True Blood Season 7

Spoiler Alert: Do not read on if you have yet to see “True Blood’s” latest episode, “Fire in the Hole.”

The body count continues to rise on the final season of HBO’s “True Blood,” and Sunday’s episode saw another long-running character abruptly bite the dust (and, in typical “True Blood” fashion, while he was naked).

Joe Manganiello’s Alcide died doing what he did best — trying to save Sookie (Anna Paquin) — but at the end of the day, the werewolf proved to be another piece of collateral damage in the war between the humans and the vampires, shot by one of the gun-toting townsfolk just for being a supernatural creature. The knife was further twisted since, earlier in the episode, Sookie admitted to former paramour Bill (Stephen Moyer) that Alcide loved her more than she loved him.

As Manganiello told TV Guide, Alcide’s death was the only logical conclusion for his storyline: “When I read the script for the finale of last year, I called it. I put it down and I was like, ‘Oh, Alcide and Sookie are together? They’re going to kill me.’ Story-wise, you can’t have her break his heart because then the audience isn’t going to side with her. You have to get her to Bill and Eric because they have to tie up the A and B plot. If you’re looking at a show like this where they’re looking for characters to help the show be vital, meaning you can kill off main characters and all of a sudden anyone can be killed off at any time, there is no one else my character is connected to except for Sam.”

Variety spoke to Manganiello at “True Blood’s” final season premiere, and while the actor didn’t overtly spoil Alcide’s demise, he did speak generally about his exit from the series, including how he said farewell to the fan-favorite character: “To say goodbye, I actually went to New Orleans for the first time. It was a full moon on February 13 and I went down to the French Quarter and looked up at the moon and I had this nostalgic moment and said goodbye,” he reminisced.

The actor also recalled his last table read, which he described as “very surreal.”

“There was a moment where I was talking to everyone, kind of moving from conversation to conversation to conversation, and then one conversation ended and another one didn’t pick up. I wound up having this moment that felt like I was in a bubble, and it lasted for a good solid three or four minutes while everyone was talking around me, and I just looked around in my own private bubble of silence at the fact that this was it, this was the last time I was going to see these people at this table. It was sad,” Manganiello said.

As for what he’ll miss most about Alcide, Manganiello didn’t have to pause to think before answering: “His heart — playing a character that’s this savage monster but also has this huge heart, it’s such a winning combination. To me, it makes complete sense that that was the right role for me at the right time that people responded to. How could you not respond to that blend of character traits?”

While the Pittsburgh native warned that the final season would feature “a Shakespearean pile of bodies” (the show already killed Rutina Wesley’s Tara in the cold open of the season premiere) his exit from the HBO drama hasn’t slowed him down. In addition to recently premiering his directorial debut, a documentary called “La Bare,” Manganiello will soon return to his home city to direct a comedy from “How I Met Your Mother” writer-producer Gloria Calderon Kellett. “She’s writing this fantastic script for me to take back to Pittsburgh and direct,” he told Variety while promoting “La Bare.” “She writes comedy with a lot of heart, so it’ll be something along those lines. It’s for me to act in as well. I have plans to direct forever.”

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