True Blood is back and it wasted no time in reminding viewers that once bucolic Bon Temps has changed.
Last season ended with a six-month jump in time. Now Bill has returned to a state of pre-Lilith normalcy while gangs of Hep V-infected vampires roam the streets, ravaging small towns and feasting on everyone in their path. In Bon Temps, Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) has quit the diner biz and is the newly elected mayor of the town, tasked with preserving the peace and saving humanity. His controversial solution? A barter system where every virus-free human citizen swaps clean blood for a vampire’s protection. Season six ended with the town gathered together at a mixer designed to promote the policy. As the revelers' mingled, a group of Hep V vamps approached.
Season seven kicks off with a brawl and a massacre that leaves many humans dead and some, including Arlene, Holly and Nicole — who is very pregnant with what is presumed to be Sam's baby — are kidnapped by the gang, who must know that Merlotte's is known for it's take-out food.
While kidnapping is bad, murder is worse and the greatest tragedy of the night is that the Hep V vamps kill Tara during the fight. Sookie finds Lettie Mae, Tara's former crack addict-turned-gospel preaching mama, covered in blood and crying for her lost daughter. To crib from South Park: They killed Tara! Those bastards! While Sookie is reeling from the loss, Lettie Mae really doesn't take it very well. Guess that reconciliation with Tara is really off the table this time.
Sookie sits inside the bar formerly known as Merlotte's, now Bellefleur's, eavesdropping on people's very negative energy. In short, humans do not especially like Miss Sookie Stackhouse, especially right now. They blame her for bringing about the current vampire apocalypse. Even her own boyfriend Alcide blames her, because they didn't leave when they could and now they are knee-deep in Hep V problems. No one notices when she slips out of the bar alone.
Baby Vamp Jessica apologized to Andy Bellefleur for killing most of his fairy daughters in a fairy blood-fueled frenzy. While Andy is having none of it (and you can't really blame the guy) he does reluctantly accept Jessica as his protector. When all hell breaks loose, he tasks her with guarding Adilyn, his sole remaining daughter and she does not disappoint. Jessica stands guard outside Adilyn's house when a burly infected vamp shows up demanding a taste of Adilyn's fairy blood. Jessica faces him down until dawn sets them both a smokin' and Adilyn dares to invite her inside to safety while the infected vamp goes up in flames.
Newly-minted Mayor Sam accidentally reveals his shape-shifting proclivities to Vince, who swears he will out him.
Bill and Sam hatched their new plan that for every vampire a human. Sookie, meanwhile, walks home alone and stumbles onto a dead body that may or may not be a vamp. Alcide finds her sitting in her kitchen wearing her bathrobe and pouting about the fact that she can't help but know everyone's thoughts, even his. He apologizes for what he was thinking and swears that he loves her. They make up and come dawn she is ready to forgive and climbs in bed with him. She heads to church the next day, but she isn't given a warm welcome, especially by Lettie Mae who calls her out for causing Tara's death via bad influence. Sookie is going to make a run for it, but stops herself just long enough to offer her beloved town some help.
Jason and Violet, the ersatz paramour/dominatrix he picked up in Vamp Camp, are trying to patrol the town, but run into a vigilante squad lead by Vince. They tell Jason that he's not equipped to handle the situation and before Jason can defend himself, Violet rushes in and tells the crew exactly what they need to do (think: head as a candy dish and you'll get the drift). They skedaddle, but Jason is fuming that she publicly undermined his position in society as a deputy. She balks, because she was just trying to help and they butt heads. Nothing a little on-the-hood-of-the-cop-car action can't fix.
Jessica's new boyfriend James (played by Luke Grimes in season six, now by Nathan Parsons) is assigned the task of looking after Lafayette. While Lafayette and Tara were cousins, Lafayette admits that he doesn't feel anything about her death since he already grieved for her the first time she died. James proffers that feeling is overrated. He tells Lafayette that all his friends died in Vietnam, which is a good reminder that vampirism is the best anti-aging regimen. James tells a little of his backstory, admitting that he was a pacifist who refused to fight and when a neighbor friend died, he went to pay his respects and the boy's dad beat him to near-death and left him to die in the street. A vampire rescued him and gave him both a new life and an eternity of apathy. He tells Lafayette that, in the words of the greatest film speech ever in Meatballs, "It's just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!" Lafayette nods his approval.
In what we can only hope is a preview of True Detective season two, Bill and Andy are on the hunt for the gang of vamps who took Holly and Arlene. They stumble into a den of blood-sucking iniquity complete with Eli Roth-worthy scenes of horror. They also stumble into the bumbling gun-toting vigilante squad who blame Bill for the entire fiasco. Andy convinces them to let him be the one to kill Bill and once they do, Andy, of course, doesn't. Instead, he disarms Vince, the ringleader, and sends them on their way. When one threatens that "it's not over," Andy assures him that it is.
Meanwhile, Arlene, Holly, Nicole and rest of the group kidnapped by the Hep V vamps are chained in a basement like veal calves awaiting slaughter or rescue, whichever gets there first. Unfortunately, they are being held all the way over in Shreveport (in what might be the basement at Fangtasia) and help is far away.
Meanwhile in Marrakesh, Pam is playing out a scene straight out of the Indiana Jones cutting room floor, where she plays Russian roulette in a crowded bar with people laying bets on her losing. As her opponent preaches the gospel of Allah while pulling the trigger repeatedly on himself, Pam promises she'll be happy having "a three-way in hell." Pam isn't in it for the theology lesson, though, she just wants information on finding her maker Eric, who was last seen nude sunbathing in Sweden when his vampiric super-sunblock wore off and he started burning.
After winning the round of Russian roulette, she gets some information and the offer to feed on a child, which she passes on, even though rumor has it the only clean blood in north Africa is the blood of children. Pam, like everything else in this season, is changing.
Can't wait to see what happens next.