True Blood season 7 episode 1 review: Jesus Gonna Be Here

Review Emma Matthews 23 Jun 2014 - 13:14

True Blood's seventh and final season gets off to a bittersweet start. Here's Emma's review...

This review contains spoilers.

7.1 Jesus Gonna Be Here

Ah, summer. Crappy weather, sport everywhere you look, and the rapid descent into darkness that begins in mid-June. Fortunately, for those of us so inclined, summer is also the start of our annual trip to a steamy little town called Bon Temps. A place where vampires, werewolves and gory death are a welcome break from the slow suffocation of a litany of comically bad sports results and gallons of rain. A trip that always delivers a ton of gratuitous nudity, buckets of blood and a damn good time. But this year, the trip is different; this year heralds our final visit to the True Blood-verse.

Premiere episodes are always trepidatious affairs. Aside from being assigned the task of wrapping up the cliff-hangers from previous episodes – will the diseased vamps hit Bon Temps? Will Eric survive his toasting? When the hell did Bon Temps decide that Sam Merlotte was mayoral material? – this year, there’s the added pressure that end-of-show expectation brings. Well, where the cliff-hangers are concerned: Yes, Possibly, and Christ knows. As for the pressure, it’s way too soon to know for sure, but if it keeps going like this, Bon Temps will become a very dangerous place, whatever species you happen to be.

Oh, how things have changed in Bon Temps. Where once vampires, werewolves, telepaths and fairies happily ignored one another, season seven sees a huge change in the social structure of the town. We were given a small glimpse of the new world order in last season’s finale, but Jesus Gonna Be Here allows us a far more detailed, and more worrying, view. And from where we’re sitting, the roaming gangs of ravenous H-vamps are the least of the town’s worries. They might well be the catalyst for the flagrant hatred on display, but all the vamps have really done is unleash the barely concealed prejudices of every citizen in town. The series opener delves deeply into the show’s soapy roots, given a vocal, textbook slimeball voice by Vince – a wannabe politician, who, for all appearances, is the Republican Party distilled into one hateful little man. Proving a gun-toting nuisance from the second he appears on screen, if he’s not a diseased vamp’s last meal soon, he’s going to be a lot of trouble – albeit in a comically evil way.

Vince’s soapy evilness opened the door for the rest of the town to turn its malice on Bon Temps’ resident scapegoat Sookie, or The Vampire Whore, as she appears to be more commonly known. It seems that the entire town has come down with a sudden and incredibly serious case of amnesia. How quickly they forget that they’ve witnessed, and on occasion, colluded with attempts to murder the girl; or that she has, on occasion, saved all their bigoted asses – with the help of whichever vampire she was whoring with at the time. No one is more guilty of this amnesia than Lettie Mae Thornton who, following Tara’s rather ignominious off-screen death, seems to have completely forgotten the decade or more she spent mistreating her daughter. It would seem that the amnesia is accompanied by a large helping of self-righteousness. Rather than begging for inclusion, Sookie would be well within her rights to leave them to the H-vamps.

The collective amnesia could also explain how no one seems to have noticed that Jessica’s new boyfriend had a head transplant at some point since the end of last season. James’ scene with Laf, though clearly necessary as an introduction to, and reason for, the Jim Morrison makeover, felt a tad out of place... right up until feeding time. It could just be the lure of the food, but it’s possible Jessica might have herself a little long-lashed competition. Laf and Faux Jim Morrison aside, the enforced human/vamp fraternisation led to the episode’s highlights, namely Jessica’s quest for redemption via a wonderfully girlie chat through the window, and Andy’s sudden badassness, which, frankly, rocks. It’s rare that the species interact in a non-violent way, but if this is the result, long may the fraternisation continue. And with Holly one of the Fangtasia captives, Andy’s going to need all the badassness he can get – with characters dropping with Game Of Thrones-style callousness, no one’s survival is guaranteed.

Well, almost no one. A continent away, Pam’s search for Eric appears to have borne fruit... possibly. All indicators point to some form of reunion, but there’s no telling what sort of state he’ll be in when she eventually gets there. Let’s hope she likes her bacon crispy.

So, all in all, a bittersweet premiere for season seven. Starting with a death and getting no cheerier from there, if Jesus Gonna Be There is anything to go by, the season will be a sombre, thoughtful and shocking affair. And perhaps it should be. It’s great to be back in the True Blood-verse, but there’s no escaping the fact that we have just ten episodes to see these characters at their best; just ten episodes to make a final mark on television, and with this episode, it’s clear that Team True Blood feels the same way. That mutual trepidation hopefully bodes well, for us at least. For the residents of Bon Temps however, the end is well and truly nigh...

Read Emma's review of the season six finale, Radioactive, here.

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