If Alcide Herveaux – not Joe Manganiello, but Alcide Herveaux – knows what nihilism means, I’ll drink Lilith’s blood.
The problem with smart writers on a show about dumb people is that they sometimes can’t resist proving to the audience that they’re smart.
But that’s okay. It’s all okay. Because this is a television show. About vampires. And werewolves. And fairies. And were-panthers. And shape-shifters. Remember that.
It’s ridiculous. And it’s awesome.
Detractors, say what you will about the outlandish storylines. The inclusion of outlandish storylines has been a de facto part of the series since season two… or season one, depending on just how outlandish you consider vampires. But there is no show (that I’m watching) willing to go all the way to make it exciting the way this show is. There is no dipping your toe into the water with True Blood – there is only a face-first plant into the deep end. We might’ve been able to anticipate Russell’s demise by the end of the episode… but in the cold open? No way. That is why This. Show. Kicks. Ass.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m devastated to see Russell go, but I’m a sucker for storylines that make bold moves without pretense or excess build-up, so farewell Russell, you crazy German/Southern bastard. I guess now all we have to look forward to is the reaction of Gay Vampire-American Reverend Steve Newlin, who seems to be the only non-Bill member of the Authority remaining.
Yes, this finale was a bloodbath – in more ways than one. Sam causing the Texas chancellor to explode was certainly an inventive way to kill her off… and probably one of the more disgusting things I’ve ever seen.
This was an episode of extremes, come to think of it, which, I suppose, is what a season finale should be. Aside from that particularly graphic death, the entire fairy birth scene was sublimely bizarre, and Nora and Eric flying around the Authority chamber and hacking all the guards to death was just awful.
So aside from the future of Steve Newlin, we have a few other questions to ponder during the hiatus. Like, what’s the deal with Warlo? What’s going on with Jason’s visions of his parents? How is Sheriff Bellefleur going to handle his new brood? And will he have any help from Holly? Also, how much bleach do I have to drink and/or pour into my eyes to forget that the writers are forcing a Tara/Pam relationship on us? I can’t even speak of it; it’s so horrible.
Okay, maybe I can speak of it a little. I mean, what the hell does Rutina Wesley have on Alan Ball? Or is she just THAT wonderful a person that they can’t bear to let her go? Because it seems so transparent to me that they’re desperately trying to hold on to one of the show’s most despised characters by changing her role in the show completely and pairing her up with one of the shows most beloved characters. Horrible.
Okay, on to more pleasant topics, like the Pam love interest I DO approve of – how sweet was the small moment between her and Eric as Pam got onto the elevator? I loved it. There were also some really great individual scenes that were interesting as standalones regardless of how they moved the plot, and come to think of it, they both have to do with shifters. The first was when Bill addressed the troops about the shifter breach; it gave us really cool insight into Bill’s leadership and power and threat response. And of course, when Luna shifted into Gay Vampire-American Reverend Steve Newlin, that was just freaking hilarious. I like it when a show really goes all out to acknowledge and explore all of the potential applications of a gimmick – like shape-shifting. True Blood is not always great about it (e.g. Sookie’s mind reading), but these two scenes were a good example of showing how this particular gimmick could really be exploited in this particular universe.
So, let’s address the giant blood-dripping elephant in the room. Bill, to the surprise of no one, is officially a sociopath and double-crossed Salome, leading to pretty gnarly death. He then drank Lilith’s blood, died and was “reborn” as what the interwebs has termed “Bilith.”
It appears Bill may be our big bad next season, so we have another 12 episodes or so to figure out the form his eventual redemption will take. Or maybe he isn’t redeemed. After all, we got a pretty solid reason for him embracing Lilith’s teachings – he’s always felt alienated by the inherent “evil” of his existence, and Lilith’s dogma absolves him of that evil and calls it natural and right and even holy. So, perhaps this is the writers’ way of getting rid of Bill and recasting the main love interest with fan favorite Eric. I can’t think of a show that’s set up one couple only to successfully transitioned to another. Remember when Friends tried to make Joey and Rachel happen? In the end, though, it was back to Ross and Rachel. But hey, if any show can do it, True Blood can.
Here’s my question – what is Lilith’s agenda, exactly? She already has the power to influence vampires, so what does the sanguinista movement do for her? Does it shore up her abilities? Bring her back to life? Is she using the Authority to secure some greater goal, like Antonia using Marnie to carry out her revenge? Or is Lilith just intent on creating chaos and destruction, a la Mary Ann? Or, is she a metaphor for religious zealotry?
