True Blood‘s opening act for Season Five was a reminder not only of how chaotic the show has gotten, but also how fun – in the right moments – it remains. Despite the fact that the nonsense level is high (and reaching new heights with every passing year), it’s the little moments in the show – Pam in a Walmart kitten-decal sweatshirt, Bill and Eric’s Excellent Adventures, Lafayette’s visceral mourning, Sookie kicking a tooth under the fridge – that keep us coming back. “Turn! Turn! Turn!” gave us plenty of them in between a whirlwind attempt to wrap up a few of last season’s cliffhangers while opening up a host of new problems for Sookie & Co. to deal with. To explore the twists and turns of this new season’s inaugural episode, hit the jump.
One issue plaguing True Blood lately is that the cast seems as far flung as their Westerosi brethren in Game of Thrones. It’s hard to keep a cohesive narrative when there’s a break every few minutes that shifts gears to someone else’s story. In a further complication, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” opened not where the fourth season left off, but about a minute before through a different POV. Eric and Bill are featured in a charming Vampire Cleaners scene with Bill leaving Jessica a voicemail with his keys to the castle, but where are we in time? Tara being shot in last season’s finale was the biggest cliffhanger, so when Sookie calls out to Tara to ask if she’s awake, the first assumption seems to naturally be “ah, she’s fine.” Instead, we see those final events replay – Debbie shoots Tara, Sookie shoots Debbie. I started thinking of Battlestar Galactica‘s refrain in my confusion, “all of this has happened before, all of this will happen again.”
There are those who complain that certain shows are such slow burns that not much happens in a 60 minute span, plot-wise. I can say without question that “Turn! Turn! Turn!”was probably the greatest antithesis of this notion of any show I have perhaps ever watched. Could any more have happened in one hour? It was hard to catch one’s breath. To start, Sam nearly had an interesting story – he escapes from the werewolves, then takes the wrap for Alcide, then takes the pack to Marcus’ shallow grave while admitting that Alcide actually killed Marcus (a confusing moment for the pack, half of whom bow the knee while the others simply snarl). Then we watched Marcus’ mother tear into his decomposing corpse and consume his entrails. Pro tip: never eat whilst watching True Blood.
Eric and Bill had bigger fish to fry (or vamps to blow up). On the run from the League, the two are captured and escape almost without a scratch after being bathed in fiery gasoline as the car around them exploded. Turns out the theatrics weren’t necessary, as their captor was Eric’s sister Nora, with whom he naturally began passionately lip locking. Wait, this isn’t Game of Thrones, right? It seems she is his sister by Maker, not by biological parentage. “We fight like siblings,” Eric said triumphantly to Bill later. “But we fuck like champions.”
But the triumph is short lived, as the dynamic duo (briefly known as Marcellus Clarke and Ike Applebaum) are almost immediately recaptured as everyone around them, save Nora, is administered the true death. Seems like the Vampire League may be the first worthy foe Bill and Eric have faced. It’ll be great to see how that dynamic plays out with the return of Russell Edgington as well.
In the other major plot, Steve Newlin – newly a vampire – visits Jason, promises him he won’t glamour him, glamours him in about ten seconds, ties him up, confesses his love and then wills Jason to love him back (Jason is luckily saved by Jessica doing her best “he is mahnnnn!” Bill impersonation). The scene dragged for several reasons, mostly because of the heavy-handed nature of Alan Ball’s obvious message: the crazy fang-hating Evangelical is of course secretly homosexual! Further, Steve Newlin is about as menacing as Arlene. Jason was never in danger, and the humor lacked. Will Steve Newlin be back? Does anyone care? And what about his wife? (Which is more magical do you think, heavenly or fairy vagina?)
The smaller plots held more interest. As was heavily teased before the season began, Terry’s past is clearly not behind him. Though Patrick (Scott Foley) seems to think that Terry is behind the arson and deaths of some of their fellow marines, he seems reasonably convinced at the end of the hour that he’s not.(If that is the extent of “Terry’s Questionable Past,” then that was an utter waste of time, but if Patrick and Terry are going to team up to search out the killer then I am game). Andy slept with Holly and had a great scene with the arrival of her sons. And the Jason / Hoyt / Jessica saga continues, with Jason looking like he’s lost his heart (and his friends) while gaining some decency, and Jessica appears, shall we say, “not here for that.”
Of course the biggest moment of tonight’s premiere was in the final heart-stopping (no pun intended?) moment where Tara, despite missing part of her head, has been remade as a vampire. Lafayette beseeching Pam to “turn” Tara given Tara’s distaste of vampires was selfish and ill-advised. But who can really blame Lafayette, who just suffered the loss of Jesus as well? It was a desperate measure that is sure to have intense repercussions throughout the season.
All in all, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” was an incredibly face-paced and chaotic episode that may have attempted to keep too many plates spinning at once, but have we come to expect anything less? It would also be nice to see some of the various character’s storylines intersect again as the season moves on. But the most promising plot moving forward is certainly Pam as Tara’s maker. She can’t be worse than Bill, right?
Musings and Miscellanea:
— In case we had forgotten how much Tara has meant to Sookie throughout the years, we were treated to an oddly placed flashback where Sookie is being picked last at school, and Tara kicks the crap out of some kid for it. Point being?
— “Fuck Sookie! She rejected both of us” – Eric to Bill.
— Apparently even vampires like playing Rock Band.
— “How do I know she’s not gonna rise up from the ground all fucktarded?” – Pam
— Just in case you forgot how trailer-trashy Bon Temps is, meet Holly and her sons! Although her sons seem to have more sense than most.
— “I wish there was somewhere else to eat in this town” – Andy, in a meta moment commenting on Merlotte’s.
— “You shot that dirty bitch in your house with her gun” – Lafayette, part-time defense attorney.
— I was happy to see Lafayette only shaved his head, and didn’t use the razor to slice his wrists in grief. One suicide on TV this week was enough.
— So what do you guys think? Does this season have promise, or is it only going to get more fucktarded?