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"Strange Love"
Season 1, Episode 1
Air date September 7, 2008
Written by Alan Ball
Directed by Alan Ball
Episode Guide
"The First Taste"

"Strange Love" is the first episode of Season 1 of the HBO original series True Blood, and the series' pilot episode.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Two years after vampires have "come out of the coffin", the life of 25-year-old waitress Sookie Stackhouse is changed when 173-year-old Bill Compton walks into Merlotte's Bar and Grill in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Meanwhile, Sookie's friend Tara Thornton comes to work at Merlotte's while Sookie's tomcatting brother Jason Stackhouse finds himself on the wrong side of the law.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

"Bill? I thought it might be Antoine, or Basil, or-or-or like Langford, maybe.
But, Bill? Vampire Bill?!"
― Sookie Stackhouse, to Bill Compton


A college age couple races down a deserted road, the girl driving finds something to do with her free hand. They pass a sign that says, "We Have Tru Blood" and they stop the car pulling into the store. On TV, a woman representing the American Vampire League defends herself to Bill Maher, saying that now that the Japanese have perfected synthetic blood, there is no reason to fear them. The couple tumbles into the store, looking for vampires. The store cashier pretends to be a vampire scaring the couple and once he is revealed to be human the man asks for V Juice. The good ol' boy in camo at the cooler listens, not finding it funny. He walks up carrying a six pack. The kid tells him to buzz off and "Billy Bob" makes his case: fangs grow suddenly from his teeth. The couple runs off. He tells the clerk if he ever pretends to be one of them again, he'll kill him.


Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress at the local Merlotte's Bar and Grill serves customers, while hearing the inner thoughts of just about everyone in the restaurant. She involuntarily responds to a customer, whose thoughts she hears, despite him not verbally saying anything, freaking the boy out. She takes a moment to calm herself and finally is able to block the thoughts out.

While Tara Thornton is bored at work occupying herself with a book, called "The Shock Doctrine", a woman comes and pesters her about an item she figured they would have, despite her not knowing the exact name for the thing. Tara, agitated with the customer, gives her lip and insults her. The customer, in disbelief, asks for Tara's manager. Having had enough, Tara gives both of them a piece of her mind, and slaps her boss, but not before she threatens to have her baby daddy beat up the manager for patting her ass. When the manager balks at this comment, Tara retorts that she does not have a baby daddy and calls the people in the store "pathetic racists."

Tara gives Sookie a hard time at work, calling her, and mocking her about her boss, Sam Merlotte being completely in love with her, and tells Sookie she is coming over. While taking Denise and Mack Rattray's order, Sookie cannot help but read their minds, and is discombobulated by what they are thinking, particularly Mack who was having lusty thoughts about Sookie, while Denise ponders whether Sookie could be retarded. Sookie tells Lafayette Reynolds, the sassy and flamboyant cook, who goes on about how Sookie looks enticingly sexual for the night. Asking if she has a date, which Sookie denies, saying she gets bigger tips when she looks trashy, also when she acts dumb. Lafayette disagrees that everyone is not afraid of her, but instead, what is in between her legs. Arlene Fowler, another Merlotte's waitress, overhears the conversation while pinning an order, and is in shock that Lafayette would know such things. As their titillating conversation continues, another waitress named Dawn Green joins in, denying the fact that she wants to have sex with Lafayette. As the sexually explicit conversation continues, Sookie is completely freaked out.

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In an apartment, a naked, young, athletic man, Jason Stackhouse performs cunnilingus on a woman, Maudette Pickens, but notices bite marks on her thighs. At first she lies and says it's a bug bite, but ends up telling him it was from a vampire, and that he paid her a lot of money to bite her. Jason, turned off by this, asks if she is a hooker; stating he does not pay for sex and never will. Maudette rejects his slighting comments and says she is not, telling him who would say no to $1,000. Jason, intrigued at this point, goes on about how he read that someone should have sex with a vampire at least once. Maudette says only once was enough, stating he was too rough, but only to make it clear that she likes it rough. Jason gets turned on, in disbelief, decides that it may be time for him to go, but Maudette tells him she videotaped it, and that they should watch.

When Tara complains about her life, Sookie gives her minimal advice. Sam comes over and sweet-talks Sookie. Until a mysterious man walks in, and Sookie is drawn to him, immediately identifying him as a vampire. Surprised that a vampire came into Merlotte's, Sookie heads straight for his table. The vampire orders a Tru Blood, but Sookie says they do not have any, since the Tru Blood that they previously had went bad due to no one ordering it. She informs him that he is the first vampire they have ever gotten. The vampire orders a glass of wine so he "has a reason to be there". Mack interrupts their conversation, calling Sookie "crazy as a bed bug". The Rattrays then begin speaking with the vampire.

