'True Blood' Final Season Premiere Review: "Jesus Gonna Be Here"

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True Blood’ season 7 spurts out its 1st episode of the final year, “Jesus Gonna Be Here,” as the Hep-V vampire attack takes its toll on Bon Temps, while Pam searches for Eric, and Sookie makes a shocking admission.

Last season's ‘True Blood’ finale, “Radioactive,” saw Bill and the others racing to save Sookie from a vengeful Warlow's grasp, before a shocking calamity unleashed a new threat to humans and vampires alike.

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘True Blood’ season 7 premiere, “Jesus Gonna Be Here”!

Hep-V vampires descend on Bellefleur's, trapping both the town’s residents and their vampire protectors in a deadly battle that sees the invaders kidnapping Arlene, Holly, Nicole and more. The infected vampires suddenly flee, leading Sam and Alcide to chase them into the woods, as Sookie sees that the aftermath has left Tara dead in her mother’s arms.

Andy Bellefleur gets the call about the attack, and orders Adilyn to stay home while Jessica remains on guard, uninvited inside. Meanwhile, Sookie listens in on the survivors’ thoughts at Bellefleur’s, all of which seem to blame her association with vampires for the attack. Lettie Mae reluctantly drinks Willa’s blood to heal her wounds, while nearby, town resident Vince is startled by the sight of Sam changing back into human form outside.

Bill expects the sick vampires will have found an abandoned location to nest in, and insists on accompanying Andy to investigate potential hiding places. Vince confronts Sam over what he saw, to which Sam reluctantly admits the shape-shifting truth so long as Vince stays quiet for the others' sake. Sam assigns vampire protectors to escort all the remaining survivors home, including James with Lafayette. Still fielding shade from the townspeople, Sookie overhears even Alcide lamenting that her love for vampires brought this on them, leading her to storm out.

In Marrakesh, Pam plays Russian roulette with an opponent who taunts her inability to connect with God, before the vampire finally loses on his turn. Having won the challenge, Pam asks the tavern owner for the promised information of Eric’s whereabouts. Back in Bon Temps, Jessica and Adilyn sort out their differences Jessica killing her sisters, before a rogue Hep-V vampire catches Adeleide’s scent and puts Jessica on alert. Elsewhere, a bitter Sookie tosses her phone into the woods, stumbling upon the dead body of a young woman the process.

Alcide returns home to find Sookie waiting, as Sookie reveals that she overheard his thoughts, and doesn’t understand why he would have as much difficulty supporting her as the other townspeople. Meanwhile, Jason and Violet encounter Vince and several other townspeople taking it on themselves to hunt down the infected vampires. Jason reminds them that the investigation is his duty as a police officer, and they’ll only make matters worse, but Violet cuts him off to intimidate the posse into backing down.

Lafayette returns home with James, looking to smoke up and forget the night’s events before fulfilling his promise to feed James. When Lafayette expresses his surprising relief over Tara’s death, having already grieved her once, James relays that he’d lost most of his friends to the Vietnam War, having dodged the draft himself. In particular, his best friend and sometime lover’s death hit hardest, as the boy’s father savagely beat James for his attempts to offer condolences, which in turn lead to a passing vampire turning James. Elsewhere, Jason angrily pulls the car over to vent his frustration with Violet emasculating him and refusing to have sex, though once Jason demands that they finally consummate their relationship, Violet reveals she’d been waiting for him to take control, and acquiesces.

Jessica remains in a standoff with the sick vampire outside the Bellefleur residence, and insists that Adilyn drink her blood to establish a connection for her safety. Meanwhile, Lettie Mae believes in her vampire blood high that Tara has become trapped between Heaven and Hell, while Reverend Daniels asks that Willa not give her any more blood. Not wanting to go back to her apartment with all of Tara’s things, Willa asks for a place to stay, and Reverend Daniels offers up his light-tight basement. Elsewhere in Morocco, Pam is led to another contact who provides her with a location for Eric, though she at first refuses to believe the man’s surprising information.

