This review contains spoilers.
4.1 She’s Not There
We’re finally back in Bon Temps after an agonising wait. And as it turns out, we weren’t the only ones anxiously awaiting a return. Having left the disaster -prone Sookie literally away with the fairies last season, our fave psychic encounters disaster almost immediately, after stepping foot in the fairy ‘realm’, seeing through the Garden of Eden allegory almost as quickly as we do.
Like pretty much every supernatural being in the greater Louisiana area, the fairies want Sookie for good, and she narrowly escapes with a little help from her long-lost grandfather. Her gramps has also literally been away with the fairies, but for over twenty years, and his appearance presents us with the first shock of the season. Sookie is related to Jack Killian, The Midnight Caller himself, otherwise known as Gary Cole, who rolls into True Blood for the briefest of periods, delivering Sookie safely back to Bon Temps before swiftly dying. Goodnight, Grampa Stackhouse, wherever you are.
Of course, returning to Bon Temps is never straightforward for any of its residents, but at least this time, there’s little to no horrific death involved as yet. No, this return has, in fact, been over twelve months in the making. It turns out those tricky fairies create some sort of time distortion, and rather than having spent a rather unpleasant evening at what looked like the dullest party ever, Ms Stackhouse has actually been gone for more than a year. And thanks to Jason, she no longer owns her house. Apparently, he decided to forego the customary seven year cooling off period.
Once all the ‘we thought you were dead’ nonsense is over with, we can see that everything has changed in Bon Temps. Everything and nothing. Through the course of the episode we discover that Sam did shoot Tommy, but in the leg, and other than a limp and Hoyt’s mother, is perfectly fine. Laf and Jesus are still witching it up, although Laf is less than impressed with the whole thing. Bill and Eric are still bickering like children, but also glad-handing the locals, and cosying up to the media. They’re clearly up to something, a suspicion re-enforced by the fact that in the twelve months since Russell’s concrete overcoat, Bill has stepped in to fill the power vacuum. Whatever his original intentions where when he rocked into Bon Temps three years ago (hinted at last season), his agenda is clearly still in play. Can’t imagine Eric is too happy about this particular turn of events, though.
Then, of course, there’s poor Arlene. The demon baby has arrived, and despite Terry’s best efforts, it was always going be Rene’s kid. The doll beheading might have been a little heavy handed, but hilarious all the same. It’ll be interesting to see if this particular titbit plays into anything significant this season, or is kept for comic effect.
And then there’s Tara. Last seen driving into the sunset with a new ‘do, these days she’s a champion cage fighter and lesbian called Toni. Which is, frankly, completely understandable. Franklin’s peculiar brand of psychopathy would be enough to turn even the staunchest straight woman to the other side. But this is one of those incidences where everything has changed. Even the news that Sookie is alive and back in town isn’t enough to bring Tara home.
Premiere episodes are tricky things. Setting up a season’s worth of storylines, while simultaneously keeping the action up is an incredible balancing act, and She’s Not There manages to keep that balance for the duration of the show. Yes, the ‘surprise’ revelation that the mysterious new owner of Sookie’s house is Eric was in no way a revelation, but there was still plenty of intriguing titbits. What’s up with King Bill? What’s with the dead-alive-dead again bird? Where did Sam find his new shifting pals? And will Jason ever get out of the freezer? Only the rest of the season will tell, but let’s hope he does.
So, as premieres go, She’s Not There was pretty spot on. Apart from the fact that it’s fabulous to be back in Bon Temps, any show that Gary ‘Lumbergh’ Cole graces with his presence has got to be worth a look. Welcome back, True Blood. We missed you!