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Fangs for the Memories: Rehashing True Blood’s Final Season Premiere

e01-coverI know I shouldn’t love True Blood. The show peaked long ago – almost undeniably in its first season – and has since descended into pure camp. And yet, I seem to anticipate its return more than any other show, barring perhaps Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.
A little bit about my history with the show: I was skeptical to start watching it having been a lifelong Buffy superfan. I marathoned the entire first season in one day (ah, the good ol’ college days) and since then, I’ve inexplicably looked forward to every single episode. When the show refuses to take itself too seriously (like last season’s fantastic death-by-stiletto), it is one of the most riotous and enjoyable TV shows I watch. But then, it can sometimes just literally be the worst. I could write a thousand words about all of the ways Alan Ball and the other writers kinda sorta ruined True Blood, what with the were-panthers and the vampire fairies and Luna and ugh I just threw up thinking about Luna again.
But the truth is, I’m a sucker for this show. I’m invested in most of the characters (well like 20 out of the 65 or so) and I think that as an allegory for LGBT rights, it has always had an interesting premise lost in all of the extraneous details. I’m interested to see how the writers take this show – which once sat upon HBO’s ratings equivalent of the iron throne – and finish it off. And more than anything, I’m thrilled to get to write about my love-hate relationship with a show that I once thought was the most exciting show on television. Each week, I’ll be recapping the highs and lows of the episode we’ve just devoured (crappy pun intended) in my own “Yay-Meh-Ugh” power rankings system.
Before we talk about the premiere, let’s start off by briefly reminding ourselves how we last left off Sookie, her “stupid precious fairy vagina” and the rest of our Bon Temps crew.
True Blood became infected with Hep V, which turned vampires into zombie-ish creatures (it was only a matter of time before HBO jumped on the zombie train). Bill and Sam, recent vampire celebrity and new town mayor respectively, hatched a plan that would pair up humans and vampires, trading blood for safety. And while Tara took her mom’s offer to pair up, Sookie turned down a similar invitation from Bill, seemingly happy with her were-boyfriend Alcide.
And while our characters enjoyed a vamp-human mixer at the newly renamed Bellefleur’s (formerly Merlotte’s), a group of Hep V infected vamps approached them. Gulp.


1. That opening scene. Wow. This was a direct continuation from last year, with the Hep V vampires showing up to make chaos of the town BBQ. The vamps start killing everyone and anyone. They make off with Arlene (oh no!), Holly (meh) and Nicole (YES!!!!!).
The speed of the sequence is really great and reminds us of how dangerous vampires can be when they’re not having head-turning sex with humans or professing their undying love for Sookie. And the mess they leave behind is… um, gross. Lots of bodies, lots of that red goop stuff that somehow symbolizes a vampire is dead. The anatomy of vampires is confusing.
The scene ends with the night’s real shocker: Tara died (again?) protecting Lettie Mae from a Hep V-ampire. I don’t think an opening scene has killed a character so mercilessly since (** 10 YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT!! **) David Palmer in 24’s fifth season.
For as happy as I would have been to see Tara die for real a few seasons ago, this really seems like a missed opportunity to play with the great Tara/Lettie Mae dynamic. And it’s kinda random that Willa, Jason and Jessica are the only characters that care (Lafayette? Pam? Sam? Sookie?). Nobody seems too hung up about it.
But hey, True Blood marches to the beat of its own drum, so I’ll go along with it and just assume it’ll have consequences on episodes beyond this one. Countdown to my eventual letdown begins now.
The fallout with Lettie Mae (worst V trip ever?) is fun and gives Willa something to do for all of thirty seconds. She cries on Reverend Daniels’ shoulder for a minute, whining about Eric being gone, Tara being dead, and having nothing to do. And really, given how little I care about her storyline, I’d like to just give her my Netflix password and let her catch-up on Orange is the New Black.
2. Pam’s game of Russian roulette is charming. Pam’s opponent, a religious vampire, gives her a few philosophical points to ponder. He urges her to find God, to which she deadpans: “Your god and my god can have a circle jerk for all I care. I’ll be in hell, having a three-way with the devil.” Insta-classic.
Their verbal sparring continues, as they survive a few more pulls of the trigger.
“You’re dead,” Pam coldly snarls.
“No, I’m alive,” Mr. Allah-Loving Vampire responds as he pulls the trigger and instantly turns into a half-liter of red goop.
Guess he’s not so alive anymore. Is this irony? I try not to think too deeply during True Blood.
The scene ends by sending Pam off onto the next phase of her own personal “Where in the World is Eric Northman” game. And next week, Pam will have to visit the Rhône, a river that goes from Switzerland to France (thanks, Google!), where she might play hot potato with a grenade.


