Review: True Blood (S5E1 — Turn! Turn! Turn!)


(Possible Spoilers Below)

Before I start my review of the premiere episode of the 5th season of True Blood, I should offer up a confession.  I’ve enjoyed watching True Blood for a while now.  I think Alexander Skarsgard is to die for, I think Anna Paquin’s an underrated actress, and I think that Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) are a cute couple.  I thought last season was brilliant and I thought that the finale especially was exciting and well-done.

That said, I’m hardly a True Blood expert and I’m not going to pretend that I am one.  Like a lot of this show’s fans, I wasn’t there when the show first started.  By the time I saw my first episode, True Blood was already into season 2 and I didn’t become a regular viewer until season 3.   Since then, I’ve worked to get caught up on show’s first seasons but I’m hardly an expert.  (Incidentally, I haven’t read the books either.)  I’m a fan and that’s the approach that I’ll be bringing to my reviews this season.

Anyway, tonight’s episode starts right where season 4 ended: Tara (Rutina Wesley) is bleeding to death on the floor of Sookie’s (Anna Paquin) kitchen, as the result of being shot in the face by Debbie who was then shot and killed by Sookie.  Lafayette (Nelson Ellis), who is still mourning his dead lover, comes downstairs and discovers the mess.  Suddenly, Pam (Kristen Bauer Von Straten, who is hilariously scornful of everyone and everything in this episode) shows up searching for Eric.  Lafayette asks Pam to turn Tara into a vampire.  Pam is, at first, reluctant until Sookie says she’ll “owe you one” in return.  I imagine that promise is something we’ll being hearing about a lot for the rest of this season.  By the end of the episode, it appears that Tara has returned as a vampire and I get the feeling that she might not be too happy about that.

Speaking of new vampires, the thoroughly creepy Rev. Newlin (Michael McMillan) is back, he’s now a vampire, and he’s’ apparently in love with Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten).  After he manages to trick Jason into letting him enter his house, Newlin explains: “I’m a gay vampire American…”  Newlin explains this while he just happens to have Jason tied to a chair.  The scene between Newlin and Jason were probably the most obviously politically-charged sequence in tonight’s episode, with Newlin seemingly standing in for such real-life homophobic bigots as Rev. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church.  Anyway, Newlin is chased off by Jessica who shows up to announce that “Jason is mine!”

So are Jessica and Jason back together all official-like now?  Not quite.  Jason later tracks Jessica down to an incredibly tacky frat party where Jessica explains to him that she just said that to scare off the Rev. Newlin.  The whole party sequence was actually my favorite part of this episode.  I loved the reminder that not everyone in Bon Temps is obsessed with the supernatural.  Some people just want to drink beer and sing karaoke.  Deborah Ann Woll, in particular, gave a good performance here and it was obvious that both she and the character she plays loved vamping it up.

But what about Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Bill (Stephen Moyer)?  When last we saw, they were killing Nan (Jessica Tuck) and getting told off by Sookie.  Tonight’s episode found Eric scrubbing away Nan’s remains while Bill called Jessica and told her that he would be going away for a few weeks.  They detect the danger at Sookie’s house but Eric coldly dismisses it with, “Fuck Sookie.”  Bill disagrees but even as they run out of the house, they are captured by the Authority.  Fortunately, Eric’s sister Nora (Lucy Griffiths) works for the Authority and she rescues both of them.  She and Eric then proceed to spend most of the rest of the episode having sex and uhmmm…Eric, that’s your sister.  Eric tells Bill, “We fight like siblings but we fuck like champions.”  Ewwwww.

Now, it’s a testament to the charisma and body of Alexander Skarsgard that, even when committing very graphic incest, he’s still the hottest thing ever to show up on HBO.

Anyway, Eric, Bill, and Nora meet up with some rebel vampires and are given false identities and appear to be on the verge of escaping when suddenly, the Authority’s goons show up and recapture them. I assume this is setting everything up for Chris Meloni to show up in the next episode.

But that’s not all that happened tonight!  One of the things that I love about True Blood is that it’s never shied away from offering up as many plot complications as possible per episode.  This is not a show that moves slowly and that was certainly true tonight.

It turns out that season 3’s main villain Russell (Denis O’Hare) isn’t dead and he’s not where he’s supposed to be.  Meanwhile, Scott Foley is wandering around town acting enigmatic, Andy (Chris Bauer) is still proving himself to be a dumbass in general, and apparently there’s some sort of power struggle developing with the werewolves.

