True Blood’ fans have once again been left at a loss, now that Bon Temps has been boarded off until season 7 bursts out in 2014. Sunday night’s season finale “Radioactive” left us on a much left direct cliffhanger than last year, but still raised a number of questions about the future of the series, from Eric Northman and his little friend to the sudden appearance of ‘Walking Dead’-style vampires. Why wait for fresh answers however, when we’ve got answers to all your burning questions about ‘True Blood’ season 7?

  • 1

    Northman Lives (Yes, All of Him)

    No worries, Eric lovers. Your favorite blonde vampire (second, for Whedon-lovers) will indeed return as a series regular for season 7, despite the fiery end we last saw him undergo in the Swedish mountains. That said, showrunner Brian Buckner wouldn’t explicitly confirm that we’d see Eric alive next year, or where exactly we’ll find him if we do. It seems logical for Pam to be the one to ultimately find her maker, though we can’t yet say for sure what condition we’d find him in, if she did. We’ve long wondered if ‘True Blood’ would ever explore the afterlife, vampire or otherwise, though we at least know Alexander Skarsgard will be present in our living rooms next summer.

  • 2

    Smarter Storytelling, Six Months Later

    We will indeed pick up where we left off in the final moments of “Radioactive,” in spite of the six month time jump that accompanied the finale. Buckner specified that the six-month time jump arrived not to deprive viewers of Sookie and Alcide’s courtship, Sam’s mayoral campaign or Eric’s fate, but rather to “shuffle the deck” in resetting the story for a smaller season 7 approach.

    Rather than swing for the fences with new big bads or different storylines across the map, next year’s action will return to the smaller, more soap-y feel of the first season. The drama of ‘True Blood’ season 7 will unfold between the character relationships, particularly the human and vampire pairings necessitated by the outbreak of hepatitis V, rather than new story elements.

  • 3

    Will Season 7 Be the Last?

    As unsurprised as we were for ‘True Blood’ to earn a season 7 renewal in the first place, there of course remains the question of how long the series will endure, even under its smaller storytelling model. Buckner believes the series to have at least two more seasons of life to it, though the call ultimately rests with HBO, whom Buckner expects will deliver a decision before writers begin breaking stories in September. Less clear is the number of episodes season 7 will contain, given season 6 dropped to 10 to account for Anna Paquin’s pregnancy, and reports of season 7 have dissented.

  • 4

    No More Werewolves

    Alcide will certainly remain a series regular, but don’t expect the werewolves to maintain much of a presence now that the newly-shorn former packmaster has abandoned his barking brood, Rikki and Martha included. Alcide’s father Jackson (Robert Patrick) could certainly pop up, but Buckner tells TVGuide “You can tell we've abandoned the wolf pack. The books were about one thing and I have immense respect for [author] Charlaine [Harris] and what she did, but people are keyed in — as are we as writers — on these vampire-human relationships and that's what the show needs to focus on.”

  • 5

    No Zombies Either

    By the same token, don’t expect zombies of any kind to become a focus in ‘True Blood’ season 7, as some had likened the slow march of the hepatitis V-affected vampires to that of ‘The Walking Dead.’ The six-month time jump allowed writers to shuffle the story a bit, justifying a mutation to the virus, though certainly not one that would see Rick Grimes pop up in Bon Temps to babble about “stuff and things.” Instead, afflicted vampires will be somewhat weaker, needing to feed on humans more often and in larger quantity to survive, but very much retain their mental faculties and ability to hunt in packs.

  • 6

    Sook-Cide, At Last

    Sookie and Alcide finally managed to get together after four seasons of teasing, though many viewers ended up disgruntled to see that the six-month time jump effectively skipped over the initial stages of the relationship, and all the various sexy-times within. Buckner insists that he hadn’t intended to deprive viewers of the couple’s initial pairing, though Sookie needed to make good on her decision to be rid of vampires, and date someone more relateable.

    “Some people feel cheated,” Buckner told The Hollywood Reporter. “They won't next year. I think people are like, ‘I wanted to see their first sex"’ but Sookie and Alcide are very attractive and their 15th sex is pretty good too.” That said, the redemption-seeking Bill will naturally complicate the relationship, but less so Sam Merlotte, regardless of Sookie’s earlier proposition. Buckner too defended the scene between Sam and Sookie, clarifying that Sookie grasped at straws to find her last reasons not to become Warlow’s undead bride, and simply timed her proposition poorly with Sam’s impending fatherhood.

  • 7

    Redemption, Redemption, Redemption

    Along with Buckner’s overall revamp (heh) of the series and return to smaller storytelling, Buckner assured that neither Bill nor Tara’s mother Lettie Mae (Adina Porter) had any ulterior motives in their scenes six months after Warlow. Bill will genuinely seek forgiveness and redemption for his actions out of his renewed affection for Sookie, free of any of the power-plays that plagued the character over the course of the last several seasons.

    By the same token, Buckner dispelled the rumor that Tara’s mother could be a carrier of hepatitis-V, or at least that she would have deliberately infected her own daughter. The showrunner flat-out told TVGuide “Lettie Mae does not have Hep-V,” though cryptically stated to Entertainment Weekly that “It’s not to say that there won’t be complications that arise, but people can be telling the truth.”

  • 8

    New Blood is Here to Stay

    As mixed a reaction as viewers may have had to Jason’s new “owner” Violet (Karolina Wydra) and Jessica’s new paramour James (Luke Grimes), both will return as series regulars in season 7, as particularly evidenced by their presence with Jason and Jessica after the six-month time jump. So too will Willa Burrell (Amelia Rose Blair) return as a regular, very likely sharing a complicated relationship with her older “sister” of sorts, Tara.

    In particular, Bruckner specified that he “trusts” Violet in spite of her 178-day long teasing of Jason, adding that the character began “earning her way into our hearts by going to bat for Sookie and Jason in the finale.”

  • 9

    Jessica vs. Andy

    Given Jessica’s surprising gorge on not one, but three of Andy Bellefleur’s half-fairy children, viewers certainly expected an explosive confrontation between the pair that could potentially have ended with either the Bon Temps sheriff or Bill’s progeny taking (another) dirt nap. Buckner revealed that much of Jessica’s season 7 arc will see her working off her sins between Andy and Adilyn, helping either through life, even as Andy shut the door on her tacit offer of protection.

    Buckner offered particular praise for Chris Bauer of his character portrayal over season 6, telling TVGuide “Chris Bauer has really been an MVP for us this season, because we took a character who was usually comic relief and asked the audience to care. I think he did an amazing job. Andy deep down knows that even though he's the sheriff and even though he has guns, he's up against something much bigger.”

  • 10

    What Happened to Niall?

    ‘True Blood’ season 7 may return to smaller scale storytelling, but don’t expect the 2014 run to lack for guest stars, or potential fan-favorite character appearances. Buckner insisted that the writing staff won’t begin breaking stories or pondering guest stars new and old until some time in September, but two season 6 guest stars in particular stand out.

    Both Niall (Rutger Hauer) and Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp) surprisingly survived the season, making returns fair game next year. Buckner joked to EW that Niall’s surprise finale return proved exceptionally convenient, “but not completely inorganic, in my opinion. It felt wrong to lose Niall from the rest of the season altogether. So when [Rutger Hauer] was willing to come back, we decided to have him be part of the endgame.”