In the wake of the season six finale,True Blood executive producer Brian Buckner teased that fans will see Eric Northman again, and that season seven will focus more on character than on plot.

In last week’s season six finale, “Radioactive,” True Blood appeared to have killed off the fan-favorite, Eric (Alexander Skarsgard), when he was caught in the sun. The audience watched as a naked Eric burst into flames, all alone on top of a mountain in Sweden. Fans were shocked and panicked.

In a recent interview, Buckner talked about the creative process behind “Radioactive”’s shocking plot twists (Warlow killed, Sam elected mayor) and teased what fans can expect in season seven – which includes Eric. Buckner confirmed that Skarsgard will return for season 7 as a series regular. However, Buckner was very careful to make clear that Skarsgard’s continued presence on the show does not necessarily mean that Eric survived his day in the sun: “We’re not saying how we’re going to use him, we’re simply saying that we are using him,” Buckner told Entertainment Weekly.

Also returning next season are Willa (Amelia Rose Blaire) and James (Luke Grimes). Buckner explained that part of the writer’s intentions with the Vamp Camp story arc in season six was to introduce new vampire characters in an organic way.

The finale also left fans wondering if Tara’s (Rutina Wesley) life was in danger after her mother, Lettie Mae (Adina Porter), practically begged her to feed from her blood. Could Lettie Mae be tricking her own daughter into becoming infected with Hep V?

Bucker was quick to shut those rumors down, expressing his sadness at the cynical hypothesis.

“The idea that there must be plot behind everything that we do – I don’t want to have the audience constantly demanding that everything be plot-driven. It was genuine on Lettie Mae’s part. It’s not to say that there won’t be complications that arise, but people can be telling the truth,” Bucker said.

And, while Buckner didn’t give up much in terms of what might lay ahead for Sookie (Anna Paquin), Alcide (Joe Manganiello) and Bill (Stephen Moyer), he did hint at a season filled with love triangles, especially now that vampires and humans are being asked to enter into a kind of intimate business deal (blood for protection).

“It [True Blood] started completely focused on one vampire-human relationship, but now we have all these relationships that we hopefully care about, and we’re going to add vampires to the human relationships and humans to the vampire relationships and see how it f***s things up. So every relationship that we have that we care about is now gonna be a threesome or a foursome. Right? It’s gonna be about these relationships, so it’s not all just big bad and plot,” Buckner teased.

Season seven will be much more character-based, and Buckner hopes that forcing vampires and humans to come together will allow for more supporting characters to get the screentime they deserve.

“Here’s my sincere hope: that we get to see more of everybody we love, because everybody is under the banner of fewer stories. The story is ‘for every human a vampire, for every vampire a human,’ and now that there’s a lesser need for separate plot and separate story development for every single character that we have, we’re actually going to get to spend more time with them. That’s my hope, that’s the motivation, and that’s where it’s all coming from,” Buckner admitted.

Though Buckner neither confirmed nor denied the presence of a "big bad" next season, he hinted that, in order to keep the show more character-driven, no big bad would come to the forefront in the upcoming season.

Instead, the big bad is the threat of Hep V infected vampires, who were seen entering Bon Temps at the end of the finale. During the six-month time jump featured in “Radioactive,” the virus has mutated so it no longer kills vampires, but does make them weaker and more violent.

“[Hep V infected vampires] They’re weaker and driven by a need to eat in a way that the vampires that we’ve come to know are not. They have to drink human blood in larger quantities and more frequently than before. And the other thing to clarify…they’re not going to be zombies. They’re far more organized and haven’t lost their mental capacity,” Buckner explained.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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