A Few Random Observations:

  • I have to admit, I’ve never been that interested in the werewolves.  They’re just not as much fun as the vampires.  That’s one of the few things that True Blood has in common with the Twilight series.
  • Best line of the episode comes from Pam: “I’m wearing a Wal-Mart sweatsuit for you all.  If that’s not a demonstration of team spirit, I don’t know what is.”  My twitter timeline literally exploded with people reacting to that line.
  • My second favorite line was Alcide’s “It smells clean.  Like lemons on top of ammonia on top of bleach.”
  • If you’re like me and you mostly watch this show because you’re hoping for a chance to catch Alexander Skarsgard undressed, this episode did not disappoint.
  • This was a good episode for your Jessica lovers as well.  One of my favorite parts of tonight’s episode was when she dismissed the Rev. Newlin by explaining that she’s older than him.
  • Chris Bauer continues to play the most realistic lawman on television.
  • As much as I love Alexander Skarsgard, Stephen Moyer had some great scenes tonight.  His facial expressions while watching Nora and Eric were priceless.
  • I felt bad for Sookie during her little flashback scene.
  • The return of True Blood means a return of my effots to get my sister to allow me to dye her hair “Pacquin blonde.”
  • I hope Nora’s around for the rest of the season.  Incest aside, she’s a great character and Lucy Griffiths gave a great performance tonight.
  • I was hoping that Russell would physically show up on tonight’s episode but I’m actually kind of glad that he didn’t.  With everything else that was going on tonight, I’m glad that I have something to look forward to in the future.
  • Another thing I’m looking forward to: Chris Meloni as Roman.  If anyone was born to play a vampire named Roman, it’s Chris Meloni.

So, over all, I think tonight’s episode was a good start for season 5 and I look forward to spending another 11 episodes in Bon Temps.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: Jersey Shore Shark Attack (dir. by John Shepphird)

On Friday night, I saw Moonrise KingdomAs our own Leon the Duke explained in his own review on this very site, Moonrise Kingdom is a thought-provoking, relentlessly quirky little film from Wes Anderson.  It’s a film that makes you think and, as a result, come Saturday, I was in the mood to watch something that required absolutely no thought at all.  Luckily, SyFy was willing to help me out by showing an original film called Jersey Shore Shark Attack.

Why Was I Watching It?

I’d been meaning to watch a SyFy film for a while, mostly because my friend Kelly Thul always provides the most interesting twitter commentary on them.  When I saw that something called Jersey Shore Shark Attack was apparently playing on the channel, there was no way I couldn’t watch it.  After all, my BFF Evelyn refers to me as L-Wowww.  I used to call her Evooki but, after seeing Jersey Shore Shark Attack, her new name is Nooki.

What’s It About?

It’s holiday weekend on the Jersey Shore.  Preppies are uncomfortably mingling with Guidos, Joey Fatone is scheduled to give a concert, and greedy mayor Paul Sorvino is greedily dreaming of the money that will be made.  The only thing could ruin the holiday fun would be if a bunch of sharks suddenly showed up and decided to attack the Jersey shore.

Which is exactly what happens.

Fortunately, when the greedy Mayor refuses to close down the beach, there are a few Guidos who are willing to do the right thing.  The Complication (Jeremy Luc) and his friends Paulie Balzac (Daniel Booko), Donnie (Joey Russo), J-Moni (Alex Mauriello), and BJ (Audi Resendiz) take it upon themselves to battle the sharks.  However, the Complication’s ex, Nooki (Melissa Molinaro), has defiantly gone sailing with a bunch of preppies and now finds herself stranded at sea, surrounded by circling sharks…

What Worked?

A lot of people are probably online right now talking about how “stupid” and how “bad” this movie was but you know what?  I loved it.  This movie was a lot of fun and, like the best film parodies, it was very smart about being stupid.  Let’s put it like this — if you’re criticizing this film for having silly dialogue, terrible special effects, and bad acting, you’re missing the point.

Add to that, the acting isn’t that bad.  The film’s stars do a good job at capturing the “personas” of their Jersey Shore counterparts and I would even go so far as to compare this movie to the classic South Park episode “It’s a Jersey Thing.”

Plus, Tony Sirico’s in it and he gets to go all Robert Shaw and deliver a half-crazed monologue about shark attacks.

Plus, there’s a reporter who says things like, “Stay away from the pier, yo!”

Plus, Joey Fatone’s in it!  And he gets eaten!

What’s not to love?

What Didn’t Work?

It all worked, dammit!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I’m Italian (well, a fourth-Italian) and I don’t swim either.   (Though I certainly don’t mind getting wet…)

Lessons Learned:

It’s a Jersey thing.