By the time most shows make it to the fifth season, I find myself both pleased the show I like has survived but I dread that this might be the season the entire narrative falls apart. It tends to be a challenge by the time American television programs make it to the fifth season. Part of the reason, I believe, is that the seasons are longer than in the UK and other countries and sometimes you can only drag out stories so far. Sure it is easy for me to criticize; I’m not sitting in the writer’s room struggling to see the overall season arcs and trying to keep the network executives pleased. I felt the only redeeming element of True Blood Season 4 was the death of Tara (Rutina Wesley). Why do I dislike the character so much? It isn’t the actress, Rutina Wesley — she is doing the best she can with a severely flawed character. It’s bad enough in real life when people don’t learn from their mistakes but on television shows, unless there is something extraordinary about their character that makes them a truly tragic figure (and this wasn’t the case with Tara), it is hard to keep excusing their stupidity. Now, I will admit that Tara throwing herself between the bullet from Debbie’s gun and Sookie (Anna Paquin) did make her a hero, it also would have also potentially ended Tara’s tragic existence in Bon Temps on a high note. And… it was time for Tara to meet her maker, so to speak. It certainly wasn’t time for Tara to ‘meet her maker’ as the True Blood team intended for Season 5. Thankfully, the evil Debbie Pelt had no opportunity to come back, of course, when you try to kill Sookie Stackhouse, you are almost guaranteed some sort of true death for your supernatural species.
Since I am never bowled over by the Season Premieres of True Blood, I am hoping things will pick up over the next couple of episodes. Jason’s (Ryan Kwanten) fling with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) seems to be going nowhere fast and while he might be developing true feelings for her, she can’t seem to settle down with anyone. I actually felt sorry for Jason when she kissed that loser college boy in front of him. What is more interesting is watching Jason grow into an actual human with feelings (yes he is human but he’s growing up…finally) and resisting a quick lay with a sorority slut for revenge. It would be a welcome change to see Jason grow as a character and develop a bit more depth. I’m not even going to comment on the creepy Gay Vampire American scene. It wasn’t that he was a Gay Vampire American that made it creepy. It was that he is creepy Reverend Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) with fangs.
While the witches might be gone this season, there will be no shortage of werewolf angst. At the forefront of this season’s first supernatural issue is Alcide (Joe Manganiello), the reluctant werewolf leader. He is going to go up against the evil matriarch, Marcus’ mother, Martha (Dale Dickey). I’m beginning to wonder why there are so many middle-aged to older evil women that dominate the stories. While the evil Russell Edgington had a somewhat strange comical edge, none of the maniacal women have any comedic outlets. They are always a deadly threat. Marnie, Maryann the maenad, even Bill’s maker, Lorena is an out of control harpie. Too bad she didn’t have an “M” name as well because I could use French film critic Raymond Bellour’s obsession with women in Hitchcock films whose names begin with the letter M to discuss how these women subvert the narrative through violence, and how, like in Hitchcock’s films, they must always be contained to keep order in society. Lucky for me, Lorena begins with an L, but it is something to think about. The truly violent women all suffer a true death while the other women in the show are actually contained because of their subservience to their need for love. Even Pam (Kristen Bauer van Straten), who is by far the most violent female on the show, serves Eric (Alexander Skarsgård). Now, we get to experience a woman who is not only slighty older, she is a scorned mother. Will there be any redeeming features in her character? I’m hoping so because it would be a welcome change to see a threatening female who goes beyond the one dimensional threat they usually represent on True Blood.
It’s amazing what Pam is sometimes willing to do to get back into Eric’s good graces. Pam is the type of character that shows there is some hope for adding depth the the villainous females on the show. She mixes humor, violence and anger in order to convey her emotions – and love for her maker, Eric, her true only reason for living, both figuratively and metaphorically. In some ways, Pam is the most admirable character on the show, since she demonstrates true loyalty to Eric even when he rejects her. The only bright spot in the premiere is the moment Pam sees the two bloody bodies of Debbie and Tara and she declares, “Color me impressed, you guys know how to party.”
Finally, Eric and Bill (Stephen Moyer), Sookie’s rejects and vampires on the lam, are quickly loosing their luster. Although, I felt that Bill was more of a doormat all last season, at least he does show some loyalty to his feelings for Sookie even when he is dumped which is better than Eric turning to the arms of his ‘vampire sister’, Nora (Lucy Griffiths), and screwing her as soon as he gets the chance. Both vampires must face the Authority. Hopefully that will at least entail some excitement. Because we are going to need some if we are dealing with Sookie’s grief over Tara seemingly turning into a killing machine and Lafayette’s (Nelsan Ellis) grief over the death of his lover.
Although the premiere ratings were down slightly from last year, True Blood was still the most watched show on cable last Sunday. Let’s see if it can hold it’s grip or at least sink its fangs into the audience with a bit more compelling storylines as the season progresses because honestly, I don’t give a shit about Jessica’s teen angst any more. She’s had it for a couple of years now. Between her feeling sorry for herself, then cheating on the guys who care about her, and Tara being a victim for four seasons, sometimes it’s hard going watching these episodes. At least Sookie killed Debbie out of hate and admits it. That gives me a tiny ray of hope.
I’m not convinced I’m going to love this season but I’ve been a fan for the previous four, so I’m hoping I’ll at least be entertained. And I don’t think “bad Tara” will really do it for me. Nor will the bromance of Bill and Eric. Maybe I’ll go ahead and order Season 2 of The Glades because I might need something else to fill up my Sunday nights.