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Strange Love

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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.


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 in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Meanwhile, Sookie's friend Tara comes to work at Merlotte's while Sookie's tomcatting brother Jason finds himself on the wrong side of the law.


"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's 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 serves customers, walking around hearing thoughts, and involuntarily interacts with people despite them talking to themselves in their mind; freaking people out. She takes a moment to calm herself and finally is able to block the thoughts out.

While Tara is bored at work occupying herself with a book, 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, who's in disbelief, asks for Tara's manager. Having had enough, Tara gives both of them a piece of her mind, calls them racist 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 doesn't 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 being completely in love with her, and tells Sookie she's coming over. While taking two people's orders, Sookie can't help but read their minds, and is discombobulated by what they're thinking, particularly the man who was having lusty thoughts about Sookie, while the lady he's with ponders whether Sookie could be retarded. Sookie tells Lafayette, 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 isn't afraid of her, but instead, what's in between her legs. Arlene, overhearing the conversation while pinning an order, is in shock that Lafayette would know such things, as their titillating conversation continues, Dawn joins in. Denying the fact that she wants to have sex with Lafayette, but everyone wants to have sex with her. As the sexually explicit conversation continues, Sookie is completely freaked out.

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In an apartment, a young man, Jason performs sex with a woman, but notices bite marks on her thighs. At first she lies and says it's a bug bite, but ends up telling him he payed her a lot of money to bite her. Jason, turned off by this, asks if she's a hooker; stating he doesn't pay for sex and never will. Maudette rejects his subjugating comments and denies she's not, telling him who would say no to $1,000. Jason, intrigued at this point, goes on bouts 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, Bill walks in, and Sookie is immediately drawn to him. Surprised that a vampire came into Merlotte's, after he asks for a Tru Blood, she says it got bad and their out. She informs him that he's the first vampire they've ever gotten. Bill seems to be uncomfortable at the bar, feeling very uneasy, but Sookie comforts him. The guy from the couple interrupts their conversation, calling Sookie 'crazy as a bed bug'.

Mack Rattray and Denise Rattray attempt to seduce Bill.

Back at the house with Maudette and Jason, they're watching the video. Jason is disturbed by the vampire she's having sex with, seeing his bones bend and him go rapidly fast, Maudette gives him 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 Bill. While checking in on them, Sookie overhears Mack and Denise's thoughts and hear they're planning to drain him. Sookie tries to save him by telling him to stay, but sees they left and runs after him, leaving Sam to go and force Tara to monitor the bar. Listening in on their thoughts, she follows where it's 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, they both have rough sex, with Jason being dominant and calling her rough, offensive, vampire-related terms, as he gets rougher.

Outside the bar, the couple, also known as the Rattrays, has pinned the vamp to the ground and is draining him. Mack is worried about their timing, and how they're gonna keep him and hide him for their blood reasons. They're obviously addicted to Vampire Blood. Pacing and worrying, they don't realize Sookie coming behind them. She whacks him on the arm with it. 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. Sookie and Denise exchange hateful words, before Denise tries to flee, and threatens to kill Sookie for disrupting their plans. They get in the car and drive off, but not before they try to run over Bill's feet. 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 close relationship. They exchange normal conversation,and Sookie uses feminism to get an apology, before trying to hear his thoughts and failing tremendously. Starstruck by the sudden revelation that she can't read one person's mind for a change, she is taken aback by his sexual nature when their conversation shifts, and demands to be talked to properly. Bill asks if she wants to drink his blood, and she immediately rejects, and more to his other recommendations Bill shows a sudden interest in her, his forbidding tone against her, asking her what she is. They exchange names, and Sookie cracks up that his name is so normal.

Sam, worried about Sookie is relieved to see she's alright. As the bar is closing, Sam thanks Tara for helping out. She asks for some money for her sudden shift. She indirectly asks to work there, and rejects her. He thinks about, pondering the thought, and gives it to her. She says she was making drinks for her alcoholic mom by first grade. Jason, who is revealed to be Sookie's brother, and obviously Tara's crush, ignores Tara for Dawn, the two obviously have a momentary and strictly sexual relationship. Jason leaves her some money and runs after Dawn.

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Sookie goes home and tells her Grandma, Adele 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's going to have sex with Bill.

The next day, she's 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 doesn't their Grandma to know. In disbelief that Sookie might be "getting mixed up with vampires", warns her not to.


While Sookie and Jason are eating breakfast made by Gran, Gran gets a call that Maudette Pickens 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.

He sits on a lawn chair later, at work supervising on 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 gets suspicious. They begin to ask questions about him and Maudette, asking about how personal their relationship, and Jason puts up a facade; completely lying to them.

At Sookie's house, her grandmother wants her to invite the vampire to come talk about the Civil War at the library. Sookie promises to ask him if he ever comes in again.

At the bar, Tara is giving a customer lip when Lafayette tells her Jason was arrested. Dawn tells Sookie, who isn't pleased to be the last to know. Dawn starts to say they figured she'd know, but stops. Sookie angrily blurts that she's not psychic and storms off.

Sookie finds two guys from the road crew in the bar and asks what happened. They tell her. She turns around and sees Bill. In her head she hears Tara judge her, Sam thinking that he wants to protect her and customers mock her as she floats over to say hi. He takes her hand and the voices silence. He asks her what she is. She tells him again, a waitress. But he says she's something more than human. 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 doesn't care what they think. He says he's 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, which has the added benefit of meaning he gets to comfort her. She hears his dirty thoughts and then Tara busts in, reading her the same riot act. She tells them she's 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's the Rattrays. They knock her down and start kicking her, violently. As the episode ends, Sookie lays there, helpless and bloody.


True Blood Trailer Episode 101:25

True Blood Trailer Episode 1



  • 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.


  • True blood sign
    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 ErrorsEdit

  • 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.



  • There are no flashbacks that occur in this episode.


  • There were no miscredits that occur in this episode.


  • "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)


  • The 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.


  • 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.


  • "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 QuotesEdit

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?"
  • "I can bring you back to life."

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."
  • "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 mother-fucking 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 DialogueEdit

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."





Guest starringEdit

Special Guest starringEdit


  • Ken Kobus as Man at bar
  • Retson Ross as Riot boy


Trading CardsEdit

Episode B1Edit

Episode RatingsEdit

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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