HBO’s TRUE BLOOD begins its fifth season last night. The episode, entitled “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” brings many changes to Bon Temps, even though it picks up the very same evening that last season left off. This is a true serial, one that unfolds episode by episode, and no plot is ever truly resolved.
Perhaps the most shocking thing to occur in last year’s finale is the death of Tara (Rutina Wesley). Best friend of Sookie (Anna Paquin), and central character from the beginning, no one really expects Tara to be dead. Which may be why the writers let Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) show up immediately after Tara is shot. Sookie and Tara’s cousin, Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), beg Pam to turn Tara into a vampire, thereby keeping her around. Pam grudgingly agrees to try, for a price. Which gives fans a great scene of Pam in a cheap sweat suit, a very funny sight!
What are the rules of turning someone into a vampire, as they apply to TRUE BLOOD? Can it really be done after half of a person’s head is blown off? Tara is in bad shape, definitely already dead, before Pam comes into the room. Yet, the vampire acknowledges that, while difficult, there is a chance turning her will still work. It seems like quite a stretch, done just because no one wants to part with a popular character. Story and drama are being sacrificed for job retention, and while no one wants Tara gone, it’s a shame that it’s being done this way.
Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) just can’t resist their hero complex where Sookie is concerned. Even though she rejects them both, they start when they hear she is in trouble. Perhaps their reactions are a bit delayed because of recent events, but they still will go to her aide. It’s a little pathetic, as Pam is quick to point out, two powerful creatures hung up on a girl that won’t be with either of them. Yet, it is still romantic and world-affirming that they react when Sookie is in trouble. The show would not be the same without this element.
Too bad neither vamp gets the change to follow through on this instinct, quickly being captured by the Vampire Authority. Much has been hinted at or alluded to about the organization over the years, but only a couple of representatives have been shown in TRUE BLOOD. It looks like season five will change all that. Bill and Eric are about to be drawn into some type of civil war, which has the good fortune to not only provide an interesting, high stakes story, but keep them from pining away over a certain waitress too much.
Eric’s “sister,” Nora (Lucy Griffiths, Robin Hood), is introduced as a member of the authority who is loyal to Eric, probably because of all the great sex that they have. Setting aside how creepy it is that they refer to each other as siblings during intercourse (although they do not share parents, only a maker), Nora is viewers’ window into this new plot. In that, she works very well, and giving her back story with a lead quickly endears her.
However, it is a little strange that the authorities that show up at the end of “Turn! Turn! Turn!” quickly slaughter every other vampire except her. Leaving Bill and Eric alive makes sense, as they have always been power players, and likely have some skin in the game. But what is Nora’s significance? Why is she not given the true death along with her compatriots? This episode only makes us want to learn more about her.
We get no glimpses of the new big bad, Roman (Christopher Meloni, Law & Order: SVU), or returning villain Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) this week, unfortunately, although it is confirmed that the latter has escaped his concrete prison. How will Russell figure into this vampire struggle? Is he on the side of the authority, like Roman, or might Eric and Bill have to team up with their former foe? O’Hare plays a gripping, delicious character, and anticipation is high for his return.
Speaking of vampire returns, Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) isn’t exactly what one might expect. He makes his way to Bon Temps because he is in love with Jason (Ryan Kwanten)! Interestingly, Steve only glams Jason to get into the house and talk to him, not to use sexually. Might this have changed if Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) hadn’t shown up to protect her sex toy? This is the beginnings of what could be the funniest love triangle on television! But one that could also turn very dark and dangerous very fast.
Meanwhile, Sam (Sam Trammell) is just as heroic as the vamps ever are, willing to sacrifice himself to the werewolves to protect Luna (Janina Gavankar) and her daughter. It’s noble that Sam won’t betray Alcide (Joe Manganiello), who has been a friend. But this means that Sam gets badly beaten. Thankfully, Luna does the right thing and informs Alcide of the situation, allowing him to step up and take the blame. This clears Sam from further injury, but what will it mean for Alcide?
It seems that Arlene (Carrie Preston) doesn’t have a demon baby after all! This is little relief, though, since that means there is something else afoot. Terry (Todd Lowe), who has always been a bit of an enigma, his past told only in broad strokes, has a very dark secret. He reacts much more angrily towards Patrick (Scott Foley) than we have ever seen him. Which could mean a couple of wonderful supporting characters might finally get a big story this year on TRUE BLOOD, definitely something to look forward to!
“Turn! Turn! Turn!” has plenty to show fans what they have been missing for nearly a year. TRUE BLOOD remains a terrific series, far better than the pulp fiction it is based on, with a wealth of complex characters and plots. With things kicking off in high gear, and an oddly chosen final song, timed perfectly for comedic effect, this not-quite-campy action show is back to doing what it does best! Tune in Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.