True Blood Writer Angela Robinson: Tara is really dead.
After the season premiere of True Blood, which surprised fans by killing off Tara Thornton before the opening credits, fans took to the Interwebz to posit their theories about Tara’s true fate. Many insisted that she wasn’t really dead, since the moment happened off-screen. Many pointed to Pam’s apparent lack of reaction to her progeny’s death as evidence that Tara was still undead, possibly in hiding, possibly kidnapped by the Hep-V vamps. AfterEllen.com caught up with the writer of the episode, Angela Robinson, and asked her for clarification.
AE: So the first question is—and you can be honest because it’s just between you and me and the internet—is Tara really dead?
AR: She is really dead, yes. She had the true death.
AE: Well, I understand that choice and I’ve seen that—not to minimize it—but that trick of killing a character to change the dynamic and change the story but it seemed like everyone’s reactions to her death were sort of numbed out. Lafayette had this whole thing about “God, at this point I don’t have anything left to feel.” And the fact that it happened off-screen was also just confusing for people who were like, “Is she really dead?”
AR: I understand. Those were all choices we made collectively in the writers’ room because, tonally, the idea for this season was a little darker. Actually, we spent so much time on the values of “life matters” and Terry’s death in the last season, that we decided to play it so it was brutal and like from Sookie’s perspective, because she didn’t experience it. I thought a lot about people who are in war. Because the strange thing about writing for True Blood is it’s this fun show about vampires but you have to make it emotionally true, what the characters are going through. And they’re under attack ALL THE TIME and brutalized. And, in the context of this one really dark night, they all question what to do with your grief. So the characters talk about how they’re not able to feel any more; even Jason articulates, “Why are we going on with our lives?”
On this show, you have to look a lot of different ways at the same subject: death. The show is all about death. So I feel like in essence that was kind of the point, in that it was brutal and unsatisfying and abrupt. But that story is not finished. Inasmuch as we will address the fact that she wasn’t fully mourned later in the season. That’s part of the story. But I am a huge fan of the show and (laughing) I always hate it when writers do that, but it was one of the choices and it was intentional. I understand that people have feelings about it and if I were watching the show I would too. That’s not necessarily a bad thing from our point of view, but I might actually be really pissed off. But for the story of this season we felt it was appropriate.
And just informationally, we did shoot a scene where Pam reacted to Tara dying. She was in Morocco and weeping in a bathroom where she felt it. She was grieving for her. We did write that, but when it was all put together the scene felt weird and out of place because Pam was on the other side of the world, so it didn’t make it into the final cut.
AE: I hope that gets released on DVD because I would love to see that scene.
AR: It’s a brief scene, but there was a lot of discussion about how Pam would feel her death and react to it. Originally there was a scene where she reacted, so when she talks about “Everything I touch dies, everyone I love leaves,” in the draft of the episode she reacted to Tara dying in the bathroom and then later went and played Russian roulette. And the scene with the daughter where she goes and gets information about where Eric is was originally in episode two and was moved up to episode one so that we could accelerate her search storyline.
(Sentences in bold red are my emphasis.)
So I was correct that Pam’s “everything I touch dies” line was a reference to Tara, but the reason it was so subtle is because they had to cut an earlier scene with Pam grieving. I hope that scene ends up on the season 7 DVD as well.
Angela has a lot more to say about why they decided to kill Tara and the representation of gay relationships on the show, including an interesting tidbit Alan Ball told her about vampires as well as validation for those who thought they saw a flicker of something between Jessica and Adilyn. Read the full interview here.