3. Last season, I loved the introduction of Violet as a dom vampire that took a liking to Jason. After the time jump, Jason had been performing daily oral sex on Violet, which makes him a far better boyfriend and human being than I could ever be.
Tonight, he finally got some… by yelling at her. She’s so impressed by his bravado that they decide to do it against a car in the middle of the night.
Great build-up, poor climax (hehe… self high-five).
4. McConaughey and Harrelson are going to be a tough act to follow for HBO, but I doubt that Andy and Bill have the chops to pull it off.
They sneak through the infected vampires’ nest, where they stumble on a bunch of dead bodies used for feeding. Andy pukes and I, after about half a bottle of wine, grip my stomach (seriously, try watching this show sober).
When Sam’s mayoral opponent and his gang of vamp-haters find Bill and Andy at the nest, Andy saves Bill. Aww, cute. Bill tries to thank him, but Andy’s just interested in staying as begrudging partners in crime. ‘Cuz that’ll last long.
Bill has a momentary flashback to leaving his family and going to war. Blah. If this show gives me scenes of Bill as a soldier, I’ll give them an automatic “Ugh” ranking. I watched every episode of TURN and I’m done with that shit.
5. I thought Sookie and Alcide would be the boring, but grown-up alternative to Bill’s endless “SOOKEH!” howls.
Within minutes, they’re fighting because Alcide thinks Sookie’s vampire-loving ways attract trouble. This upsets Sookie because… she doesn’t like the truth? I don’t really see why she gets upset. But she does! And so she walks home alone, fights with Alcide some more and then makes up with him. Grown-up? No. Boring? Yep.
Saved from ranking dead last in the power rankings by the gift that keeps on giving: Anna Paquin’s boobs.
6. Holly, Nicole and Arlene are being locked up in the basement of Fangtasia. A vampire who looks like Adam Levine kills a police officer right in front of them.
They scream. I yawn.
7. The show has never known what to do with Lafayette. They killed him at the end of season one and then undid it as fan service. They’ve tried everything: giving him powers, giving him a boyfriend, giving him the punch lines.
And none of it has worked.
Tonight’s scene with Lafayette and James (now played by Nathan Parsons, who competently steps in for Luke Grimes) was more of the same: background & inevitable showmance set-up.


8. Look, I love Jessica. I really do. But her chivalry is boring, not adorable.
And I can’t help but think her storyline with Adilyn is just another time-filler. I’ll reserve judgment for when I see more of where they’re going with this, but with only nine hours to go until this show is done forever, I don’t really care that much about Andy’s fairy daughter.
Bill’s scenes with Jessica are always surprisingly good. And Jessica with Jason was a pretty fun pairing. But Jessica as a martyr protector of Sheriff Bellefleur’s daughter? Leave it on the cutting room floor, thanks.
9. Sam’s vampire mixer didn’t go off as planned. So after returning to the bar (and getting caught shifting back into his human form by his former mayoral opponent), he does everyone the service of trying to send them home. “It’s not safe here,” he tells them, which is obvious to everyone because 50% of their town just got ripped apart by diseased vampires.
Ugh, Sam. So useless. Why do I tolerate you?!
10. “Morning is coming.”
No, that’s not HBO’s tagline for Season 5 of Game of Thrones. It’s Reverend Daniels summarizing that most of the humans survived the night.
I feel almost obligated to pitch HBO on “Ugly boobs are coming” as the tagline to Girls.
The church sets the scene for Sookie professing her love for the town after hearing for the billionth time that they all think she’s a vampire slut.
“For better or for worse, nobody in this town knows vampires better than me,” she declares, trying to reason with the residents of Bon Temps. Oh, I would have loved to hear what everyone was thinking when you said that, Sookie. Give them ammunition, why don’t you?
“I want to help,” she begs them before we cut to the credits.
Not a great cliffhanger, HBO. Sookie wanting to get involved in vampire shenanigans is about as surprising as… well, I think it’s the most obvious thing that can happen on True Blood so I’m lacking a good joke here. But anyway, it’s very unsurprising.
This scene ranks so low for its unintentional hilarity & overall uselessness. What does Sookie intend to do to protect the city of Bon Temps anyway: organize a bake sale?
And there you have it. The final season of True Blood is officially on.
Overall, a pretty lackluster premiere that peaked about five minutes in and then never matched that level of intensity. But we’ve still got nine episodes left so not all hope is lost. Plus, even if the episodes aren’t great, the live snarking is always fun. Everyone needs to hate-watch something, right?
More importantly: what did you think of Tara’s quick death before the credits? Sad not to see Eric at all? Let us know in the comments!
  • Linus Wesley

