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Season Five is Fantastic!
on January 1, 2013
The Bon Temps gang returns for the fifth season of HBO's "True Blood". I am a colossal fan of the show, having seen every episode since the pilot. Like every show, "True Blood" has had a few ups and downs in terms of writing. Seasons one and two were the show at its best, in my opinion. Season three was a lot of fun, but suffered from cluttered storylines and tonal problems. But, season four -- although it still can't top season one or two -- was a solid return to form (and I can't understand the bashing it regularly receives on here from other fans).
So, how does season five compare? I found this year to be even better than the last; the most compelling reason for this is the fundamental shaking up of all things comfortable and familiar on the show. All of the close relationships have been compromised or changed or they've grown apart: Sookie/Bill/Eric, Sookie/Tara, Pam/Eric, Jason/Hoyt, Tara/Lafayette, etc. This was the year of the Break Up (friendships as well as romances). But, the interesting thing is how this made way for all sorts of new and compelling bonds to form: Bill/Eric, Pam/Tara, Jason/Jessica.
Season five was definitely a game-changer (probably because it was creator Alan Ball's farewell season). There isn't even a clear-cut Big Bad this year. The villain could be seen as The Authority and through our infiltration of the system this year, we get the sense of just how ambiguous the concepts of right and wrong, good and bad really are to the vampires of the True Blood 'verse. The most compelling part about this story is finally getting to see the inner workings of the Authority and how fundamentally it changes both Bill and Eric (especially toward the latter half of the season). The members of the Authority themselves, though, are a mixed bag. Christopher Meloni proves himself to be the awesome actor he is as Roman, but he's sadly underused during the season. Valentina Cervi didn't really do it for me as Salome, neither did Lucy Griffiths as Eric's vampire sister Nora.
The regular actors, however, were all in top form. It was a refreshing change to see Anna Paquin's Sookie almost entirely unattached romantically. It led for some interesting directions for her character to go in, as well as Ryan Kwanten as Jason (who had what was probably his most powerful arc this year). Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skarsgard reportedly had a blast filming this season and having Bill and Eric be partners in crime instead of foes and competitors for Sookie's heart. This sense of fun really does show and highlights the fact that these two do have great screen chemistry together.
But, my favorite part of this season was the pairing of Pam and Tara. It was a brilliant turn of writing, in many ways. Tara started off as a great and complex character: troubled but also strong, smart, and resourceful, as well as very funny. But, around the time of season three, she became the "eternal victim" in a way that was really running out of steam. Having her reborn as a baby vamp really breathed new life into the character and Rutina Wesley did a fantastic job of convincingly reinventing Tara while retaining her essence. Her scenes with Kristin Bauer van Straten were easily some of the best moments of the season, as these two actresses have wonderful chemistry. Kristin also had what was her best season yet, getting able to reveal new dimensions as well as the past of our favorite sardonic vampire Pam.
As great as this season was, it wasn't perfect. My sole criticism for True Blood is that they stop with all of the extra story lines. Not every character needs their own arc on the show. Supporting characters, like Terry, Arlene, and Holly, can remain just that. SUPPORTING characters in the story lines of the more primary ones. Some of the fat I believe could've been trimmed included Terry's Ifrit drama, Holly and Andy's romance, and some of Alcide's wolf pack politics. Even Lafayette (one of my favorites) didn't have much interesting to do this year.
Luckily, by the time of the season finale, the writers did a good job of streamlining most of the stories into one cohesive finish. And what a finish it was! Just wondering what season six has in store for us.