Review: True Blood Season 4 Premiere Bewitching As Ever

With each passing year, True Blood‘s pre-season buzz gets louder and louder thanks, in part, to HBO’s genius marketing schemes. But social media is heavily responsible for spreading those ads and teasers, heightening the anticipation for the vampy soap. June 26th will finally feed the blood lust – and it leaves you both satisfied and craving more.

Personally, I’m a huge True Blood fan. But even with series I love, I tend to be critical, only because I expect more out of them. True Blood suffers from a few chronic weaknesses like convoluted plot lines and extended periods where the main characters never interact with each other. The show is at its best when all paths cross and a solid connection can be made. When I heard that season 4 was dubbed “Season of the Witch,” I got a little scared. New supers are all well and good, as long as the old ones don’t lose any ground. Actually, when you look back on season one and realize the only things we were dealing with were a handful of vampires, one shifter, and a mind-reader, it seems so quaint.

So it was with trepidation that I watched the season 4 premiere, “She’s Not There.” And let me say — so far, so good.

First, let’s look at where we left off. The end of season three wasn’t so much about cliffhangers as it was about new predicaments. Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) is confronted with new-found visions while learning his boyfriend Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) is a witch; Tara (Rutina Wesley) copes with her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by cutting off her hair and seriously contemplating her future; Hoyt (Jim Parrack) presents Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) with a place of their own; Sam (Sam Trammell) and Tommy’s (Marshall Allman) unsteady relationship seems to hit rock bottom; And after Bill (Stephen Moyer) throws Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) into a pit of wet cement near King Russell (Denis O’Hare), Eric not only escapes but hits back by revealing Bill’s original intentions to Sookie (Anna Paquin), which she did not take kindly to, eventually finding herself disappearing into the Land of the Fae. Whew.

So where does that leave us? (If you haven’t already watched the first eight minutes, beware of spoilers. Other than that, there’s not too much to worry about.)

There’s what we already know from the sneak preview: Faerie World is not all it’s cracked up to be. And Sookie’s Granddad is shocked at just how much time has gone by since he’s been there. While this opening scene is crazy in a “this feels like a totally different series” kind of way, its necessary to give the rest of the episode a jarring effect, as we the viewers find ourselves in the same position as Sookie.

The first half of the episode flies by. As we learn along with Sookie what the folks in Bon Temps have been up to since we saw them last, I was on the edge of my seat eagerly anticipating the next familiar character to show up. There were so many questions that needed to be answered. Amazingly, the episode does a great job at answering most of those questions… while adding about a hundred more. This is a brilliant ploy, by the way. It drops you in the middle of the action, allowing you to deduce what’s happened already instead of bogging you down with bland exposition.

True Blood is known for making social commentary through the use of supernaturals and the humans around them, and judging from two interesting scenes with Eric and Bill simultaneously playing a camera and a crowd, respectively, I’m hopeful this season goes a little further with politics and the media.

The episode slowed a little in the second half. But the double reveal (and I’m not talking nudity, though there’s some of that, too) in the last few minutes is beautifully done. And it sets the scene for what we can expect for the rest of the season from Bill and Eric.

We don’t see every character in this first episode, but I’m sure they’ll be around soon enough. But there are several references to past characters, which is rare in television. It’s great to see a show that doesn’t forget its past. And yes, there are witches. We meet Marnie and the rest of her coven though the extent of their power hasn’t been fully utilized here. It’s safe to assume, from the trailers and previews, that we’re in for a whole lot more witchery.

Overall, I’m excited about where everybody stands right now. It sets up the season by rearranging the chess pieces while our eyes were closed. The game has suddenly become much more interesting.

The Season 4 premiere of True Blood will air on HBO on Sunday, June 26th at 9pm.

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