The fourth season of True Blood finished with a real jaw-dropping finale as Tara (Rutina Wesley) was shot and left dying in Sookie’s (Anna Paquin) arms as the credits rolled. Season five picks up directly where that season left off with Sookie and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) making a deal with Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) that would save Tara but change her life forever. Meanwhile Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) are arrested for the murder of Nan Flanagan and held captive by the Vampire Authority.
It’s fair to say that the fifth season of True Blood was a bit of a mess. Known for its outlandish plots, gratuitous sex scenes and plenty of blood, the show took a turning point during this season that had many fans tuning out. Part of the problem is that the show has strayed so far from Charlaine Harris’ source material that the show runners have shot themselves in the foot. Many of the characters bear no resemblance to those they are based on and the show was far too busy during this season.
The main plot strand for the season is Bill and Eric’s captivity, the return of Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) and the subsequent arrival of god-like vampire Lillith. There’s also a plot involving Sam (Sam Trammell) who is trying to find out who is shooting supernatural creatures. Alongside that Sookie explores her faerie heritage, Terry (Todd Lowe) deals with the arrival of a man from his past, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) deal with the fallout of their affair, and Tara readjusts to life after death.
There’s so much going-on this season that the writers have struggled to give decent time to any of the plot strands meaning that they all feel under-developed and a bit rushed. The main storyline around Lillith is ridiculous and gets boring very quickly. Similarly Terry and the smoke monster sub-plot is so boring that we actually fast-forwarded through most of it. The season really lacks focus and isn’t anywhere near the quality of the previous four.
Charlaine Harris purists, such as us, didn’t like the way the faeries were represented either. In the books they play a much larger role and despite the casting being completely wrong, especially for Claude, they are completely different to the books. With Sookie’s faerie heritage being so important, it’s a real shame the show writers have mucked it all up. Another complaint is that characters we actually like don’t get enough screen-time. Sookie isn’t given that much to do really this season whilst Alcide (Joe Manganiello) is pretty much redundant.
Extras on the boxset include audio commentaries and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season is a real disappointment and we’re not all that sure the show can recover. Previews for the sixth season suggest that Lillith remains a big part of the overall arc and the worries us. True Blood works best when it sticks closer to the source material and the plots are given focus without the distraction of multiple pointless sub-plots. We’ll write this off as a bad season, every show is entitled to one, but season six had better really bring it otherwise we may be tuning out.