The time has come to return to Bon Temps for one final season of our beloved True Blood. So how does the six month time jump affect S7?
Let’s bitch it out…
In truth, the time jump has very little impact on this opening episode at all. The only significant aspect is the Hep-V infected vamps descending on the town, which realistically didn’t require a time jump to facilitate. Judging from the extended season preview, the impact of Hep-V will be more widespread than just what we see in Bon Temps, but for now the jump ahead is being used for little more than tossing characters together in new combinations (Amelia Rose Blaire’s Willa and Adina Porter’s Lettie May? Sure – why not?!)
The opening attack is the highlight of the episode. The action is filmed in close-ups, blurred lenses and hyperkinetic vampire movements, so it is frenzied and difficult to follow. Dropping us right in the middle of the action is disorienting, but it certainly gets the adrenaline pumping. Unfortunately it’s all downhill from here and the remainder of the episode feels like a bit of a slog. After a buzzy, provocative opening, the remaining forty minutes are little more than catch-up as characters spread out into their individual subplots and spend the remaining time refreshing us about the pertinent facts of their relationships.
Oh yeah and Tara (Rutina Wesley) is apparently dead.
Yup, one of the show’s original characters is unceremoniously killed (offscreen!!!) in the first few minutes of the new season. And here’s the kicker: it’s not even dramatic. Or suspenseful. Or clear that it really happens – we’re informed by Lettie May that Tara is dead and a pool of bloody gore on the ground is referenced in passing. It’s the ultimate “fuck you” to Wesley, whose character has been abused by the writers and put through the ringer more than any other character on the show. For them to off her in such a way is completely disrespectful. The only reason I didn’t open this review with all caps and exclamation points is because I thought I might as well mirror the show’s understated reaction to her death. Hell, if True Blood doesn’t make a big deal out it, why should I? Grrrr.
Everything else feels like lip service as the plot mechanics slowly start back up: Sookie (Anna Paquin) is pissed that everyone, including new boyfriend Alcide (Joe Manganiello) blames her for what has happened and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) gets pissy with Violet (Karolina Wydra) for emasculating him in front of a band of vigilante anti-vamp townspeople before they have gratuitous sex on the hood of his police cruiser. Even the scenes that don’t feel like they’re recycled from plotlines of previous seasons feel stilted and drawn-out. Case in point: Bill (Stephen Moyer) joins Andy (Chris Bauer) in a search for loved ones abducted in the attack (naturally all of our series regulars are still alive while redshirts get ripped apart).
It’s all feels overly familiar; it’s very same old, same old – which is great if you’re ready to welcome True Blood and its gore, sex and divergent storylines back with open arms. For those of us hoping that the ticking clock of a final season would inspire the show to tighten the reins, cut loose unnecessary characters and subplots and focus on the core cast, this is a bit of an auspicious start. I’m not ready to throw in the towel, but I’m already getting a Dexter vibe: the writers appear to be putting together a very different final season than the one I’d been hoping for. We’ll see what happens next week now that the effort of getting things started back up in past, but here’s hoping that the show can right itself and go out with a bang rather than a whimper.
- Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) connecting with James (Nathan Parsons) on a spiritual level is one of the more interesting scenes of the premiere. There’s an easy chemistry between these two, even if it kinda feels like this is the prelude to a sexual relationship down the line. Still, any storyline for Lafayette will be nice considering the show hasn’t used him well in years.
- The Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) / Adilyn (Bailey Noble) scenes are only as interesting as you find Jessica’s penance for killing the other Faeries. I never liked that storyline and this essentially strands Jessica in her own B-subplot away from everyone else, so I’m not a big fan. I mean, Jessica seriously spent the entire episode facing down a Hep-V vamp on Adilyn’s lawn? Booooring.
- Meanwhile, the show’s funniest character, Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) is off searching for Eric (an absent Alexander Skarsgaard). Pam remains a bitchy, hilarious crone, but there’s a world weariness to her that we haven’t seen before. The threat of truly losing Eric and the lack of food options are taking their toll, so let’s hope that she finds her Maker soon and beats a hasty retreat back to Bon Temps to liven (and freshen) things up.
- Pam (to the other vampire who suggests she make peace with her God): “Your God and my God can go to a motel and have a circle jerk for all I care. I’ll be in Hell having a three-way with the devil”
- Lafayette (describing his apartment to James): “It has a certain Ghetto je ne sais quoi”
Your turn: did the show do a disservice killing Tara? Or is she really gone (Lettie May mentioned she still sees her)? Was the opening attack the highlight? Which is your favourite storyline? And how long before we see Eric again? Speculate away below.
True Blood airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO