Just how many subplots swirled about in tonight's season premiere? I think I lost count at 32.
While it's always good to meet new characters (like Vampire Authority rep Nora, who gives off a distinct Rachel Weisz vibe) and see others get extended time (always good to see Pam!), the Bon Temps community is getting a bit crowded -- and a bit hard to follow.
You're not sure what you're supposed to care about most: Sookie, who used to be the main character and is now often shifted to the background? Eric and Bill, who apparently have now become best friends (bonded either by Sookie rejected them both or by working together to kill Nan?) Lafayette and his many hairstyles?
Still, "Turn! Turn! Turn!" (the episode title should give you an immediate clue about Tara's fate) did a pretty decent job at answering some lingering Season 4 questions -- and set us up for a Season 5 battle from what appears to be many enemies.
Let's start with Sookie. The episode picks off right where we left off at Season 4 -- and I mean right off (no fast-forwarding a year thanks to a Sookie trip to Fairyland). We even see some of the action from the season finale, with Debbie Pelt being shot by Sookie and Tara running in front of her best friend to deflect Debbie's shot.
Sookie's on the floor cradling her best friend, who looks damn near dead. Lafayette, who, it must be noted, recently murdered his boyfriend Jesus when his body was taken over by witch Marnie (you got that?), is overcome with grief.
Suddenly, Pam appears, desperately looking for Eric. She notices the carnage and says, "Color me impressed. You guys know how to party." Aw Pam, I've missed you and your sassy one-liners.
Lafayette and Sookie urge Pam to turn Tara into a vampire to save her life ("Turn her? I don't even like her," Pam deadpans).
"You'll have to try. I'll owe you one," Sookie says. Somehow this deal works, though I'm not sure what exactly Sookie will have to do for Pam in the future? Help get Pam back in Eric's good graces? Buy her a new leather outfit? Surely this will come back to bite Sookie at some point this season.
Pam rips open her wrist and starts to feed Tara. Later, it's time for Tara vampire making, and a big hole is dug in Sookie's backyard to bury Tara and her would-be maker, Pam.
Pam has changed into an ugly yellow sweater and sweatpants for the occasion (clearly Pam won't get her usually stylish duds dirty for Tara).
"Aren't you supposed to be holding her or something?" Sookie asks to a reluctant Pam.
"I am wearing a Walmart sweatsuit for y'all," Pam says. "If that's not a demonstration of team spirit, I don't know what is."
Point taken, Pam.
After burial, Sookie cleans up the Debbie Pelt mess in the kitchen. Alcide comes by to check in on Sookie/casually mention that Russell Edgington is back from his cement crypt. You know, just an average Bon Temps Tuesday. He urges Sookie to hide out from Russell at his house, but Sookie says she can't and if Alcide knew why she can't he'd understand (oh, all Sookie did was kill Alcide's ex Debbie).
Then it's time for more death clean-up. Sookie drives Lafayette to his house to tend to the dead Jesus. Jesus, last seen in a chair, is not at the house and Lafayette sort of has a breakdown about the whole thing.
To be fair, if your boyfriend is a practicing Wicca who once took you to Mexico to meet his grandfather who summoned the Santeria-esque powers of his ancestors, you shouldn't be too shocked when his dead body vanishes.
Meanwhile, back at Sookie's place, both she and Lafayette bathe (separately) and while Sookie remembers childhood memories of Tara, all Lafayette can concentrate on is the pink razor sitting before him. He doesn't do anything about it, but it's not too shocking suicide is on his mind. However, it's tough to see someone as strong-willed as Lafayette being so distraught.
Later, they wait, after dark, for Tara and Pam to hopefully emerge with a welcome bottle of Tru Blood. Sookie sees a hand raise up, but it's Pam, who complains about the dirt in her bra.
"Did it work?! Tara, wake up! Wake up! Wake up!" Sookie says digging down by her head. She finally reaches Tara's face, which looks very, very dead.
Lafayette appears and begins to cry and shake his head.
Suddenly -- and I mean so suddenly that I jumped out of my chair -- vampire Tara jumps out the ground and immediately begins to attack Sookie, who lets out a giant scream.
Which begs the question: Which type of vampire will vampire-hater Tara be? Will she remember Sookie and will Pam, who pretty much hates both Sookie and Tara, be a helpful maker? Will she be even more angry than usual (which is saying something for Tara)?
Well hell, at least she's back. Watch ya neck, Sook.
Bill and Eric: Vampire Friends Forever: Where were Bill and Eric when Sookie was in trouble with Debbie Pelt? They were a bit preoccupied with cleaning up the murdered Nan (which we see Eric do in 1980s-movie-montage-style fast-forward motion).
They both sense she's in trouble, 'F--- Sookie," Eric says. "Did you not hear her tonight? She rejected us both." Nice, Eric.
Still they eventually both race out the door, only to be captured by burning silver nets. The Authority strikes again!
Taken by two Authority officials, Bill and Eric are dumped in the trunk of a car until the two devise a way to blow up said car (puncturing the gas tank? How MacGyver of them).
"Who wants to die first?" says the male kidnapper.
Apparently it was him, because the female kidnapper dispatches him rather violently.
"Nora," Eric purrs, runs up to the kidnapper and starts kidding her.
"Friend of yours?" Bill asks
"That's my sister, actually," Eric says.
We later learn that by "sister," Eric means that he and Nora had the same maker (Godric), but it's still sort of creepy, especially since they have sex later as Bill keeps watch outside.
