Entertainment Weekly sat down with Brian Buckner after the season six finale and asked him to explain what viewers had just seen. (And to me, that he had to interpret it for viewers is not a sign of a job well-done.) Excerpts related to Eric are below, but if you want to hear Buckner’s explanations about the zombie vampires and all the other changes in the second half of the finale, you will want to read the whole article.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve confirmed that Alexander Skarsgard will return and be a regular on the show next season. Eric’s alive!
BRIAN BUCKNER: [Laughs] Well, I did not confirm that he’s alive. Not that I want to create more conversation, because I don’t, but to be clear, we’re not saying how we’re going to use him, we’re simply saying that we are using him. I will say that I do long for the days when television audiences could stand to wait and enjoy the tease. But I understand we’re living in a different time. I don’t want to watch a show without him either.
So we can start with the next important question: Whose idea was it for Eric to be sunbathing nude on a snow-covered mountaintop in Sweden?
It was mine. The original idea was that it’s basically like a Corona commercial, but I didn’t want to do a beach because it’s obvious. This is a man who doesn’t want to love, and doesn’t want to feel pain, and every connection he has to people ends in pain. So if Eric could be an island, he would be. So with Nora gone, and having sought vengeance for her death, he found that the pain was still there and he doesn’t want to feel it again. So he retreated and returned home. That’s as much as the audience is meant to know. For now.
So he wasn’t suicidal, sitting on that mountaintop so exposed?
Nobody knew the rule that if Warlow died, the blood that he gave to you would lose its efficacy. It was a surprise to all the vampires who realized that they just lost their ability to walk in the sun, but Eric was the only one in a timezone where it was light out. I think in the sort of “What the f— just happened?” of it all [Laughs] some people missed the idea that it was Warlow dying that precipitated that event. So if people called it an anticlimax, that Warlow’s death came and went without consequence, no, the Eric thing is the consequence of Warlow’s death.
I think we’ve seen fairy blood wear off before, so a lot of viewers were thinking that was a possibility. Or are you saying Warlow’s blood would never have worn off?
Maybe it’s on us. Warlow’s blood was special in that once you had it, it was not gonna wear off. It was the real deal. That’s why Sookie’s blood and Adilyn’s blood didn’t do what Warlow’s blood could do. Bill, at a certain point in the season, realized Warlow is the prophecy, that’s why Lilith all along said that you alone are going to be responsible for the continuation of the species. But when Warlow died, out went everybody’s ability to walk in the sun.
And these two answers that are more general but may be relevant to our Viking:
I know you’re not going to tell me who’s being paired up [vampire and human pairs], but have the writers started debating it? I imagine that’ll be fun to decide.
This is the first time that we’ve actually ever taken a break between the previous season and the next one. Usually we’re back in the writers’ room on the day of the wrap party. What happens then is that we haven’t really had a chance to digest the season and feel how the fans digest the season, and what went down well and what didn’t go down as easily. This time, we’re back in on Sept. 3, and I’m sure everyone’s gonna come full of ideas and there will be much debate about it. But the pairings are fun. If people are considering pairings, then they’ve got the right idea.
Is there anything else you want to say?
I want to allay everyone’s fears; at the same time, I want them to trust us. [Laughs] I promise people none of this has been done without forethought.
I’m happy to hear Eric will be back – but if whatever has happened to him makes it obvious he and Sookie have no future, I will probably become one of those people who just watches the Eric scenes on Youtube, at least until I see what happens. My emotional energy isn’t up to the drawn-out angst.
However, the knowledge that the writers are not going to reconvene until September 3 to start breaking the next season means there is time for Buckner to hear (and maybe even process?) fan feedback. I’m going to review the letter I wrote to Buckner last night and probably send it today.