'True Blood' season premiere review: 'Isn't moral anarchy kind of the point?'

True Blood‘s revved-up, slam-bang premiere picked up precisely where it left off last season, as Anna Paquin’s Sookie emerged from the ladies’ room only to find Stephen Moyers’ Bill gone, kidnapped… taken, it turned out, by a bunch of greasy meanies who’d prefer Bill call them “the F— You Crew,” but you got the feeling that Bill was eventually going to be referring to them as the I Chew You Crew. Bill chained in the back seat, with the nasty boys chomping on his neck, one spitting vampire blood into another’s mouth, a bit of nipple-play — gee, I almost became misty-eyed with nostalgia for the first season’s Vampire Prejudice As A Metaphor For Gay Rights theme.

But the hour left little time to wax nostalgic. Sookie had to scurry around trying to get help in locating Bill. There were quick early scenes to remind us of what had passed: Tara shed tears over a body-bag filled with her dead lover Eggs. Teen vamp Jessica was still hauling around that dead trucker she’d fed on late last season. (The running joke with her, and it’s a good one, is that the poor kid’s never been properly schooled in vampire do’s-and-don’ts, and seeks knowledge from the least sympathetic sources — such as Kristin Bauer van Straten’s Pam.)

As was true in his Six Feet Under, Alan Ball’s True Blood (as opposed to the subtext-free Charlaine Harris source books) is all about how characters (be they human, vampire, shape-shifters, vampires, or, perhaps by next season, sentient squid from the Planet Zork) struggle to change, to become better, or at least different, versions of themselves.

That’s why Tara must first be anesthetized in her grief by Lafayette’s never-fails combo of “tequila and klonopin,” so she can eventually pull herself together. It’s why Sam Merlotte is charging around in his truck seeking his birth family (boy, is he going to regret that — the Mickens make Faulkner’s Snopses look like the Camelot-era Kennedys). And it’s why Jason Stackhouse came right out and said he wanted to “be new Jason.” That is, a more thoughtful, less impulsive Jason. Fortunately, lawman Andy told him now was no time to do that; the blunt mantra he had to impart to The Lovable Brainless Abs was, “Conscience off, d— on.”

The awkwardness in True Blood arises when it tries to juggle more than two genres at once. Last night, the kidnap-thriller plot fit fine alongside by the drug-dealing plot, but the impending werewolf invasion gummed up the love-triangle plot a bit. Eric (TGIAS!) is interested in helping Sookie because (a) he wants to get into her pants and (b) Bill is “the one vampire who can link the Queen to the dealing of vampire blood.”

Speaking of the Queen, Evan Rachel Wood shimmered in only to prove once again that True Blood possesses the uncanny supernatural power to rob her of her acting ability for as long as she appears onscreen; she even squashed the humor out of her laugh-line to Eric: “Isn’t moral anarchy kind of the point?”

Interestingly, with the introduction of “Operation Werewolf” and the promotion of Pam to regular-character status, the whole Arlene-pregnancy/Terry-the-doofus plot-strand seemed tenuous verging on irrelevant to the rest of the series. Similarly, Hoyt’s pining for Jessica came off slightly pathetic last night, whereas last season it was poignant and sweet. And when it comes to Tara and Lafayette, the first episode got it backward: I’m fond of Tara, and tired of having to watch her endure emotional pain so severe that she tries to off herself. I’m far more interested in seeing more of Lafayette and his rock-and-a-hard-place dilemma as a V-pusher for Pam and Eric.

Ah, Eric… does this show know how to let this guy make an entrance or what? The spectacle of the vampire sheriff banging a shackled Fangtasia dancer was one of those ur-Blood moments: We didn’t know whether to laugh or be appalled; both reactions were correct ones, as was thinking, “What goes through Alexander Skarsgard’s mind when he reads a script like this for the first time?”

I like True Blood best when it’s fast, dirty, and funny; most of the time during this first episode of the season, it achieved all three in sufficient amounts to be scored a crimson success.

What did you think?

Follow: @kentucker


Comments (303 total) Add your comment
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  • Susan

    To be honest, while I enjoy watching True Blood, I definitely find it to be sleazy and trashy, as opposed to quality television. Just my opinion though.

