True Blood ended season 6 with a few surprises and some unanswered questions, but as the writers get ready to map out the path for the seventh (and final?) season, it seems clear that showrunner and executive producer Brian Buckner is looking to simplify things next season.

The evidence of that can be found in a new interview that Buckner has done, wherein he offers a glimpse into the types of stories that will be told next year and also reveals a little bit about fan-favorite Eric Northman’s future and the Hep-V afflicted vampires.

Warning: True Blood Spoilers Below!

One of the most discussed moments from the season 6 finale has to be Eric’s nude sunbathing scene – and not just for what he revealed. Here, Buckner discusses Eric’s role in season 7.

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.

So, Eric’s back, but why was he on that mountain in the first place and what about his full body roast? Buckner compares the mountain moment to a Corona commercial and that Eric wanted to escape to a metaphorical beach after Nora’s death. He also opens up about the consequences of Warlow’s death.

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. […]

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.

The Hep-V afflicted, so-called “zombie vampires” are clearly going to be a big part of season 7. Here, Buckner gives a little bit of insight into what they are, exactly.

They’re weaker and driven by a need to eat in a way that the vampires that we’ve come to know are not. They have to drink human blood in larger quantities and more frequently than before. And the other thing to clarify — honestly, it feels weird to have to clarify everything, which is essentially what next season’s job is [Laughs] — but they’re not going to be zombies. They’re far more organized and haven’t lost their mental capacity.

Here’s Buckner on his hopes for next season and the virtue of the human/vampire pairing concept that was introduced in the finale.

Here’s my sincere hope: that we get to see more of everybody we love, because everybody is under the banner of fewer stories. The story is “for every human a vampire, for every vampire a human,” and now that there’s a lesser need for separate plot and separate story development for every single character that we have, we’re actually going to get to spend more time with them. That’s my hope, that’s the motivation, and that’s where it’s all coming from.

Getting “more of everybody we love” and a less cluttered show that won’t be pulled in as many different directions sounds like a back to basics approach that could be a winner with fans, but it could also be the perfect note for this show to go out on.

The season 6 finale performed well enough, but the numbers showed almost a 20% drop in viewers as compared to the season 5 finale, and True Blood isn’t exactly the critical darling that it used to be.

Still, this show has a huge fanbase that deserves a fitting conclusion, and Buckner has said that, no matter if they return for an 8th season or not, they will have an answer when the writers re-group next week. Though he may keep that under his hat for a little while.

True Blood returns in the summer of 2014.

Source: EW, TV Line, TV Line