WARNING: This review is intended for people who are all caught up on TRUE BLOOD and contains major spoilers.

When HBO’s TRUE BLOOD first aired I was hooked! I simply could not get enough of the dark and campy world where Vampires roamed free and the promise of more beasts of the night  was always present. As the seasons flew by, and more creatures and supernatural phenomena were discovered, I found myself less enchanted with the series as a whole. The saying “less is more” definitely applies to this show. I really miss the mystery TRUE BLOOD offered and feel like it has devolved into a supernatural beast free-for-all overcrowded with characters and subplots. Basically TRUE BLOOD has become a campy (not always a bad thing) supernatural soap opera where I am forced to endure subplots I don’t care about in order to get to my favorite character’s stories. That said, I do not hate TRUE BLOOD and still consider it one of my favorite shows currently airing. Unfortunately this season 5 premiere is so over saturated with characters that it is hard to genuinely develop anyone and reminds me why I am not having as much fun with this show as I use to be.

As expected, Season 4 of TRUE BLOOD ended with a handful of cliff hangers, mainly the supposed death of Tara (Rutina Wesely; THE CLEVELAND SHOW) who is easily my least favorite character. I was really hoping that Tara would be snuffed out for good, but alas, she has been resurrected by the vampire Pam (Kristen Bauer; THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER) who was as good and sassy as ever in this episode. Unfortunately Tara as a vampire will likely take up a lot of the story in season 5 and my only hope is that she gets the “true death” as quick as possible. A question that arises while watching this episode is if anyone actually cares about Sookie Stackhouse played by Anna Paquin (X-MEN, X2) anymore. She seems to have taken a back seat to the rest of the cast and is not getting the character development she deserves. The only other character involved in Tara and Sookie’s story at the moment is the crowd favorite Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis; THE HELP). Lafayette has seemingly overstayed his welcome on this show and seems bored besides one good interaction with the werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello; MAGIC MIKE) who is still not privy to the fact that Sookie turned his ex-girlfriend into a wolf pelt in last years finale. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to that news and if his obvious love for Sookie will remain. One thing I just can’t ignore with this episode is the worst and most embarrassing flashback sequence I have ever had to endure in a TV show. It involved kid versions of Sookie and Tara but dubbed the main actresses voices to match the characters. It was completely unnecessary and really hard to watch. Blech.

The other big cliffhanger at the end of season 4 was the death of vampire lobbyist Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck; ONE LIFE TO LIVE) which now frees series mainstays Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer; PRIEST) and Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard; BATTLESHIP) to move forward in a fresh, and hopefully more interesting story line. Both Bill and Eric were a bit stale in season 4, especially Bill who was once my favorite character, and is now just lost in the mix of characters away from Sookie. This year we are introduced to a new character named Nora (Lucy Griffiths; BBC’s ROBIN HOOD) who is a vampire sister to Eric meaning that they are both from the same “maker” and are forever bonded (in more ways than one). This seems like an interesting story line and I look forward to see where it leads.

The characters keep on coming with the love triangle between Jason Stackhouse (Ryan; Kwanten; SUMMERLAND), vampire Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll (CATCH .44), and Jason’s best friend Hoyt (Jim Parrack; BATTLE LOS ANGELES). I can safely say that I don’t give a crap about this love triangle and find it to be forced and often embarressing. A scene in this episode where Jason and Jessica are playing the video game ROCK BAND was unbearable and made me feel weird inside. The only saving grace to Jason’s story is the reintroduction of pastor Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian; DORIAN BLUES) from season 2 who has returned as a gay vampire professing his love for Jason. It is a fun twist to Newlin’s character and is the polar opposite of the married (to a woman) vampire hating man we saw before. Unfortunelly my favorite character Sam (Sam Trammell; UNDERMIND) took a back seat in this episode and only had a small amount of screen time battling a wolf tribe he pissed off. Alcide came to his rescue and I hope they share some cool moments together this season. We also revisit Terry (Todd Lowe; GILMORE GIRLS) and Arlene (Carrie Preston; DOUBT) joined by an old military frind of Terry’s. We learn there may be more to Terry’s Post-Traumatic Stress syndrome than meets the eye. This is a bit uncomforting because I always found Terry’s fear of his past one of the only real “human” elements to this show. If they try to lessen this by giving Terry a supernatural twist I will be dissapointed. And last but not least, we see sheriff Andy (Chris Bauer; 8MM) for a brief time as he continues to be the disgruntled and angry sheriff we all know and love. Who knows how he is going to fit into this season.

Wow, that was a lot of characters to cover which returns me to my point that TRUE BLOOD is just overrun with characters and subplots. While this can be a bit distracting at times, I still enjoyed this episode as a setup for what is to come this season. The show continues to tease that the vampire lord Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare; THE EAGLE) will return and I believe that could greatly enhance the chances of this season being something great. It will be fun to see where everyone ends up this season and I can only hope for a handful of deaths to not only enhance the drama, but to pave the way for more character development from characters I actually care about like Sookie, Sam, Bill, and Eric. As it stands, TRUE BLOOD is a fun supernatural infused soap opera with a crapload of characters. It’s just too bad that there are equal moments of brilliance and boredom with most episodes these days. I still look forward to seeing what season 5 has to offer and this premiere successfully keeps me interested with the possibilities to come.

Final Score: 7 out of 10