True Blood Series 5 Episode 1 Review: Turn! Turn! Turn!

TRUE BLOOD: Monday 17th September, FX, 10pm

With the whole vampire-werewolf craze now simmering down, a reasonably disappointing fourth season and now that there’s practically no book-to-season correlation whatsoever, you could easily argue that True Blood has reached its sell-by-date.

But with a title as promising as “Turn! Turn! Turn!â€? you’ve got to expect some pretty big changes from the series. After all, this is the season: a time for love, a time for hate, a time for incestuous vampire sex…

As it happens, the writers have made at least one change: in stark contrast to the last time out, here we finally see Sookie’s romantic life takes a backseat, giving Eric some time to branch off for a bit, which is great news.

He and Bill begin the premiere by being captured by the Vampire Authority and shipped off to face the death (and not just vampire death) for defying their orders about Marnie. However, Eric’s sister, Nora, is able to rescue them, and we learn a little more about the politics of the Authority.

Adding another character could have been disastrous (God knows there are already enough of them as it is), but Nora’s actually able to bring some much-needed excitement to the show, including some access all areas, brother on sister, vamp on vamp sex.

Don’t worry, though. It’s not as creepy as you think (kind of). That’s just how vampire siblings do things, we’re told. What we call incest, they call a really good time. So really it’s tomato tomahto, yeah?

It probably goes without saying, but the opener doesn’t really manage to top the whole vampire incest thing, although it does at least tie off a few loose ends from the season four finale. For instance, we learn that Tara, who you’ll remember was shot in the head by Debbie in a hectic climax, might not actually be gone just yet. There is, we’re told, one final chance to save her, if Sookie and Lafayette can convince Pam to turn her into a vampire.

The credibility of this irritating loophole is even challenged by Pam herself, who points out that she doesn’t even like Tara. She hated vampires, she explains, so why burden her by turning her into something that she hates?

I can’t help thinking that it would have been significantly more satisfying if there were real and immediate consequences. There could have been a genuinely sensitive moment between these characters. Yet, as it stands, it just comes across like the writers are trying to correct a mess that they got themselves into the season finale.

However, there are some redeeming scenes, including one in which Reverend Steve Newlin confesses his gay vampire love for Jason Stackhouse, who’s consistently brilliant throughout the episode.

There’s also a ridiculous Guitar Hero scene that provided a few laughs. Jason and Jessica play the game at a college party, dueting on Jona Jett’s “Cherry Bombâ€?. But Jason ends up leaving with someone else when Jessica makes out with a frat boy and then nonchalantly hollers, “How ‘bout some Foreigner? WOOO!â€?

It’s a decent return for this cult-show, although turning Tara into a vampire does seem like a cop out. One problem that I’ve observed is that the series keeps adding more and more major characters to make things interesting without ever taking them away. And while this can be fun (Nora certainly sounds intriguing), it get’s boring.

Nevertheless, now that the show is in its fifth season, this is a promising start, and it does suggest, at least, that this season could easily be significantly better than the last.