While Sookie heads to bed to make up with Alcide, Bill and Andy Bellefleur arrive to an abandoned warehouse full of strung up corpses, but one since vacated by whatever vampires had nested there. Vince and his posse arrive pointing guns at Bill and Andy for the damage they’ve caused the town, though Bill attempts to defuse the situation by reminding Vince that Andy was against Sam’s vampire pairing plan, and has himself suffered Holly’s kidnapping. Vince lets Andy go, but upon learning that Vince intends to kill Bill, Andy insists on doing the deed himself, for the bad blood between them. Once Vince turns over the gun however, Andy quickly turns it on the posse, and orders them to leave at gunpoint.

Over at an abandoned Fangtasia, Arlene, Holly, Nicole and others remain chained in the basement while vampires drain their victims upstairs. Holly attempts to keep everyone calm, though the mood falls apart when one of the infected vampires heads downstairs to devour yet another victim. Meanwhile, Andy drives Bill home, reminding the vampire that the night’s events doesn’t change the bad history between them. Back at the Bellefleur residence, Adilyn steps outside to invite Jessica inside for fear of the coming sunrise, in the process forcing Jessica bring the girl back inside. Jessica restrains herself from feeding on the cowering Adilyn, while the sick vampire bursts into flames outside.

The following day at Reverend Daniels’ sermon, Lettie Mae lashes out at Sookie over Tara’s death, accusing her of bringing their vampire troubles on the town. Sookie leaves in shame, but addresses the whole congregation to apologize for any part she might have had in their vampire plight, asking that as the town’s best authority on vampires, they accept her help in righting the situation.

OUR REVIEW:

‘True Blood’ has always been a somewhat strange show to review, what with the story’s unique internal chronometer and cliffhanger propensity making it difficult to evaluate where one story truly ends and another begins. Moreover, the fact that we know ‘True Blood’ season 7 to act as the final installments of the series certainly ups the stakes a bit more than usual, but it’s difficult to say how well that momentum might be carried beyond tonight’s premiere.

In particular, Tara’s offscreen, pre-credits death certainly seems like a strange choice, one that we hope has a larger payoff than simply establishing a precedent for shock value. The very act of picking up the premiere on the exact attack we left made “Jesus Gonna Be Here” seemed more like a continuation of and fallout from last season’s finale, which itself had already jumped through time a bit for a new status quo. In that regard, there wasn’t much tonight to give us a sense of where the series might head in its final 9 episodes, beyond continuing the Hep-V threat.

At least in that regard, tonight’s premiere gave us a fair amount to chew on, as we’re most interested to see what becomes of Pam’s search for Eric, while the prior season gave us a good sense of how to perceive infected vampires as a threat of apocalyptic proportions. Getting the human townspeople involved seems like a fun way to repay  many of the background figures of the series, who themselves have had limited opportunity to voice their own concerns with the supernatural goings-on of Bon Temps

Somewhat less successful was Jessica’s standoff with the vampire looking to attack Adilyn, ably continuing the unusual relationship between the two women as it did. If nothing else, Luke Grimes’ replacement as James by Nathan Parsons seems to have unfolded smoothly enough, with the latter getting a chance to explain his background a bit and forge an unlikely, if intriguing relationship with Lafayette. Sookie’s continued relationship issues with Alcide and complications with Bill again tended to scrape by a bit, considering we’re likely to harp on the drama past the point of considering the real threat at hand.

All in all, tonight’s premiere was a reasonably promising start to the final season, though perhaps lacking in any real sense of setting up the endgame. If the closing trailer was any guide, ‘True Blood’ seems at least consistent with its breakneck pace going forward.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of fang-banging ‘True Blood’ action?  What did you think about the final season premiere “Jesus Gonna Be Here”? Join the discussion in the comments, stay tuned for the latest from the premiere, and check back again next Sunday for another all-new recap and review of 'True Blood' season 7's latest, "I Found You"!

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