"I think Merlotte's just got its first vampire!"
Sookie Stackhouse
"Strange Love"
Series True Blood
Season 1, Episode 1
True Blood 1x01 039.jpg
Air date September 7th, 2008
Writers Alan Ball
Charlaine Harris
Director Alan Ball
Producers Bill Johnson; Raelle Tucker; Alexander Woo; Nancy Oliver; Brian Buckner; Carol Dunn Trussell; Alan Ball; Bruce Dunn; Christina Jokanovich
Starring Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Chris Bauer, Nelsan Ellis, Jim Parrack, Carrie Preston, Michael Raymond-James, William Sanderson; Lynn Collins; Lois Smith
Episode guide
"The First Taste"

"Strange Love" is the pilot episode of the HBO television series True Blood. The episode was written and directed by series showrunner Alan Ball based on the "Southern Vampire Mysteries" series of novels by author Charlaine Harris. The episode first aired on Sunday, September 7th, 2008. Across the country, vampires have come "out of the coffin" after the invention of mass-produced synthetic blood. In Louisiana, Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress with telepathic abilities, falls under the spell of a sexy, 173-year-old vampire named Bill Compton -- whose thoughts she can't read. After saving Bill from the Rattrays, a pair of ruthless "vampire drainers", Sookie tests the limits of Bill's gratitude when the two are left alone in the dark. [1]

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Tru Blood[edit | edit source]

Good old boy vampire

Two college kids are driving through Renard Parish, Louisiana and stop at the local Grabbit Kwik after seeing a sign advertizing Tru Blood, an artificially created blood substitute for vampires. The Frat boy asks the store clerk where they can "score some v", genuine vampire blood, which is said to elevate the conscious mind and increase sexual potency in humans who drink it. The store clerk gives them a scare by making believe that he is a vampire, but one of the other patrons, a true vampire, bears his fangs and runs them out of the store. He then threatens the store clerk saying, "If you ever pretend to be one of us again, I'll kill you." He pays for a six-pack of Tru Blood, smiles and leaves. [Scene cuts to opening theme song].

Merlotte's[edit | edit source]

Sookie Stackhouse

Merlotte's Bar and Grill is the most popular drinking establishment in the small town of Bon Temps. It is owned by Sam Merlotte and its staff includes waitresses Sookie Stackhouse, Arlene Fowler and Dawn Green as well as a flamboyant homosexual cook named Lafayette. Sookie Stackhouse is different from other people however in that she is a telepath, able to listen in and hear the thoughts of others. Though she has learned to control this ability to some extent, often though, she cannot help but hear what others are thinking and this causes her great stress. Sookie waits on tables picking up snippets of conversation from the minds of her customers.

Meanwhile, a young black woman named Tara Thornton hates her job at the Super Sav-a-Bunch home improvement store. A customer comes in looking for a specific item, and Tara proves less than helpful. The woman keeps asking questions and Tara grows more irritated with her with each passing second. Finally, the customer asks to see her manager, Waylon, and she calls him over. Tara doesn't give her boss the chance to fire her. Instead, she slaps him across the face saying, "That's for pattin' my ass too much!" She then takes off her apron and quits. Leaving the building, Tara calls her friend Sookie and tells her that she is coming over to Merlotte's.

Tara hates her job.

After hanging up with Tara, Sookie speaks with Dawn, who warns her that the Rattrays have come into Merlotte's and are sitting at one of her booths. Sookie doesn't care for either Mack or Denise Rattray, but goes to their table to take their order. She perceives both of their thoughts, which consists of lewd imagery on the part of Mack. Denise just thinks that Sookie is retarded. They order up a pitcher of beer and some fries. Sookie places the order with their cook, Lafayette, and suggests that he should let a few of the fries fall on the floor. Lafayette jokes around with Sookie and comments on her makeup, remarking that it makes her look like a porn star. Sookie tells him that she gets bigger tips when she wears makeup. Lafayette goes on, theorizing that the reason why people are put off with Sookie is because "all men fear the pussy". Dawn and Arlene join in on the fun and they tease Lafayette about his sexuality by making seductive gestures to their erogenous zones.

Jason and Maudette[edit | edit source]

Maudette Pickens.