    • DW

      I don’t think “sleazy and trashy” and “quality television” are mutually exclusive, but that’s just me. See also: Spartacus over on Starz.

      • lanny

        This is sleazy trashy quality television!

      • Jules

        No mention of the Bill/Sam scene?? Pishaw!!! It was as hot as the Eric/Sookie scene last season…

    • james

      Susan, I wish you’d stop recommending dating sites to people who can barely grasp the language.

      • matty

        LOL!

    • juh

      This was the SuperGay episode. Unfortunately, it was had three times as many queer scenes as lesbian scenes.

    • Regan

      I think ‘sleazy’, ‘trashy’, ‘cable’ and ‘american’ go hand in hand. You’re so uptight with your network rules that you go a little bit overboard on cable. Quite enjoy it though.

      • DW

        I think we should be totally overboard on all our channels. American television would be much more fun.

    • Delena

      Sleazy and trashy? Of course the show is sleazy and trashy! That’s the point. This is a sexy, fun, and bawdy show, not Masterpiece Theater.

    • Dillian

      It’s sopoyk how clever some ppl are. Thanks!

      • Niloy

        celebrated her 3rd birthday. If you don’t rmbeemer Mattea and her incredible story, check out this post. She has come so far and we are all so proud of her! What a huge journey she has been on. Her

  • gina

    I’m with you Susie. I think the sleaze could be toned down a tad and the show would still be great… Missed the first half including Eric “banging a shackled Fangtasia dancer” (What’s up with all the shackles?) but definitely looking forward to the rest of the season.

    • Dez

      I’m definitely on Team Eric, but I was thinking “Oooohkay, so we’re not rationing out the hot naked Viking vamp, we’re just going for it right out of the gates then?”
      To be fair, it fits with Eric’s character- he has not much regard for humans, but it was kind of over the top.

      • lafemmetopaz

        lol. How is using restraints during the “big nasty” sleazy or shows Eric’s disregard for humans?
        Maybe it shows Eric is kinky(like viewers couldn’t figure that out prior hand) and Yvetta didn’t to seem to be too upset about it.

      • DDS

        and that was only a couple seconds, he was going on his sixth hour lol

    • Robin

      Hilarious, I hadn’t even thought about the shackles. But, he was moving so fast that I suppose they were necessary just to keep her in place, lol. I mean they were standing…

  • Jenny

    It sucked, but this show is a guilty pleasure not a masterpiece. It’s no Buffy or Angel.

    • Brett

      “Buffy” and “Angel” were no masterpieces, either. Cotton candy for the supernatural emo kids.

      • Tarc

        I didn’t like Angel at all, but there were absolutely a few hours of Buffy that were as good as any every filmed for TV. Definitely masterpieces (see Hush for an example). So says a not-emo, not-kid who hates cotton candy.

      • Martin

        ANGEL was and is my favorite show, and I don’t know what the hell an “emo kid” is.

      • Michael

        Angel and Buffy have been deconstructed and, in some cases, taught by scholars across the country. More than a few episodes of both series are considered to be masterpieces in both writing and acting. TB is a guilty pleasure. I love it, but it doesn’t work on the same level as Angel or Buffy.

      • DE

        I have to disagree. I really enjoy True blood, I’ve read all of the books, but I also enjoyed Buffy and Angel. I wouldn’t call it either show a masterpiece, just my opinion. But I don’t think it was watched by emo kids, they would consider it too commercial…

    • Scobes

      You can’t compare this to Buffy/Angel – yes, they’re supernatural but also totally different. True Blood revels in camp, that’s why to some it can come across as trashy. And while Buffy has created some of the best hours of television (see: The Body) it didn’t do camp very well (see: Buffy vs. Dracula). And @ Brett: I really love Buffy, and I’m certainly no “emo kid.”

      • Camilo

        Your website is izamang! You put a lot of time and effort into it and it shows. You will go far in life and I will be here to support you in any decision you make. I’m very proud of you

    • Spartacus

      Buffy or Angel ? Are you mad? I bet you like Britney Spears ,Miley Cyrus and eats Count Chocula to be rad.

      • C

        It’s totally okay not to like Buffy or Angel (which I’m guessing you don’t based on your comments), but grouping it with Britney/Miley, etc. fans shows you don’t really know much about either show. Not the same fan base AT ALL.

