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True Blood Premiere Post Mortem: Series Creator Alan Ball Weighs In On The Big Twists!

[Warning: If you have yet to watch Sunday’s season premiere of True Blood, run — don’t walk — to the nearest emergency exit. Everyone else, onward and downward….]

True Blood kicked off its fourth season Sunday with literally and figuratively its biggest twist to date: Sookie returned from her brief detour to Fairlyland to discover that, according to Bon Temps’ calendar, a year had passed since she left.

On any other show, such a time jump would hardly be viewed as earth-shattering. But on True Blood — where the first three seasons encompassed only a few weeks — it represented a pretty radical game-shifter.

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“We wanted to get all of our characters into somewhat of a new place,” series creator Alan Ball explains of the bold move. “To give Jason time to have actually become a sheriff’s deputy. To have Bill be the king. To have Arlene’s baby be born. And then as we were talking about Sookie being in Fairlyand, the idea rose that time just happens differently there. And it seemed like a really organic way to kickstart the show so that it would be in a new place when she got back.”

Arguably the most seismic development during Sookie’s year away concerned her beleaguered BFF Tara relocating to New Orleans and falling for a woman. That’s right, Merlotte’s prickliest waitress is now a cage fighter with a steady girlfriend!

As Ball sees it, the shift in Tara’s personal life actually wasn’t all that radical. “Look at Tara’s history with men — if anybody has a reason to try something new, I think she does,” the boss says with a laugh. “It didn’t seem like it was that outlandish given her history and who the character was.”

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Tara’s portrayer, Rutina Wesley, “was totally willing to go there” with her character’s transformation, says Ball. “I said, ‘How would you feel about this?’ And she said, ‘Oh, that would be fun.’

“I count my blessings with this cast all of the time because everybody is pretty fearless,” he continues. “Everybody is pretty game to do just about anything. I think it made sense emotionally for Tara, given everything she had been through with Eggs and Franklin Mott. And part of what we wanted to do with her this season is really stop her from being a victim and really have her take control and reinvent herself in a way that was less victim-y, and [giving her a female lover] seemed to fit in with that whole paradigm.”

What did you think of the premiere? Were you a fan of the time jump? Did you buy Tara’s sexual awakening? Hit the comments!