True Blood: HBO's Secret Comedy Defies All Prediction

How long would you play a game where the rules were clearly being made up by the person who invited you to play as he went along? Where the only goal of the game was to see what he could get away with next?

If the people sitting around me during that game bore any resemblance to the characters in last night’s Season 4 premiere of True Blood, then my answer would be, "As long as we both shall live." Marry me, True Blood, and be my vampire bride.

And yet, YIKES. The writers took the Rules for Screenwritings playbook, tore out the pages, and used them to make a papier-mache sculpture of a giant hand triumphantly extending its middle finger.

The first few minutes were agonizing. Between the random jewelry hot-glued onto models and the characters from Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre hurling laser balls at each other in what looked like the morning after Burning Man, I started to worry my favorite show had crumbled into a weird, expensive joke.

Sookie reunited with her Granddaddy in fairyland, just moments after we saw her disappear in the Season 3 finale. Granddaddy hadn’t realized he’d been strolling around eating glowing fruit for 20 years. Sookie saw a wall bleed, decided fairyland was B.S., and got chased by the Queen of the Faeries (so much purple lightning) into a giant space hole. In a matter of moments, Sookie had returned to Louisiana, her Granddaddy had aged rapidly and exploded into fairydust, and we were right back on track.

Except, as Sookie soon learned, a year had passed. And Jason had sold her house and gotten a really tight, flattering deputy’s uniform!

Best. Writing. Choice. Ever. Way to step back, raise the stakes, change the game, and then find a way to reintroduce a world all the more believable for having been in flux during our absence. In a sense, Sookie did onscreen what we’ve been doing for the past year: waiting for True Blood to start while fist-fighting male models. Last season ended in the midst of a lot of falling action and loose ends, and we got to skip it. In our absence, all our favorite characters took care of the boring parts and grew out their hair in time to welcome us home.

The rest of the episode felt like a warm bear hug for the fans. Eric and Bill’s eyes shot open when Sookie re-entered the mortal realm (I promise I will never use those words again) and immediately we established: A) Bill is still totally into Sookie B) So is Eric and C) Eric and Bill have had some drama at the office because now Bill outranks Eric (but never out-foxes him, AM I RIGHT LADIES?)

Sookie, like us, has only the trauma of her roller-coaster ride of betrayal and relief from last season to guide her in navigating an entirely new Bill.

New Bill is smarmy. Do-gooding and glad-handing at the old folks home, hanging out with a hot lady lawyer, and sporting the second-worst haircut on American TV.

Jeri Curl Mohawk would be Worst Haircut #1, and once I got tired of cackling at his hair, I really enjoyed the portrayal of the witchy-woman meeting that Lafayette was getting dragged to by his steady beau. The show did not give the witches a shred of coolness. They are all clearly misfit librarians or empty-nest moms. Even the most powerful witch wore a denim jumper.

True Blood is secretly the best comedy on HBO. Pam’s show-stopping PSA would be Exhibit A for that argument, and her stall-talkin’ with Jessica at Fangtasia would be Exhibit B. Kristin Bauer is kind of an untapped comedic goldmine. Arlene is still wary of her child, who is now out of her womb and ripping the heads off babydolls.

Sam is attending Craigslist meet ups with a bunch of shifters.

His brother Tommy has a kind of interesting storyline, being the surrogate son/lover (?) of Hoyt’s mom.

But by far the best storyline last night was Tara’s. She’s changed her name to Toni, moved to New Orleans, and taken up all-girl cage fighting. Because that's a real popular sport anywhere (it's not). Do you think All-Girl Cage Fighting will be the next Roller Derby, a sport that is fictionalized a hell of a lot more than it actually occurs, up until people create a scene around it because of movies about its scene? A scene trying to be a scene, that exists only in Drew Barrymore’s imagination? Oh and Tara/Toni has a hot girlfriend and I love their poster:

Jessica and Hoyt also showed promising signs of possible drama. It was another super elegant move of the writers to make them have a believable, bitter fight and then kind of dissolve into giggles together in one scene. They're a couple who is impossible not to root for, and this episode they won the "Only Human On The Inside" award. I look forward to their highly relatable relationship problems turning into something brain-bubblingly insane in the next few episodes.

The show then ended with exactly the kind of cliff hanger that will nail me to my seat until next Sunday at 8:59pm: Jason in danger.

HAHAHAHA just kiddding. He’ll be fine. I’m referring, obviously, to the reveal that Eric was the one who bought Sookie’s house…maybe because he never gave up on her, or maybe because in Nordic/Vampire logic that means her hot body is forever his to do whatever he so pleases with—which, sign me up for HBO all over again, Mr. Television Man. You are peddling eye-crack.

Essentially, this show has opened up a lot of interesting paths and turned itself inside out into something even those of us who have read the books do not dare attempt to predict. Much like Sookie, I’m way disoriented, but so, so glad to come home to Bon Temps.


... Can Andy “have it all” by getting wasted on V and being a top-rate police sheriff?

... How many times will Jason almost die this season, and will you even once care?

... If Bill has a witch as a spy, does that mean he is secretly a Wiccan?

... Do you kind of roll your eyes when someone mourns a pet who was not a cat or a dog?

... Is Arlene/Rene’s baby EVIL?

... Is it sweet or creepy that Eric wants to buy Sookie?

... Did you love or hate the premiere?

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