Episode Title: "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
Writer: Brian Buckner
Director: Daniel Minahan
Previously on "True Blood":
As Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) wipes down the blood of Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck) and her underlings, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) calls Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and tells her that he'll be out of town for a while. Meanwhile, Debbie Pelt (Brit Morgan) breaks into the house of Sookie Stackhouse ( Anna Paquin) and intends to kill her. Upstairs, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis) awakens to gunshots and finds his cousin, Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley) dying in Sookie's arms while Debbie's body lies on the floor. Bill and Eric sense Sookie's distress, but only Bill races to her aid. However, the Vampire Authority's strike team quickly captures both Bill and Eric.
Pam (Kristin Bauer) enters Sookie's house in attempt to find Eric and reconcile with him. Pam is barely interested in Tara's fate, but Lafayette and Sookie insist that she turn Tara into a vampire to save her life. Pam only agrees to do so once Sookie promises her favors and she allows Sookie and Layfette to bury her beside Tara for the day. Elsewhere, Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) is confronted by the newly vamped, Rev. Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian), who quickly glamours Jason into inviting him inside. Meanwhile, Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) is confronted by a pack of angry werewolves looking for their leader. Marcus Bozeman (Daniel Buran).
Realizing that the pack intends to kill him, Sam transforms into a bird and flies to his lover, Luna (Janina Gavankar) and her daughter, Emma (Chloe Noelle) to warn them. But a member of Marcus' pack arrives shortly thereafter and Sam confesses to Marcus' murder and surrenders himself to save Luna and Emma. Back at Jason's place, Rev. Newlin tells an entranced Jason that he is now openly gay and a vampire before attempting to force Jason to love him. Jessica shows up in time to save Jason and tells the disgruntled Rev. that Jason is hers. Chained inside the trunk of a moving car, Bill and Eric stage a daring escape by blowing the car up.
To their surprise, Bill and Eric find that one of their captors is Nora (Lucy Griffiths), a member of the Authority itself who wipes out her surviving driver and she also passionately kisses Eric before he tells Bill that she is his sister. That is to say that they were both turned into vampires by the late Godric. Nora offers to help Bill and Eric survive, but she warns them that they must leave their old lives behind. During the day, Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) is humiliated when the teenage sons of Holly Cleary (Lauren Bowles) find him naked and in bed with their mother. Meanwhile, Sookie and Lafayette attempt to take care of Jesus' (Kevin Alejandro) body, only to find that someone has moved it.
Hours later, Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello) shows up at Sookie's doorstep with the news that Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare) has been freed from his concrete prison and he offers to protect her. Sookie almost confesses her murder of Debbie to Alcide, but Lafayette intercedes and yells at Alcide to get out of their lives. At Merlotte's, Andy seems unsatisfied when a judge asks him to throw out his son's speeding ticket. At the same time, Jason is dismayed to find that Hoyt (Jim Parrack) is still angry at him for sleeping with Jessica and stealing her from him. In the lair of the Wolves, Sam is brutally tortured… but he refuses to tell the wolves were Marcus is buried.
Marcus' mother, Martha ( Dale Dickey) introduces herself and says that they will revisit Luna and Emma if Sam does not lead them to her son. With no recourse, Sam agrees. In a storage container, Eric and Nora have loud and obnoxious sex while Bill waits outside. Nora is outraged when Eric gets a call from Alcide that warns him that Russell is back in play. At Bill's mansion, Jason arrives and finds Jessica holding a party with several college kids. Although both Jason and Jessica try to make each other jealous with other partners, Jason has enough sense to simply drive his temporary college girl home rather than sleep with her.
Sam takes the wolf pack to Marcus' body, which they quickly dig up. Before Sam can be executed, Luna shows up with Alcide, who states that he killed Marcus. Several wolves bow to Alcide and declare him to be the new pack master, much to his chagrin. Alcide openly refuses the position even as another wolf vocally challenges him. Martha then transforms into a wolf and begins eating her son's body as other pack members join her. At the docks, Nora brings Bill and Eric to vampires loyal to her so that they can receive their new identities. But before Bill and Eric can even settle in, a security force loyal to the Authority attacks them. Only Nora, Bill and Eric are spared before they surrender.