Meanwhile, Sookie's brother, Jason Stackhouse is in an apartment complex having sex with a woman named Maudette Pickens. The two take a break and Jason notices two small bite marks on Maudette's inner thigh. He immediately recognizes this as a vampire bite and is repulsed. Maudette tells him that she was recently paid $1,000 to have sex with a vampire. Jason grows defensive, fearing that Maudette might charge him for their little escapade. Maudette assures him that she is not a prostitute, but admits that she couldn't turn down a thousand dollars. He asks her what it was like having sex with a vampire and she tells him that it was rough and uncomfortable. She will never engage in such a practice again. Smiling coyly, she tells Jason that she videotaped it and asks if he wants to watch it. The two watch the tape and Jason is disturbed by the imagery of a bald vampire with skeletal tattoos across his head bearing his fangs to the camera. Jason grows past his initial discomfort however and the two decide to reenact the bondage scenes from the tape. Little does Jason realize however, Maudette has turned on her video recorder. In the heat of passion, Jason practices erotic asphyxiation on Maudette and begins choking her. It becomes too much for her however and she slumps over. Jason panics at the sight of Maudette's unmoving body and rushes out of the apartment.

Merlotte's First Vampire[edit | edit source]

The Vampire

Back at Merlotte's, Sookie takes note of a customer she has never seen before. A man with brown hair and dark eyes sits alone at a booth next to the Rattrays. Sookie deduces that he is a vampire and is excited to see one in the flesh. She goes to his table and the man asks for a bottle of Tru Blood. Sookie apologizes profusely, stating that they don't have any. She tells him that he is the first vampire to ever step foot in Merlotte's. Unable to satiate himself on Tru Blood, the vampire asks for a glass of red wine. He cannot drink it, but it helps for appearances sake. Sookie turns her on her heel and goes to get his drink. By this point, Tara has arrived at Merlotte's and Sam and she watch Sookie's interaction with the vampire. Neither of them feel particularly comfortable with the vampire's presence in the bar. Sam asks Tara to help him out behind the bar and Tara begins mixing drinks.

While Sookie is off preparing his drink, the Rattrays decide to introduce themselves to Bon Temps' newest resident. The vampire sits quietly as Mack and Denise attempt to befriend him. He gives little attention to their comments, but politely listens to them. When Sookie returns, she telepathically hears the Rattrays' true intentions towards him. They plan on taking him outside and subduing him so they can drain his blood and sell it on the black market. Sookie grows nervous at the revelation and asks all three to remain where they are. She then rushes back to the bar to tell Sam and Tara what the Rattrays intend on doing. By the time she turns back around, the vampire and his new associates have left the building.

Sookie races outside, hoping to help the vampire before he can come to any harm. She grabs a length of chain from the back of Sam's truck and walks down the path behind the bar. She finds the vampire on the ground with the Rattrays leaning over him, draining his blood. A silver necklace chain keeps him pinned and unable to fight back. Mack Rattray hears Sookie approach and goes to confront her. He pulls out a switchblade, but Sookie attacks with the chain, wrapping it around his neck. Mack drops to the ground and begins choking. Sookie scoops up the knife and faces off against Denise. She orders her to let the vampire go free and to leave... without the blood she had collected. Denise angrily orders Mack back into their car and they begin to drive off. Sookie rushes to the vampire's side and pulls the silver chain away. She sees that it has burned into his skin, but now that it is gone, his wounds begin to quickly heal. The Rattrays' car bears down towards Sookie and the vampire, but Sookie manages to pull the man aside just in time. Having lost the opportunity to take Sookie down, the Rattrays continue driving away.

Sookie vs. Mack Rattray

Sookie apologizes to Bill for not getting to him sooner. A local dog comes up and begins licking Sookie on the face. The vampire thanks Sookie for helping him and she tries to listen to his thoughts. She is amazed to discover that he cannot hear him. The vampire is still wary of Sookie's intentions and asks her a few pointed questions to get a read on her. He asks her if she wishes to drink the blood that the Rattrays collected or if she intends on selling it. Insulted by the insinuation, Sookie has no desire to do anything at all with the stolen blood. Still, she does not completely trust the vampire just yet and places Denise's silver chain around neck for protection. The vampire introduces himself as Bill. Sookie begins laughing hysterically at the notion that a vampire would have such a common name. Bill is embarrassed, but is too polite to voice his frustration. Sookie tells Bill that she has to go back to work.

