Season 5 of HBO's hit vampire drama, True Blood, picked up precisely where it left off last summer, but in less than an hour it seemed as if everything had changed. The episode, entitled "Turn! Turn! Turn!" (as in The Byrds' ecclesiastical 1965 single? … yes and no), began with Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Lafayette (Nelson Willis) grieving over Tara's dead body (Rutina Wesley, in her quietest episode yet).

Moments in, Pam (the heretofore underused Kristin Bauer van Straten) shows up asking for Eric (Alexander Skarsgard), who at the moment is wrapped up with erstwhile archnemesis Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), annihilating Nan, cleaning up the mess, high-tailing it to Sookie's and — damn it! — caught by the Authority. More on that later.

Pam, remorseful and purposeless without Eric, gets talked into turning Tara into a vampire, a stunt that requires Pam to put on a hilariously incongruous pair of "Wal-Mart pajamas," drip her own vampire blood into Tara's mouth, and then snuggle up to Tara's body in a hand-dug grave overnight. Oops, I mean overday. Then all Sookie and Lafayette can do is wait — and hope — for both vampires to emerge.

Speaking of just-turned vampires, there's an emotionally complicated scene between Reverend Steve (Michael McMillian) and Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten), who very guardedly answers the door to the Fellowship of the Sun leader-turned-vampire but not guardedly enough to put on any clothes. Steve, orphaned by maker, glamours Jason into inviting him in and then makes this not-so-startling confession: "I'm a gay vampire American, and I love you Jason Stackhouse."

Ah, how sweet! As is Jason's response: "That was, without a doubt, the nicest 'I love you' I've ever got from anyone, but this dog doesn't bark up that tree." Unrequited love, as we know, is not that easy for a young vampire to tolerate, so Steve gets angry and starts to demand Jason's love, but in bursts Jessica to save the day. Jessica: "Jason is mine!" Steve: "I am Steve fucking Newlin, who the fuck are you?" Jessica: "An older vampire … I also happen to be the progeny of the king of Louisiana, who happens to be out of town, so that pretty much makes me the queen." Quickly, Steve is out of the picture, and Jason and Jessica have sex.

Later, the awkwardness with Jessica and Jason's power-play relationship hits some poignant notes when Jason finds himself totally ostracized at Merlotte's, now that former BFF Hoyt (Jim Parrack) has spread the word that Jason is a disloyal "girlfriend-f*cker." And still later, when Jason shows up to a house party hosted by Jessica and can't get in to the cool 'n casual mood of a no-strings-attached relationship, though Jessica seems fine with it. Oh, my, how the tables have turn, turn, turned for Jason Stackhouse, eh?

Scott Foley, playing Patrick, an ex-military pal of Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe), brings trouble to Terry and Arlene's (Carrie Preston) family. "Fires aren't to be taken lightly," Patrick says, before revealing that two of Terry's former squadmen have lost their lives in fires and then setting off. This is the beginning of what promises to be an interesting and mysterious season-long story arc about Terry's trauma-inducing military experience.

Another power struggle takes all sorts of shapes in the dealings among Alcide (Joe Manganiello), the deceased pack leader, Marcus, and Sam (Sam Trammell), who takes responsibility for Marcus' death to protect Alcide. A lot of back-and-forth takes place among the surving pack leaders, who want Marcus' body and Sam's blood, but in the end it's Alcide who returns the favor, saves Sam and sends half the pack bowing down to him in deference. Alcide also visits Sookie, but we won't get into that here. Basically it just seemed like a way to get the two in the same room so their blossoming romance could start … blossoming.

Which brings us full circle back to Sookie and Lafayette, waiting patiently over the fresh grave containing Tara and her soon-to-be vampire mommy, Pam. The first to emerge is Pam, who grimaces as she tries to refresh herself with a swig of True Blood. Next, Sookie and Lafayette dig up Tara, who seems stone cold and dead. The turning did not work. She's a goner.

Um, NOT! Tara's a vampire. And she's thirsty.

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