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True Blood Primer: Where Things Stand Heading Into Season 7

It’s easy to forget, what with the constant flow of action-packed programming from HBO, just how special True Blood was when it premiered six years ago. (Let’s just call it Fang of Thrones.) Charlaine Harris’s wildly popular Southern Vampire Mysteries novel series became pulpy, sexy horror camp owing to the genius vision of Alan Ball — who, sadly, relinquished his showrunner status before last season. There have been detours and missteps along the way, but under the guidance of new showrunner Brian Buckner, True Blood received a new jolt of energy in season six, even if the finale itself left some viewers feeling drained. In preparation for the seventh and final season premiere this Sunday night, Vulture looks back at what was happening in Bon Temps when we last saw our motley crew of supernaturals, and the fearful humans who love or loathe them.

Sookie, having narrowly escaped being wed to Warlow, the 5,500-year-old, half-fairy progeny of Lilith who murdered her parents, is now quite literally hunkered down with Alcide, who finally cut his Johnny Depp–as–Sweeney Todd hair and relearned the art of wearing track pants. She now prances through town dressed like Miss Daisy and seems relatively content with her life. (As long as you don’t ask her to spell Manganiello.) That is, aside from still being separated from the New York Times–bestselling author of And God Bled, Bill Compton

… who, having released hordes of concentration-camp vampires with Eric and fed them his Lilith-powered blood, is now on a mission to help humans fend for themselves against the threat of vampires infected with Hepatitis V, the virus that the late Governor Burrell developed in the camp. Bill, now divested of his Lilith powers, still pines for Sookie, whose love he essentially forfeited when he bargained with Warlow for Jessica’s safety. And speaking of people who pine, there’s always Sam Merlotte

… a.k.a. the Mayor of Bon Temps. (Arlene, you may recall, is the owner of the place formerly known as Merlotte’s and currently known as Bellefleur’s — Terry’s life-insurance windfall having made its refashioning possible.) The former Professional Man-Rump-in-Jeans is now spearheading an effort for which he assembles the entire town under the joined congregations of Reverend Daniels and Reverend Skinner: In light of the Hepatitis V epidemic, he wants every human in town to pair up with an uninfected vampire so that the vampires have a healthy feeding source and the humans, in turn, have the protection of their respective fangers. The town initially scoffs at this proposition, but, as the promos for the new season show, a stark reckoning is headed for Bon Temps, and if people don’t follow Sam’s advice, they may very well find themselves nothing more than ... leftovers. (Happy free other-show plug, HBO.) Meanwhile, Nicole (ugh) is preggers and carrying Sam’s child, which was conceived literally as the 21 grams of Luna’s soul were rising out of her slain body. And speaking of bodies, there’s Jason 

… who is already living in a relationship of — supposed — mutual convenience. He has built a light-tight den in his basement for the ever-vigilant Violet, who protected him in the camp — and who will cut any Bon Temps woman who comes within a foot of her man. Jason and Violet have yet to have intercourse, Jason having been trapped, until now, in 178 consecutive days of nothing but performing cunnilingus. (As a gay man during Pride Month, I see having to write that last sentence as my own personal version of being silvered.) There still seem to be some residual traces of tension between Jason and that beautiful ex-girlfriend of his, Jessica 

… who, still contrite for having turned all but one of Andy’s exponentially growing, half-fairy spawn into carrion, vows to watch over Andy, a newly tan Holly, and Adilyn (I refuse to write her full name). Meanwhile, I can’t wait to see how she rekindles romance with James, since actor Nathan Parsons had to replace the original actor, Luke Grimes, when Grimes departed the series abruptly last year. And speaking of whiplash-causing about-faces, there’s always Tara 

… who, never allowed one damn second of peace, is just out of the camp when Pam, admittedly not the greatest maker in the world, leaves her to go in search of Eric. Still stuck in Bon Temps, Tara is approached by her mother, Lettie Mae — still Reverend Daniels’s wife — who begs Tara to feed from her in order to atone for her alcoholic past. Tara, still seeking approval wherever she can find it — in a female wrestler, in a lunatic vampire, in witches, in Pam, etc., etc. — decides to do it. But is Lettie Mae’s offer legit, or is something more dastardly involving Hep-V at play? Maybe a lapsed drug dealer would know — someone like Lafayette 

… who had better have a romance and/or sex scene in every episode this season to make up for all the sex that he wasn’t having post-Jesús. Enough with this BS. We want our Lafayette to get his. And speaking of BS, there is what happened with Eric 

 … who is basically the husband to us sister-wives who watch True Blood. After exacting revenge on the camp and becoming maker to Willa Burrell, the Governor’s daughter, Eric fled, enjoying the benefits of Warlow and Lilith’s daywalking powers … until Warlow was killed, that is. I had always assumed that Eric’s loins were perpetually on fire, but seeing them erupt into flames along with the rest of him atop a Swedish mountain at the end of last season was no less than a waking nightmare. He has to be okay. He has to be okay. Right?

We’ll have to tune in Sunday night to see. Word has it that HBO will be showing clips from Beyoncé’s Mrs. Carter Tour special before the premiere airs, so we’ll certainly be well-primed for all the sexiness to follow. Let’s just hope that Jane Bodehouse and Maxine Fortenberry act as Bey’s backup dancers.

Photo: Tony Rivetti/HBO