True Blood Episode Review: “She’s Not There”

HBO’s True Blood is back in all its soapy, vampy, Southern-fried glory. When last we saw our resident damsel in distress Sookie Stackhouse, she had sworn off her vampire boyfriend Bill and allowed herself to be whisked away to Fairyland. Yeah. It’s that kind of show. You either love it or you hate it. I’m deciding to at least start off the fourth with some cautious love. The set-up is has never exactly been True Blood‘s problem. And this was a great season premiere.

Maybe because it reminded me of a few other shows.

In typical True Blood fashion, we pick up right where last season left off, with Sookie arriving in the feminine hygiene product commercial that is Fairyland, where everyone’s all in soft focus and eating lightfruit. How is it that only Sookie, never known for her great intelligence, is the only person not drinking the Kool-Aid? Barry the bellboy from Dallas is there and so is Sookie’s grandaddy, who could swear he’s only been gone a few hours. Thankfully, in addition to being a telepath, part fairy, and a bit of a Mary Sue, Sookie also has the innate ability to turn everything around her to shit and our time in Fairyland is short.

Don’t piss off fairies. Queen Mab lookis like a member of a Norwegian black metal band when angry.

When Sookie jumps through a portal back to Earth she learns that she’s been missing and assumed dead for a year and a) Jason sold their grandma’s house and b) everyone has new hair. But no one’s hair is as great as Lafayette’s mohawk. I’m a big fan of the time shift on one hand because it was weird to think that Bon Temps was stuck in 2008 or so. But it’s also a bit of a cheap way to reinvigorate a show with new mysteries. But True Blood‘s a little bit cheap, too. I loved the time jumps on Battlestar Galactica and especially on Lost and I love it here. We’ve bypassed a lot of boring.

I’m sure that Queen Mab will be back and Sookie’s probably going to want to rescue her half-fey counterpoints down the line, but for now, it’s time to revel in vampire boy problems. The vampire dick-measuring starts immediately. Like sundown the same day. Damn, I missed Eric. And even Bill. That damn Bill-Sookie guitar love theme swells and I remember how much I liked them as a couple. There’s a lot of similarities to the Buffy/Angel/Spike love triangle going on. I loved Buffy, but I’m hoping that True Blood keeps it feeling fresher. Bill is about as boring as Angel ever was. I’m interested in seeing where his Bill’s new position as King of Louisiana takes him while he works on the Bon Temps city council, too. I just hope it includes plans for a flashback to Sophie-Ann’s death.

Eric Northman is definitely taking a page out of Spike’s big book of rapey courtship, which is not a good thing. He can now come and go as he pleases in Sookie’s house, since he owns it. He’s already tricked her into drinking his blood, all the better to keep tabs on her and give her sex dreams. This is predatory, not roguish and charming. Imagine if Eric wasn’t preternaturally gorgeous and instead looked like Clint Howard. Eric would be a villain. I like Eric more than Bill because he’s got a sly sense of humor, lots of confidence, and awesome track suits, but he’s skirting a very creepy line.

Give me Alcide. A psycho ex and a case of werewolf-ism seems comparatively mellow. Also, it’s not like Sookie would be lowering her standards because Alcide looks like this. (Borderline NSFW.)

Elsewhere in Louisiana:

Jessica and Hoyt are marginally less adorable because of very real relationship problems. I’ve never seen anyone sarcastically eat before, but Hoyt did a bang-up job. Jessica’s very young and never got a chance to really explore her vampire desires before playing house. Nothing good can come from the way Jessica’s flirting with strange men, especially with Pam acting as her mentor.

I knew Sam couldn’t be at a real anger management group because there were way too many hot people. Wine and shapeshifting are very therapeutic. But I still sense some major tension with his brother Tommy, who I don’t really buy as being reformed. A doofy haircut and saying grace over meals with Hoyt’s mom can’t hide that perpetual smirk.

In New Orleans, Tara is finally putting her jacked arms to good use as some kind of MMA artist. Awesome scene. Oh, she’s got a girlfriend now, too. So, yeah, that happened. She seems calmer, so good on her. Let’s try to hold off the tears and trembling lower lip for a few episodes, ‘kay? (But it’s Tara, who am I kidding.)

Jason (with a mustache) is officially a cop and got locked in a cooler by the meth addict were-panther hillbillies he’s charged with protecting. Meh. It was good to see him with Sookie again, like old times. That reunion was short-lived.

The real highlight of the show was Marnie, leader of the local coven. Wow. Harry Potter’s Aunt Petunia is bugfuck looney. I love her already. Maybe it’s because she called back to Eddie, the most pathetic vampire ever, who spent his Monday nights paying Lafayette for sex and watching Heroes. (To think, Heroes was once the highlight of anyone’s Monday night.) Fiona Shaw pulled some impressive faces as she raised the dead. She looks so unassuming, but those are usually the scariest kinds of Big Bads. (See: John Lithgow in Dexter season four.)

Finally, the cool end credits cover of The Zombie’s “She’s Not There” was performed by Nick Cave and Neko Case. Class act.

So, the puzzle pieces are all arranged in very interesting ways. But how will it all come together? That’s always the problem. They usually don’t. But maybe this season will be different. And if not, I’m in the mood for fun and snark. On Game of Thrones, winter may be coming, but I’m ready to enjoy the summer with some guilty pleasures.

Theresa DeLucci is still Team Direwolf.


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