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True Blood: Season 5 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
DVD + Blu-ray + Digital | Box Set
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Returning for its fifth season, True Blood is HBO’s sexy, scary, wildly entertaining drama series from Oscar®- and Emmy®-winner Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) and based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. In addition to returning cast favorites – human/faerie waitress Sookie Stackhouse, her vampire suitors Bill Compton and Eric Northman, soul-searching pal Tara, shape-shifting boss Sam, rakish brother Jason, clairvoyant Lafayette and teen-vamp Jessica – Season 5 introduces a whole new wave of otherworldly characters. There’s Vampire Guardian Roman, president of the Vampire Authority, who wants co-existence between humans and vampires; vampire zealot Salome (yes, the Salome), intent on recreating the world in God’s vampyric image; Authority Chancellor Nora, who shares the same maker as Eric; werewolves J.D. and Martha, who want a reluctant Alcide to take his rightful place as packmaster; and many more. Mixing romance, suspense, mystery and humor, True Blood Season 5 goes deep into the battle between the Vampire Authority and “vampire fundamentalists” – a political power play whose outcome could decide not only the fate of Sookie and her Bon Temps friends, but of all human existence.
NOTE:Region code for Blu-ray - Region A and DVD - Region 1
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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.
In addition to simply furthering the plot, True Blood also raises the stakes to the highest level we have seen on this show. The majority of the season is spent in the underground lair of The Authority, the vampire governing body, and we are introduced to wonderful new characters like Roman and the dangerous Salome. The Authority initially vows to destroy Russell and the threat he poses to all the progress made in human-vampire relations.
As expected, things don't quite turn out the way they are supposed to - and this happens pretty early on. True Blood works best when it is operating within sheer insanity and Season 5 illustrates that beautifully. We get to see the demented fairy nightclub, a fiery Iraqi smoke demon, and an angry vampire goddess throughout the course of 12 episodes that literally fly by.
In addition to all the sheer chaos taking place, Season 5 maintains True Blood's status as a genuine horror TV show. This season is full of truly scary moments, especially because we the audience do not know how powerful these creatures are. How much of a threat can they pose to the characters we love? And what do we have to do to kill them?
What I like best about the season, however, is that it finally addresses the long-waiting issue of how the vampires should deal with their identity. Is mainstreaming a good idea? Is being accepted by society worth compromising who they are, or should they embrace their inherently brutal animalistic vampire selves?
The season finale is a phenomenon on its own, bringing together all the madness without quite wrapping up every loose end. (It'd be too network-television if they did!) The very last cliffhanger in itself is a terrifying moment that undoubtedly dropped jaws across the country. Five seasons strong, True Blood still has plenty of bite.
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