In the season 4 premiere of True Blood, the show jumped forward one year and we found out Bill is the new Vampire King of Louisiana. How did that happen, you ask? This week we find out, and we also get to enjoy Jason having his clothes ripped off, Eric taking a shirtless midnight stroll down the road and more naked Sam than you can shake a stick at.

Bill’s flashbacks begin when Sookie shows up to see him, interrupting his violent sexual encounter with his coven spy Katerina. Sookie looks for some help getting rid of Eric, but King Bill can’t do much. That sends us to our first flashback of the night, set in 1982 London.

And this is where we meet one of my favorite character’s ever, Punk Rock Bill! That’s right, he’s channeling his inner Spike and engages in a vaguely homoerotic biting session with a skeezy bartender. But even with his Billy Idol wannabe accent, Bill doesn’t kill him, which gets him noticed by none other than Nan Flanagan.

Nan is all about coming out of the coffin with an assist from Louis Pasteur (a vampire, natch) who is the man responsible for creating synthetic blood. She wants vampires to live openly, but she also wants to insert spies into the established vampire monarchy to bring it down from the inside. I smell a big war coming between Nan and the Vampire Authority, those mysterious, shadowy figures we saw briefly last season.

In the second flashback, we go to the end of last season as Bill and Sophie-Anne did battle. Bill gets his butt kicked, but then his army of human soldiers with silver-tipped wooden bullets comes in and turns Sophie-Anne into a big pile of goo. Why does True Blood keep killing all the cool vampires?

Covered in queen blood, Nan shows up to give Bill the oath of office so he can become the new king, and, presumably, her mole on the inside. Nan seems to have her hand in every pot right now, and I can’t tell what, if anything, Eric and Bill know about the other’s involvement with her. Miss Flanagan is a woman to keep an eye on, because she’s at the center of whatever big coup d’etat is going down behind the scenes.

Now for a quick rundown of the rest of the episode:

Eric vs. the Witches

Eric tries and fails to get Sookie to be his, even after fixing up her home (and putting in a cubby for himself, the sly fox). His romantic drama becomes less important will King Bill tells him about Marnie’s coven practicing necromancy, and the idea of witches controlling dead things is especially bad for vampires.

Eric goes to stop the coven, where Lafayette and Tara (who finally came home to Bon Temps) are properly scared of the bad-ass vampire. But Marnie isn’t, and when Eric bites her and then attacks Tara, the witches perform a spell that stops Eric dead in his tracks and takes the light out of his.

A little while later Sookie finds a shirtless Eric wandering aimlessly down the street, and he has no idea who he is. True Blood has always reveled in its soap opera-esque stories, so I guess it was just a matter of time before they tackled amnesia. Luckily a spoonful of hot, shirtless Eric helps this bad-tasting medicine go down.

Jason Gets Tied Up

The Hotshot werepanther nonsense is keeping Jason’s character tied down, in every sense of the word. He deserves a better storyline than this, because for the entire episode, he’s tied to a bed and learns that Crystal and Felton are going to use Jason as a breeding stallion to make a new litter of werepanthers, but first they have to turn him into a werepanther. I appreciate any excuse to have a shirtless Jason Stackhouse tied to a bed (which is a surprisingly frequent occurrence), but I’d like it if True Blood would connect the werepanthers to some other part of the show, because it’s been an isolated storyline from the beginning.

A Super Shapeshifter

Sam continues to get closer to Luna and she reveals that if a shifter kills a member of his or her family, then they can shift into people. That’s a cool idea, and I’ll bet a large sum of money that it was setting up a big moment in the future when Sam kills Tommy and starts shifting into other Bon Temps residents. Speaking of Sam’s useless brother, he’s just pretending that his leg is still broken to stay with Hoyt’s mama, as Sam learns in a naked heart-to-heart in the middle of the forest. If you actually timed it, I think Sam Trammell might be completely naked in this episode for more time than he wears clothes.

The Minor Couples

Sadly, it seems Hoyt and Jessica and Arlene and Terry are given backseat stories that don’t really matter that much. Hoyt gets into a brawl with some anti-vamp protesters and Jessica decides to cheat on him by going back to Fangtasia alone to bite that tasty boy checking her out last week. If you’re curious, he’s played by Randy Wayne, who’s done a lot of stuff (I loved him on the short-lived ABC sitcom Sons and Daughters), but you might know him for playing Luke Duke in the Dukes of Hazzard prequel movie.

Elsewhere, Arlene is still terrified of her baby, and while Carrie Preston absolutely steals the show with her insanely over-the-top comedy, I’m still confused about where this storyline is going. Is the baby actually evil? I kind of hope so.

Next week on True Blood: What’s the only thing more entertaining than a preposterous “Eric has amnesia” story? How about the fact that he stays shirtless for the majority of the episode? If that’s not enough, we also get the return of hunky werewolf Alcide.

(Image courtesy of HBO)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.