HBO’s True Blood is back for a fifth season and I see one thing hasn’t changed: A sister still can’t get a break on this show.

Tara Thornton, played by the wonderful actress Rutina Wesley, is Bon Temps, La.’s resident angry black woman. And with good reason. Tara grew up with an alcoholic and abusive mother, who is now a judgemental and hypocritical Holy roller. Eggs, the one man who cared for her, was shot dead by the local cops. She has been possessed and manipulated by a maenad. She was kidnapped and repeatedly raped by an off-kilter vampire. And while no one notices Tara’s grieving and struggle, everyone in town is enthralled by the “super snatch” (TMPam the Vampire) of her sorry and self-centered best friend, Sookie, who, by the way, continued to cavort with two of the same vamps who allowed Tara to be held against her will and raped.

When we left Bon Temps at the end of last season, Tara’s brains were all over Sookie’s kitchen floor. Tara had, inexplicably, jumped in front of a gun to save her friend and sacrificed her own life. (Just ‘cause True Blood has literal magic negroes doesn’t mean it can’t indulge the figurative kind, too.) In the opening of this season, A stricken Sookie and Lafayette devise a way to save Tara — have Vampire Pam “turn” her. Now, I was more than a little thrilled at the idea of take-no-shit Tara as a vampire under the tutelage of bad-assed Pam. But, nope, it appears Tara’s troubles aren’t over. Based on season previews, it seems Tara is going to be an addled vamp, unable to function properly or engage in bad-assery due to her extensive brain damage. Great.

Meanwhile, King Mopey Confederate and Sheriff Sexy Viking are making like Butch and Sundance (Or rather Marcellus Clark and Ike Applebaum) and going on the run from The Vampire Authority, who won’t take kindly to last season’s slaughtering of Nan Flanagan and her henchman. Thank God Eric is over his love of fairy tail. “Fuck Sookie,” the undead Viking mutters while doing some serious speed cleaning of Flanagan goo. Unfortunately, it’s all for naught. The Authority is on top of Bill and Eric faster than you can say “swarm.” Thanks to some quick thinking by Bill and some assistance from Nora, an old sister-friend-lover of Eric’s who is also part of The Authority, they make their escape. It’s here that True Blood offers some fan service in the form of loud, naked and aggressive Viking sex and one of the best lines of the night. (see below) Sadly, by episode’s end, Bill and Eric are back in chains, but we all know that’s a situation not likely to last long.

Another thing that hasn’t changed over the True Blood hiatus is the show’s insistence on treating every blasted character as primary, creating numerous plot threads that drag down the narrative. I want Russell Edgington back in all his campy and destructive glory. We know he has somehow gotten free of the concrete where Bill and Eric imprisoned him in season three. But instead of checking in on the King of Mississippi, we’re treated to boring werewolf politics (Alcide and Sam are going to have to pay for offing pack leader Marcus.); teen vamp gone wild, Jessica; Terry Bellefleur, his creepy ex-Army buddy and some suspicious fires; naked Andy Bellefleur; and a brooding Jason Stackhouse. The less we say about the return of Rev. Steve Newlin, the better. It seems the right reverend (now a vampire) was so hateful and murderous because he is gay (and in love with Jason) and having trouble dealing with his homosexuality. Uh-huh. Fail, True Blood! I wish that trope was as dead as some of the residents of Bon Temps.

One sub-plot that does have me scratching my head is the one involving Lafayette’s boyfriend, Jesus. Laffy’s departed dear seems to have departed. Returning to the spot where he stabbed his boyfriend while possessed by the murderous Marnie, Lafayette finds that Jesus has risen. Or, at least he is no longer slumped in the chair where Laffy left him. Maybe we mourned the brujo too soon.

Ah, it seems my love/hate relationship with True Blood continues. This first episode of season five had me laughing, lusting and cheering, as much as cringing and rolling my eyes. Such is the lot of the True Blood fan.

 

What did you think of the season opener?

 

Line of the Week: (It’s a tie)

“I am wearing a Wal-Mart sweatsuit for y’all. If that’s not a demonstration of team spirit, I don’t know what is.” — Vampire Pam

“We fight like siblings, but we fuck like champions.” –Vampire Eric

 

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