    • Becky

      I agree. this is no buffy or angel, both of which I loved and still watch in dvd from time to time. but B & A in this genre were grade school. True blood is definitely graduate school.

      • spartacus

        Becky took the words right out and thus my comparison. Adult scenarios vs High School?? Frankly I relate being an adult not a clueless drama-centrific teenager.

  • TONY

    I love this show but I have to admit tonight’s season premiere was…. weak. The trademark humor was gone and the show definitely suffered from a lack of suspense throughout. Even so, it is still better than 90% of everything else on TV now, so I am hooked again for another season.

    PS – I am SO SO sick of Tara, I was hoping she WOULD kill herself.

    • Isabella

      I agree about Tara. I was watching it with my brother and when she was shoving all the pills down her throat, we were both yelling “DO IT! DO IT!” I just find her incredibly annoying. And I also agree that the premiere was weak. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t interesting and it didn’t grab me right away. I’m sure it’ll get better though.

      • Carrie

        ITA about Tara. I wish she would be like in the books and be a relatively minor character most of the time.

      • Rachel

        really? cause I was yelling at her momma the entire time. that woman is so selfish. just makes me sick.

        BTW, elephant in the room. The scene with Sam and Bill. I remember this summer thinking about the possibility but did not think they would put it in the first ep. that scene was so awkward and fantastic all at the same time. Did other people love it? hate it? when did you know it was a dream?

      • Amanda

        I loved, loved, loved the scene with Bill and Sam! I couldn’t believe they went there right away and was overjoyed that they did! I love that Pam is more of a presence this season – practically every scene she was in was hilarious!

      • Nihilistic

        I’m so happy to see I’m not alone in my contempt for Tara. This would have been the best premiere of all time if Alan Ball had just done us a solid and let her kill herself last night! Everytime she’s on the screen, I want to put my foot through the television. SOMEBODY KILL OFF TARA!

      • JScout

        I wish they would get rid of Tara and her mother. Weakest part of the show. If they have to keep Tara, then stop with the mother stuff and write Tara better stories. PLEASE!!

    • Sina

      I was so hoping the bullet would do a swerve and head for Tara. She is so annoying. Everything about her is sickening. If you have a character like that, you have to make her somewhat sympathetic so the audience can feel sorry for her. I feel nothing for that girl. Poor Layfettye doesn’t need to be saddled with her. Patrick Swayze brother looked creepy. Sick of that Queen character.

    • Scobes

      I loved the premiere but agree about Tara – I like her feisty, not this woe-is-me crap she’s been doing for a long time.

      • Chris

        yes please bring back feisty Tara.

    • Michael

      They haven’t figured out what to do with that character. They have so many rich story arcs and characters to explore, so they need to figure her out and make her more interesting, or feed her to one of the vamps.

    • mae

      Yeah, Tara needs to be relegated to a minor roll. It’s hard for me to be sympathetic about her loss of Eggs as I couldn’t stand him either. And something really really awful should happen to her mother.

      The Bill/Sam scene, wow, we were all screaming and laughing and generally feeling very embarrassed. It was wonderful! My husband, however, didn’t enjoy the scene like us girls ;)

      • Deny

        Gosh, Katie these are awesome pics! I love the ones with mom and dad, kssniig mom, and reading Goodnight Moon they are just fantastic! What a beautiful little girl!!!

  • Shell

    I loved the premiere episode. I think the part of Hoyt pining for Jessica was totally in character and wouldn’t of expected anything else. Pam was a hoot as always and Eric was his big bad self. Bill continues to break my heart as does Sookie. I love Lafayette but am so tired of Tara. I wish she would go back to being a minor character like in the book and give her screen time to Lafayette…..sigh….can’t wait until next week!

  • eric northman is mine

    Please sir i like some more nude eric!:)

    • Rachel

      true blood is a tease!

  • javi

    susan its your opinion its ok only the next readers are going to think you are nuts but remember its hbo they are not known for classy tv only if spielberg is making movies i think the episode was balls out awesome but at the end when bill bit that little old lady i thought bill what the hell then i forgot that he needs to do that for energy then when he talk to the lady that was a bit nice. best episode ever!!!!

    • What!

      Best episode ever? Have you even watched any of the previous seasons? You couldn’t have if you thought this was the best episode ever.

