Monday, June 27, 2011

Review - True Blood Season 4 Episode 1 She's Not There

I became disillusioned by True Blood during the third season. The vampire parts of the show were great, as is expected, but the writers kept putting in more, trying to fill in time with the multitude of other characters who are nowhere near as exciting as vampires. The result was as show which fluctuated from one minute to the next, from vampires doing awesome things to characters I don't care about doing usual soap-y things. Whether the writers planned this to reduce the load for the stars or genuinely thought the other characters should have equal standing with Sookie and the vampires, a lot of the previous season didn't click for me.

That's why I'm hesitant to say too much going things about the season premiere, "She's Not There," which I did enjoy. Like the previous season premieres, it's a cool episode because it shifts the show in a substantial way. Characters are in new situations and roles, and there are new enemies and supernatural stuff. With all this new stuff going on set in the mystical world of True Blood, it's hard not to get excited. That said, do the writers have enough material to carry the excitement for an entire season? Their track record says no, but maybe they have something new this time around. Just maybe.

And if the format stays the same, oscillating between the relatively boring residents of Bon Temps and the vampires, I guess that would be okay. The first 15 minutes are probably the tripiest minutes of the show since Maryann's first orgy. Sookie is surrounded by fairies in their glowing splendor, and even finds the bellboy from last season and her granddad. But the illusion is popped, fairies turned into wrinkled hags who want to close the divide to the human world. Sookie returns to the human world where she finds her home being sold and her brother who informs her that she's been gone for a year!

In that year, a lot has changed. The vampires are making outreach to the community, and of course everyone was consumed with finding Sookie, who they presumed to be killed by Bill. There actually isn't too much in the episode, but by the end of the episode, there are some startling new developments. Bill is apparently king of Louisiana now, he's infiltrated the witch group Lafayette and Jesus are in, and sleeping with the lawyer Portia whose last name indicates a relation to Andy and Terry.

One of the most surprising parts of the episode was that Lafayette and Jesus are doing something interesting. The witches can actually do things and the leader even makes contact with Eddie, the vampire from the first season, and it makes for a good shock. But it's outdone by the final ceremony--which has the gravitas  Supernatural Latin stuff never has--the group holding hands and momentarily possessing a bird. Out of all the non-vampire plots, this plot was the only one which got a big reaction out of me, so hopefully it pays off in the end.

Now on to the stuff I didn't really like or don't care about. Andy is addicted to V and is out of control, something we've seen time and time again, and has little potential. Tara is off in New Orleans doing MMA hooking up with girls, and trying to create a new identity--probably better than her plot last season and Andy's this season, but I want to see more first. Sam is part of some shape shifter anger management group, which is almost an afterthought. Jason is still trying to help the people at Hotshot, but they toss him in the refrigerator. While Jessica remains as cute as ever, her problems this season, fighting the urge to drink others' blood, is pretty much the same as her problems last season, the only difference being that she's living with Hoyt now. Arlene's baby apparently rips heads off dolls... but who cares other than Arlene?

All in all, "She's Not There" made for an excellent season premiere. Even if the other characters still don't interest me, I still think the episode had enough good parts to make up for it. My philosophy with True Blood is that it is watchable until the vampires are no longer interesting. Each minute wasted on a boring plot about some random person is actually a minute closer to something good. Optimistic, yes, but that's how I get through each episode.

Score: 9.0/10
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