Summer is coming.
After a drama-heavy season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the cable network’s sultry vampire soap True Blood returns for its fifth year, promising lots of hot blood, hotter sex, and a host of new faces in Bon Temps. Plus the eagerly-awaited return of a charismatic baddie. (And Felicity’s Scott Foley.)
When last we left Sookie, she was cradling the body of her best friend Tara. But don’t think a little thing like a shotgun blast to the head can keep everyone’s favorite sad-sack down. “Tara’s definitely coming back, just can’t tell you how,” Rutina Wesley recently told E! News. All we know for sure is that neither vampire Bill nor Eric have a hand in it. My bet? Sookie uses some serious fairy powers. Let’s hope Tara doesn’t make like Buffy Summers and come back from the grave much graver.
Another character back from a cement grave is the former Vampire King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare, lately of American Horror Story.) One of the early season’s mysteries will revolve around who freed the insane human-killer from the prison Bill and Eric left him in. Russell will definitely be changed by his experience, but not in ways that one would expect. Has he gone soft? Rumors hint at him still being homicidal, but he’s also... falling in love? Considering his last relationship ended with Sookie pouring his lover down a garbage disposal at Fangtasia, I hope Russell’s intended isn’t someone fans actually like.
Another familiar face showed up at the end of last season — Reverend Steve Newlin, formerly of the vampire-hating Fellowship of the Sun. Now a vampire himself, season 5 promises to be more politically charged as vampires fight for more rights.
So if Bill and Eric aren’t helping Tara or rebuffing the advances of Russell, what are they up to? For starters, they’re putting aside their hate for each other to clean up the mess they created within the Vampire Authority. There’s a slew of new vamps in town, too, including unusual and intriguing casting choice Christopher Meloni. From SVU to Bon Temps? How random! Also new to Louisiana is standout Spartacus star Peter Mensah (best known to non-gladiators as the dude who got kicked down the well in 300,) Mac from Veronica Mars, and Scott Foley as one of Terry’s old war buddies.
One thing longtime fans really have to look forward to this season is an flashback centering on Pam and how Eric came to make her into the immortal ice-queen with fantastic clothes that she is today.
Never content to deal solely in vampires, True Blood has a lot of werewolf and shapeshifter turmoil ahead. The romantic tension budding between Sookie and Alcide (Joe Manganiello, presently taking his kit off on the big screen as a stripper in Magic Mike) has a Debbie Pelt-shaped hurdle to jump if the pair ever hopes to become more than friends. And Sam runs into romantic troubles with his girlfriend Luna because nothing ever goes right for poor Sam.
This is Alan Ball’s last year as showrunner. Will that mean the show will get better or worse? Will he go out with a bang and really shake things up in Louisiana or will the series continue to be fun but ridiculously disjointed? I guess so long as we get lots of over-the-top romance and Sookie hilarity, I won’t care too much. It’s summer and I’m ready for something a bit lighter. (Just no more fucking fairies please. I shall cry.)
True Blood premieres this Sunday at 9PM E/PT on HBO.
Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com. She covers True Blood, Game of Thrones, and is also an avid gamer. She has also covered tech and TV for Geektress.com and Action Flick Chick. Follower her on Twitter @tdelucci