      • Z

        When people have withdrawal from something they like, like a show for example, when they finally do get it again it tends to be great for them. Just having it back is amazing. He’ll probably be a lot more cognizant by the next episode of quality.

      • TBFan

        Personally, I think “I Will Rise Up” is the best episode so far. I rewatched it yesterday before the season premiere and I still got teary-eyed.

    • mary q contrary

      Maybe not the best episode ever, but pretty darn good, nonetheless. It’s totally cool if some didn’t like it, to each his/her own and whatnot, but I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish. I particularly loved Jessica’s scenes, and Eric’s. Those two, along with Lafayette, Pam, and Jason, are my favorite characters by far. Really, I like everyone, including the Queen (though I can understand why the majority of viewers dislike her so much). I think the show is well-crafted, and does an excellent job of being a sort of mash-up of so many genres. I liked that this episode was fast-paced right out of the gate, and I hope that’s an indicator of the season to come.

  • Ann

    What was with Sam’s gratuitous pointless “dream” of a gay encounter with Bill? Sam?? Bill?? Oh puleez!

    • kyle

      they swapped blood in the season finale last year, remember? Just like Sookie started feeling sexually attracted to Eric, Sam is now (unintentionally) attracted to Bill. I’m really interested to see where THAT goes. I mean, we’ve had copious amounts of straight sex, just ONE gay sex seen would be nice, eh?

      • Jack

        I am definitely on team KYLE !!

      • Nicotine

        It’s called continuity. Sam had to drink a lot of Bill’s blood to heal himself in last season’s finale, which was just a day earlier. Part of drinking a Vampire’s blood means becoming sexually attracted to them. That scene seemed completely random, but it’s excellent continuity.

        BTW, if Bill and Sam actually got together, we could call them Bam! Love it.

      • deeannek

        Usually seeing a gay sex scene doesn’t do anything for me but damn Bill and Sam were H.O.T! Now that is chemistry!

      • Sina

        Didn’t they have great chemistry. That freaked me out! Beside Tara, everyone on this cast has great chemistry with each other.

      • Rachel

        Bam?! ! LOVE IT!!!

      • Val

        @deeannek I so agree! I’m usually horribly annoyed by Bill. He’s so deadpan (no pun) and boring. His character sucks all of the fun out of a room (again, no pun.) That scene with Sam? Ho-ly COW! That was the most chemistry I’ve seen Stephen Moyer have with ANY of the cast members.

        I’ve also had it with Tara. I guess she’s a product of her environment, but all I ever want to do is smack her.

        And Ken? I think I wonder more what goes through ALEX Skarsgard’s mind more than… you know… typo.

      • Liz

        @Val
        Are you high? Stephen Moyer & Anna Paquin have more chemistry together than anyone on the show!

      • Jason

        That scene was my favorite scene possibly in the entire series. I was soo pissed when he woke up before they could kiss though. :( Agreed that they seemed to have more chemistry than Bill and Sookie interestingly enough. On a side note, Jessica continues to be my favorite character and yes, Tara needs to go away. Great episode though..reminded me just how much I love/missed this show. And for those who didn’t think it had enough suspense…the previews for next weeks episode made it seem like non-stop action.

      • Demetri

        I totally agree with you..it will be interesting to see if the show explores the feelings that Sam is having for Bill since they shared blood. I hope the show takes a stab at it.

      • lanny

        Yeah exactly it makes sense for the story. It’s not just out of left field.

    • confidential

      Sam drank from Bill’s blood. Drinking vamp blood makes humans strongly sexually attacted to the vamp they drank from.

    • PixxieTrixxie

      Yeah, really did not need that scene – it just didn’t make sense.

      • Daniel

        The scene made total sense – your disgust does not…

    • nobias

      last season they said once a vamp sucks on you, you’re forever linked. and u start to think about them in amorouros ways. made total sense to me

    • Delena

      OMG! Why do so many people not understand the Bill/Sam dream? Are they not watching the show? That scene was hot! And it makes perfect sense that Sam would have a dream about Bill after ingesting his blood to anyone who was actually paying attention last season. This reminds me of all the people on the Lost boards who were claiming the island was purgatory after watching the final episode.

