Review: True Blood (S5E1 — Turn! Turn! Turn!)

12 Jun

This post originally appeared at Through The Shattered Lens.

(Possible Spoilers Below)

Before I start my review of the premiere episode of the 5th season of True Blood, I should offer up a confession.  I’ve enjoyed watching True Blood for a while now.  I think Alexander Skarsgard is to die for, I think Anna Paquin’s an underrated actress, and I think that Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) are a cute couple.  I thought last season was brilliant and I thought that the finale especially was exciting and well-done.

That said, I’m hardly a True Blood expert and I’m not going to pretend that I am one.  Like a lot of this show’s fans, I wasn’t there when the show first started.  By the time I saw my first episode, True Blood was already into season 2 and I didn’t become a regular viewer until season 3.   Since then, I’ve worked to get caught up on show’s first seasons but I’m hardly an expert.  (Incidentally, I haven’t read the books either.)  I’m a fan and that’s the approach that I’ll be bringing to my reviews this season.

Anyway, tonight’s episode starts right where season 4 ended: Tara (Rutina Wesley) is bleeding to death on the floor of Sookie’s (Anna Paquin) kitchen, as the result of being shot in the face by Debbie who was then shot and killed by Sookie.  Lafayette (Nelson Ellis), who is still mourning his dead lover, comes downstairs and discovers the mess.  Suddenly, Pam (Kristen Bauer Von Straten, who is hilariously scornful of everyone and everything in this episode) shows up searching for Eric.  Lafayette asks Pam to turn Tara into a vampire.  Pam is, at first, reluctant until Sookie says she’ll “owe you one” in return.  I imagine that promise is something we’ll being hearing about a lot for the rest of this season.  By the end of the episode, it appears that Tara has returned as a vampire and I get the feeling that she might not be too happy about that.

Speaking of new vampires, the thoroughly creepy Rev. Newlin (Michael McMillan) is back, he’s now a vampire, and he’s’ apparently in love with Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten).  After he manages to trick Jason into letting him enter his house, Newlin explains: “I’m a gay vampire American…”  Newlin explains this while he just happens to have Jason tied to a chair.  The scene between Newlin and Jason were probably the most obviously politically-charged sequence in tonight’s episode, with Newlin seemingly standing in for such real-life homophobic bigots as Rev. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church.  Anyway, Newlin is chased off by Jessica who shows up to announce that “Jason is mine!”

So are Jessica and Jason back together all official-like now?  Not quite.  Jason later tracks Jessica down to an incredibly tacky frat party where Jessica explains to him that she just said that to scare off the Rev. Newlin.  The whole party sequence was actually my favorite part of this episode.  I loved the reminder that not everyone in Bon Temps is obsessed with the supernatural.  Some people just want to drink beer and sing karaoke.  Deborah Ann Woll, in particular, gave a good performance here and it was obvious that both she and the character she plays loved vamping it up.

But what about Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Bill (Stephen Moyer)?  When last we saw, they were killing Nan (Jessica Tuck) and getting told off by Sookie.  Tonight’s episode found Eric scrubbing away Nan’s remains while Bill called Jessica and told her that he would be going away for a few weeks.  They detect the danger at Sookie’s house but Eric coldly dismisses it with, “Fuck Sookie.”  Bill disagrees but even as they run out of the house, they are captured by the Authority.  Fortunately, Eric’s sister Nora (Lucy Griffiths) works for the Authority and she rescues both of them.  She and Eric then proceed to spend most of the rest of the episode having sex and uhmmm…Eric, that’s your sister.  Eric tells Bill, “We fight like siblings but we fuck like champions.”  Ewwwww. 

Now, it’s a testament to the charisma and body of Alexander Skarsgard that, even when committing very graphic incest, he’s still the hottest thing ever to show up on HBO. 

Anyway, Eric, Bill, and Nora meet up with some rebel vampires and are given false identities and appear to be on the verge of escaping when suddenly, the Authority’s goons show up and recapture them. I assume this is setting everything up for Chris Meloni to show up in the next episode.

But that’s not all that happened tonight!  One of the things that I love about True Blood is that it’s never shied away from offering up as many plot complications as possible per episode.  This is not a show that moves slowly and that was certainly true tonight.

It turns out that season 3’s main villain Russell (Denis O’Hare) isn’t dead and he’s not where he’s supposed to be.  Meanwhile, Scott Foley is wandering around town acting enigmatic, Andy (Chris Bauer) is still proving himself to be a dumbass in general, and apparently there’s some sort of power struggle developing with the werewolves.

A Few Random Observations:

  • I have to admit, I’ve never been that interested in the werewolves.  They’re just not as much fun as the vampires.  That’s one of the few things that True Blood has in common with the Twilight series.
  • Best line of the episode comes from Pam: “I’m wearing a Wal-Mart sweatsuit for you all.  If that’s not a demonstration of team spirit, I don’t know what is.”  My twitter timeline literally exploded with people reacting to that line.
  • My second favorite line was Alcide’s “It smells clean.  Like lemons on top of ammonia on top of bleach.”
  • If you’re like me and you mostly watch this show because you’re hoping for a chance to catch Alexander Skarsgard undressed, this episode did not disappoint.
  • This was a good episode for your Jessica lovers as well.  One of my favorite parts of tonight’s episode was when she dismissed the Rev. Newlin by explaining that she’s older than him.
  • Chris Bauer continues to play the most realistic lawman on television.
  • As much as I love Alexander Skarsgard, Stephen Morley had some great scenes tonight.  His facial expressions while watching Nora and Eric were priceless.
  • I felt bad for Sookie during her little flashback scene.
  • The return of True Blood means a return of my effots to get my sister to allow me to dye her hair “Pacquin blonde.”
  • I hope Nora’s around for the rest of the season.  Incest aside, she’s a great character and Lucy Griffiths gave a great performance tonight.
  • I was hoping that Russell would physically show up on tonight’s episode but I’m actually kind of glad that he didn’t.  With everything else that was going on tonight, I’m glad that I have something to look forward to in the future.
  • Another thing I’m looking forward to: Chris Meloni as Roman.  If anyone was born to play a vampire named Roman, it’s Chris Meloni.

So, over all, I think tonight’s episode was a good start for season 5 and I look forward to spending another 11 episodes in Bon Temps.

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