Eric clearly has friends in high places (he says no one knows about his relationship with Nora), but it's still going to take a lot of work to get them to a safe place (perhaps not sex-with-vampire-sister safe, but still, safe).
On the way to getting new identities, Nora informs the two that there are factions in the Authority — some applaud what they did to get rid of last season's necromancers and some who want them to suffer the True Death immediately. I'm assuming this will be the central Authority-themed issue this season. Nora is apparently a "Chancellor of the Vampire Authority," which sounds as though it's right below the Guardian of the Vampire Authority (to be played later by guest Christopher Meloni).
Authority politics be deadly.
The plan to get Bill and Eric away safely is, shockingly, foiled by an unseen force that kills all the collaborators (conveniently minus Bill, Eric and Nora). Next stop: Meloni?
Well hello, Steve Newlin: Remember religious anti-vampire whack job Steve Newlin? He's back — but in vampire form! And paying Jason a visit.
In a ridiculously random but hilarious scene, Steve swears he's not there to hurt Jason (even though Jason slept with his wife and pretty much ruined his whole ministry).
Jason notes that he's learned that fangs (Steve's are prominently displayed) are "twin hard-ons." "Hard-ons for trouble and for feeding on somebody. Not just for talking."
Steve glamours Jason into letting him in the house, where he aplogizes to Jason for his past deeds, you know "acting out ... murderous and whatnot"
"I am a gay vampire American," Newlin admits in a sly Gov. Jim McGreevey reference. "And I love you, Jason Stackhouse."
"First of all, I'm flattered. That was without a doubt the nicest I love you I've ever gotten from anybody, male or female," Jason answers.
Steve won't take no for an answer ("My dead heart beats for you," he says) and he takes Jason by the throat before Jessica runs to his rescue, threatening Steve and forcing him to leave the house. And then she gets on top of Jason.
Are Jason and Jessica back together? Not quite. She said last season she wasn't looking for a relationship, and when Jason later appears at her (Bill's) house, she reminds him that all she was doing earlier was for her protection.
Plus she has, like, a party going on with the entire Greek community of Bon Temps College. Oh that Jessica. So irrepressible.
Howl at the weirdos: When we last say shape-shifter Sam, he was being surrounded by Marcus Bozeman's wolfpack (quick reminder: Alcide killed Marcus last season to save Sam's life; Sam is in a relationship with Marcus' baby mama, Luna).
The wolfpack, led by the gorgeous-in-human form Rikki (Kelly Overton), demand to know what happened to Marcus. If Sam doesn't tell them, they'll go after Luna and Luna's daughter, Emma.
Sam eventually relents after Rikki appears to him again, and again with her hair artfully placed in front of her bare human breasts. He tells them that he killed Marcus (to protect Alcide), and is taken to wolfpack headquarters, where he's tortured, meets Marcus, gravelly voice mom, Martha (guest Dale Dickey) and leads the pack to Marcus' body.
Alcide eventually appears and says that it was he who killed Marcus. Half of the wolves snarl at him viciously while others bow down and proclaim him the new wolf-leader.
And, in the grossest moment of the episode (even after the Nora-Eric sex), the wolves, led by mother Martha, start eating Marcus' dead human body.
I mean, it's not unexpected because they're wolves and all, but still disgusting. No disrespect to human-wolf tradition intended.
Terry and Arlene: still boring: I really like Terry Bellefleur. Despite the whole PTSD from the Iraq War thing, he's kindly and seems to be a good cook.
But it seems as though the writers never quite no what to do with him and Arlene. Case in point: they're subplot this season involved the reappearance of one of Terry's old Marine comrades, Patrick (Scott Foley).
Terry's unnerved by Patrick's visit, and we don't quite know why until Patrick says he's in town because four of the privates in their one Iraq squad have had fires at their homes. Dun-dun-dun!
Terry tries to explain that the fire at his home involved a ghost trying to claim her dad baby (that old excuse!) and Patrick believes him. Patrick's more upset that Terry doesn't want to help him investigate the maybe-related-to-Iraq privates' fire.
The whole thing is ridiculous and very much out of place. The melodramatic stares and music when Patrick alludes to "what happened there in Iraq" are really bad touches — highlighting the most far-fetched plot this year.
Still: Steve Newlin proclaiming his love for Jason? That makes the season premiere worth the wait.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM "TURN! TURN! TURN!"
Maybe move away?: When Alcide comes to urge Sookie to run away with him to hide out in his house, Lafayette, understandably, yells: "We're done with the supernatural bulls---!"
Nice comeback, Hoyt: Yup, Hoyt is still mad at his former best friend Jason for sleeping with his former love Jessica. But the best insult he can come up with is "girlfriendf---er."
We-weren't-prepared scene: Seeing Andy Bellefleur's naked butt. He hooked up with Merlotte's waitress Holly and the two are discovered in the morning by Holly's sons. Discovering Andy's pants on the couch, one son yells, "On the couch, Mama!? Where I sleep?!" Aw, rednecks.
Best response to a car being blown up: Bill says "I'm sorry" to Nora for blowing up her car. "Don't be," she responds. It was badass."
Most un-Jason like behavior from Jason: Jason turns down an easy hook-up from the unfortunately named sorority girl, Cammy, who he met at Jessica's party, because he still pines for Jessica. "Do me a favor and put on that sweatshirt because you are in some kind of shape and I don't need to see that s---," he says when he starts to drive her home.