PaleyFest '11: Seven Surprising Spoilers From the True Blood Panel

You’ve probably heard that True Blood‘s fourth year will be the season of witches — but brace yourselves Truebies, because at tonight’s PaleyFest panel honoring the HBO hit we learned that it’s more likely the season of Sookie and Eric! Or is that Sookie and Alcide? This much we know for sure: It’s most definitely not Sookie and Bill.

Buh-bye, Bill & Sookie | If these two are your ‘ship of choice, I’d advise you to look away…now. True Blood showrunner Alan Ball revealed that Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Sookie’s (Anna Paquin) emotional breakup in Season 3’s finale will definitely stick, calling their road to reconciliation a “long journey,” and one that won’t happen quickly. “[Bill’s] betrayal [of Sookie] is so deep that I don’t think she sees a way back from that,” Ball said. “That’s why we need 17 seasons.” Alcide (Joe Manganiello) on the other hand, “doesn’t turn into a ball of charred fire in the daytime,” said Paquin.

Eric Northman, Who?! | Sookie’s going to be too tied up with the likes of Eric Northman to worry about Bill anyway. At least, we think that’s what ahead since Ball and Co. appear to be following the novels and taking away Eric’s memory. “Things are definitely not stable for Eric,” Alexander Skarsgård teased. “He doesn’t know who he is anymore. He’s very lost.” Without revealing how his amnesia comes to be, the actor told fans that “there are a lot of helpful people in Bon Temps” to assist in piecing together Eric’s past — maybe even a blonde fairy — but everyone’s favorite protégé Pam (Kristin Bauer Van Staten) “is obviously very helpful as his lovely daughter.” Ball wouldn’t divulge how exactly Eric’s long-deceased maker Godric (Allan Hyde) returns, but coyly explained that with these ancient vamps “you can go back [in time]…or they can appear in people’s dreams.” Skarsgård also promised an “amazing” flashback featuring Bill and Eric.

Sookie’s Fairy Playground | Last time we saw poor Sookie, she was wandering around some enchanted fairy land. Well, when we return, she’s back but “there’s some stuff that’s different,” Paquin said. (It must be said that Paquin is the tightest-lipped member of the True Blood cast.) Sookie will continue her journey to find herself — now minus Bill. Ball advised fans not to expect to meet her fairy “godfather” this season either.

A Wiccan Good Time | The Season 4 witches we’ve heard so much about “are not the bringers of evil,” promised Ball. “There’s an older entity that comes in.” The witchy Kevin Alejandro (Jesus) is also back as Lafayette’s boyfriend, and Nelsan Ellis says that they’re still happy together — if only because “he’s under Jesus’ spell.”

Shapeshifters Multiply | “Sam, he had a bad day,” Sam Trammell laughed when asked if his character would cool off a little following the finale. “But he’s getting another shot [at love].” Marshall Allman, Sam’s bad-to-the-bone little brother Tommy, is back and up to no good, per usual. Ball also offered that in addition to the witches, True Blood will introduce “a handful of new shifters.”

Tara Returns | Rutina Wesley assured fans that Tara will come back to Bon Temps after her rapid departure in last season’s finale. The place she went during her little hiatus from the supernatural is “cool” and will surprise people, she said. “We’ll see a new Tara,” Wesley added. “She’s a lot more stable and she may find some happiness.”

The Best of the Rest | Arlene and Terry are still “evil” baby-bound, and Carrie Preston told fans that “the problem grows exponentially.” Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) has some woes of his own this season, experimenting with all that V left behind in his office. That fight between Bill and Evan Rachel Wood’s Queen Sophie-Anne will be addressed early on, and, added Ball, “It’s not just the two of them in this fight.” In a scene shown to fans attending PaleyFest, Hoyt (Jim Parrack) and Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) are still together but fighting for public acceptance in the post-Russel Edgington (Denis O’Hare) society. “The fairy tale can’t last forever,” Woll offered. “But maybe reality is better.”

How good does True Blood Season 4 sound? Thoughts on the latest Bill/Sookie/Eric/Alcide developments? Hit the comments and tell us!