Back at the apartment with Maudette and Jason, they are watching the video. Jason is disturbed by the vampire she is having sex with, seeing his bones bend and him go incredibly fast, Maudette gives Jason oral sex to take his mind off it.

Vampire sex tape

Back at the bar, Sookie tries to down-talk Tara and Sam's discriminating behavior towards the vampire. While checking in on them, Sookie overhears Mack and Denise's thoughts and hear they are planning to drain him. Sookie tries to save him by telling him to stay, but sees they left and runs after him, causing Sam to leave as well, forcing Tara to monitor the bar. Listening in on their thoughts, she follows where it is most loud, and along the way, picks up a metal chain from the back of a truck for self-defense.

After watching the vampire-sex tape, Jason and Maudette both have rough sex, with Jason being dominant and calling her rough, offensive, vampire-related terms, as he gets rougher.

Outside the bar, the Rattrays have pinned the vampire to the ground with silver chains and are draining him. Mack is worried about their timing, and how they are going keep him and use him for their personal use. They are obviously addicted to vampire blood. Pacing and worrying, they do not notice Sookie coming behind them. She whacks Mack on the arm with the chain she picked up. After he comes at her with a knife, she flings the chain at him and it miraculously wraps around his neck and begins to choke him, causing him to drop the knife in the process. Sookie picks up the knife and exchanges hateful words with Denise, ultimately telling her to leave. Before Denise does so, she threatens to kill Sookie for disrupting their plans. They get in the car and drive off, but not before they try to run over Sookie. Sookie is surprised that simple silver could potentially harm a vampire to the extent it does.

Bill, Sookie, and the neighborhood dog

A dog comes up to Sookie, and they obviously have a friendly relationship. Sookie exchanges normal conversation with the vampire, before trying to hear his thoughts and failing to do so. Awestruck by the sudden revelation that she cannot read one person's mind for a change, she is taken aback by his sexual nature when their conversation shifts, and she demands to be spoken to properly. The vampire asks if she wants to drink his blood, or perhaps sell it, and she immediately declines. Sookie's innocent nature and lack of fear of the vampire intrigues him, and, in a somewhat dramatic change of tone, he asks her what she is. Sookie tells him her name and says that she is a waitress, before asking his name. The vampire introduces himself as Bill, which greatly amuses Sookie, who had been expecting something far more gaudy.

Sam, worried about Sookie, is relieved to see she is alright. As the bar is closing, Sam thanks Tara for helping out. She asks for money for her sudden shift. She indirectly asks to work there, and Sam immediately rejects her. He thinks about, and eventually relents and gives her a job. Sam gives Tara a book detailing recipes for multiple mixed drinks, to which she replies that she was making drinks for her alcoholic mom, Lettie Mae, by first grade. Jason, who is revealed to be Sookie's brother, enters the bar, visibly shaken by something. Tara greets him but gets no response, before explaining that she had been friends with his sister for years, and practically lived in their house, which finally causes Jason to acknowledge her; Tara seems to have feelings for Jason. However, Jason completely turns his attention away from Tara when he sees Dawn, who is just getting off work. Jason leaves Tara some money and runs after Dawn.

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Sookie goes home and tells her Gran, Adele Stackhouse, about the vampire that came into the bar. They engage in the conversation and excitement of Sookie meeting a vampire. She gives her gran a kiss goodnight. During the night, while she's sleep, she has a dream that she is going to have sex with Bill.

The next day, she is tanning out on the lawn when her brother Jason stops by. He questions her about what he overheard about the Rattrays, and she warns him to be quiet because she does not want their Grandma to know. In disbelief that Sookie might be "getting mixed up with vampires", Jason warns her not to.


While Sookie and Jason are eating lunch made by Gran. Gran gets a call that Maudette was found strangled in her apartment. Gran and Sookie are shocked that a murderer lies in Bon Temps, while Jason is acting strange about the whole situation. Sookie, noticing his strange demeanor, tries to listen in on him, but he knows what she's doing and backs away from her, lashing out.

