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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Various

Anna Paquin
Stephen Moyer
Sam Trammell
Ryan Kwanten
Rutina Wesley

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What's it about
All of your favorites are back in this 12 episode season. Sookie, Bill, Eric, Tara, Sam, Jason, Lafayette and Jessica return once again, and clash with new characters. This season introduces Vampire Guardian Roman, president of the Vampire Authority, who wants co-existence between humans and vampires; vampire zealot Salome, intent on recreating the world in God’s vampyric image; Authority Chancellor Nora, who shares the same maker as Eric; werewolves J.D. and Martha, who want a reluctant Alcide to take his rightful place as packmaster; and many more. This season delves into the battle between the Vampire Authority and “vampire fundamentalists” – a political power play whose outcome could decide not only the fate of Sookie and her Bon Temps friends, but of all human existence.
Is it good movie?
Spoiler Disclaimer: Though I tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible (and I talk about the general story-arc, rather than calling out specific episodes), it's hard to discuss this season without giving away a few things. If you have not watched any of this season at all and want to avoid any spoilers whatsoever, skip the review below and check out the review of the specs, extras and my last word. Ye have been warned!

True Blood has certainly had its ups and downs in the five seasons it’s been on the air. As a fan, I naturally watch each episode weekly when they air. However, getting to watch all the episodes in a row on Blu-ray rather than having the anticipation of waiting for it every week tends to make the flaws much more noticeable. Without the blind excitement of cliffhanging suspense after each episode, it's easier to look at the season as a whole to see it for what it really is.

As is fairly typical with True Blood, there's a lot going on. Newcomers would unquestionably be in over their heads as season 5 features multiple intertwining storylines, and unfortunately some of them seem unnecessary. Viewers can rest assured though- at least the people responsible actually bothered to wrap up the ones that won't be continuing in season 6, unlike season 4 which brought us the pointless “Jason and the panthers” arc which led nowhere and has was never resolved. This particular season is loaded with hot topics - racism, prejudice, fanatical religion, KKK levels of vigilantism, and even politics.

Fans are treated to the return of the charismatic fairy blood lustin' Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare), which is a good comeback- the guy’s a loose cannon and an effective villain. If all we had was The Vampire Authority (the council of politically powerful vampires), things wouldn't be nearly as exciting. Reverend Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) is back and more entertaining than ever since becoming a vamp. Russell and Steve are delightful to watch together, as a pair of vampire lovers who dance and gleefully ravage humans. Their contribution to "The Authority" makes the whole thing less unbearable and almost makes up for the eye-roll inducing Lilith storyline, one of those deals where the viewer is left to guess  how much of it is imagined and what’s actually true. Everything ultimately comes to a head with the "Billith" cliffhanger. Given his rise from blood, it's looking like the whole God of Vampires thing wasn't just a drug-induced haze after all.

Of course, that’s not all. If you thought Tara (Rutina Wesley) was badass before, she's at her fiercest and most admirable in season 5. Her relationship with Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) is also quite enjoyable, considering how entertaining Pam has always been. It's nice to get to see another side of these characters this season, and to get some backstory. Season five also delivers more Alcide (Joe Manganiello, though it would appear that this one is being treated as a slow burn. The whole Sookie-Alcide love affair angle doesn’t quite take off as you might hope here, which only leads me to believe the producers are drawing things out.And for those of you who are looking out for cameos, watch out for T-1000 himself (Robert Patrick) and Tina Majorino, among others who make appearances this time around!

In terms of Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Sookie (Anna Paquin), it’s a bit of a mixed bag this time around. On one hand it's nice to see Bill grow a pair and stop mooning over Sookie. On the contrary though, his sudden switch to religious fanatic and human hater seems forced and heavy-handed. The writers managed to come up with a “vampire nest” explanation for it though, so at least things are consistent. The other positive to Bill's not-so-subtle turn to the dark side is that it gives the good guy in Eric a chance to shine. His desire to have Alcide to be revolted by Sookie was both typical and hilarious. As for Sookie, we get to learn more about her history and the death of her parents as we discover the truth about an ancient pact that promises her to a particularly evil character.

