True Blood Season 5 Premiere 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' ReviewJune 14, 2012
Rest easy, fang bangers of the world; True Blood has returned.
Unlike the Season 4 premiere that jumped the show a year into the future, Season 5's premiere episode, 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' picks up immediately where 4 ended. Cue the show's constant identity crisis and 75 different plot lines.
I'm not joking.
True Blood as a show has two glaring issues. One is an overabundance of cast. You'd think that a show that centered so heavily on death wouldn't have an issue killing off at least one or two main characters. Instead, the show always finds a way to keep people around, whether their storylines are of any remote consequence or not. Add new characters into that mix and it only makes the show more bloated and sporadic.
The other issue is with the show not knowing what it wants to be. For all intents and purposes, True Blood is a soap opera filled with sex and gore. The show flip flops from being dramatic to being a complete tongue-in-cheek cheese fest. More importantly, the show succeeds at executing the tongue-in-cheek aspects way more than it does with dramatic situations.
Back in Season 3, thanks in part to Dennis O'Hare's wonderful portrayal of vampire king Russell Edgington, the show seemed to become self aware of its cheesiness and began to embrace it. Over the top moments hold a bit more weight when you go in expecting over the top.
In 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' though, the show has reverted back to dramatic, which, as I mentioned, it doesn't quite do well. It constantly follows the formula of, "Tease information. Cue creepy music. Cue serious face. End scene." It happened so many times in this episode, that it could be its own drinking game.
The music/score is the primary offender. Its overuse is borderline absurd, but not in the way that you want it to be. Rather than enhance a moment with more feeling, it almost always robs a scene of its own drama, like Lafayette's mourning of Jesus or Sookie ugly crying over Tara.
Ok, maybe there are three issues. The third, and biggest/worst of them all, is Sookie.
Sookie remains as self-obsessed and oblivious as ever and really is the worst part of the show. Case in point: Lafayette has, within the past 24 hours, been possessed by Marnie (the big bad witch of Season 4), been forced to kill his lover Jesus while possessed, had Marnie exorcised from him, found Tara's brains shotgunned out of her head, selfishly demanded Pam turn Tara into a vampire, and then buried her, hoping Pam was able to turn her in time. After all of this, Sookie nonchalantly asks, "How you holding up?" Are you kidding me?
The bigger problem with Sookie being dumb and doing and saying absolutely dumb things is that she in turn makes those around her just as dumb. Pam, one of the show's best characters, absolutely detests Sookie, yet bends to her whims with very little persuasion. Lafayette, who is the best character on the show, is sadly now relegated to being Sookie's partner in crime, which I fear is going to further bring down his character as, without a clearly developed narrative, he's simply there to react. Anyone that's ever part of Sookie's storyline is always simply there to react, and it's a damn shame.
The rest of the episode carried over storylines from the end of last season and began setting up what's to come in Season 5. Bill and Eric have been taken by the Authority. Alcide and Sam are having to deal with the ramifications of killing and hiding Marcus' body from the pack. Terry is going through a personality crisis with the arrival of one of his old war buddies. Jason is having to deal with the newly returned Rev. Steve Newlin, who's now not only a vampire now but also openly gay, and is still caught up in the Hoyt/Jessica drama that's left him without a best friend and in love with someone that seemingly just wants to party. The only one having a good time is Andy, who finally got to have some sex.
More important and vastly more intriguing than just about any of it is the fact that Russell Edgington is now free. He doesn't show up this episode, but we do see someone get dragged into a dark room and the sounds of them being immediately fed upon. Edgington was the best thing that ever happened to this show and I can't wait for his imminent return.
Oh, and just when we thought we might be rid of Tara, nope, now she's a vampire. If there's a more poorly written character on the show than Sookie, it's definitely Tara. I am, however, mildly intrigued by this. Tara is someone that absolutely hates vampires, considering being kidnapped and raped by one for the better part of Season 3. Now, she is one, thanks to Sookie and Lafayette's selfish need to not let her die. This is going to be a pretty big "IF," but if the writers can truly pull off some worthwhile storytelling with this, than Tara could be one of the more intriguing aspects of this season. I can't believe I just wrote that.
Other notable moments and quotes:
- I hope this season is "Bill and Eric's Excellent Adventure". Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skaarsgard work so well off of each other.
-"Fuck Sookie"- Eric, or me every single episode of this show's existence.
- Pam's Wal-Mart sweatsuit
- Lafayette's awful hair thing, RIP.
- Steve Newlin's "I love you!" as he's removed from Jason's house.
- I don't know what's more awesome: Jessica being a vampire badass, her Red Riding Hood outfit, or how amped she is to sing Foreigner.
- "We fight like siblings, but we fuck like champions." Eric should be on Game of Thrones.
- Most of the gore was CGI'd and bland, but the wolf pack digging in to Marcus' body was delightfully gross
- If there were an award for ugliest crier, Anna Paquin's got it on lockdown.
- Jason Stackhouse pining for Jessica is kind of precious.
I know most of this came off as incredibly negative. A lot of that comes from being a fan of the show. I've seen it hit its stride and this episode made me feel like it took forty steps back. It is just the first episode of the season, so I'm going to continue to have an open mind. From the previews that have been running, the show is set to finally reveal the Vampire Authority. I'm very anxious to see what Chris Meloni brings to the show. Hopefully Russell Edgington's return is sooner rather than later. And most important of all, I hope everyone involved quits taking themselves so seriously and just has some fun.
- Matt Hardeman