I think it’s the latter, but if so, what’s the motivation behind manipulating her followers to turn against one another? In the opening scene, she comes to Bill, who, we find out throughout the episode, is not alone in his delusions of grandeur. But why doesn’t he drink the blood when instructed by Lilith? Some moral misgivings? A sense of obligation to the rest of the Authority? Or self-preservation? Does he secretly sense that something is amiss?
It certainly doesn’t seem like he’s having any doubts, if his conversation with Jessica is any indication. He called her bluff about turning Jason, and we find out exactly how deep Bill’s convictions go when, without a pause, he dismisses the idea of Sookie in danger and calls the citizens of Bon Temps “food… and nothing more.”
The writers are really testing the audience’s historical relationship with Bill. He was a total dick to Jessica. But they’ve also given him an out… we found out in this episode that the magical maguffin that’s causing such a dramatic personality transformation is “nesting.” So, presumably, once Bill is off the sauce and free from his fellow chancellors’ influence, he’ll begin his recovery and return to the southern gentleman we’ve come to know and love over five seasons.
Oh, and one more question…. if Russell has always been so feared, why was he just the King of Mississippi? Wouldn’t he have ascended to a higher political position? Was he not a member of the Authority because Roman was more powerful, and the two didn’t get along?
Anyway… I guess the writers needed to meet a sex quota for the season and were falling behind. Come to think of it, there has been a lot of nudity without any of the good stuff. So, Eric and Nora comforting each other was pretty hot, but what exactly was the purpose? Was it really necessary to let us know that Eric was faking and Nora’s finally woken up? Is sex just how, historically, these two characters have “communicated” best with one another?
I love, love, LOVED the scene with the chancellors and General Cavanaugh. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a character bring so much intensity to one scene; he really changed the dynamic of the episode and really, I thought, the entire season. It was awesome to see the US government “perspective” on the vampire Authority and to see a human in a position of power and influence over the vampires. Plus, this exchange:
“I would advise you to be… careful… about what words you choose next.”
“You psychotic bloodsuckers.”
It was a fantastic scene, and one thing that stood out in particular for me was the General’s statement that humans “own the day.” I wonder if that will wake the chancellors up to the vulnerability inherent in that truth and bring them around to Russell Edgington’s way of thinking about fairy blood.
I also really enjoyed the Jessica and Jason dream team, and I found her admission to him about spending eternity with someone to be particularly poignant. Deborah Ann Woll really is amazing, and as much as I hate to see her character dragged down by Tara, I thought it made sense for her to turn to Pam and use the only bargaining chip she had to try to secure safe harbor – the whereabouts of Eric.
But lest you think I was all hearts and flowers about this episode, there was an extraordinary amount of WTF-ery to balance out the good stuff. For example, the Tara-Pam as potential love interests storyline? I cannot get behind that. At all. No, writers. No. No. No. Just no. And did Eric and Nora… FLY!?!?!? What was that all about? And the fairy elder? Comical and cartoonish and ridiculous. Hated it… except when she told Sookie that she sluts her heart out to every cute boy with fangs. It’s funny ‘cuz it’s true.
Okay, back to the love… the scene at Fangtastia. Pam throws herself on the sword to protect Tara, and for only the second time ever, we’re seeing Pam scared and unsure. I’m really interested to see her eventual reunion with Eric, especially if she’s still in this rare emotionally vulnerable state. Then the Texas chancellor gave us one of the best-delivered lines in the history of True Blood: “Your daddy’s looking for you.” Props to the actress and the director who made that five seconds because it literally made my heart race.
As predicted, Mirella is about to eff with Sheriff Bellefleur’s world… and to a degree even I didn’t foresee. Not sure what all this “light vow” baloney is about, but I don’t like it. An act of war? Hmmm…
It looks like the season finale is shaping up to be a fairy vs. human vs. vampire vs. werewolf showdown extravaganza. All of the major players are gravitating toward a few hot spots – the fairy club (Sookie, Jason, Russell, Steve, fairies, and I’m guessing Alcide and the wolves are head this way) and the Authority headquarters (Pam, Sam, Luna, the chancellors, and I’m thinking this is where Eric and Nora will end up too).
The last scene with Russell in the field was pretty epic. Not quite on par with Russell’s temper tantrum a few episodes ago or with this episode’s scene with General Cavanaugh, but it was intense. I’m excited for next week and already a little sad that it’s almost over.