As I mentioned previously, there’s a lot going on here. Characters you thought you liked, you end up loathing, and vice versa. Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) for example becomes even more lovable this season as he really shines when taking care of his sister, and your heart breaks for him as he wrestles with having to say goodbye to his best friend. Not everything works though. The Sam( Sam Trammell)/Luna (Janina Gavankar)/kidnapping of her wolf daughter/ battling amongst the pack story didn’t really work, as was Hoyt (Jim Parrack)’s flirtation with the Obamas (if you don’t watch the show, you must be wondering what I’m talking about, hah!). Finally, I felt as though the Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe) story with Patrick Devins (Scott Foley) showing up as Terry’s old platoon leader just didn’t lead anywhere and ultimately felt distracting.

Although it’s not perfect, season 5 of True Blood certainly improves upon its predecessor. The big turn for Bill is a huge attraction this season as it really shakes things up for the main characters and has implications for the rest of the cast. Sure, a few side plots wound up going nowhere, but this season has more than enough to keep you interested and even more importantly, sets up a potentially great season six.

Video / Audio
Video is presented in full 1080p, with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio. This is a very visual show, and the video presentation takes full advantage of it. Great, vibrant colors and sharp details here. Great show to watch on Blu-ray!

Audio shows up in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and just can’t be beat. This is just about perfect, capturing everything from quiet dialogue to vicious violence. Just awesome stuff here.

The Extras
Audio Commentary fans can enjoy 5 different tracks here, and they vary as each one features different participants, but these should please fans:  "We'll Meet Again" with actor Chris Bauer (Andy), writer Alexander Woo and director Romeo Tirone; "Somebody That I Used to Know" with actor/director Stephen Moyer (Bill) and writer Mark Hudis; "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" with director Dan Attias and actors Denis O'Hare (Russell) and Carrie Preston (Arlene); "Sunset" with co-executive producer/writer Angela Robinson and director Lesli Linka Glatter; and "Save Yourself" with actor Anna Paquin (Sookie), creator/executive producer Alan Ball and director Michael Lehmann.

Each episode is wrapped up with a brief featurette from the cast and crew that goes Inside the Episode. These are usually 10 minutes or less, and can focus on anything from a character to a special effect to how the script was written. These are interesting little tidbits, but don’t provide a lot of meat.

Blu-ray owners are treated to Enhanced Viewing Mode, which loads each episodes with a picture-in-picture track that is full of tidbits like trivia, vampire history, character bios and footage related to what you’re watching at the moment. A cool addition.

True Blood Episode Six: Autopsy is another picture-in-picture track that really rips into the “Hopeless” episode. This is a really great feature that has all kinds of interviews and BTS footage about this particularly important episode. Too bad it’s only on this episode though.

Authority Confessionals is a series of in-character interviews from members of The Authority (Nora, Steve Newlin, Salome, Kibwe, Rosalyn and Russell) as they discuss who they are, where they came from and what’s going on with their characters. Campy stuff here.

True Blood Lines is a neat character bio/explanation piece that runs about 5 minutes long and helps you catch up, though if you’re trying to catch up by season 5, you might be in some trouble because there are quite a few characters with quite a few connections!

Also included is a DVD copy of the show, and a Digital copy to watch on your handheld device or personal computer.

Last Call
If you’re a fan of True Blood, this season arrives in a great package with excellent presentation and a good host of extras. If you’re not a fan, well..you probably shouldn’t pick up the fifth season of a show you don’t like, ha! In all seriousness though, this is a definite purchase for fans, and for those of you who weren’t sure after season 4, this set ought to help change your mind. Let the camp, gore and lusty love stories live on!
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