written by Raelle Tucker | directed by Stephen Moyer
I'm monumentally bored by True Blood. It's been a shadow of itself for years, of course, but this could be the season where my waning interest leads to me skipping weekly reviews. What can you really say about each episode these days? All you can do is list the moments that caused you the greatest and least pain. The show feels like a prison for its (mostly) talented actors, who must be itching to escape their HBO contracts; and even the mild hope showrunner Alan Ball's departure may have a positive impact feels unlikely after this uninspired premiere.
Bill (Stephen Moyer) was transformed into a 'blood deity' fans nicknamed Billith as the sting to season 5's finale, and "Who Are You, Really?" opens with him on a rampage in the massacred Vampire Authority's secret compound. Sookie (Anna Paquin) escapes with the help of protector Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) and her 'fairy flashlight fingers', together with vampire friend Tara (Rutina Wesley), Tara's bitchy maker Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten), Eric's sister Nora (Lucy Griffiths), Bill's progeny Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), and numbskull Jason (Ryan Kwanten). At least the show took the opportunity to kill shape-shifter Luna (Janina Gavankar) during this mass escape, although the prospect of Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) playing 'grieving daddy' to Luna's young daughter fills me with dread. Parenting might be a theme this season, as a characteristically awful sub-plot with Sheriff Andy (Chris Bauer) revealed the half-Fae babies he fathered are ageing at an accelerated rate. I'm not what'll happen when his kids hit 21 in—what, a week?—but maybe Merlotte's has just found the bar staff it so desperate needs.
The season's villain appears to be Truman Burrell (Arliss Howard), the Governor of Louisiana, who's amassing large support by pushing an anti-vampire rhetoric, but secretly wants a cut of the synthetic 'Tru Blood' profits from its Japanese representative by offering the company a ready-made bottling plant to operate out of. (All the Tru Blood plants were bombed by the Vampire Authority last season, keep up.) Rubicon's Howard is a great actor, so it's a shame he's fallen into True Blood's tangled web, but hopefully he'll save face in the memory of Denis O'Hare's Russell Edgington—by being the best thing about it, no matter how many ridiculous cliffhangers the writers throw at us, hoping something will stick and become a Twitter-trending talking point.
Elsewhere: Jason met the mysterious vampire that killed his parents, Warlow (Rutger Hauer), in a freakish hitch-hiking coincidence that really didn't ring true; and Jessica was summoned to Bill's residence, who appears to have calmed down after his bloody rebirth, but is nevertheless super-strong and impervious to wooden stakes. Oh, and werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello) had a naked threesome in the woods.
Is it interesting to see the power dynamic between Bill and Eric flip? It may have been, but Bill became vampire King of Louisiana two seasons ago, which achieved much the same thing. I'll probably keep watching True Blood because hate-watching something has a sadistic entertainment value to me. There's also only 10 episodes this season (to accommodate Paquin's pregnancy and help keep the budget down, they say—not to spare the writers pain?) Sadly, Alan Ball's replacement, Mark Hudis, stood down halfway through filming, and veteran staff writer Brian Buckner has now taken over. A change of showrunner halfway through a season doesn't bode well, however: just ask The Walking Dead season 2.