“Waiting Sucks.” Easy wordplay captures the essence of True Blood without skipping a beat. The campy, bordering on soft core porn fantasy drama from HBO crops up every summer to bring a little heat to the mix, and this season, anything is game. Over the past four years, True Blood’s plot has shifted its focus from a new race - vampires - being introduced to small town Louisiana, and the bigotry, politics, and insanity that brings, to an ever-expanding supernatural universe. In a world of werewolves, faeries, and, most recently, a vengeful witch hell-bent on vampire mass murder, the question can only be, what comes next?
When we last left Bon Temps, Marnie (Fiona Shaw), the soft spoken necromancer inhabited by a 17th century witch, left a slew of bodies and betrayal in her wake. Trash-talkin’ drug dealer turned psychic medium Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), under Marnie’s possession, brutally murdered his brujo beau, Jesus (Kevin Alejandro), and nearly wiped out an entire race of vampires in the process. Meanwhile, the ghost of seasons past, Cajun serial killer Rene (Michael Raymond-James), appeared to his former sweetheart, Arlene (Carrie Preston). Her baby-daddy warned her that her shell-shocked hubby (Todd Lowe) is not all he’s cracked up to be. This spooky apparition has led many to believe that our next seasonal theme might be ghostly spectres or even zombies -- but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Shapeshifting bros Sam (Sam Trammell) and Tommy (Marshall Allman) ended their Southern Shakespearean family feud with Tommy’s death. Although Tommy learned the art of skin-walkers, took on Sam’s appearance, and had his way with Sam’s new lady, Luna (Janina Gavankar), Sam will no doubt be grieving over his estranged sibling's untimely demise when we catch up with him again.
In typical True Blood fashion, Luna is caught up in a whole other supernatural saga. Her rough and tumble ex, Marcus (Daniel Buran), not only pummeled Tommy to death, but he also happens to be a) a werewolf pack leader, b) shacking up with were-dreamboat Alcide (Joe Manganiello)’s addict girlfriend, Debbie (Brit Morgan), and c) killed by Alcide. Confused yet?
On the vampire front, baby-vamp Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) ended things with her former mama’s boy boyfriend Hoyt (Jim Parrack) because she’s not made for monogamy... only to run to the muscled arms of dopey Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten). Thankfully Jason’s storyline last season - rape by a pack of trailer trash werepanthers - is bound for improvement by one of the two more thrilling revelations in the season 4 finale: Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) is finally back! True Blood was at its best when Newlin’s friend-crush on Jason and irrevocable idiocy ran rampant in Bon Temps. Things can only get better now that the saucy reverend has been turned.
Our heroine, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), has (finally) chosen to be on her lonesome after season after season of the tumultuous love triangle between a somewhat-reformed Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) and King Bill (Stephen Moyer). For their part, the Viking and Southern gentleman joined forces and perhaps will bring us a welcomed and, likely, hilarious bromance this season.
The most shocking reveal in the finale was hands down Tara (Rutina Wesley)’s sacrifice. When Alcide’s jilted lover showed up with a shotgun, Tara threw herself in front of a bullet to save Sookie. We can’t help but wonder if Tara is really dead - keep your eyes peeled for a haunting. One person we do know is alive (well, undead) and kicking is Vampire King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington. Russell (Denis O’Hare), who brought us perhaps the best newscast ever, whispered to his slaughtered boy-toy’s remains in a vase, and lusts after Sookie’s faerie blood, has escaped his cement tomb and remains on the loose.
What can we expect this season? Besides the usual sex, blood, & Southern accents, the return of fan-favorites King Russell and Steve Newlin are sure to shake up Bon Temps in ways we can’t possibly imagine. Each season also provides us with unexpected backstories for some of our favorite characters. Eric’s right-hand woman, Pam, has been with him for over a hundred years, yet we know very little about her past. New cast members include Terry’s presumed dead captain, Patrick (Scott Foley), Eric’s sister Nora (Lucy Griffiths), and a potential villainess, the ancient Salome (Valentina Cervi).
One thing’s for sure - as a season of thrilling dramas wraps up (Game of Thrones, Mad Men), we are about to embark on the delicious summer fare that keeps us up at night. With Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Homeland just around the corner, True Blood is a fun, fitting way to get the season started.
'True Blood’ premieres Sunday, June 10th, 2012 at 9 PM ET on HBO.