This weekend, HBO’s once super-hot vampire drama ‘True Blood’ started its seventh and reportedly final season. It’s no secret to fans that the show has been on the wane for a few years already. With an end game in sight, has the series bounced back with a creative rebound?
It’s too soon to say.
The premiere episode, ‘Jesus Gonna Be Here’, picks up right where last season’s finale left off. In a vaguely apocalyptic plot twist, the Hepatitis V virus infected a significant portion of the world’s vampire population, leaving roaming bands of sick vamps to wander from town to town, attacking humans and spreading their disease to other vampires. The state and federal governments have fallen into disarray. In a limp cliffhanger, a horde of “Hep Vamps” descended on Bon Temps, where new mayor Sam Merlotte had gathered together most of the town for a mixer event.
The attack on the mixer is violent and bloody, but staged very confusingly by star and episode director Stephen Moyer. After leaving a great deal of carnage, the vamps are mysteriously called off by a whistle in the distance. Who is leading them? A group of townspeople, including Holly and Arlene, are kidnapped. After about 30 seconds on screen and two lines of dialogue, Tara is killed.
At least, that’s what Tara’s mother says. We never actually see Tara die, which leads me to suspect that something else is going on. If she really is dead, this is a rather inglorious and disappointing exit for one of the show’s major characters.
Bill and Andy spend most of the episode searching for those who were kidnapped. (We later learn that they’re being held at Fangtasia in Shreveport.) Most of the town blame Sookie for attracting so many vampires to Bon Temps, and Sookie responds in kind by being a total bitch to everyone (including werewolf boyfriend Alcide, for no reason at all), because that’s what she does.
A rival politician named Vince spots Sam morphing from dog to human form. Sam begs him not to tell anyone, because it would just confuse the town’s already frightened population. Vince agrees, but goes vigilante and tries to search for the missing townsfolk himself. This is not a good idea. It looks like he’ll be a troublemaker for much of the season.
In the episode’s best storyline, Jessica takes it upon herself to protect the Bellefleur house – specifically Andy’s daughter Adilyn cowering inside. As you may recall, Jessica had killed all of Andy’s other daughters and left Adilyn near death after being overwhelmed by hunger for their fairy blood. She’s felt terribly guilty about that ever since. While Adilyn has forgiven her, Jess still doesn’t trust herself around the girl and instructs Adilyn not to invite her in. However, when a standoff with a sick vampire leads to dawn, Adilyn invites her in anyway to protect her from the daylight. Jess has a moment where she almost can’t control herself, but ultimately flees to the attic before she does anything she’ll regret.
Separated from all these events, we find Pam in Morocco on the trail of Eric, last seen bursting into flames on a mountaintop in Sweden. I take it that he survived, though that isn’t confirmed here.
‘True Blood’ is notorious for its weak premiere and finale episodes. While this one may not strike me as anything special, it’s solid enough overall, though I’m not entirely sold on the post-apocalypse setting. The episode has several worthwhile character moments. (The bit where Jason’s vampire girlfriend Violet finally lets him have sex with her is hilarious.)
I’ve stuck with the show this long. I’m not about to give up on it so close to the end.