Warning: Bloody spoilers ahead. If you haven't yet watched the Sunday, June 22 episode of True Blood, "Jesus Gonna Be Here," and don't want to know what went down, stop reading now.
This was no Game of Thrones death! Unlike fellow HBO series GoT (which always waits until the last few seconds of an episode to kill folks off), the seventh and final season premiere of True Blood wasted absolutely no time in dispatching with of enduring characters.
The action began precisely where season six's finale left off, during a vampire-human mixer held at Bellefleur's Restaurant (formerly Merlotte's) gone terribly, terribly wrong. The crisis: Thanks to a vampire-eugenics plot unhatched last season by the now-deceased governor of Louisiana, a huge swathe of the world's vampire population is infected with Hepatitis V, a deadly virus that has mutated to render its victims into extra-bloodthirsty, dangerous hordes. This has led to a worldwide "Armegeddon-like" (to quote Jason Stackhouse) scenario, and the benevolent, uninfected vamps of Bon Temps have offered their protection for their human neighbors in exchange for some non-lethal feeding. (Newly crowned mayor Sam Merlotte, with the blessing of the local clergy and Sheriff Andy Bellefleur, organized the event.)
During said mixer—in which Bon Temps' humans and vamps mingle to help foster compatible partnerships—the party is suddenly besieged by a swarm of "Hep Vs." In a harrowing sequence that reminded Us of the Walking Dead in its sheer goriness, humans and vamps alike were gutted, kidnapped and injured. While characters like Arlene, Holly and Sam's pregnant girlfriend Nicole have been kidnapped, one character doesn't make it out of the melee alive: Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley). A vampire now for several seasons, Sookie Stackhouse's best friend touchingly made amends with her complicated mother, Lettie Mae, moments earlier, and fought to defend her mom from a rabid Hep V. Before the opening credits even rolled, Tara was staked and dead, her guts all over her grieving mom. "They killed her, my baby girl," Lettie Mae (Adina Porter) says, shocked. As the rest of the episode plays out, Sookie (Anna Paquin) quietly grieves her, while cousin Lafayette admits he "grieved her already" and feels more "relief" than anything.
"I've loved my journey on this show, so I have no regrets," actress Wesley told Vulture. "It's like, 'Okay, cool! Let's do it!' And I got this amazing kick-ass fight. I love that she went out winning, and then you cut to the scene where you just see Lettie Mae, and you realize I lost the fight. "
Wesley said that the table read for her final scene was an emotional one. "It was really sad. I remember crying . . . I loved working with Adina [Porter]. She always brought out the best in me, and just hearing how she connected to the scene, I was crying. Everybody was crying. Kristin [Bauer] was crying."
The actress added coyly: "I think Tara's death is going to be the catalyst for the rest of the season. I can't say more than that!"