True Blood: “Jesus Gonna Be Here” Season 7 Episode 1 Review

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HBO’s best guilty pleasure is back for one last romp of supernatural soapiness. The premiere is disjointed, but shows a lot of promise for the season ahead.

When we last left Bon Temps, there were so many change-ups being made that it would be safe to assume the writing staff all got high on V. Thanks to a nonsensical six-month time jump, Sam is now the mayor! Merlotte’s is now Bellefleur’s, and its being run by Arlene! Sookie is with Alcide! The small Louisiana town we’ve all grown to love was barely recognizable. What True Blood really needed—and still needs—is some major refocusing.

Luckily, new series showrunner Brian Buckner seems to be aiming to do just that. The central plot for this season revolves around a growing number of Hep V-infected vampires running rampant through the town. To combat this, Sam and Bill have teamed up to promote the idea of a vampire for every human, so that people will always have protection, and vampires will always have a clean source of blood. In theory, this idea is very exciting because it could form some interesting new character dynamics. The premiere gave us a taste of this, with some compelling scenes between Jessica and Adylin, as well as James and Lafayette.

Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of work to be done if the show wants to get out of the corner its backed itself into. There are a few too many characters of little importance that get way too much screen time. Though it was a bold move to kill off Tara in the episode’s bloody cold open—although, since we didn’t actually see her die, there’s a chance she’s still out there—I really don’t see why we needed to watch an extended scene between her mother’s preacher husband and the vampire who’s been assigned to them. Additionally, while watching Jason have sex in the street with his domineering vampire girlfriend might have been thrilling for some, it really did nothing to advance the plot or develop his character. If True Blood wants to get back to its roots, it really needs to trim some of its fat.

The biggest hurdle to face, however, lies with Sookie, who seems to have become a caricature of her former self. Though she’s often allowed her emotions to lead her, does anyone really believe she’d walk off into the woods alone and throw her phone away while rabid vampires are on the loose, all because she’s mad at Alcide? Speaking of the which, her newfound relationship with the werewolf offers little for us to be invested in because all of the development occurred during the time jump.

Then there was that supremely strange final sequence at the church where she delivered a speech to the town, many of whom blame her for the vampire attacks. The moment is meant to be inspirational, as she asks her fellow neighbors and friends to let her help fix the situation, but it just comes off as uncharacteristic and confusing. Once she’s concluded, the screen immediately cuts to black and the credits roll. I’m no expert on how to end a TV show, but this certainly isn’t how you do it. It felt like there was more to be said, and I guess we’ll have to wait till next week to find out if that’s true.

While the panic continues to spread in Bon Temps, Pam is miles and miles away in Morocco searching for Eric. Anything Pam does is engaging, mostly because of Kristin Bauer van Straten’s snappy performance, but her plot feels extremely disconnected from everything else going on. Eric is nowhere to be found in the premiere—a smart move, despite the fact that we already know Alexander Skarsgård is a series regular this season. Still, after his fiery ending last summer, it’s anybody’s guess as to what sort of capacity the show is going to use him in.

The thing that has always made True Blood stand out from its fellow HBO shows is its unabashed sense of fun. It’s never attempted to be a serious, thought-provoking drama, which is part of what made it so great. Underneath all the grisly killings and steamy romances, there was a gleefully twisted sense of humor. With this vampire for every human plotline, I think the show could find its funny bone again. It has its work cut out for it for sure, but I’m optimistic that True Blood will go out in spectacular fashion. Grade: B-

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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