With ‘Jesus Gonna Be Here’ True Blood returned for its seventh and final season, something that, judging from this entry and the last couple of runs of the show, is a good thing. ‘Jesus Gonna Be Here’ kicked off where the sixth season left off and opened with a Bon Temps massacre over at Merlotte’s. Right from the start it was jarring: we were dropped in a messy action scene that reintroduced us to the infected vampires that were first introduced in the S6 finale. But, because of a lack of buildup during this new episode, it failed to leave an impact. Nobodies were slaughtered left and right, just to illustrate to us how dangerous these new vamps are, something the episode much more effectively achieved in a later scene, in which Deputy Kevin bit the dust. It all felt very clunky, and the supposed death of Tara, which happened off-screen which means she’s probably still around in some capacity, felt very rushed and careless. If you want to convince viewers a major character has died, at least put some effort into it. We were told by the characters they were upset over this loss, but there were no scenes to show for it, and this event wasn’t given any room to breathe during the rest of this True Blood entry.
After the opening Sookie was back to her mind-reading, tantrummy and sulking ways, and she left Merlotte’s alone because boyfriend Alcide had a small moment where he thought some thoughts she didn’t like. When Alcide called her because he was concerned for her safety she just tossed her phone and later, when he got home, they had an argument that got resolved which led to a spooning moment with gratuitous nudity, because True Blood still thinks that’s why viewers keep tuning in (on that note: the least said about the Jason-Violet scene the better). After reading many more thoughts when going to church, Sookie spoke to her townsfolk, saying she really hated the way people think about her but that she really wants to help, a retread of a motif done to death during the show’s previous seasons. It also was a strange detached moment: what did Sookie hope to accomplice? If this little speech is going to affect change in Bon Temps’ small-minded and resentful people, it would only solidify True Blood‘s writing as being very convenient.
And let’s be honest here: the introduction of new character Vince, who’s going to cause a lot of trouble this season if this episode’s plethora of evidence is anything to go by, was entirely forced and ham-fisted. We know quite a few of the town’s inhabitants who could’ve easily been turned into a mob leader and foil for our heroes, but instead the show thought it necessary to lob this new caricature at us, a tiresome solution to the problem that now, in its final season, True Blood really doesn’t have any real threats or villains left. There’s some promise though in the relationship between Andy, Jessica and Bill, which is something that’s actually been somewhat developed during the series’ last season. Andy told Bill and Jessica that he will never forgive them for what they’d done to his daughters, but, the good man that he is, he’s still trying to uphold the law in the midst of chaos. It’s characters like these, with some depth and nuance, that do hold your attention, even if they have just a few small scenes each episode. It’s a far more interesting approach to Andy than the bumbling and addicted cop tropes the show lobbed at us earlier in its seven-season run. While ‘Jesus Gonna Be Here’ grouped three of its most interesting characters together and offered us a nice chunk of development for the Jessica story too, another plot line that holds some promise is Pam’s: she’s looking for Eric in Marrakesh and, if anything, his inclusion has always elevated the series. Surprisingly, the addition of Jessica’s new boyfriend James, played this season by Nathan Parsons, also worked well: while his origin story didn’t wow anyone, his acting was solid and fascinating to watch.
Sadly ‘Jesus Gonna Be Here’ offered exactly what viewers have come to expect from True Blood by now: trite, plodding storytelling and flat characters. Some moments were fine, but can’t take away the feeling that this last season feels more like a formality than anything else. 4/10