Back at Merlotte's, Sam thanks Tara for helping out and gives her twenty dollars. Tara finagles Sam into giving her a job, but Sam is reluctant because he knows that it is only a matter of time before she goes off on a customer. Tara defends her behavior saying that she only goes off on stupid people, to which Sam replies, "Most of our customers are stupid people". Suddenly, Jason Stackhouse walks into the bar looking for Sookie. He is clearly agitated about something and Tara gets him a beer. Tara has been in love with Jason for a long time, but even though they've known each other for years, he barely even notices her.

Waitress Dawn Green comes up and Jason and she hug each other. The two used to date, but are still on amicable terms. Jason still likes Dawn, but Tara grows frustrated watching them and eyes them jealously from behind the bar.

Sookie goes home and tells her grandmother about the vampire. She neglects to mention her fight with the Rattrays. Adele Stackhouse is a rather progressive thinker and finds vampires fascinating. She asks Sookie if the vampire bit her. Sookie says "No", and guesses that the vampire stopped in the bar out of loneliness. She kisses her grandmother good night and goes upstairs. Sookie has a dream wherein she meet Bill in her front yard. Bill tears off his shirt, bears his fangs and attacks her.

Jason's Troubles[edit | edit source]

Jason at work.

The following afternoon, Sookie is sun bathing in the front yard when Jason pulls up. He reveals that he learned about her fight with the Rattrays and Sookie tells him what happened. Jason offers to beat up Mack Rattray, but Sookie tells him that she already took care of it. Grandma comes out and invites them both inside for lunch. While Jason and Sookie eat, Adele receives a telephone call from her friend who informs her about the death of Maudette Pickens. Jason is terrified, but tries to cover it up. He tries to talk casually about Maudette and her association with vampires. Sookie picks up on Jason's discomfort and tries to read his mind. Jason knows what she is doing and pushes her away. He leaves the house to return to work.

Jason works for the Renard Parish Public Works department and manages a crew of road workers which consists of Hoyt Fortenberry, Rene Lenier and Lafayette Reynolds. While taking a break at work, Jason is approached by Sheriff Bud Dearborne and detective Andy Bellefleur. They ask him about Maudette Pickens and Jason acts dodgy. While trying to play off his association with Maudette, Jason only makes himself look guilty of her murder. Sheriff Dearborne arrests Jason and takes him in for questioning.

Back at the Stackhouse residence, Adele asks Sookie if she intends on meeting the vampire again. She wants her to ask him if he was in the "war" (meaning the Civil War) and wants to know if he would be willing to share his recollections with her group, the Descendants of the Glorious Dead. Sookie doesn't know when or if she will see Bill again, but she promises to ask.

Later, Sookie goes to work and learns about Jason's arrest. Apparently, she is the last to learn about this and everyone in the bar is talking about the news. She speaks with Hoyt, Arlene and Rene who tell her that Sheriff Dearborne showed up at the job and took Jason in for questioning. Suddenly, Bill arrives. Sookie is enraptured and slowly walks to his table. Her mind is pummeled with the thoughts of everyone in the bar, silently judging her as she walks to Bill's table. When she reaches him, she places her hand on him and the voices stop. Bill asks her, "What are you?" and Sookie nervously reminds him, "I'm a waitress". Bill is unconvinced and knows that Sookie is more than just a normal human. Sookie changes the subject and asks Bill to meet her behind the bar after work. She has a favor to ask him on behalf of her grandmother. Bill agrees to meet her and gets up to leave. As soon as he breaks away from Sookie, all of the voices come rushing into her head again.

Sam grabs Sookie by the arm and pulls her into the storeroom. He is upset by her recent actions, particularly her fight with the Rattrays and now for making a date with a vampire. He asks her if she has a death wish. Tara comes in a moment later and admonishes Sookie for making a date with a vampire. Sookie accidentally hears their thoughts and rails back. Tara is mad because Sookie promised her that she would never listen in on her thoughts. Sookie flies into a rage and pushes past them.

