HBO’s True Blood is back this Sunday, June 10th, at 9pm, and the show’s fifth season is sure to be full of bloody mayhem that will hopefully rectify some of last year’s lackluster performance. As the number of magical creatures and love triangles (love-dodecahedrons, at this point) continues to increase, it may be hard to keep track of who’s alive, who’s dead, who came back and what kind of magic they possess. Take a spoiler-filled refresher course after the jump to relive the last four seasons of True Blood, including some of the best, worst and weirdest surprises from Bon Temps over the last few years (or moments, if you’re on fairy time).
Sookie and Bill (before they became a cliché)
- Yes, somewhere back in the depths of time there was a point when we rooted for Bill and Sookie. She was a unique and perky waitress and he was a Confederate vampire just looking to do the right thing. Shucks.
The introduction of Jessica
- Bill may be one of the worst makers in vampire history, but that didn’t keep Jessica down. Her mix of determination and naiveté was fun to watch, especially in her flirtations with Hoyt and as she struggled to understand her new powers.
Jason takes V, is Jason
- Jason had a tough time in Season 1 with all of his girlfriends (well, sex partners) getting murdered and him being pegged as the most likely suspect. But he found V, Lizzie Caplan, had some awkward flirtation with Tara, and established himself as King of the One Liners, so in the end he came out on top.
- Remember when Sam’s restaurant was actually an important part of Bon Temps life? It was the social hub around which all else took place, including such gems as LaFayette’s “AIDS burger.” Whenever the show returns to Merlotte’s, it slows down and grounds itself, regardless of what other crazy is happening around it. I.e., more Merlotte’s is a very good thing.
- What can really be said about this snoozefest? Two of the most boring (yet still somehow likable) characters being boring together. Yawn.
Arlene’s fake-Cajun accented fiancé Rene is the Fang-Banger Killer
- Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this reveal was that Rene was not actually Cajun. The loss of that fantastic accent was tough, and poor Arlene established herself as the kind of woman who would win the “worst taste in men” award … if Sookie and Tara weren’t around, anyway.
Magical Creature Count: 3 – Vampires, telepaths, shapeshifters
- Did anyone not love Godric, Eric’s maker and the closest thing possible to a Vampire Buddha? Sure he had a violent past, but his empathy for humanity grew enormously over the years. He attempted to counsel the unwilling Eric and then left us all too soon in a blaze of glory. At least he still appears from time to time in flashbacks.
The introduction of Queen Sophie-Anne
- Despite some initial doubts, Evan Rachel Wood really was the best possible actress to portray the decadent, querulous and yatzee-loving Queen of Louisiana. Aside from some of her more questionable plot lines (mostly dealing with Bill), the Queen herself was never a disappointment.
Maryann the Maenad
- Actually, this is a neutral area. Though Maryann’s rise and control of the residents of Bon Temps grew tiresome (oh HBO, only you can make bacchanal orgies so commonplace that we begin to bore of them), the actual character of Maryann (and again, the great casting of Michelle Forbes) and her manipulations were always a lovely thing to behold.
Jason and the Fellowship of the Sun
- “Jason just being Jason” starts to lose its luster when he became an Evangelical for a moment (for the sex, of course). It wasn’t the worst of the Season 2 plots, but besides Jason’s great Deep Thoughts, it dragged. Although, it looks to have some definite payoff in the upcoming season …
Boring people being boring
- I’m mainly looking at you, Sam, Daphne, Tara and Eggs. Mehcad Brooks was really nice to look at, but Eggs’ courtship of Tara (ending in, as always, complete tragedy for that girl, who seriously cannot catch a break) was not particularly, um, sizzling (I had to). And let’s not even bother discussing Daphne (you’d forgotten about her, didn’t you? Why would you not?)
- They went back and forth, back and forth … and finally, just when everything seemed nice and stable, Bill proposes and Sookie jets off to the bathroom to for no good reason (there could have been legit reasons for this, but she didn’t have one) while – whoops! – he gets kidnapped.
Sam appearing as a bull
- Sam taking down Maryann by turning into the bull was genius. He hit her at her weakest moment and destroyed her. It’s probably the best and most badass thing Sam has ever done. We also learned in this season that Sam can take the form of the fly. Surely that has got to be more useful than he appears to think.
Orgies can lead to marriage
- As a result of some good ole black-eyed demon sex, it turns out that Arlene and Terry are actually getting married. That’s a “How To Get Married” book you will definitely not be seeing on shelves.
Magical Creature Count: 4 – Vampires, telepaths, shapeshifters, maenads
The introduction of Russell Edgington, the Vampire King of Mississippi
- For anyone who thought Louisiana was a den of crazy, welcome to Mississippi. But Russell quickly became a fan favorite, and luckily (thanks to some vengeful stupidity on Bill and Eric’s part burying Russell alive) he’ll be back for Season 5 (though not, presumably, Talbot, who was a sad one to see go). Eric’s revenge plot to take down Russell was another great part of this season, despite its silly ending.
- Not every new creature is a hit, but those biker werewolves actually added some dimension to the magical world. Also, Alcide appeared as another suitor for Sookie (and also one of the nicest guys/creatures on the show).