  • Josh

    This episode had its moments, but overall I felt that it suffered a pretty bad case of “first-episode-of-the-season-itis”. It needed to get the ball rolling on so many stories and remind us of so many past happenings that it never had a moment to breathe and do what TB does best (humorous melodrama with copious amounts of nudity, blood, and sleaze). Now that the season opening necessary’s are out of the way, hopefully we will get back to what we love about the show.

    • DT

      I enjoyed the show but I can see why some people thought it was a little weak and scatter-brained. You’ve got to remember, though, that it’s setting the table for this season. If by episode three it’s not heated up, then I’d say it’s time to start complaining. I must also agree with the reviewer about Evan Rachel Wood in that she is not good on the show. I realize the show is campy, but the other actors commit to their parts with more seriousness. There’s nothing worse than phoned-in campiness.

      • Michelle

        Maybe if they developed ERW’s character more? She wasn’t a HUGE part of the books, but she was still a menacing character. The Queen in TB comes off more like a petulant,spoiled,reality show contestant.

      • Liz

        I actually like ERW as the Queen! She did a great job!

      • Nihilistic

        So what’s it like to have a lobotomy, Liz?

      • Liz

        & Nihilistic
        What’s it like to insult everyone who doesn’t have the same opinion as you have? Feeling threatened?
        What’s it like to be an *ss?

      • Spartacus

        She is the worst actress ever. She has more cheese coming out of ther than a drive through at Taco Bell.
        Please flush the toilet!!

      • bon

        The Queen – off with her head!

  • Megan

    I loved parts of this premire but I felt it was kinda flat:( Which sucks cause I love this show. Pam had some great lines as usual!

    • Val

      Pam = soooo awesome. I’m so glad she’s getting a bigger part. I lurve her!

      • Rahim

        Richard Cohen – I LOVE the pic with Gabby in the middle of Eric & Tara ikictsng her tongue out and making a CRAZY face as Eric & Tara kiss that has to be published somewhere!!!!!!!!!!

    • Nihilistic

      Pam = only redeeming quality of the premiere episode. The one shining star in a cesspool of beyond-the-pale camp and housefrau erotica.

      • chrisGa

        Totally agree about Pam; that scene where she schools LaFayette was gold…are you pickin’up what I’m puttin’ down indeed. Making Kristin Bauer a regular was a very smart move.

  • Nils

    Ann, Sam drank much of Bill’s blood at the end of season 2 and is now having erotic dreams Bill much like Sookie has erotic dreams of Eric.

  • Tarik

    I loved it! The fun and shock value was brought back that was missing from the end of the last season. Its a mixed bag of a show that is filled with drama, comedy, sex, violence, and fantasy. If you don’t like any of those elements then you shouldn’t watch it. This is not a show for prudes.

  • Lori

    Sam had that dream because he has had Bill’s blood, which will cause him to feel an attraction to Bill. The same way Sookie is attracted to Eric after drinking his blood.

    • Cassie

      Walking in the presence of giants here. Cool tnhiking all around!

  • kyle

    i thought it was really good and did exactly what a great season premiere should do: sets up the storylines to unfold throughout the season. I agree that it feet jam packed, but it was still funny and thrilling. I’m glad to see more Pam and Jessica is really growing on me.

  • Elizabeth

    Too late to rid this season of the tedious Tara, because the whole 12 eps are in the can, obviously, but yeah, it would be a mega-improvement to the show and free up time and space for the other characters if Tara was soemhow erased from this series. Not more space/lines for the Queen of LA, though – ditto the above thoughts on REW. Why is it that Alan Ball & Co can cast male roles brilliantly, but struggle to get many of the female cast well judged? I do like Hamby’s Jessica to a great degree and Kristin Bauer’s Pam well enough, but the rest – yawn.

    Bitchbitchbitch – oh but of course I’ll be watching every frame for 12 Sundays with rabid attention. I’m such a hypocrite…

    • Kelly

      Agreed, less Tara more Hamby and Lafayette. Speaking of Hamby I think that trucker she drained might live. On HBO.com they gave the trucker’s name, Hank. Makes on think don’t it

    • TBFan

      @Elizabeth: What about Arlene? I think Carrie Preston plays the role perfectly. REW though…yikes! That was a huge casting mistake. Everyone else is so fluid, whereas she is trying too hard. She needs to get inside her ‘vampire skin’ so to speak.

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