Tina MajoriNOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! A Molly/Eric team-up would’ve been so freaking awesome. I feel robbed.
But I got over it almost immediately because Gay-Vampire-American Reverend Steve Newlin’s reaction shots are brilliant. His doe-eyed innocence and out-of-proportion enthusiasm are delightful, as was his double entendre-packed interview.
Overall, this episode was kind of downer… which I guess is to be expected at this point in the season. Things have to be darkest before the big climax… our characters have to be down and properly kicked before their triumph.
For Eric, that meant watching his beloved Godric ripped to pieces by Lilith and his apparent conversion to her coven of crazy.
For Hoyt, Jessica and Jason, it meant a clean wipe of their complicated personal histories in a series of scenes that I thought were particularly well-paced, well-written and well-acted, even by Ryan Kwanten, who is rarely as strong as he was in this episode.
For Pam and Tara, it meant possibly abandoning Fangtasia, which was only slightly less emotional than Jessica’s glamouring of Hoyt. And by the end of the episode, Tara has taken a page out of Pam’s book of badassery… I’m hating her less and less, especially for the awesome line “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no baby vampires!”
I was overwhelmingly underwhelmed by most everything else in this episode… with one major exception I’ll get to in a minute. In general, it was a lot of exposition and stage-setting for the big showdown. We got just a little bit of progress on several fronts, but not much to comment on with the exception of a few standout scenes.
Sam and Luna are hot on the trail to retrieve Emma from Gay-Vampire-American Reverend Steve Newlin, which wasn’t much except for the intensely twisted scene where Newlin chastises Emma for returning to her human form.
Jason and Sookie enlist the help of the fairies to uncover the mysterious language from the scroll under the bed, and I got a relatively satisfactory answer to my question about how the fairy lineage gets passed along. But more importantly, did anyone else catch that the pregnant fairy is the same one Sheriff Bellefluer got freaky with in the field last season? That fact, combined with the “happy couple” scene between him and Holly is a great big not-so-subtle hint that the Sheriff’s world is about to be rocked…. And not by Holly.
Finally, Jessica is summoned to Bill’s side at the AVL and is now in a position to evaluate and ultimately question Bill’s new affiliation, and because he brought her to the AVL, I’m further convinced that he’s not pulling some kind of long con here, and that makes me nervous. Because he’s not glamoured… he’s not under a spell… he’s just converted. And how do we get our old Bill back after that? Or our old Eric, for that matter? There has to be some magical maguffin that transforms these two back into the characters we’ve known for almost five seasons, but I honestly don’t see how that can happen.
But I think Jessica’s strategic position inside the AVL will turn out to be key in this season’s ultimate confrontation, and even more significant will be the role Russell plays in that confrontation. Because wow. This was the exception scene I referenced earlier… his full-blown, wheels-off, German-accented, violent, megalomaniacal temper tantrum condemning the Authority’s sanctimonious conservative agenda in favor of the “fun” parts of being a vampire and the ultimate goal – day walking. Incredible.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a schism developed by Authority members taking sides on the fairy blood issue turns out to be the unraveling of the Authority’s… well, authority.
I wouldn’t say I curse like a sailor, but let’s just say I know my way around a four-letter word. So as a lover of language, and especially colorful language, I appreciate it when a show uses the right balance of bad words and uses them in the right places.
Now, I don’t think it’s necessarily true to the Southern setting (especially in small town Bon Temps) to have so many c-words and f-words and t-words and r-words flowing, but I DO think that it’s true to the characters. Case in point, Tina Majorino (yay!) telling Eric “we’re totally fucking fucked. ” It’s just one of a number of scenes where the bad language really does add something – whether it’s humor or intensity or, in this example, desperation.
Next scene – Lafayette in Sookie’s bathroom. I could go on and on about how entertaining the Lafayette character is when he’s feeling flippant, something that’s been sorely lacking in the last season or so. But I think there’s a more important point to make with this scene.
There are a few themes I revisit over and over again with True Blood. One is its self-awareness and the liberties it can take because of that self-awareness (more on that in a minute). Another is the acting. Because damn. In the scene between Lafayette and Sookie, the juxtaposition of Nelsan Ellis’ acting ability and Anna Paquin’s is astonishing. Now, for the record, I do believe Anna Paquin is a good actress, but go back and watch that scene again from when she says “put it on my tab…” Tell me it doesn’t sound like dress rehearsal at a Bon Temps High School’s drama club meeting. Not convinced? Check out the very beginning of the scene with former sheriff Bud Dearborne later in the episode. I don’t know if the character of Sookie (and Arlene… and Jason…) is someone who is overly deliberate in her actions and words, which comes off bad-actressy. This could be the case, because Paquin is more or less CONSISTENT in her portrayal of Sookie, but it could also be that Paquin just doesn’t fit quite right into this role, even after all these years.