Jason becomes a cop
- Even though he had to blackmail Andy into making it happen, Jason on the force was a great development. He also actually made it – shock! – better.
- In the book series, LaFayette doesn’t last as long as he does on the TV show, so the writers needed to give him something (or someone) to do. Enter in Jesus, a brujo, which is a scary thing, although Jesus may be (along with Alcide) one of the nicest and most stable guys on the show. Or, er, was.
Hoyt and Jessica get back together
- This one goes out to the shippers. Though the writers ruined this sweet relationship in Season 4, having Hoyt and Jessica finally getting together was a lovely moment many seasons in the making.
- As much as I love James Frain, Franklin’s story was just too crazy for words. Franklin wasn’t even all that bad, it was more the problem with him being part of a Tara-centric plot. Though his demise was pretty sweet.
- Guys who throw around the phrase “she was a psycho bitch” please take note – this is what a psycho bitch actually looks like. And yeah maybe the sex is great but News Flash: not worth the Basic Instinct aspect.
Everything about those filthy werepanthers
- There were few storylines more disturbing than life with the werepanthers. I have trouble believing that such self-reliant animals as big cats would lead such disgusting lives, but I suppose their minds were a little addled from having their uncle be their brother and father and their sister be their mother, grandmother, cousin and aunt as well.
Sam as a killer jewel thief
- What in the lulz was this whole thing about.
- Like Tara, Sam’s stories often seem like ill-considered afterthoughts picked up from the writers’ room floor. Tommy did give Sam a little more depth and something to do, but Tommy himself was so irritating that every moment spent with him and his lecherous parents was a struggle. Sam shooting him at the end seemed very out of character, and even though Tommy survived, I’m not sure if that was a good thing.
Sookie is part fairy
- … Which is why the vamps are all in love with her, because they want to drain all of her sweet fairy blood. For some reason this point isn’t applied to her understanding her relationship with Bill or Eric, though. That, clearly, is “real love.”
- According to Bill and Lorena, turning a head around several times just for kinky kicks is fun for everyone.
Magical Creature Count: 8 – Vampires, telepaths, shapeshifters, werewolves, werepanthers, fairies, witches, brujo
- When compiling this list I tried very hard not to include Pam in every “good” section, though she absolutely deserves it. Despite her part in locking up LaFayette during his V-selling days, Pam trying to hold everything together while having some of the best outfits on the show and not being afraid to roll her eyes and call out any other character’s shenanigans makes her the sparkling diamond of the series. Viva Pam!
- Even though it was changed a great deal from the books, Eric becoming Sookie’s puppy dog was a weird but interesting change that helped humanize his otherwise robotic nature. Or maybe that’s just how Alexander Skarsgard is. He does kind of seem like a Cylon, no?
- Oh Marnie, I wanted to like you and your witch coven but dang it, you had to go all power hungry crazy on us. Marnie started off as an interesting character with extreme powers (like necromancy) but devolved into nothing more than an unfortunate and pathetic being.
- The season kicked off with possibly some of the worst CGI since the Power Rangers. I take that back, that’s a slight on the Power Rangers. This was worse. And it was pointless, except to create a “gap year” in Bon Temps for Sookie, moving the narrative forward in time but not in theme.
Sam’s family issues
- Somewhat covered in the Season 3 list, watching Sam and his family is akin to Swamp People: Dog Fights and Trailer Trash.
- The word “rape” should sum this one up.
Sookie waffling over the men
- This narrative took an extreme meta turn when Sookie has a three-way fantasy with both Bill and Eric, which instead of being sexy turned into her lecturing them about how she loves them both and can’t make up her mind. And what about Alcide? It’s tough having Sookie’s life …
The Jason – Jessica – Hoyt triangle
- Hoyt and Jason always had a great brotherly bond that was ripped apart because Jason and Jessica had sex. What a mess. These three were some of the better-written characters on the show until this triangle started. I don’t know if it can be undone enough in Season 5 to be able to forget about it completely, but I am a one-woman prayer circle that it can.
- Y’all. Let’s get serious here. Are the writers playing a joke on us? To see just how insane they can make Tara’s life? I once postulated that the writers on Friday Night Lights placed bets on who could make Matt Saracen’s life the worst, but Tara definitely wins it all. Her mother is crazy, every man (or woman!) she gets involved with ends up dead (or somehow permanently separated from her), she’s been traumatized every season in about eight different ways and then …
Tara is shot in the head
- No idea where this is leading in Season 5, but one almost hopes Tara won’t be back. Let the poor girl rest in peace!
- Season 4 was so nuts that it made great sense to throw in a ton of cliffhangers at the end to ensure viewers would return. Besides Tara’s shooting, we got the ghost of Rene warning Arlene that Terry’s past is not so far behind him, the escape of Russell Edgington, and the reappearance of Steve Newlin … as a vampire! Meanwhile, the number of magical creatures continues to rise, but let’s hope a few go the way of the dodo (including the werepanthers).
Magical Creature Count: 9 – Vampires, telepaths, shapeshifters, werewolves, werepanthers, fairies, witches, mediums, brujo
Ready for Season 5? See the preview clips for the upcoming season.
True Blood returns this Sunday at 9pm on HBO. I will be writing weekly episode recaps that will go up after each episode airs, so stay tuned!