She storms out of the bar and into the parking lot to meet Bill. Unfortunately, Mack and Denise Rattray are waiting for her. They push her to the ground and begin kicking her.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Principal Cast[edit | edit source]

Guest Stars[edit | edit source]

Co-Stars[edit | edit source]

Crew[edit | edit source]

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • This episode is rated TV-MA.
  • Premiere episode of the series.
  • When Adele Stackhouse is first introduced, she is seen reading a Charlaine Harris novel, Last Scene Alive. In Dead Until Dark, she is reading a book by Danielle Steel.
  • The vampire seen in Maudette's videotape is later identified as Liam.
  • Although Lafayette only has a marginal role in this episode, he becomes more important as the series progresses.
  • Episode includes a cameo appearance by comedian and talk show personality Bill Maher.
  • The Grabbit Kwik store clerk, while pretending to be a vampire, indicates that New Orleans is a Mecca for vampires. This is likely a fang-in-cheek reference to "The Vampire Chronicles" series of novels written by Anne Rice, most of which takes place in New Orleans. Ironically, the Vampire Authority, shown in greater detail in season five, is based out of New Orleans
  • The episode insinuates that in addition to vampires, werewolves also exist in the True Blood mythology. This proves to be true as werewolves are introduced in season three.
  • In the closing credits, the store clerk is identified as working at "Grabbit Quick", but in the episode, the name of the establishment is actually spelled "Grabbit Kwik".
  • Aside from Sookie, Sam Merlotte is the only other person who immediately recognizes Bill Compton as a vampire. The reason behind this becomes apparent in future episodes.
  • The plight of vampires and their place in modern society is often compared to the prejudicial views relating to homosexuals in this series. The opening credits include an exterior sign which reads, "God Hates Fangs". This is a reference to controversial American pastor Reverend Fred Phelps, whose Westboro Baptist Church is known for its inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric which includes a website called "God Hates Fags". Another play on words is the phrase "coming out of the coffin", referring to vampires who have now joined mainstream society and no longer hide their true nature from the rest of the world. In the homosexual community, a gay person who openly reveals their sexuality is said to be "coming out of the closet".

Allusions[edit | edit source]

  • Arlene Fowler is seen speaking on the telephone to one of her children, telling them that they cannot watch a scary movie on HBO. HBO is the cable network that produces True Blood.
  • Jason Stackhouse makes reference to Hustler while speaking to Maudette. Hustler is a monthly pornographic magazine published in the United States. It was first published in 1974 by Larry Flynt. It was a step forward from the Hustler Newsletter, which was cheap advertising for his strip club businesses at the time.

Bloopers[edit | edit source]

Quotes[edit | edit source]

Single quotes[edit | edit source]

  • Mack Rattray: Don't mind Sookie now, mister. She's as crazy as a bed bug.
  • Bill Compton: Aren't you afraid to be alone out here with a hungry vampire?
  • Tara Thornton: You are a giant parody of yourself and you don't even know it.
  • Tara Thornton: See the way she was looking at that vampire? That is just trouble looking for a place to happen.
  • Lafayette Reynolds: I know every man, whether straight, gay or George mother-fucking Bush is terrified of the pussy.
  • Sookie Stackhouse: You might be a vampire, but when you talk to me, you will talk to me like the lady that I am!
  • Mack Rattray: Don't mind Sookie now, Mister. She's as crazy as a bed bug.

Conversations[edit | edit source]

Tara Thornton: Sam, I was mixin' whiskey sours for my mama when I was in the first grade. It's just like ridin' a bicycle.
Sam Merlotte: That's fucked up.
Tara Thornton: Ya think? My mama crazy.

Bill Compton: What are you?
Sookie Stackhouse: I told you. I'm a waitress.
Bill Compton: No. You're something more than that. Something more than human.

Lafayette Reynolds: Hey, hooker. How you doin'? What are you doin' here?
Tara Thornton: I work here.
Lafayette Reynolds: Oh no the hell you don't.
Tara Thornton: Oh yes the hell I do too, you ugly bitch! You need to make peace with that.

See also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. True Blood Season One DVD; Episode Guide

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