If there’s a lesson Sookie Stackhouse should have learned by now, it’s this: Leave the dead alone. Tara was already a goner when “True Blood’s” fourth season ended, half of her head blown away by a shotgun blast. But even those all too familiar with death, such as Sookie, can do desperate things when confronted the finality of it. So began Season Five in “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” a solid if not spectacular return for the series that set up nicely several themes to expect this summer: Sookie has neither Bill nor Eric to turn to in times of trouble; people can only run from the consequences of actions for so long; and when you play with the balance between life and death, not to mention with monsters, you will only incur trouble. And Sookie is in a heap-load of trouble.
The boldest choice, narrative-wise, would have been to kill Tara. Her character had been through enough abuse, and turning her into a vampire (very helpful, Pam) only prolongs it. Chances are she is missing a few screws considering the state of her body when it died, and a vamp with above-average recklessness surely isn’t what Sookie and Lafayette signed up for when they decided to keep Tara with them no matter her state. Is the Tara they knew in there? In this world, vampires remember their human lives and can even tap into human emotions, not to mention willfully tap out of them or turn them off completely. Who knows if that is even possible for Tara, who looks more like a wild animal than a seductive, blood-sucking being.
For her part, Sookie handled the kitchen bloodbath rather well; she’s getting good at scrubbing brains off linoleum. She went into action mode to dispose of Debbie’s body and take Lafayette to find Jesus’, only the latter was nowhere to be found. Perhaps one of his relatives sensed his death and came to claim him? Sookie’s guess that Eric or Bill took him was as good as any, although that doesn’t seem likely. (A note for those who haven’t read Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire novels: Most of what is happening in “True Blood” does not happen in the books. This isn’t a “Game of Thrones” scenario in which items may be cut for time or budget reasons but basic plot points are intact. There isn’t much from the book series that could be considered a spoiler at this point. The only plot point in this episode that was the same was Debbie’s death. That’s it. So in these reviews, there really won’t be much mention of the books.) Both vamps sensed Sookie’s distress when Tara was shot, but Eric’s instinct was to ignore her — she had, after all, just rejected them both. After hesitating, Bill tries to run to her rescue only to be captured by agents for The Authority. His heart may have been in the right place, but now he and Eric are on their own vampire politics-related path. Sookie has to cope without her main undead men. Although Pam helped her out by turning Tara — and earning an IOU from Sookie that won’t be pretty — Sookie can probably forget about enlisting further help from Eric’s progeny.
Alcide wouldn’t mind stepping in to aid the telepath, asking Sookie to stay with him now that Russell Edgington has escaped his concrete grave. We don’t hear him wondering what became of Debbie after he threw her out, and Sookie almost spills her secret that there is a reason her kitchen smells like bleach and ammonia … and that there’s a tooth on the floor near the fridge. While she is busy lying to him, Sam is lying for him, a development without any basis. Sam doesn’t want to turn Alcide over to Marcus’s pack members out for revenge for their leader’s death, but his taking the blame for it to save Alcide is hard to believe. That’s the kind of sacrifice you make for a loved one, not an acquaintance. Thankfully, Luna alerts Alcide so he can confess to the murder and everyone can have a chance to watch Marcus’s mother eat her son’s intestines.
The return of Steve Newlin was a more entertaining development, as was his declaration of love for Jason, although it is hard to tell how much of what Newlin says can be believed. But just as his outbursts toward Jason — “Do not pity me! Love me!” — were hilarious, Jessica’s behavior of claiming Jason as hers, only to later tell him it was part of the act, was disappointing. She and Jason are playing the kind of cat and mouse game they had in Season Four and that she and Hoyt had previously. We know that she’s young and wants to have her adventures of playing Rock Band with coeds, but the dishonesty and hurt feelings circulating between Jessica, Jason and Hoyt feel juvenile. More interesting is Holly’s budding romance with Andy (looking good, sheriff), as well as Scott Foley’s character, Patrick. His news that Terry wasn’t the only former Marine to have experienced an unexplained fire presented the biggest mystery of the night. Terry and Patrick are the only ones who have survived the fires, and whatever horrible thing the squad encountered while on tour in Iraq is coming back to haunt them.
Eric’s blast from the past comes in the lovely form of Nora (Lucy Griffiths), a vampire who shares his maker, Godric, and who is working as a double-agent in the Authority. Eric and Bill escape their captors before her plan to free them kicked in, but that simply gives her and Eric plenty of time to both bicker and have sex — “We fight like siblings, but we f*** like champions,” he tells Bill. No one knows Eric has such a friend in such a high place, not even Pam. Before they can flee, complete with fake identities of Marcellus Clark for Bill and Ike Applebaum for Eric, Authority agents capture them yet again again, this time with Nora in tow. We’ll see if she’s able to keep her lies going, not to mention what sort of punishment is in store for the boys, who are quickly (and a tad improbably) becoming buddies. I’d watch “The Eric and Bill Hour: Life On The Run.”
It’s all part of the game for the vamps, but more and more the humans are realizing just how bad an idea it was to mingle with monsters. The fake-out of Lafayette eying the razor in Sookie’s shower wasn’t that big of a stretch. Who wouldn’t question the point of their life continuing once they had faced such destruction, sometimes at their own hands? Everyone’s carefree days are over, and the outlook for the breathing this season is bleak. Let’s hope they don’t let the undead have all the fun.
Sarah Carlson is a TV Critic for Pajiba. She lives in Texas.