Buckner said.
The sex scene with Eric and Fangtasia's loyal barmaid Ginger (Tara Buck) might have gone very differently — Buckner said the joke of the scene was originally to be that the Viking vampire was not tip-top in bed. But, he said, "we didn’t want to give Ginger the worst experience of her life." The scene still turned out to be "the funniest thing I think we’ve ever done. I'm glad we went for the next thought there."
The seventh season saw the deaths of Alcide (Joe Manganiello) and Tara (Rutina Wesley) — beloved characters, Buckner said, but ones who had completed their emotional journeys. The decision to kill Tara, he said, came out of the scene in the sixth season finale where Tara's mother, Lettie Mae (Adina Porter), is reconciled with her daughter. Buckner thought the scene resolved their storyline so well it couldn't continue.
"I wanted to create the sense this season that anything could happen, and that’s what the Tara death did, and the Alcide death furthered it," he added.
The finale he compares True Blood's to is that of Friday Night Lights, the football-centric (and decidedly nonsupernatural) drama set in a small Texas town.
"I wanted to give [Sookie] and our fans a happy ending. I know that the show has made its living on sex and gore and violence, but without story all that starts to take on the feeling of snuff film," Buckner said. "The more surprising ending for this is this intimate, small, beautiful story of these people in a small town."
"It's not all that fun to explode vampires over and over again," he said.