True Blood Season Premiere Review: “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (Season 5, Episode 1)

The season four finale of True Blood was pretty season finale-ish, with character deaths, villainous comebacks and scandalous hook-ups. Thankfully for the “waiting sucks” mantra crowd, season five picks up exactly where the last one ended. While many fans were pleased with the show’s fourth season, pushing characters to all new levels of unlikely camp behavior, others have pointed out the serious lack of cohesion in the series, which now has more plot lines than could possibly be connected.

Season five’s premiere, blatantly titled “Turn! Turn! Turn!” is no different; the list of characters with major plots can’t be counted on ten fingers and ten toes. But hey – the premiere is exactly on par with the highest levels of the bizarre on previous episodes. The characters are many, but they are beloved.

Despite the myriad of twists in the finale, the most anticipated follow-ups have to be the death shooting of Tara (Rutina Wesley), the assassination of Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck) via Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and the return of season two and season three villains, Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) and Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian), respectively.

Let’s begin with Tara, who for vague reasons has slowly become the, er, “least loved” character of the series. Fans thought the writers of the show had possibly fulfilled their wishes when Tara was shot in the season finale. In retrospect, this almost seems like a prank, because Tara is almost immediately “turned” (into a vampire) by Pam (Kristen Bauer) as requested by Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis). This puts the character in what could possibly be her most intriguing conundrum: mortal death or eternal vampire-hood?

While Nan’s assassination may not be the most vital of details to fans, it did provide something they love: a fresh storyline for Eric Northman. Bill and Eric are working together this season, on the run for what they did to the vampire lobbyist. If an Eric/Bill partnership isn’t weird enough, the season premiere also introduced us to Eric’s “sister,” Nora (Lucy Griffiths), with whom he has an incestuous relationship. No worries; they aren’t biological siblings. They were both turned by the same vamp, Godric (Allan Hyde).

My favorite portion of “Turn! Turn! Turn!” is the glorious return of Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian), the vampire-condemning reverend from season two. He appeared at the door of one Mr. Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) in the finale, new fangs descended threateningly. In a turn of events that can only be described as a fanfic-writing shipper’s deepest fantasy, Steve comes out to Jason, saying that he loves him and finally has the strength to express it. He’s a gay Vampire American, after all, which gives him strength. Steve’s love for Jason could mercifully change the depressing love triangle between Jason, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Hoyt (Jim Parrack).

I used to love Hoyt’s character, but his inevitable break-up with Jessica was nothing but sad and hardly “entertaining.” Now, we can watch Jason torn between two flawless vampires, Jessica and Steve. The reverend’s return may be one of the craziest turns in True Blood history, but I love it. Praise his light!

The ominously close return of Russell Edgington also offers some promising plots, given his complete rule over the otherwise boring season three. And speaking of boring, the characters who are typically empty and devoid of entertainment – namely: Alcide (Joe Manganiello) and Sam (Sam Trammell) – are just as boring as ever in “Turn! Turn! Turn!.” I did enjoy Alcide’s conversation with Lafayette, but I credit Laffy for said miracle.

Terry (Todd Lowe) and Arlene (Carrie Preston) could prove to be worthwhile this season too, with Terry’s “secret” military past coming out. However, Terry and Arlene are the tier-two type of characters that really are supposed to just stay at a supporting level. Their storylines are unnecessary, drawing from characters that are supposed to be important. Does anyone even care about Sookie (Anna Paquin) anymore? And also, I kind of liked that Terry was the one real person on the show, who was scarred from wartime. Are we really going to ruin that by adding a supernatural element to his life too?

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” has the same skyrocketed level of character lovability despite complete plot absurdity as season four, which I like, and therefore, I give it my blessing. The show could probably be improved by cutting some meaningless characters like Sam, or at least having the decency to relate his character to the others. Not to mention that the show’s “main” character, Sookie, is essentially absent for most of this episode, which can clearly be cited as series inconsistency.

I’m making the argument that True Blood has morphed, or, dare I say, “shifted,” into something else: a silly yet graphic program about beautiful, magnetic characters with supernatural abilities, that has drifted dramatically from the book series on which it was initially based.

To be perfectly honest though, True Blood has been this program for quite some time, and I’m okay with that.

What did you think? Let us know in the comments and be sure to watch the video below for a preview of next week’s episode.

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