True Blood (HBO): Season Four The Forces of Witchcraft

by JoHarrington

A spoiler-free review of the fourth season of True Blood. The immortal power of vampires meets its match, when the witch wars start in Shreveport.

In season three of 'True Blood', it was reiterated time and time again that vampires are governed only by assent. They could take down humanity, if they so desired. Their strength and brutal instincts overpowered every human in their way.

Only PR and politics stopped them doing so, or love and the realities of running a business. The reason didn't matter, when you boiled down to the very root. It was still vampires agreeing to be nice. They could turn at any moment.

In 'True Blood's' fourth season, one class of human beings proves that it has the means to fight back - enter the witches.

True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season on DVD

True Blood Shows How History Repeats

When you've been alive for a millennium or more, then it's easy to see first hand those recurring patterns. Sometimes they come back to bite you.

Image: True Blood Burning TimesThey seemed so harmless, the Wiccan coven meeting at the back of the Moon Goddess Emporium. All herbal remedies, incense and meditative chanting. This was religion in peace and love; empowerment through working with nature, and remembering the right colored candles to light.

But that is witchcraft as tame as a politicized vampire on a campaign trail.  There is much darker magic out there. There are those with the skill and vengeful power to want to wield it too. When the High Priestess is a medium, then death really is no barrier for even ancient practitioners to make their return. There are very old scores to settle.

This, to me, is the crux of True Blood's fourth season. 'The evil that men do lives after them' is the warning from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. But these are vampires. For most, they're still around, when those previous moments of tyranny finally trigger consequences. Even if they weren't there, then they know someone who was. They've heard stories from their own vampiric history.

Nor is this just about the vampires. The whole season starts with a time leap. We're one year on from the events of the previous three.  Things have happened. Babies have been born; seeds sown then are only just now blooming; people have moved on. Others really have not. Their coping mechanisms are crippling them.

We spend the whole of the first episode in a state of 'that was then, this is now', which sets the template for all the rest. The past is always lurking, and it will catch up.

True Blood Season 4 Trailer

The Softer Side of Eric

As every historian knows, survival resides in learning the lessons of the past. But not if you can't remember it.

Panic ensues, as Eric Northman is stripped of his memories. He knows that he's a vampire and that's just about it. The sweet viking boy trapped inside gets his moment to side-step one thousand years of vengeance and cruelty.

But such things are not prepared to be thrust aside. Confronted with his past through the mirror gaze of others, he hasn't the faculties to cope. His personality hasn't formed around living them.

There are few who will embrace just how vulnerable Eric has become. Between Pam's disdain and Bill's distrust, the whole vampire world seems to be failing him. But why should it give him quarter? Eric Northman has been a dangerous presence for a very, very long time.

Only Sookie is mad enough, angry enough, or perhaps intuitive enough to reach out in his hour of need. She's rewarded with seeing a whole new side to the vampire she'd learned to fear and hate.

Watch True Blood Season 4 on Amazon Instant Video

Watch True Blood Season 4 on Blu-Ray

Team Eric or Team Bill?

For fans who thrive on the dark romance at the heart of True Blood, this is plenty enough to form new allegiances.

The fourth season gives us scope for aligning on Team Bill or Team Eric. It had existed before, but this season fueled the flames into a frenzy. Fans everywhere proclaimed their personal preference. Forget the blood and gore, all's fair in love and war. Which side will you pick?

Though don't expect Sookie to follow suit. She's her own woman, with her own mind, and she's not about to sit back and let destiny cast her as the tragic heroine.

Besides, she's so done with vampires and their possessive snarling. They can extend their fangs all they like, hissing out warning shots like, "She's mine!"  But Sookie is determined to belong to Sookie this season. She leaves no-one in any doubt about that!

Team Eric T-Shirt

Team Bill T-Shirt

Eric, Sookie and Bill True Blood Poster

A Witch Responds to True Blood Season Four

Oh dear! Where do I even begin? Which was the question that occupied my mind throughout these episodes, marring my enjoyment of them.

Image: True Blood CovenI am a great fan of this series, as evidenced by the speed with which I've devoured the first four seasons. My friends have barely seen me. I've been lost in watching episode after episode, pausing only to write about True Blood on Wizzley.

Yet this fourth season of True Blood gave me problems. As I mentioned in the review of season three, I am a Wiccan. This shifted my focus somewhat, from a mere observer of brilliant entertainment to someone with a stake in how my religion was portrayed. I could no longer watch it as impassively, as semi-mindless entertainment. I could not be objective.

In many ways, season four excelled itself. According to the ratings figures, it marked a sea-change. True Blood became the second biggest show on HBO, stumped only by the runaway success of Game of Thrones. It deserved the accolades. There were moments which made me gasp or cheer aloud. I nearly fell out of my seat at the ending of episode one.

But the subject matter was too close to home. I spent much of the season unsure quite how to react. Should I be laughing at all of the inaccuracies in those Wiccan rituals? Should I be taking offense, as my fellow adherents were portrayed as either fluffy or evil? Should I be ranting about the appropriation of a real religion? Telling about how dramas such as this fuel misconceptions, and how that plays into true life social scares?

Ultimately, this is material for another article. It's not important for those simply watching True Blood as light entertainment.  That is precisely what True Blood is. It's fiction, wherein all of humanity's monsters and legends are coalesced in great story-telling. The wicked witch is simply part of that long tradition, which includes vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters and all the rest.

We can take such things way too seriously, or we can enjoy the story. In retrospect, I'll opt for the latter.

Sookie and Eric True Blood Poster

More True Blood on Wizzley

A television drama is not the best source for learning about any religion, but it's probably the one with the biggest reach. This was my creed, and its people were murderous.
... or, at least, the actors who play them. I know that my jaw gaped, when I learned a few of these. Not to mention a certain amount of delighted cheering.
Hosting a vampire themed party to watch True Blood? There are loads of costumes and supplies to bring Bon Temps to your home.
A spoiler-free review of the fifth season of True Blood. The Vampire Authority not only exists, but it's lethal. Worse is in the curses hitherto hidden beneath.
Updated: 05/15/2013, JoHarrington
 
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JoHarrington on 05/15/2013

I would soooo be there if Alan Ball gave me the call. Religious accuracy be damned! In fact, if I was there, there would be religious accuracy in the Wicca!

Paul on 05/15/2013

Will you be making an appearance, being a witch and all?

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