‘True Blood’ Comic-Con Panel: Five Things We Learned

Some impromptu stripping and talk of Bill and Eric's bromance steam up San Diego.

Sex, shifters, Sanguinistas, fairy magic, vampire resurrections — these words strung together in any other fashion would be odd, but not in reference to HBO’s steamy soap “True Blood” during a highly entertaining panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday.

There were surprise mock-stripping demonstrations, handstands and standing ovations, and in the midst of the unexpected mayhem, the cast of “True Blood” delighted fans with some delicious teasery for the second half of the season. Here are the five things we learned:

The Good-Time Trailer
Similar to how the “Game of Thrones” panel kicked off Friday, HBO rolled out a masterfully crafted teaser trailer full of sneak peeks at what is yet to happen on season five. The clips were short and sweet, but we got glimpses of Sookie being healed or held down by a group of fairies; Bill possibly saying goodbye to Sookie for good; Eric and Bill dealing with Roman’s (Chris Meloni) too-strict rule and ideology of the Authority; Terri worried for Arlene’s life; Lafayette helping Terri and Arlene get in touch with the ghost-like thing that’s haunting him; Tara taking her vampiness to new levels with a stripper routine at Fangtasia; and Russell Edgington back in action, fully formed, in a very public way preaching his vampire-take-all mentality.

Cast Will Strip for Tips
There was no hiding the unbridled enthusiasm fans have for Joe Manganiello, because, A) he is a fan favorite as werewolf Alcide Herveaux and B) was featured as part of the male stripper movie “Magic Mike.” When moderator Tim Stack asked Manganiello if he gave any stripping advice to Rutina Wesley for her Fangtasia dancing, his co-stars wasted no time in making a joke about asking him to “take it off,” which led to Manganiello fake stripping and doing a couple body rolls. Wesley demonstrated that she learned a few tips from him with her own body rolls, which was followed by creator/executive producer Alan Ball standing on his chair and doing a couple body rolls himself. Manganiello rewarded Ball by tossing him a few dollar bills. Incredibly enough, the sexy moves didn’t stop there; Meloni did a little shimmy from the podium and Ryan Kwanten topped it all off by walking on his hands after being playfully prodded to do so by his co-stars.

Bromance Trumps Romance
Continuing with the love fest, Alexander Skarsgård and Stephen Moyer happily played up their characters’ bromance and their real-life friendship for the very supportive crowd with some playful banter. “You look dashing today,” Skarsgård said to Moyer. “You look great in black,” Moyer countered with a sly smile. The two actors admitted they have been enjoying their onscreen time together a little too much, in that Alan Ball had to call them into his office to try and get them to focus a bit more on set. “We’ve been struggling this season because we had too much fun together,” Moyer said with a laugh. “Going to see Alan was like a going-in-to-see-the-principal moment.” On-set antics or not, fans will be getting plenty more of the Bill and Eric bromance.

Exploring the Stackhouse Family Tree
We’ve long thought that Sookie and Jason’s parents died tragically in a car accident when their children were very young. This season’s events have turned that initial theory/explanation on its head thanks to cousin Hadley telling Jason that vampires were the cause of his parents’ death, not a car accident. Ball admitted that we’ll be learning a lot more about ma and pa Stackhouse, via a possible combo of dream sequences and flashbacks (this should be good news for those who hope to see more of Ryan Kwanten in his He-Man onesie).

Sex Play
Naturally, the subject of S-E-X came up during the very lively panel, but in contrast to discussions had on panels in previous years, the issue addressed was the considerable lack of sex between characters. Ball and the castmembers promised that the sex-scene ante will be upped considerably in the next few episodes. “I sexually eviscerate another castmember in an episode,” Manganiello revealed. “It’s me,” Skarsgård joked. Ball wouldn’t divulge any specifics, only that there will be something for everyone. “All tastes will be satisfied,” Ball said, before adding that three new romances will blossom — the real relationship kind, not the friends with benefits or sex-only kind. Bonus moment: The entire crowd and cast gave Alan Ball a standing ovation as a kind of goodbye/send-off, since the fifth season will be Ball’s last on the show.

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