The vampires and werewolves are ready to rise again.
"True Blood's" fifth season starts on Sunday and, the teasers promise, "Everything's at stake." HBO's campy hit hopes to reignite viewers' interest by stalling some overdone storylines and introducing some new undeads and full-mooners.
And with Marnie and the witches out (as well as Sophie-Anne, Claudine, Tommy Mickens, Jesus, Nan, Marcus and Debbie Pelt), there's ample room for some fresh meat.
In the first episode we meet prominent werewolf newcomers: powerful Martha (Marcus' mother, played by Dale Dickey) and beautiful Rikki (Kelly Overton), out to avenge the murder of their packmaster.
Alexander Skarsgard's Eric gets some new friends in high places with the introduction of Nora (Lucy Griffiths), an agent of The Authority. And though he doesn't make an appearance in the premiere, Scott Foley returns for part of the season as Terry Bellefleur's former military buddy Patrick who wants answers to a lot of questions.
It's been teased plenty that Dennis O'Hare is back as vampire Russell, and Christopher Meloni (left) is also joining the cast as Roman, an all powerful vampire of The Authority.
While neither is in the premiere, they're going to be the major source of tension for our favorite vamps.
Speaking of favorite vamps, witches, werewolves and, yes, humans, here's a recap of where we left off and what to expect with the other Bon Temps residents who had key roles in the finale:
Where we left off: The ghost of Gran reminded her she's better off alone -- so she simultaneously rejected both Eric and Bill. Last seen, she was in her kitchen, clutching Tara, who'd just been shot by Debbie.
What to expect: It's time for Sookie to figure out things completely on her own -- without the men or Tara. Alcide did say he loved her, so expect some quality sexual tension there all season. She hasn't worked at Merlotte's or used her fairy powers in ages, so it goes without saying she'll be donning her signature apron and channeling fireballs soon.
Where we left off: They were burning at the stake (naturally shirtless), but Sookie saved them -- and despite Bill's "blessing," rejected them both.
What to expect: After getting dumped and almost dying at the same time, a real bromance is brewing with these two. Between The Authority and Russell's return, they will have their hands full this season.
Where we left off: Jessica's grown out of her innocent phase and is a full-on vampire, donning a sexy outfit and seducing Jason only to remind him it's just sex. He thinks she's coming back for more when he's surprised at his front door by his former church cult leader Steve Newlin.
What to expect: Teaser stills revealed Steve's back as a vampire -- but what does he want from Jason? Help? His six pack? Or just his blood? The first episode answers the initial question, but Steve won't be gone that easy. With Sookie "over" Eric and Bill, expect the Jason/Jessica/Hoyt love triangle to be one of the main sources of sexual tension (and gratuitous sex scenes) for the season.
Where we left off: She was shot by Debbie in Sookie's kitchen.
What to expect: Well, actress Rutina Wesley has confirmed she's coming back for Season 5, but in what capacity is still unclear. It'd be a twist of irony if the one character who despises vampires the most had to become one herself … or since ghosts played a big role last scene, even if she "dies" all hope is not lost.
Where we left off: She's pissed as hell at Sookie for the way she treats Eric but is determined to make up with him no matter what it takes.
What to expect: Series creator Alan Ball has revealed there will be flashbacks explaining her vampire origins this season -- it also will be revealed reveal why she feels so strongly about Eric as her maker. Also expect her much-needed comic relief to continue with enough witty one-liners to fill Facebook status updates and Twitter feeds for days.
As far as the others, Terry's hiding a big secret about the fire, and Arlene is being visited and given ominous warnings from Rene's ghost. Sam will do anything to protect Luna/Emma and even cover up the fact that Alcide murdered Marcus. Lafayette lost his boyfriend, his cousin and had the demon beat out of him. He's going to be a mess for a while.