The good news: ‘True Blood’ is back! This was once a great show! The bad news: The series is clearly past its prime, and last year’s fourth season was a huge mess. Also, the show has a history of terrible premiere and finale episodes. The encouraging news: This past Sunday’s fifth season premiere almost shockingly wasn’t terrible. Honest. That’s got to be a good sign that things are ready to bounce back, right? Right?
That’s not to say that ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ (in case you hadn’t noticed, all ‘True Blood’ episodes are named after whatever song plays during the end credits) is a great premiere. The show still has very frustrating structural problems, and the writers still haven’t figured out that premieres and finales are supposed to carry some measure of weight or import. This one picks up right where we last left off, and could just as easily be placed anywhere in the middle of a season. Still, there’s no fairy bullshit yet, which is already a huge improvement.
A lot happens in the episode. I’m not going to cover every plot point, but here are some of the highlights (not necessarily listed in order):
Tara is dead. Sort of. Debbie blew her brains out with a shotgun in last season’s finale. As Sookie and Lafayette cry and wail over this, Pam happens to stop by looking for Eric. Lafayette and Sookie beg her to turn Tara into a vampire, hoping that will bring her back. This seems wildly out of character for the both of them, especially since they know how much Tara hated vampires. They’ve both experienced enough death by now that they ought to let her rest in peace.
Pam agrees only on the condition that Sookie will owe her a favor, yet to be determined. (By the way, apparently Pam’s “rotting corpse” curse expired when Marnie died. She’s fine now.) The bit where Pam has to wear an ugly yellow track suit to get buried with Tara is pretty hilarious. Long story short: The episode ends with Tara reviving from the dead, but her brain damage has left her a feral, mindless animal. Welcome back, girlfriend…
While trying to clean up after killing Nan Flanagan, Bill and Eric are captured by agents from the Authority. They escape with the help of a girl named Nora, whom Eric introduces as his sister and then proceeds to have very energetic sex with. “We fight like siblings, but we fuck like champions,” Eric declares. (I take it that Nora is his “sister” only in the sense that both were turned into vampires by Godric.) He also explains that she’s a Chancellor within the Authority (apparently an important position), but has been acting as a mole the whole time. This seems like the set-up for an interesting storyline, except that all three of them just get captured by Authority agents again at the end.
Reverend Newlin is back, and as he explains, “I’m a gay Vampire American!” He’s also decided that he’s in love with Jason. Jason of course is still in love with Jessica, and gets all sad and mopey when she basically ignores him to party with some college kids. (Oh, Bill left Jessica the keys to the mansion before he went on the run, and she seems to think that makes her the acting Queen now.)
Marcus’ wolf pack comes after Sam for killing their leader. Even though he didn’t actually do it (and could easily escape by shifting into a bird), Sam agrees to be captured and tortured rather than rat out Alcide or put Luna and her daughter in danger. Alcide eventually comes to the rescue and confesses that he killed Marcus. Some members of the pack bow down to him as their new leader, but Marcus’ mother Martha (Dale Dickey, the daytime hooker from ‘My Name Is Earl’) refuses to cede command. She also wolfs out and eats her son’s corpse, which is pretty gross.
Jesus’ body has gone missing. Between this and Tara’s death, Lafayette has a breakdown and shaves his ridiculous mohawk off, but seems to pull himself back together at the end.
Terry is put badly on edge due to the arrival of his Marine Corps. buddy Patrick (Scott Foley). As well he should be, since it seems that the burning down of his house may be tied to the arson deaths of other members of their squad. Apparently, they all did something bad in Iraq that’s coming back to haunt them.
Alcide tells Sookie that Russell Edgington is on the loose. (We don’t get to see him this episode.) She refuses to run away with him.
Other little details happen here and there (Hoyt behaves like an immature prick to Jason over the Jessica situation), but those are the major storylines. Again, I don’t think that this is particularly one of the show’s best episodes, but it’s a solid enough start to the season. I’m trying to remain optimistic and hold out hope that the show can return to form. The impending return of Russell Edgington and introduction of Christopher Meloni as leader of the Authority hold great promise.