    I come from a similar background of as a teenager having worshiped Buffy and Angel as the best two shows that could ever be, so I was also skeptical when I started watching True Blood but was very impressed with what a great Southern Gothic murder mystery the first season turned out to be. A lot of comparisons could be made to Dexter, in how they’re booth based on books, both had fantastic first seasons, both then (from what I understand, as I’ve read neither series) strayed more and more from those books and both shows lasted for so long that despite still being pretty good, they were also pretty bad. Most fans seemed very disappointed by Dexter’s finale and I find it hard to believe True Blood will wrap everything up in a more satisfying way.

    Comparisons to Buffy are also hard to avoid now that we enter True Blood’s seventh and final season. I don’t know how you felt about Buffy’s seventh, but at least at the time I thought it was the best one yet as it was getting darker and more serious, building up towards what I still think was a great finale.

    I think the many problems True Blood has had are linked to having too many simultaneous storylines, and too many of them being bad, boring, and/or confusing. Another problem that has grown as the show has gone on is how poorly the world and its mythology has developed. In the first season, learning about this interesting world where vampires have “come out” and learning what else might lurk in the shadows was really interesting. Second season continued this, from what I remember, pretty well. But the more we learnt about shapeshifters, werewolves (I seriously hate “werewolves” that just turn into wolves rather than wolf-monsters; it’s so lame.), fairies and more, the more cluttered and confusing this world has become, and not in a good or interesting way. What the hell was the deal with Lilith and Bill last season? What was the point of any of that bullshit except to make the characters and the world less relatable and more confusing? Andy having lots of fairy babies with a serious case of rapid aging syndrome. It’s just crap, making the world itself a lot less endearing, and that’s when I at least feel like what’s the point in caring about anything that happens in this place.

    Take Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead for example: whatever happens to the characters or their storylines, those worlds are so appealing that the fans just can’t get enough. Spin-offs exploring news characters and places in these worlds would be more than welcome (The Walking Dead has one in development and given the rich mythology of Game of Thrones it’s hard to imagine them not exploring something like that too). My point is that as good as True Blood might have been in the past and still is in it’s best moments, I would never want to see a spin-off set in this world. Whether it would be with new or old characters, being like a prequel or sequel, whatever the premise would be, I’d prefer to see it in a fresh separate continuity because this one has basically been ruined over the past several seasons. I feel the same about Supernatural, which for some reason had a spin-off concept developed for this fall but it didn’t make it.

    Last but not least, I think you have a very good point Cory, about the wine. I’ve been watching this show sober and that’s probably a mistake. Also good points about Tara, Jessica and Lafayette. I was shocked first time Tara died, disappointed when she turned into a vampire instead, and now I didn’t care at all. That said, I think this premiere was a step up from last season’s huge mess and I’m looking forward to seeing how this will all end.

    • Cory

      Thanks for the comment!

      Let me start by responding to your Buffy and Angel comments. Have you ever gone ahead and rewatched them? My girlfriend marathoned all twelve seasons last summer and I was surprised by how well they hold-up. Perhaps this is something we could do at Post Show Recaps. I have to assume the Buffy fan legion is pretty large here overall.

      I wish I could share your sentiments about Buffy’s final season though. I was always pretty disappointed by it. I think Joss was spinning too many plates at once; it’s no coincidence that Buffy’s seventh & Angel’s fourth seasons pale in comparison to Firefly, which Joss had devoted most of his time to that year. And when Angel became his sole prohect the following year, it experienced an incredible jump in quality.

