True Blood is back! Season 5 kicked off by resolving all of its big cliffhangers, especially the fate of Tara. The short answer is: She’s dead. The long answer is: She’s undead!

The premiere is as fast-paced as any episode of True Blood. Before the opening credits even roll, Bill and Eric are captured by the Vampire Authority after killing Nan Flanagan and Sookie begs Pam to turn the quite dead Tara into a vampire, which she does.

Tara’s Turn

Sookie makes a deal with Pam that she will try to turn Tara (assuming it’s even possibly given the fact that half her head is missing) in exchange for reuniting Pam with Eric and a favor to be named later. Pam agrees, revealing that she’s been a Maker before but it didn’t turn out well.

With Pam and Tara in the ground waiting to see if the turn works, Sookie and Lafayette clean up the mess. Lafayette suggests calling in the police because killing Debbie was obviously self defense, but Sookie says she had time to think about it and chose to kill her instead of just letting her go to prison. Since Sookie is the ONLY person who knows that, I don’t get her insistence on covering it up. Even if it wasn’t self-defense, the police would believe that. But then we wouldn’t have a murder mystery subplot to unfold all season as other people try to figure out the truth.

The next day Sookie and Lafayette go to deal with Jesus’ body, but they’re surprised to find it’s missing. Where is it? I don’t know, and I’m not entirely sure I care. All that witch stuff is so 2011.

Later Alcide shows up to tell Sookie about Russell coming back and he asks her to stay with him. She refuses and is about to tell him about killing Debbie when Lafayette shows up to kick him out. Since he’s a part of this cover-up, he doesn’t want Sookie blabbing about it to everyone. Also, Lafayette shaved his head, which isn’t really significant except that it’s why he was ominously staring at a razor.

That night Sookie waits for Tara to wake up. Pam emerges from her dirt nap, but Tara is still in the ground, lifeless. Lafayette arrives and Sookie sadly informs him that Tara is dead for real.

NOT! The final seconds of the episode feature Vampire Tara popping out of the grave and attacking Sookie! That’s immediately followed by the credits when the Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn!” plays. If you don’t immediately appreciate the comedy value of that sudden shift in tone, you’re not a true True Blood fan. Every time I hear that song from now until the end of time, I’m gonna think about vampires.

Eric and His Sister

After cleaning up Nan Flanagan, Eric and Bill get captured by the Vampire Authority and are being taken in for questioning. But they have other plans, so they light the car’s gas tank on fire from inside the trunk to blow it up. That’s one way to escape, I guess.

In the fiery aftermath Bill and Eric are about to be killed when another vampire named Nora comes to their rescue. Not only is she a chancellor of the Vampire Authority, but she’s Eric’s sister (meaning Godric was also her Maker). And in this family, they greet each other by passionately kissing and then boning in a storage container at the docks. And, if possible, Alexander Skarsgard looks even better naked this season than he did last season.

Nora is going to help them disappear for good because she is secretly working against the Authority. Eric gets a call from Alcide about the Russell problem, but he seems to ignore it. Eric and Bill decide to go on the run with their new aliases (the very Nordic-looking Eric is Ike Applebaum). But then Nora, Bill and Eric get attacked by the Vampire Authority. Again. Goodbye, Ike Applebaum.

Everybody Loves Jason (Except Hoyt)

We pick up right where we left off, with Jason answering the door and seeing vampire Reverend Steve Newlin. Steve pathetically begs to be let in, telling a sob story about how he has no one and his Maker (allegedly a woman) didn’t even teach him how to glamour people. Of course that’s a lie, because as soon as Jason is dumb enough to look Steve in the eyes, he gets glamoured to let him in.

As for Steve’s Maker, I feel like the show just set up a pretty big mystery. Is he telling the truth, suggesting that maybe it was Pam? Or was it someone else we know?

Once inside, we get one of the best scenes True Blood has ever done. Steve Newlin ties Jason up and then delivers a hilariously ridiculous speech about how he now realizes he was actually in love with Jason because he’s a “gay vampire American.” He desperately wants Jason to love him, but Jason doesn’t bark that way.

Steve gets pissed and attacks Jason, and it looks like he’s about ready to get some Stackhouse loving by force. Wasn’t Jason raped enough last season? Luckily Jessica arrives to throw Steve out because Jason is hers. Jason revokes his invitation, and Steve’s whimpering “I love you…” is amazing. If Jason won’t love you, Reverend Steve Newlin, I will, because you’re awesome. As is the fact that Jessica and Jason decide to celebrate with a little nookie.

The next day Jason tries to make up with Hoyt, but Hoyt still has a grudge over the whole “Jason slept with the only girl he ever loved” issue. That night Jason heads over to Jessica’s for some more action, but he’s sad to find out their sexual encounter was a one-off mistake and she’s still not that into him. So instead Jason walks into a college party Jessica is hosting and plays Quarters with some sexy co-eds. But he doesn’t sleep with them, because he’s matured and isn’t going to fill his sadness with sex anymore. I am firmly opposed to any storyline where Jason abstains from sex.

Sam vs. the Werewolves

The last time we saw Sam, he was surrounded by a pack of werewolves. They’re looking for Marcus Bozeman, the dead packmaster, and Sam refuses to answer them and flies away to see Luna. Unfortunately the werewolves follow him there and he agrees to go with them if they’ll leave Luna alone. Sam gets tortured by the pack (including Marcus’ mom Martha) until he tells them where Marcus’ body is buried because they need to perform a special ritual.

They find it and just as they’re about to execute Sam for killing Marcus, Alcide arrives to admit he did it, but he has no interest in taking over as the new packmaster. He also has no interest in this “ritual” which involves eating the body of the dead packmaster. Yeah, I would’ve been happy never seeing a woman devour her own son.

Naked Sheriff Andy

True Blood is known for its nudity, and if you are one of the small number of people who’ve been eagerly awaiting a nude scene from Chris Bauer as Andy Bellefleur, then you got your wish. Holly’s kids walk in to find naked Andy in bed with their mom, and obviously they snap a photo of it on their cell phone.

Later that day a judge comes to Andy and asks him to fix a speeding ticket his son got for doing 75 in a 25 mph zone. Andy agrees and the judge is very happy about this. If this seems like a totally pointless scene, don’t worry, it’ll be important later. Also, the judge is played by Conor O’Farrell, one of those tremendous character actors who’s been in everything from CSI and Medium to Desperate Housewives and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Terry’s Fire

Finally there’s a subplot with Terry that, to be honest, I don’t care about except for the fact that it has Scott Foley in it. It seems Foley’s character (Patrick) and two other Marines in their squad from Iraq also had house fires recently, and those fires killed the other two guys. So Patrick is here to figure out who’s behind it, and it might be a fifth member of their squad who’s been MIA for the past five years.

Congratulations, True Blood, you’ve found a way to make a subplot I care less about than last year’s devil baby storyline. Why are Terry and Arlene even on this show? If they wrote them off, it wouldn’t matter, and maybe it would give Carrie Preston the chance to have a bigger role on The Good Wife.

Next week on True Blood: Sookie and Lafayette deal with Vampire Tara while Eric and Bill deal with the Vampire Authority.

(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.