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True Blood: Season 4 - Review

True Blood: Season 4

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE fourth season of supernatural drama True Blood showed signs of becoming a little long in the tooth.

In trying to keep things interesting Alan Ball’s series has long since stopped being merely a vampire show and now draws on werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies and now witches too. But some of this fails to carry the same interest.

The fairy element of the Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) story still grates and got the season off to a disappointing start with an extended sequence in fairyland, while the arrival of a vengeful witch was also poorly handled and far too drawn out.

Unfortunately, the witch (or necromancer) in question, Marnie (played by Fiona Shaw), was central to the main storyline for the season as she became possessed by the spirit of another, who had previously been burnt at the stake by vampire priests, and vowed revenge on new Governor of Mississippi Bill (Stephen Moyer) and any other blood-sucker who dared cross her.

This included, most notably, Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) whose attempts to confront her early on saw his memory wiped out, prompting Sookie to take pity on him and then fall in love with his new persona.

This, in turn, created a love triangle with Bill, who was torn throughout between loyalty to his new job (repairing vampire public relations in the wake of Russell Edgington’s season 3 mayhem) and his feelings for Sookie.

Also caught in the witch storyline were Tara (Rutina Wesley), once again reduced to playing the victim, and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and his lover Jesus (Kevin Alejandro), who subsequently had to delve deep into the latter’s spirituality to fight back. None of these stories were particularly interesting.

Elsewhere, however, the series did get some things right. Jason (Ryan Kwanten) continued to show signs of maturing, having been held captive and raped by a tribe of wolves and then falling for his eventual saviour, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), who herself continued to struggle with her vampire needs and desires as well as her feelings for long-term boyfriend Hoyt (Jim Parrack).

And Sam (Sam Trammell) inherited two strong storylines, juggling the ongoing relationship with his difficult brother, Tommy (Marshall Allman) with a new love, Luna (Janina Gavankar) that brought its own problems in the form of a jealous werewolf.

As ever with True Blood there was plenty going on and even the supporting characters seemed to have plenty to do, whether it was Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) battling his V addiction, Arlene (Carrie Preston) and Terry (Todd Lowe) coping with a possibly demonic baby or Alcide (Joe Manganiello) handling his new werewolf status.

But while these continued to give rise to some interesting dynamics, the main thrust of the season struggled to maintain the interest in the same way that storylines during seasons 1 and 2 consistently did.

And, as with a lot of vampire stories based around a single female human love interest (Vampire Diaries and Twilight included), the object of the vampires’ affections is beginning to become tiresome and her own worst enemy – meaning that a lot of the plot points feel repetitive and contrived.

With Sookie rapidly losing interest as a character (especially with her fairy element included) it’s increasingly becoming left to the supporting players to inject new life as more is found out about them.

Whether this can sustain overall interest in True Blood remains to be seen… as does the show’s ability to induce shocks and gasps. Season 4 again contained some outlandish moments, with plenty of blood-letting and raunchy sex, but the effect is now de-sensitizing to the point that sometimes the show seems to be trying too hard to surprise.

It’s still worth watching but the signs of wear and tear are now apparent for all to see and Season 5 needs to shake things up in a big way to reverse the decline that has begun to set in.

Certificate: 18
Episodes: 12
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: May 21, 2012