'True Blood': The fanged gang's all here for 5th season
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Sookie Stackhouse is taking a break from love. Let's enjoy it while it lasts. Tonight, HBO's "True Blood" kicks off a fifth season of vampires, werewolves, werepanthers, shape-shifters , witches, mediums, demons, fairies and ev...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Sookie Stackhouse is taking a break from love. Let's enjoy it while it lasts.
Tonight, HBO's "True Blood" kicks off a fifth season of vampires, werewolves, werepanthers, shape-shifters , witches, mediums, demons, fairies and even the occasional boring human populating fictional Bon Temps, La.
"Zombies are the new vampires," long-suffering waitress Arlene decreed last season. No brain-eating newbies, please. "True Blood" has plenty of soapy supernatural drama to keep track of, as usual, including the return of a formidable villain.
A 2,800-year-old vampire, bent on killing everyone worth caring about in the "True Blood" universe, is not going to stay shackled and seething below ground for more than a single season.
As droll anarchist Russell Edgington, Dennis O'Hare kept Season 3 deadly and lively. Russell redefined vampire-human politics when he matter-of-factly murdered a news anchor on live TV and declared, "Let's face it, eating people is a tough sell these days."
Of course, with the misguided overconfidence of James Bond villains, Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Bill (Stephen Moyer) gave up their chance to kill Russell for good, imprisoning him in concrete instead. Sure enough, one of the last scenes of Season 4 revealed a pile of silver chains and rubble at a year-old construction site. He will have to be dealt with.
"True Blood" is at its cartoony, violent best when characters are taking care of this kind of business, and the first third of the new season is all about putting out fires (bullet holes in kitchen, angry best friend, sticky vampire remnants) with varying degrees of success.
Breaking up the grim work, a series of flashbacks to 1905 shines a light on the overdue backstory of how Eric met his progeny, Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten), and why he turned her into a vampire. In the present, Pam needs help from Sookie (Anna Paquin) to get back in Eric's good graces, but she's torn about how far she'll go to get it.
Last season's female bonding moment was the witchy one-two punch of 17th-century necromancer Antonia Gavilan de Logrono and local coven leader Marnie Stonebrook, who shared a body to lead the local Wiccans in a deadly plot to lure vampires into the sun. By the time Eric and Bill managed to save Sookie, drawn again to danger like a moth to flame, they had attracted way too much attention, despite the vamp squads that sweep through cities erasing memories "Men in Black"-style.
When misbehaving vampires point the finger, they invoke the Vampire Authority. The shadowy threat of the always-unseen guys in charge manages to turn the undead a whiter shade of pale. This season, Eric and Bill have misbehaved so badly that they get to meet the Authority, chock full of new characters to replace recent casualties.
As Detective Elliot Stabler on "Law & Order: SVU," Christopher Meloni was the kind of cop you didn't want to annoy on a stale doughnut day. The guardian of the Authority is the same kind of guy, working the conference room of vampire VIPs like Robert De Niro in "The Untouchables," not afraid to sacrifice the carpeting when his disgust boils over.
The guardian is in a lather because there are traitors in the Authority's midst, and they mirror a larger conflict. The vampires, not long out of the coffin, are already on the cusp of civil war over the issue of how to live with humans: Either we're food or we're friends.
Series creator Alan Ball, who likes to score points for his worldview, beat the vampire metaphor like a drum for gay rights in "True Blood's" early seasons. And this season's fanged fundamentalists - who vote for farming us like soybeans - even have their own vampire bible to quote out of context.
"I'm trying to stay away from politics these days myself. And religion," Eric responds under the guardian's questioning. He's not going to have much luck with that this season. But at least he has something to keep his mind off his broken heart.
YOU GUYS HAD BETTER CLEAN UP THAT MESS ...
Season 4 of "True Blood" wrapped up a few storylines in the finale, but it left a lot of its characters on cleanup duty. Here's what they'll have to deal with right away:
- SOOKIE STACKHOUSE (Anna Paquin)
Her friend Tara is dying in her arms. She has a murder to cover up. And she just dissolved her vampire fan club.
- JASON STACKHOUSE (Ryan Kwanten)
He slept with his best friend's ex, and fanatical preacher Stevie Newlin showed up at his door" with fangs.
- SAM MERLOTTE (Sam Trammell)
The Shreveport werewolves think he killed their leader, and his kid brother died after taking a beating for him.
- BILL COMPTON (Stephen Moyer)
He staked the Vampire Authority's spokeswoman, which leaves a pile of gore and is generally frowned upon.
- ERIC NORTHMAN (Alexander Skarsgard)
He turned a Festival of Tolerance into a public bloodbath, which is also a no-no with the Authority.
- PAM DE BEAUFORT (Kristin Bauer van Straten)
Her maker, Eric, shunned her after she risked Sookie's life. And, there's that spell making her rot.
- ALCIDE HERVEAUX (Joe Manganiello)
He killed a very deserving fellow werewolf, but his pack isn't likely to see it that way if they find out.
- LAFAYETTE REYNOLDS (Nelsan Ellis)
A victim of possession, he killed his lover, Jesus, and still can't control his powers as a medium.