True Blood: Season 5

If there’s anything like a holiday just for the gays, it’s the premiere of True Blood. Actually, there probably is a holiday just for the gays, but I don’t know it. Is that bad? I don’t feel bad. Should I feel bad?

Never mind. I’m here to talk about True Blood, which – contrary to popular belief – is (sometimes) more than just sexy times. True Blood is also something of a case study in diminishing returns. The first season was, by my reckoning, fantastic. There was one central plot, around which the other plots revolved. It was simple: a serial killer is loose in Bon Temps, killing women who have had congress with the beast. Sookie is targeted, and seeks refuge in Bill. Jason’s girlfriends keep dying, and he is targeted by the police. Sure, there was a lot of other stuff going on – Bill’s punishment (aka Jessica), Jason and Amy kidnapping a vampire, Tara getting exorcised, etc. But there was, in general, a really tight focus. There was some really strong music, and a number of truly moving scenes – Sookie eating pie after her gran’s funeral sticks out as the best moment of the entire series for me. I liked how Merlotte’s was a central hub for the cast. Most of the cast works there (Sam, Tara, Sookie, Amy, Arlene, Terry, Lafayette), or is involved with someone who works there (Bill, Jason, Rene), or is investigating a murder there (Andy, Bud). It gave a lot of opportunities for characters to interact organically, and check in on everyone in one fell swoop. Yes, it was cheesy at times, and the romance moved way too fast, but it was a very good season, a blood-drenched, sexy murder mystery soap opera.

Seasons two and three were still good, although less so. The second season split the cast and the action in half for most of the time. Sookie, Eric, Bill, and Jason (and sometimes Hoyt and Jessica) were in Dallas attempting to infiltrate a violent Christian military camp (I guess that’s how best to describe it?), while Tara, Sam, Lafayette, and Andy held the fort in Bon Temps, dealing with a supernatural sex cult. Michelle Forbes was great that season, and the increased screen time for Eric was an obvious plus.

Season three brought us Russell, the vampire King of Mississippi, who was a fantastic villain. He was campy and over the top to the extreme. But he was also delightfully evil, and brought a sense of fun back to the show after a year of depressing arcs. In general there was too much vampire politicking, and the cast began to feel a bit bloated. Sam had almost nothing to do, and Tara’s arc was so mind-numbingly soul-crushingly dark, that I hoped she would die the True Death sevenfold. Then all of a sudden there were werepanthers who were also in-bred meth heads? And somehow Jason was involved? But by and large the season was solid, and we got tons of Alcide (actor Joe Manganiello) who is by-and-large the hottest thing I have ever seen, and a fairly compelling character with actual, you know, morals. Plus the mystery of Sookie’s powers deepened, with the fairy revelation being both a bit of a let-down, and still pretty cool. I have no idea how that works. Don’t ask me.

Season four, however, was bad. While the jump in the future was interesting, and made it look as though the show might shake things up, it ultimately mattered very little. Sam found a shifter girlfriend who, while being very attractive, added little to the show. Eric got amnesia and finally got with Sookie, but he was so childlike it was kind of creepy instead of steamy. Bill was a jealous bitch, again. Tara was a lesbian? A really pissed off lesbian? Who had no reason at all to be on the show God I hate her why won’t she just die. And of course there was a really terrible scene where all the vampires put on black Matrix leather and walk in slow motion to blow up a building. It was… the worst thing. I mean it. It was terrible. Cliché. Cheesy. Bad. BUT THEY SHOT TARA IN THE FACE THANK GOD YES.

So, finally on to the premiere of Season 5. In general, I liked it. It set up all the plot threads for the season, and boy are there a lot of them. You’ve got Bill and Eric on the run, which would have been great on its own, but look! More vampire politics! Yay. I don’t know why the show continues to shove this in our faces, when it is exactly no one’s favorite thing. Oh and speaking of fan-hate, Tara’s alive! As a vampire. Even though she hates them. So, chances are we’ll get to see EVEN MORE of Tara being angry. Thank God for that! (*Inserts gun into mouth, cries, realizes there’s more to life than television, cries more, buys tickets for Magic Mike, smiles, moves on*) Let’s see, what else… Sam watched some werewolf cannibalism, so there’s that… Alcide is either going to have to step up as pack master, or get killed, which could actually be interesting considering his disdain for wolves as a whole. Plus he doesn’t know Sookie killed Debbie, yet. How will that affect their relationship? Will they HAVE a relationship, with Sam taken and Bill and Eric on the run? Will Sookie go for a man with a body temperature? Does she deserve one? What else… Jason is in love with Jessica and Hoyt is mad at him. And while I like Jessica and Hoyt (and Arlene and Terry and Andy) they all just work so much better as background characters. I don’t need to see all their plot lines every episode. Just check in on their ridiculous little side-quests every other episode or so, and devote more time to a central plot. Like, say, the resurrection of the strongest vampire “alive,” who has a serious axe to grind with all the main characters?

So, ultimately as I said, I liked the episode. I wish we could have had more than just set-up for everything, but I’m sure we’ll get something this week. I wish Tara could have died and stayed dead. I hope Reverend Newlin does more than just stalk Jason. I want to see how his church reacts to his turn, and how he reacts to that. I want to see a weird buddy-cop/fugitive movie with Bill and Eric. I want Lafayette to go back to being sassy and fabulous. I want Sam to do something interesting for once. But things were set up pretty nicely, and I’m intrigued enough to continue through the season. Plus, you know, naked hotties.

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