Leading into True Blood season 6, fans were warned repeatedly that a beloved character would die. When I wrote up that first interview with Brian Buckner in Rolling Stone revealing that death, I jokingly thought to myself, “I wonder if I should start stocking up on tissues, make a therapy appointment, or just simply start rocking in a corner right now?”
As with any other season of True Blood, season 6 has been met with a variety of reactions. Some people liked it while others hated it. I fall into the liked it camp even if I have a few issues with finale. But the one thing I haven’t seen as of yet is something discussing how emotional and painful season 6 was to watch.
Death is a part of every episode in some way, shape or form in a show that centers around vampires and other supernatural creatures. But this year the multiple deaths that came were not ones you could simply shake off like you could have in previous seasons. A lot of the characters we saw leave this year weren’t just brought in for this season. We had come to know them and to care for them.
From the opening moments of season 6, we were forced the part with characters we had some kind of affection for from Luna (Janina Gavankar) to Andy’s numbered fairie daughters, Terry (Todd Lowe), Nora (Lucy Griffiths), and Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian).
Of his episode, “Life Matters,” Brian Buckner stated that the episode would take the time to honor Terry’s death in a way that True Blood really doesn’t get to do. And it did. Terry Bellefleur received one of the most honorable send offs in the history of the show and gave both Todd Lowe and Carrie Preston (Arlene Fowler) wonderful moments to play that also happened to be heartbreaking.
That said, with almost every other death this year we also witnessed other characters having to mourn the loss of people they cared about. On an intellectual level, it’s nice to see the cast members we support all year around have the opportunity to play these intense and heartbreaking scenes. But emotionally, it is very hard because we’ve also grown to love.
Seeing Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) standing at his bar after returning to Merlotte’s with Emma (Chloe Noelle) and having Luna’s sink in is devastating. Watching Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) breakdown after she realizes she did the one thing she thought she would never do is also hard to watch as is Andy’s reaction to it and seeing Jessica once again is hard.
Having such an emotional and difficult season where the writers did a pretty good job at keeping the audience guessing as to who would die, kept us on our toes. And with every death, we were reminded that every single action or event had very serious consequences.
Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) and Steve Newlin found this out the hard way when they each paid for their actions with a life. For Eric, Nora became his price and Steve’s nefarious actions finally caught up with him. Though out of all of the deaths this season, his had to be the most humorous. And even though Sookie (Anna Paquin) survived the season, having to witness her own parents betrayal and then be once again reminded that Warlow (Rob Kazinsky) is a bad guy was sad because she got very close to being happy with someone who offered her a very tangible possibility.
Given all of the examples I mentioned as well as countless others, I don’t quite understand why the anger of many fans after we witnessed Eric Northman lit on fire naked is surprising. Again, on an intellectual level we know Eric will be back next year and we might get a kickass storyline out of it when Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) finds him. They deserve screentime together that doesn’t involve him being a jerk most of the time or a flashback (even if it was awesome.) I personally hope we get to see them traveling through Sweden or the rest of Europe searching for a Hep-V cure.
But that still doesn’t change the fact that putting one of the most popular characters in the series in danger like that felt cheap. And on the heels of the emotional goodbye to Terry Bellefleur, it’s like rubbing salt in a very deep wound.
I admire Buckner and the rest of the writers for their willingness to let characters that are beloved go for the sake of a good story. And I’m even interested to see where season 7 goes next since it was left relatively open leaving a great space for storytelling.
However, the one thing I hope the writing staff keeps in mind is that True Blood is supposed to be “Popcorn for smart people.” We’re a smart audience. So going after Eric and making him burn means the writers have to try a bit harder to earn our trust next season.
Image Credits: HBO, Inc.