Well, after some pondering, I have decided to actually attempt to review this season of True Blood. Much like the second season of The Walking Dead, the fourth season of True Blood was a bit of a disaster (though it had none of the glorious highs of season 2 of TWD to make up for its low moments). The main villain, Marnie (The Butcher Boy‘s Fiona Shaw), was the worst in series history and the show abandoned much of the humor and fun that had made True Blood such a guilty pleasure delight the previous three seasons and instead decided to focus on a love triangle that while interesting the source material books, threatened to derail the entire program into a more generic and bland soap opera. Similarly, the show accumulated show many competing storylines that it became impossible for the show to devote any real time to any of them, and at the end of the day, none of them were particularly interesting except for those involving Sam and Jessica. I was ready to give up on the series until the finale which seemingly (though apparently not god damnit) killed off my least favorite character (Rutina Wesley’s Tara) and resurrected my favorite character, Russell Edginton. It’s to be seen if the latter is true but sadly the former isn’t though the season premiere of True Blood managed to be enjoyable nonetheless as the show managed to recapture a little bit of the humor I love so much.

I had honestly forgotten nearly everything that happened last season (mostly as an attempt to repress the memories of how awful the show had become) except for Debbie Pelt shooting Tara in the head and Lafayette murdering Jesus when he was possessed by Marnie. So, I had forgotten many of the cliffhangers of the season including Sam being surrounded by a pack of werewolves (after killing their old packmaster with Alcide in order to protect Luna and her daughter), a vampiric Steve Noonan showing up at Jason Stackhouse’s home, as well as Terry Bellefleur’s old army buddy showing up in Bon Temps and stirring up shit. I also forgot that Eric and Bill had killed Nan Flanagan and would now be wanted by the Authority. That’s how bad last season was. I literally did my damnedest to forget it had happened. Still, tonight tried its hardest to make these stories compelling and it mostly succeeded. Immediately after killing Nan Flanagan, Eric and Bill are captured by the Authority. Though they manage to escape the Authority’s clutches with the help of Eric’s “sister” (who was also made by Godric. He calls her sister but they fuck. It’s weird and apparently True Blood is embracing the Game of Thrones incest thing), they are captured shortly thereafter as they’re trying to flee the country under assumed aliases (and all of the vampires around them are given explosive renditions of the true death). In Sookie-ville (traditionally the least exciting place in True Blood), she and Lafayette enlist the help of Pam to turn Tara into a vampire rather than let her die (despite Tara’s complete hatred of vampires). Pam agrees to “make” Tara in return for Sookie patching up her relations with Eric as well as another, unnamed favor in the future. Sookie lies to Alcide about killing Debbie (well, she’s stopped by Lafayette before she can admit to it), and the episode ends with Tara being resurrected as a vampire.

Maybe part of the reason why this episode was able to succeed was that it didn’t try to tell a million stories at once. There were only a handful of other stories and they were mostly compelling (Andy Bellefleur and Holly’s budding romance being the less interesting exception). Steve Noon showed up at Jason’s house and confessed his love to Jason cause apparently he was a closeted homosexual when he was a person. He professes his love for Jason but when Jason rejects him, it takes Jessica’s intervention to save him but those two don’t wind up a couple again. In a moment of surprising maturity from Jason, he actually turns down guaranteed sex with a young co-ed because he knows it wouldn’t mean anything. Sam agrees to be taken in by Alcide’s old pack in order to take the blame for killing the packmaster. He’s nearly killed by the new pack before Alcide shows up to take responsibility for what happened (Sam was covering for him as payment for helping Sam out in protecting Sam’s brother). By pack laws, Alcide killing the old packmaster means he’s the de facto new packmaster, but there’s obviously some dissension in the ranks, most clearly from Marcus’ mother (Winter’s Bone‘s Dale Dickey). Terry Bellefleur’s friend from Iraq brings news that the houses of several people in his platoon from Iraq have caught on fire and there’s some vague illusions to some dangerous incident from Iraq that Terry doesn’t want to talk about (and would explain his PTSD). We finally see a violent side of the otherwise loveable Terry which means whatever he’s blocking about Iraq must be pretty awful.

Like I said last paragraph, part of how this episode succeeded was that it scaled back the storytelling to a more manageable level. There were around ten independent storylines last season, and honestly, only two of them were compelling because none of them had a chance to develop and mature into something. Let’s not even start about how all of these poorly written romantic subplots threatened to derail all of the great characters on the show like Eric and Bill (and even Lafayette seemed depressingly domesticized). Several of the characters who were forming all of their own different stories last time around seem to be hanging out together (i.e. Bill and Eric, or Sookie, Lafayette, Tara, and Pam). True Blood just became far too unfocused last time around, and if this episode is a sign that the show is narrowing its focus again, that’s for the best. True Blood has always been a show I’ve wanted to love, and in seasons 2 and 3, I honestly did. However, it doesn’t know when to draw things back, and these seasons have really upped the ridiculous quality (I’d still like to pretend Sookie isn’t a fucking fairy). I’d like to see the show return to its roots a little bit. Another thing this episode did well was allow for some great, little humorous moments. They mostly involved Pam, and if her joke about wearing a Wal-Mart shirt and being a team player wasn’t one of her comedic highlights of the whole series, I don’t know what is.

I want to write a little bit more about this episode but I’m still buzzed as hell on allergy medicine like I’ve been all day. It’s a miracle that I’ve been able to get any writing done today. Plus, it’s nearly 2:30 in the morning and I want to do a little bit of reading and go to bed. I’m almost finished with Thomas Pynchon’s V., and I’d kind of like to finish it tonight. I don’t know if that will actually happen, but I’m going to try. So, despite my better judgment, I’m going to give True Blood another try and see how this whole season works out. I actually up to like the 7th book in the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery novels, so I think I know about some of the potential storylines, but honestly, True Blood has parted so significantly with the books that I wouldn’t be shocked if zero things from the books ever happened again. Also, I read those like three or four years ago so my memory is spotty at best. I just have two requests for this season. Plenty of Sam and Jessica (and maybe Alcide). They’re the best characters on the show and the only ones who have remained consistently compelling.

Final Score: B

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