Later, Jason sits on a lawn chair at work, "supervising" a road crew. On the phone, he tries to talk Dawn into meeting up with him later, when two cop cars pull up, and he becomes worried. Sheriff Bud Dearborne and detective Andy Bellefleur begin asking questions about him and Maudette, asking about how personal their relationship was. Jason initially denies having any sort of relationship with Maudette, before almost immediately admitting that they had had sex the night prior.

At Sookie's house, her grandma wants her to invite the vampire to come talk about the Civil War at a meeting for the Descendants of the Glorious Dead, a group of people whose ancestors fought in the Civil War. Sookie promises to ask him if he ever comes in again.


At Merlotte's, Tara is giving a customer lip when Lafayette tells her Jason was arrested. Dawn tells Sookie, who is not pleased to be the last to know. Dawn says that they all figured that Sookie just knew already, and Sookie angrily blurts that she is not psychic and storms off.

Sookie finds two guys from the road crew in the bar and asks what happened. She turns around and sees Bill. In her head she hears Tara judge her, Sam thinking that he wants to protect her, and customers mocking her as she floats over to greet him. He takes her hand and the voices go silent. He asks her what she is. She tells him again that she is a waitress. But he says she is something more than that. He asks if he can call on her. She says she has a favor to ask for her grandmother. They make plans to meet after work. He scoots closer and asks if she realizes that every person in there is staring at them. She says she does not care what they think. He says he is going to make Bon Temps his home, so he cares. He walks away and the voices resume.

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Sam grabs her arm and takes her to the back room, telling her not to act like a vigilante. He makes her cry. Immediately feeling remorseful for lashing out at her, he comforts her. She hears his loving thoughts about her and then Tara busts in, reading her the same riot act, all the while thinking about Jason and how he could never be a murderer. She tells them she is a grown woman and can make her own decisions. After work at Merlotte's, she waits for Bill. She hears a noise in the woods and goes to investigate--and it is the Rattrays. They knock her down and start kicking her, violently. As the episode ends, Sookie lays there, helpless and bloody.

Trailer[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

Accolades[edit | edit source]

  • Michael Ruscio & Andy Keir won an award from American Cinema Editors for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Television for the year 2009.
  • The scene in which Sookie meets Bill won the Emmy Award for Breakthrough Performance.

Allusions[edit | edit source]

  • True blood sign.jpg
    When the couple drive to the all-night garage they see a sign reading "We Have Tru Blood". In this sign, the letters R, E, D are highlighted in red, spelling the word RED.
RED is for blood. True Blood.

Bloopers and Continuity Errors[edit | edit source]

  • When Lafayette and Tara are talking at the bar Lafayette has a coffee cup. In one shot the handle of the coffee cup is facing left and in another it is facing right.

Continuity[edit | edit source]

Flashbacks[edit | edit source]

  • There are no flashbacks that occur in this episode.

Miscredits[edit | edit source]

  • There were no miscredits that occur in this episode.

Music[edit | edit source]

  • "Bad Things" - Jace Everett (True Blood opening credits theme)
  • "Y'all'd Think She'd Be Good 2 Me" - C. C. Adcock (Intro scene where couple in truck see Tru Blood sign)
  • "Goodbye, Good-Lookin" - Robbie Fulks (Inside Merlotte’s, Sookie's first appearance)
  • "Soulful Garage" - Southern Culture on the Skids (Sookie talks to Sam while leaning on the bar)
  • "Until I Wake Up" - Dishwalla (Plays when Sookie sees Bill for the first time in pre-air screeners only, not in broadcast episode)
  • "The Dreaming Dead" - Jesse Sykes & the Sweet HereAfter (Sookie turns around, as Vampire Bill sits down at a table)
  • "Strange Love" - Slim Harpo (Sookie talks to Tara as she drinks her margarita)
  • "Lake Charles" - Lucinda Williams (After fighting off the Rattrays, Sookie and Bill get acquainted)
  • "Still Beating" - Josh Ritter (Jason comes into Merlotte’s looking for Sookie, wants to go home with Dawn)
  • "Dang Good Stuff" - Kim Lenz & Her Jaguars (Jason interrupts Sookie’s sun-bathing)
  • "Bill’s Entrance" - Nathan Barr (Plays when Sookie is walking to Bill’s table during their second meeting at Merlotte’s)
  • "Stumble & Pain" - Joseph Arthur (Plays while Sookie & Bill are talking at table)
  • "Bones" - Little Big Town (Plays over end credits)

Production[edit | edit source]

  • The original pilot was shot in the Summer of 2007. Actress Brook Kerr originally played the role of Tara Thornton, but when the show was ordered to series she was replaced by Rutina Wesley.
  • An unidentified woman is seen in the woods watching over the fight between Sookie and the Rattrays. It is implied that the unidentified woman is responsible for the telekinetic choking of Mack. This is confirmed in Season 3: the woman is Claudine, Sookie's fairy godmother.
  • About 2.1 million viewers tuned into the premiere episode, with 1.4 million coming from the original 9pm broadcast and an additional 700,000 viewers from a 10:30pm rebroadcast.

