HBO's hit vampire series returned for its seventh and final season Sunday night and began mid-bloodbath, as a group of disease-infected vampires attacked a peaceful barbecue in the Louisiana town of Bon Temps, where humans and human-friendly vamps had gathered to break bread.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead. Plot developments to be revealed ...
The sick bloodsuckers ravage the crowd, but by far the most surprising victim is series regular Rutina Wesley's character Tara, who apparently perishes while trying desperately to save her mother.
Later, a premonition by Tara's mother Lettie Mae intimates that ever-resilient Tara might still be alive – though Wesley herself told TV Guide, "She's dead. I hate to say it, but she's dead."
This is one killing Tara's friend Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) will be sure to avenge.
The invaders abscond with some other friends and family members to the basement of the vampire club Fangtasia. Attempting to sniff them out, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) encounter a new band of anti-vampire raiders, which brings on a new set of problems.
As for the show's star sucker Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard), he is – or perhaps his ashes are – presumably on the other side of the globe.
As he was last seen bursting into flames atop a mountain in Sweden, his whereabouts remain unknown. But we do find Pam Ravenscroft (Kristin Bauer van Straten) hot on his trail in Morocco, playing roulette with a foreign vampire while seeking out her maker Eric.
And while all hell is breaking loose, Sookie can't even think straight, thanks to her uncontrollable ability to read minds. Still, as she says at the end of the show, "Nobody knows vamps better than me."
A lofty claim, but she has one final season to prove it.