After a dismally weak and slow fourth season filled with tedious subplots about witches, spirits and all wolves and vamps in between, I am pleased to say that Alan Ball’s HBO fangfest returns to more reactive territory, by delving head first into the heart of the vampire community, with the long awaited introduction of The Authority.
A lot had happened in a short amount of time since the Season Four finale, what with Alcide (Joe Mangianello) discovering that the long-thought dead Russell Edgington (Russell O’Hare) had broken out of his concrete tomb. Also, we saw Sookie (Anna Paquin) meet her near demise at the hands of Alcide’s ex, until Tara jumped in front of the bullet, dying in Sook’s arms. Furthermore, a vindictive pack master had been murdered out of revenge, the Authority’s official spokesperson Nan Flanagan meeting her true death at the hands of Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard). Did I leave anything out? Probably.
In any case, it’s a whole new season, and the Authority’s pissed, enough to track down and abduct Bill and Eric, but not before they meet the elder group’s chancellor, Nora (Lucy Griffiths), who just happens to be Eric’s ageless sister. Back at the Stackhouse household, Sookie and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) make an impulsive request by asking Pam (Kristina Bauer van Stratten) to turn Tara before she is fully dead, hoping to give her a new life as a vampire. This doesn’t come without moral and logistical complications.
In town, Merlotte’s cook Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe) reconnects with an old Army buddy (Scott Foley) who informs him that a vengeful spirit may have followed them back from their tour in Iraq; Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) tries to figure out how to make amends with best friend Hoyt (Jim Parrack) after reconnecting with young nubile vamp Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll). Meanwhile, back at the Authority’s secret headquarters, Bill and Eric must appease the ire of its senior committee, headed by older vampire Roman (Christopher Meloni) and several other considerably older vampires. The group firmly believes in keeping a harmonious rapport with humankind, all the while fighting Sanguinista dissidents who follow an ancient original Testament recalling the existence of Lilith, the first being and vampire created in God’s image.
With so much happening in this latest True Blood outing, the question becomes “who lives and who dies?”
I firmly think that the producers chose well in fleshing out some of the more prevalent icons referenced through Charlaine Harris’ novels, especially when it comes to finally exposing the Vampire Authority to the show’s fans. After all, there had to be a real sense of larger importance in order to convey the power such a group would hold over a small nation of virtually immortal beings, by flaunting its control and rule over those who would themselves rule over humans they see as no more than cattle.
While I’m as unenthusiastic about the Iraqi spirit subplot as I was by, well, the entire witches’ storyline from Season Four, I’m quite happy with the fact that they retained a decent camaraderie between main cast members. A bizarre kinship between Bill and Eric doesn’t quite turn into a bromance, but entertains nonetheless. Anna Paquin doesn’t quite have as much to do this year, but I believe this may have been due to the actress’ pregnancy later in the season. Of course, the growing suspense of the Authority’s final success or demise, and its members’ fate as they fight for or against the honor of First Vampire Lilith, makes for captivating viewing and doesn’t disappoint.
I wish I could tell you to be excited about the box set’s bonus features, but aside from some added information and commentaries with some episodes, along with some background tidbits about characters (bio notes, etc.), there isn’t a whole lot to sink your teeth into. What’s left to enjoy is the season itself, in which the blood looks tastier and the fangs sharper, given the excellent audio and HD quality, grain-free picture. I can’t wait to see what the show has in store for Season Six, which debuts on HBO in June. Let’s hope they don’t repeat the same mistakes as Year Four and keep the plot twists coming right up until each episode’s end credits.
3.5 out of 5