Title[edit | edit source]

  • The episode title and the song is probably a reference to the mysterious chemistry between Sookie and Bill the first time they look each other.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • "Tru Blood" takes its name from the brand of synthetic blood that the Japanese have patented in Harris' novels. Vampires can actually drink it, thereby bypassing their need for human blood.
  • In the first scene featuring Sookie's grandmother Adele Stackhouse (Lois Smith), Gran is reading the novel Last Scene Alive by Charlaine Harris, creator of the Southern Vampire Mysteries/Sookie Stackhouse series of novels that inspired True Blood.
  • In the opening credits, there is a brief glimpse of an old Victorian house. It is actually the "Florentine", an over 100 year-old former club and home in Shreveport, Louisiana. Gas Light Players did a fall haunted house there in 1999, called "House of Terror".

Memorable Quotes[edit | edit source]

Adele Stackhouse: "Oh, if he does, I would love to have him to come speak to the Descendants of the Glorious Dead. You think he might want to?"

Bill Compton:

  • (to Sookie) "What are you?"
  • "Oh, but you have many other very juicy arteries. There's one in the groin that's a particular favorite of mine."
  • (to Sookie) "May I call on you sometime?"

Dawn Green: "I'm sorry to break it to you, baby, but you are not my only source for a good time."

Good Old Boy Vampire: "Fuck me? I'll fuck you, boy. I'll fuck ya and then I'll eat ya."

Jason Stackhouse: "You know, I read in Hustler everybody should have sex with a vampire at least once before they die."

Lafayette Reynolds:

  • "That boy is sex on a stick. I don't give a good damn how stuck up he is."
  • "They ain't scared of you, honey child. They're scared of what's between your legs."
  • [To Tara:] "Shit. Sam must've lost his damn mind 'cause you should not be allowed to work in no situation where you actually gotta interact with people."
  • "I know every man, whether straight, gay, or George motherfucking Bush is terrified of the pussy."

Sam Merlotte: "You willing to pass up all your favorite foods and spend the rest of your life drinking slim-fast?"

Sookie Stackhouse:

  • (seeing Bill Compton for the first time) "I've been waiting for this to happen ever since they came out of the coffin two years ago."
  • "I'm not so sure you even have another side; you no account backwoods trash!"
  • "Hey, you just shut your nasty mouth, mister! You might be a vampire, but when you talk to me, you will talk to me like the lady that I am!"
  • "No, it makes me sick that they're getting a thousand bucks to lay there and do nothing while I bust my ass for ten bucks an hour plus tips."

Tara Thornton: "Oh, this ain't rude. This is uppity. (slaps manager) That's for pattin' my ass too much!"

Memorable Dialogue[edit | edit source]

Sookie Stackhouse: "Oh, they’re just staring at me because my brother’s in some kind of trouble with the police. But Bill, did you know Maudette Pickens?"
Bill Compton: "I did not. They are staring at us, because I am a vampire, and you are mortal."

Lafayette Reynolds: "What are you doing 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."

Cast[edit | edit source]

Main Cast[edit | edit source]

Guest Starring[edit | edit source]

Co-Starring[edit | edit source]

Uncredited[edit | edit source]

  • Ken Kobus as Man at Bar
  • Retson Ross as Riot Boy

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Trading Cards[edit | edit source]

Episode B1[edit | edit source]

Episode Ratings[edit | edit source]

Episode # Episode Title Viewers (in millions)
#1.01 (1) "Strange Love" 1.44

True Blood Season 1
Season 2 >>Season 3 >>Season 4 >>
#01 "Strange Love"#07 "Burning House of Love"
#02 "The First Taste"#08 "The Fourth Man in the Fire"
#03 "Mine"#09 "Plaisir D'Amour"
#04 "Escape from Dragon House"#10 "I Don't Wanna Know"
#05 "Sparks Fly Out"#11 "To Love Is to Bury"
#06 "Cold Ground"#12 "You'll Be the Death of Me"
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