      Now for True Blood: I think you make such a great point about the first season. It was a really great Southern Gothic murder mystery and it surprises me that the creators never picked-up on this being such a key ingredient of what made the first season so enjoyable. I’m also surprised that they’ve never tried to mimic or recreate this in any way. I think revisiting this element of storytelling for the final season would have been a good way to tie the series back to its roots.

      And you nailed the main issue the show has faced: the world they’ve built has fallen onto itself and become way too big for its britches. I remember that in the show’s first couple of years, I was absolutely enthralled (glamoured if you will) by each reveal of another corner of this sandbox. But amongst confusing storylines about Warlow’s vampire prophecy, boring werewolves, and the Authority, the entire thing just collapsed. And I honestly can’t even begin to explain how the mythology of this show works anymore. Worse, it felt like the writers tried to bail themselves out of their missteps by writing WORSE storylines that just confused things even more. It’s confusing that there’s a vampire bible and that God had a vampire baby? Well, sure, let’s just tie in that Sookie’s grandparents made a deal with God’s vampire fairy grandson that wants to marry Sookie because… she’s hot? Headache inducing.

      I agree with your ultimate point that this season should be more successful on the premise that it has reduced the scale of the story alone. Bringing the characters back to Bon Temps and having a common storyline will hopefully improve the storytelling. As far as a spin-off… I feel like it’s never going to happen. HBO seems to be more than happy to send this show into the sunset (or, in True Blood’s case, a fiery death).

      • Linus Wesley

        Yes, I also rewatched all of Buffy and Angel with my girlfriend a couple years ago and definitely agree that they hold up very well. Even when some episodes have silly plots or bad special effects, the humor and character interaction is always really good. Joss has always been the best at surrounding himself with talented writers. Could definitely be something that should be considered for PS Recaps in the future. I’ve probably seen the episodes more times than I have of any other show and I think other fans would agree that these shows, maybe Buffy in particular, are ones you can keep going back to and find new things to appreciate about at different times in your life.

        Firefly and Dollhouse also hold up very well of course, and I think Dollhouse deserves a lot more appreciation than it gets; it’s a very clever and impressive show! Your critique of Buffy season 7 (and Angel season 4) is fair, but I still think it was some of the most exciting and suspenseful stuff they did on those shows. Especially towards the end of the seasons when Nathan Fillion and Gina Torres show up, so there’s probably something to what you said about Firefly maybe having taken a lot of his focus that fall.

        So I think we agree that if True Blood had kept telling smaller, more focused stories with all these supernatural things as added flavor rather than the main focus of everything all the time, it probably wouldn’t have fallen apart the way it did. But to tie it back to its roots is at this point a ship that has sailed a long time ago. I’m not sure where they’re going with this last season, but the only way to really redeem itself at this point I think would be to go even bigger than last season. Make it an all out war, end of the world type thing, each episode killing off at least one major character. I could really get into that.

        It’s very funny what you’re saying about them trying to fix their mistakes by writing worse and more confusing storylines, because it does kinda seem like it. Last season’s Warlow and Lilith stuff must have been a new low…

        I never thought they would make a spin-off from this show, I just find that a good way to gauge how good the world a show is set in is; if you’d want to see a spin-off and how closely it would have to be tied to the original for you to be interested. But yeah, I can’t imagine that HBO will be sad to see the show end; they too must realize how convoluted and hard to root for the show has become.

  • Trixie02

    I really enjoy your style of writing. Fun read!

  • David Mansfield

    I agree very lackluster season premiere the only highlight were all of Pam’s scenes, I also don’t think Tara is dead as nobody actually witnessed her die. For me personally the show has been pretty average since around Season 5 but alas I must see it to the end look forward to reading your reviews.

  • susan appleby

    I would watch any show with Ryan Kwanten. He is fantastic as Jason. It isn’t simple to play a stupid character without a winking discrediting of the character by the actor. His southern accent sounds perfect to me, though I’m from New York. He looks fantastic on camera and I would like to have him transfer into major films.

    Alexander Skarsgard is a plus as well.

    I don’t really care what happens to the characters at this point because it is so ridiculous. But I’ve watched since the beginning. I miss the innocence of the first season. I will stick with it to the end.

    • Alycia Swift

      Ryan has done a bunch if indie films recently.