In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of sexy, goth-y vampires with wonky accents… so thank goodness for the fifth season of True Blood!
Actually, it seems slightly silly to talk about this show in terms of “seasons”, because the first episode in this boxset just picked up where the finale of the previous batch ended (without so much as a pause for breath or a recap!), and the final episode ended on another pesky cliff-hanger, to taunt and test the viewer’s patience. Gah! Nevertheless, taken as a single (partially satisfying) batch, there were some definite improvements this time around…
First up was the turning of a dying ‘Tara’ by the reluctant and ever-snarky ‘Pam’. In theory Tara should have been my fave character from the get-go, being a ballsy, bolshy woman-of-colour, played by an incredibly cute and athletic actress (Rutina Wesley). Unfortunately, all I can ever remember her doing is whining, crying, and being kind of a dick to everyone… when she wasn’t getting blotto drunk and sleeping with her male friends, that is. It’s a mark of how little I had invested in Tara that I’d actually forgotten about her being blasted with a shotgun last year! Who’d have thought that all it would take to redeem her character is a pair of fangs, a new wardrobe, and the tough-love tutelage of one of the show’s most consistent scene-stealers!
Speaking of whom… the second biggest improvement this season was the fleshing out of Pam’s backstory, with flashbacks to her first encounter with her maker, ‘Eric’, and the circumstances surrounding her own embrace. It really helped to sell her growing fondness for her own (somewhat) involuntary progeny, to see how she had basically blackmailed Eric into “saving her” with the gift/curse of immortality. And it also gave the reliably-hilarious Kristin Bauer van Straten some more dramatic material to sink her teeth into (pun!), which she did with aplomb. The promise of a quasi-incestuous, sapphic relationship between Pam and Tara isn’t something I feel too strongly about, one way or the other… just so long as they keep bickering and bitching each other out, and don’t get all boring and angsty about it.
Rounding out their troika of vampy vixens is ‘Jessica’, who began her afterlife as an annoying joke, but has since grown into one of the strongest and most sympathetic characters in the entire series. Deborah Ann Woll certainly seemed to be enjoying herself this season, saving ‘Jason’ from unwanted admirers, partying with random college kids, and (more importantly) making friends with Tara whether she liked it or not! Again, they have a fun, feisty chemistry, and I loved Jessica’s sweet little peace-making speech after she sought sanctuary at Fangtasia… plus her glee at seeing Pam and Tara kiss for the first time was straight-up adorable. No offence to the rest of the cast, but if these three ladies were given a spin-off series of their own, I might stop watching the main show altogether!
Oh, I also have to give a shout-out to Tina Majorino, who played ‘Molly’, a cute Authority techie, charged with the unenviable task of ordering hunky men to take their tops off, so she can strap on an iStake (a remotely-controlled tracker and staking device combo, to keep wayward vamps in line!). Sadly she didn’t survive the coup… but she did make a very endearing impression.