True Blood Writer Angela Robinson: Tara is really dead.

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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.

Fan of the Southern Vampire Mysteries since 2001, and co-admin of True-Blood.net since 2008. Team Sookie!

9 Comments

  1. Hazel

    July 3, 2014 at 9:55 am

    thank you for posting this interview. NOOOOO I was on the side of the people saying that Tara couldn’t possibly have met the true death as there was no reaction from Pam. After reading this, it makes much more sense about Pam playing the russian roulette game. I really hope they give the fans a chance to say a proper goodbye to Tara later this season. thank you

  2. Gail

    July 3, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Tara was wonderful. I really enjoyed watching our sassy, fearless Tara deal with all that life tossed her way. I am so sorry she is gone, but glad we had her for as long as we did.

  3. Liz

    July 4, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Angela described Tara’s death the same way Mel and I and reader Rina did, almost verbatim. Mel and I also figured that they would revisit this death later in the season, and we talked about it in our podcast. I”m so glad that this show is written by people who really are fans just like us. 😀

  4. PassingBy

    July 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    To be honest, I don’t understand why they wait till this season to start feeling that way about death. To me it just seems like an excuse to justify such a decision on how they did Tara. Killing her just to bring her back and kill her again just seems…off. Especially how her death was played out and the reactions behind it. I understand everyone have alot on their plate this season, but still. Even if they do revisit it later, it just feels off. Her death didn’t even feel dark and brutal it just felt like nothing. Nothing at all and Tara was one of my favorite characters and I absolutely felt nothing with her death other than confused and pissed. So I don’t see where she say they were trying to do with it. And I really don’t get how Pam’s reaction would have been out of place when they kept the sex scene with Violet and Jason intact. Alot of things felt out of place but something so important gets left out all because it doesn’t fit and some just want to believe that Tara may still be alive because of it. To me all these words just feels like an excuse.

    -sighs- But I watched it this far might as well see it to the end.

    A little part of me wants to believe maybe they saying all of this to cover up things, but I don’t know. Sad thing is I didn’t expect no different. I had a feeling it was true despite my husband saying he don’t think she died. -shakes head-

    Well, whatever helps everyone sleep at night. Rutina is a beautiful actress and I wish her all the best as well as the rest of the True Blood cast.

    • Mel

      July 6, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      I don’t think they waited until this season to use a character death to make a major impact/move a story along. See: Gran, Jesus, Terry. As Angela Robinson says in the full interview, writers have to make this choice on countless shows.

    • Liz

      July 6, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      You don’t know yet how they are going to deal with Tara’s death. You may be surprised, and then you may rethink your comments. 😉

    • Vicki Skey

      July 7, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      I totally agree with PassingBy. Tara was my absolute favorite character and to kill her so quickly and abruptly that – well – I didn’t realize she was dead until her “momma” said it! Wow. And considering how key she was and how much she contributed to the show the fact that no one.. NO ONE.. seemed to give a rat’s ass she was gone was both shocking and upsetting. I almost didn’t want to watch the rest of the season! In fact the only reason I did is because I kept hoping it wasn’t true. It feels like they are killing characters off randomly without any thought or sensitivity to their viewers. As though they are just wrapping this up as quickly as possible because they’ve already moved on. Shame!

      • Mel

        July 7, 2014 at 3:59 pm

        “NO ONE seemed to give a rat’s ass she was gone”? Not Sookie who cried while talking to Alcide afterward? Not Lala who had to get high to deal with his grief?Not Jessica who cried when Andy told her? Not Pam who felt it immediately and cried while talking to Eric later? NO ONE?

        • TeaAna

          July 7, 2014 at 7:46 pm

          I hope what Liz says is right and they give Tara’s death more attention in a future episode. I wasn’t a huge fan of Tara’s character but even I felt like she got the shaft. I believe you, Mel, that those responses happened but I don’t remember it. Maybe it was because the episode was so busy with other things that everyone’s grieving moment got meshed in with the “overall tragedy” of that night.

          …So maybe it is good that they visit her death later (and not on the night when MANY humans/vamps died or were captured) so she can get the complete focus for a bit.