Outside of Sookie's house, Sookie and Lafayette anxiously await beside Tara's shallow grave in the hopes of her resurrection. Pam emerges first, unsure if Tara was turned. Sookie and Alcide begin to mourn before Tara suddenly emerges from the ground. Tara bares her fangs and immediately attacks Sookie.
One of the main problems with "True Blood" is that it sometimes gets saddled with too many storylines that either don't work or simply don't matter. For example, I don't understand why Alan Ball seems to believe that Arlene (Carrie Preston) and Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe) deserve their own arc once again at the expense of more interesting characters. Does anyone out there actually like or care about the Bellefleurs? Are we really watching this show to see if Andy can make it work with Holly or if his fling with the fairy from last season is going to come back to haunt him? In the past, Lafayette and Tara had similar problems when they were buried in meaningless side plots. Tara or Lafayette were a lot more tolerable when they branched back into the main storyline.
The highlight of the episode was the partnership between Bill and Eric as they attempted to elude the Authority. Both men have amble reasons to hate each other and yet Eric refused to abandon Bill in the aftermath of the car explosion and Bill seemed genuinely moved by that gesture. It was also interesting to see that Bill is still willing to run to Sookie's side while Eric is so embittered by her rejection that he would have let her die if it was up to him. It wasn't clear if Eric also sensed Sookie's distress in the way that Bill did, which may suggest that Eric's connection to her is weakened and we're heading towards an inevitable Bill and Sookie reunion.
Nora was a fun addition to the Bill and Eric dynamic. And although Eric and Nora aren't actually related by blood, the incest angle has reappeared on HBO yet again. If it was just in one show, I think that people wouldn't notice it as much. But when incestuous themes appear in "Game of Thrones," "Bored to Death," "Boardwalk Empire" and "True Blood" then it really starts to become a little creepy.
In her brief scenes, Pam seemed to get all of the funniest lines of the episode. But it did seem incredibly contrived that Pam would visit Sookie's house just in time to turn Tara in return for favors. At the end of last season, I was happy to see Tara go because I felt that her story had run its course. Now that Tara's been sired by someone she hates, there is finally some fresh potential for the character. However, it's too early to call one way or another without knowing more about Tara's new incarnation or if she even remembers her time as a human after getting parts of her brain blown out of her head..
Unexpectedly, the scenes with Sam resonated because of the strong sense of loyalty he felt to Alcide and his desire to protect Luna and Emma. It's almost enough to make me forget what an a**hole Sam was during the end of the third season. I also like Sam and Alcide as the other strangely paired allies/friends on the show. They don't really have anything in common other than a sense of honor and justice. But good friendships have been built on less.
I'd also like to learn more about why Alcide is so against embracing his werewolf heritage. Alcide would probably make a great pack master and some of his fellow wolves already seem to recognize him as such. It did seem a little cheap that Alcide didn't smell any trace of Debbie hours after Sookie disposed of her body and I would have liked to have seen his reaction when she came clean about it. The truth is going to come out eventually, but it would be fascinating if Alcide knew all along and just played dumb in the hope of getting Sookie to be with him.
Regarding Jason Stackhouse, he's come a long way since he was the King of the Idiots… but he can still be a little stupid sometimes. Letting himself get glamoured was Jason's biggest blunder of the episode and yet he seemed genuinely remorseful around Hoyt and Jason showed some personal growth by refusing to sleep with the college girl. Jason may be more sympathetic, but his storylines have been pretty weak so far. The return of Rev. Newlin ran out of steam quickly while Jason and Jessica are already starting to feel stale as a couple. Both Jason and Jessica have the potential to be more than they currently are on the show. The writers just need to give them something meaningful to do over the course of the next eleven episodes.
"Turn! Turn! Turn!" is ultimately a mixed bag as the season premiere. It was neither good nor bad enough to be described as either. It was just above adequate… and "True Blood" can be so much more than adequate once it finally gets moving.