How to Fix True Blood in Season Four

True Blood‘s producers had been raising the stakes all season, packing each episode with shocking revelations, brutal gore-fests, and sex scenes that treaded the line between steamy and creepy. We came into last night’s finale wondering whether we’d see both Eric Northman and Russell Edgington, the vicious vampire king of Mississippi, go up in smoke. And while we did get the answer to that question, we were far more confused and ambivalent after the credits rolled than before it. That’s why we felt compelled to share our five-point plan for making sure one of our favorite shows keeps our attention next season.

Bring supporting characters back into the main plot line. Ryan Kwanten is one of our favorite actors on True Blood. We loved Jason in season two, falling for a fundamentalist Christian anti-vampire sect and then seeing the light and turning against them. While he spent a lot of time off on his own adventures, his path and the Sookie/Bill/Eric story line eventually converged in a satisfying way. In this season, he was entirely wrapped up in the quest to become a cop (along with the totally one-note Andy Bellefleur) and find happiness with Crystal, the unfortunately named (and also kind of one-note) were-panther scion of an inbred, backwoods methamphetamine empire. He barely shared any screen time with any of the other main characters, and it was hard to care about any of the new characters that were introduced. The Sam and Arlene side plots were equally shrug-worthy.

Stop martyring Tara. We get it. Tara’s had a rough life. Her mom was a drunk; now she’s no better off as a born-again Christian. But it seems that Tara’s entire point on the show, since season one, has been to serve as a punching bag. She’s been the victim of a snake-oil exorcist, gone to jail, been taken in by an evil maenad, had her one true love murdered, been kept hostage by a deranged vampire… Enough. This character can’t develop if she’s stuck in a Prometheus-esque feedback loop.

Drop the demon-baby story. Somehow, we are tired of this particular Arlene twist already. We see the blatant foreshadowing, the bloody non-miscarriage, Lafayette’s vision of Arlene with a menacing Rene hovering over her… But honestly, the whole Rene-as-serial-killer thing always seemed like a fairly random sideshow, and Arlene has been so nuts for the last few seasons that we’re finding it harder and harder to care about her character.

More Queen of Louisiana, Lafayette. This one is just obvious. We love Evan Rachel Wood’s decadent, corrupt Queen Sophie-Anne and her complicated relationship with Bill and Eric. We always knew she was more than just a pawn in Russell Edgington’s game. A major part of this season’s cliffhanger is the duel Bill has lured her into. Let’s hope its ending isn’t too abrupt or decisive, because we’re hoping to learn more about this potentially rich, infinitely charming character in season four. As for Lafayette, as far as we’re concerned, he’s always been the most interesting character on the show. We like his relationship with Jésus, and we’re hoping their supernatural romance will be relegated to more than acid-trippy five-minute diversions next year.

Stop. Introducing. New. Creatures. Let’s see. In season three, we’ve met werewolves and witches and shamans and demon fetuses. We were supposed to believe in the existence of something called a freaking were-panther. And Sookie, to no one’s surprise and everyone’s dismay, is a fairy. All right. Fine. But can this be it, please? New species and the shocking revelation thereof do not a plot line make.