As the song (and the corresponding Bible verse) goes, “To everything there is a season (turn, turn, turn). And a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, a time to die. A time to plant, a time to reap. A time to kill, a time to heal. A time to laugh, a time to weep.” It’s a fitting song for True Blood to use as the title for its fifth season premiere, since there’s always plenty of time for dying, killing, healing, laughing, and weeping on this show. And this episode even featured some planting and reaping … if you count planting corpses and reaping newly born vampires, that is. Throw in another verse about “a time to bang,” and you’ve pretty much summed up the entire show.
Where to begin? Oh, I know: I MISSED THIS SHOW SO MUCH YOU GUYS. True Blood is like the Long Island iced tea of television shows. It’s got a little bit of everything; it’s deceptively good; and when it’s done with you, you’ll be facedown on the sidewalk wondering what happened to your pants. Speaking of missing pants, I counted at least five pants-less men in this episode, which is actually about average for this show, but still—way to come back with a bang, True Blood!
This probably goes without saying, but a lot of stuff went down in this episode. Let’s start with the fact that Tara became a vampire, because, you know, “a time to be born” and all, and Tara was certainly reborn. I don’t know why, but that possibility totally didn’t occur to me, so I was actually surprised when Sookie and Lafayette asked Pam to turn Tara. Pam was (as usual) one of my favorite parts of the episode. When we left off last season, she was distraught because Eric had shunned her after she sort of tried to indirectly blow up Sookie. After making Sookie promise to help try to mend her relationship with Eric—plus another favor to be cashed in later (yeah, ‘cause that’s not going to come back to haunt Sookie in the future…) Pam agreed to turn Tara. This led to one of the best lines of the episode from Pam: “I am wearing a Wal-Mart sweat suit for ya’ll. If that’s not a demonstration of team spirit, I don’t know what is.” When Sookie and Lafayette dug them up the next night, at first it seemed like it hadn’t worked, but then in the final seconds we saw Tara pop out of the grave at warp speed and loom over Sookie as she screamed for Lafayette. Dun dun dun! Is it bad that I don’t really care about Tara’s transformation? I mean, I like her character, but I’m not really interested in watching another self-loathing vampire journey of personal acceptance. I’m hoping Tara will either be evil (which would be kind of a drag for Sookie and Lafayette), or she’ll be like Jessica and learn to appreciate her chance at a fresh start, free from the shackles of her old life.
Another vampire who seems to be learning to embrace his new lease on life is Steve Newlin, former member of the Fellowship of the Sun. He paid a visit to his ex-protégé Jason, tied him to a chair (by now, Jason is as used to being tied up as Sookie is to scrubbing blood off the kitchen floor), and proceeded to tell Jason that he was in love with him. He said he thought that part of the reason he acted “all murderous and whatnot” was because he was wrestling with his true feelings, which he was now finally able to accept. He even managed to say it out loud: “I’m a gay vampire American.” I didn’t really think it was possible, but I actually liked Steve in that moment. I also really appreciated Jason’s response, which was to compliment Steve on the nicest “I love you” he’d ever gotten. But he unfortunately did not reciprocate Steve’s feelings. Steve didn’t exactly take Jason’s rejection well, but before he could do anything drastic, Jessica stepped in to claim Jason as “hers” and to scare off Steve from messing with Jason. Basically Jessica just stopped by to show how much of a badass she is, and then she went back to ignoring Jason again. At least until he crashed her college party.
Jason is a character that always manages to surprise me. I tend to write him off as the dumb pretty boy who has terrible taste in women, but every once in a while he has a moment where I’m kind of floored by him. Like when he selflessly took on the role of caretaker of HotShot (you know, before they turned on him and sexually assaulted him). This week I was struck by Jason’s impressive self-awareness after he left Jessica’s party with one of the sorority girls. He explained that he wasn’t going to sleep with her because he would just end up never calling her anyway. She seemed disappointed but grateful for his honesty, and she commented that he didn’t strike her as an asshole. He responded, “I don’t want to be.” And I have to say, Ryan Kwanten played this scene perfectly, because that one line said so much about Jason’s character. He’s this huge screw-up, but he genuinely doesn’t want to be. And as long as Jason wants to change, there’s hope for him. Hooray for personal growth!
Another thing that took me by surprise in this episode was the incredible bromantic chemistry between Bill and Eric. They bonded over their mutual heartbreak while on the run from the Authority after killing Nan and her crew. Honestly, when Nora told Eric and Bill that they could never come back to Louisiana, at first I was worried that Bill and Eric would really leave Bon Temps for the season. But then I thought, you know what? If Bill and Eric rode off into the sunset (minus the sun) together, leaving their old lives behind, that would actually make a pretty great spin-off—or at least a fun subplot for Season Five. Their relationship really did a 180 in the last two episodes. They went from trying to kill each other to keeping each other alive within the span of, like, 24 hours (or something like that…time really has no meaning on this show). I guess nothing fosters male bonding like being dumped by the same woman and then being locked in the trunk of a car together.
The moment it really hit me that Bill and Eric might be my new favorite couple on this show was when, after the car exploded and Bill was (of course) lying pathetically on the ground, Eric told him, “I’m not leaving you here,” even when Bill told him to run and save himself. I was so taken aback by that scene. I was like, “Is this Band of Brothers? What is happening?” I couldn’t help but feel some feelings for Bill that weren’t rooted in disdain. (Shocking, right?) Leave it to Eric to make even the most dull and irritating character seem almost likable. Eric even makes incest seem cool. I loved his and Nora’s slow-mo makeout session in front of the burning car. But my absolute favorite part of the episode was when Bill was sexiled from the metal storage unit they were hiding out in so that Eric and Nora could…reconnect. Seriously, that was like a scene from Two and a Half Men, but actually good and with way more nudity.
Meanwhile, Sam was having way less fun with his pants off as he was being tortured by the Shreveport wolf pack, who thought he had killed Marcus. Sam refused to tell them that it was actually Alcide who had killed their pack master, because he owed Alcide his life and wasn’t about to sell him out. Sam was all set to be the dutiful martyr when Alcide showed up just in time to be a total badass and take credit for killing Marcus. I laughed out loud when one of the pack members told Alcide he would never bow down to him, and Alcide was just like, “I’m cool either way.” Alcide is basically the embodiment of “IDGAF,” and I love it. He does, however, care about Sookie, especially now that Russell is MIA. I kind of wish Sookie had just told him about killing Debbie when he came to ask her to stay with him. It must be really frustrating for him to be trying to save Sookie’s life all the time and get her out of all her vampire-induced supernatural catastrophes when she just refuses to get out of harm’s way. Of course, it would be super awkward to be living with Alcide after she shot his crazy skank ex-girlfriend. And she also shot down his half-hearted proposition that they should be together. But hey, they’ve overcome way worse.
A few other stray observations before this review turns into a novella: Lafayette broke my heart with his mourning for Jesus, which included the very apt shaving of his fabulous hair. I’m officially concerned about Terry and his past coming back to haunt him. Haven’t he and Arlene been through enough? How hilarious would it have been if Eric spent the rest of the season as “Ike Applebaum”? Am I the only one who thought Nora (Lucy Griffiths) looks and sounds exactly like Rachel Weisz? Will this be a season of healing, like the song says? I’m guessing not, since there’s never enough time on this show when things aren’t hitting the fan for people to actually stop and heal. But if they can hang in there long enough, maybe someday they’ll get to that “time for peace” that the Byrds were singing about in their final verse.
Photo Courtesy of HBO