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'True Blood' Season 4 premiere recap: The queen is dead, long live the king

June 27, 2011 |  8:50 am


Bill Compton, king of Lousiana?

The season premiere of "True Blood" had plenty of surprises: Sookie's been gone for a year? Tara's a lesbian living in New Orleans? Andy Bellefleur's seriously hooked on V? Jason Stackhouse seems to have spent even more time at the gym during hiatus? (Seriously, how is that even possible?) But King Bill might top them all.

Vampire politics was quite the hot topic tonight, what with a glad-handing Bill speechifying at the local old folks home (appropriate, he points out, since he is the oldest resident in Bon Temps) and Viking Eric Northman recording a priceless PSA intended to depict nightclub Fangtasia as merely a good-for-the-local economy establishment. Clearly, it is a post-Russell Edgington world — as AVL spokeswoman Nan Flanagan so astutely observes — and we are all just living in it. 

As for the living, well, let's start with Sookie. After being brought to the plane of the fae by her fairy godmother, Claudine, she runs to her Grandaddy Earl, strangely unchanged since she last saw him, and she quickly surmises that the garden of unearthly delights is not quite all that it's cracked up to be. She wisely avoids consuming the light fruit she's offered and manages a narrow escape back to Bon Temps. She brings Earl with her, though the poor man doesn't last for long.

Heading home, she discovers her house has been sold by a distraught Jason, who's now a serious lawman tasked with minding a whole mess of inbred orphans up at the Hot Shot settlement now that his girlfriend Crystal has run off with her half-brother/fiance, Felton. (Shudder.) Naturally, Jason is overjoyed at Sookie's return, as are Bill and Eric, both of whom rush to see her at sundown. Concerned that she might be committed were she to tell anyone that she'd been vacationing in the world of the fairies, Bill asserts that she was attending to top-secret vampire business on his behalf. 

That, however, doesn't play particularly well with Sam (though he still agrees to give Sookie back her old job) or Andy, whose addiction seems to have spiraled out of control. We do meet Andy's sister, Portia, for the first time — she's the attorney Sookie hires to help determine how to get her place back from the real estate holding company that now owns it. But of course, it's really Eric who's bought the house, giving him the freedom to enter at will and catch Sookie in all manner of compromising positions. Which he does at the end of the episode, telling her with sinister, fang-bearing glee, "You are mine."

(Advantage: Team Eric.)

The other still-breathing characters? We catch up with them too: Hoyt has moved in with vampire girlfriend Jessica, who's feeling restless and maybe hungry for new blood; Hoyt's mother, Maxine, has taken Sam's little brother Tommy under her wing; Sam has found a new anger management support group of fellow shapeshifters; Arlene and Terry's little bundle of joy might take after his daddy, departed serial murderer Rene; Tara, going by an alias, has reinvented herself as a female warrior and picked up a beautiful girlfriend; Lafayette and Jesus are still going strong, Jesus trying to persuade his partner to explore the magical gifts he possesses by attending a new circle of witches led by Marnie (Fiona Shaw).

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One member of that circle seems to enjoy an especially cozy relationship with our new king, Mr. Compton. And that coven of blossoming necromancers promises to do a whole lot of damage before too long. It's just possible that Eric might be coming down with a serious case of amnesia...

Oh! And how about that Nick Cave/Neko Case cover of the Zombies' "She's Not There'"? Simply superb. 


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Photo: Stephen Moyer as newly crowned monarch Bill Compton in "True Blood" Credit: HBO.