Wherever you land, I think there are some instances where the very best of the True Blood actors (e.g. Nelsan Ellis, Deborah Ann Woll) are in scenes where either their acting ability or their characters’ natural charm clash so obviously with their scene partner (e.g. Rutina Wesley, Anna Paquin, Ryan Kwanten) on those same criteria, that it becomes distracting.
But I digress. So, Gran is happy that the fairies are looking after Sookie? That seems to be so antithetical to last season’s opener – are we ever going to fully understand what makes a good fairy and a bad fairy and what the fairy political and social agenda is?
So, remember when I said we’d get back to the self-awareness theme later. It’s later. During the scene with Lafayette and Sookie in her bedroom, I thought to myself how ridiculous it is that Sookie’s grandmother would speak in “riddles” about the answer to the supernatural hate group being under Sookie’s bed. I mean, if she can say “you’re sleeping on top of it,” why can’t she say, “Dearborne is the supernatural-hating sex puppet of a vengeful, square-dancing bitch?” Is being dead like Twitter? You only get so many characters?
Anyway, so that kind of irritated me, but I get that an outright answer doesn’t exactly lend itself to building additional dramatic tension. BUT no sooner had I written my bitchy little comment than the True Blood writers acknowledged that very issue when Lafayette asked why the dead must always speak in riddles. So, props to the writers for recognizing a plot hole and addressing it without letting themselves off the hook completely OR sacrificing good storytelling.
I’ve always been a fan of Alan Ball. American Beauty is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I think what’s kept True Blood tolerable (for the most part) despite being so over the top is that the writing staff is smart – the kind of folks who could be writing for a serious drama but choose to write for something a little more indulgent and fun.
Now, I haven’t seen Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire, but I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that the writers for those shows, while no less talented, don’t get to write dialogue like this:
“Just ‘cuz we drank a bitch together does not make us Oprah and Gayle. Get the fuck back to work.” “Suck me, Vampire Barbie!”
What’s great about it is that the ridiculousness doesn’t preclude the writers from playing in the nuanced political arena either, and man can they have fun with it. I mean, truly, how ballsy is it for them to use Obama masks and (once again, directly address any rabble-rousing detractors) by saying outright, via the loveable goof Sheriff Andy Bellefleur, “No, the President of the United States is not actually in Renard Parish shooting and kidnapping people?”
I may be reading into the political imagery too much, because really, it has innumerable real-world interpretations. But there was something about this week’s categorization of the “Obamas” as backwards, hate-filled discriminators rallying against “perversion and conversion” that made me think that the political parallel being drawn is along the lines of human sexuality. I might be wrong. Like I said, there are a LOT of political undertones to this season’s storyline, which means it can be applied on either side of the aisle to any number of issues. But the “Obamas” sub-story is the one that, to me, has the most apparent and direct real-world reflection, and it was this episode that convinced me of that.
In any case, it’s how easily the True Blood writers move between the surreal and the “serious” that makes the show fun for me. Or maybe I’m just rationalizing.
Okay, two more quick notes on dialogue, then we’ll move on.
First, I thought that Eric’s statement “We’d better get back to slaughtering people in the name of God” was very, very telling because it’s only the last part that Eric really has a problem with. His recent exchanges with Bill are indicating a level of friendship and history that I’m not sure we’ve seen to date, and I think Eric feels more betrayed and bewildered by Bill’s sudden faith than by the actions manifested by that faith. I am curious to see what set of circumstances will eventually be the catalyst for the return of the old Bill and how his relationship with Eric (and Sookie, for that matter) will change at that point. There is a small part of me that wonders if Bill is pulling the long con, but I think that’s just wishful thinking.
Second, it’s not laugh-out-loud funny, and it’s not a traditional zippy one-liner, but I just loved Jason’s comment in the station that maybe the “Obamas” are wearing masks “’cuz they don’t want to get recognized.” I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but it’s so great when a show can strike a balance between pushing its characters into new situations that shape and change them and still having familiar callbacks to their original character profiles… in this case, Jason as the archetypal “dumb blonde.”
Credit where it’s due – I didn’t see the Bud Dearborne thing coming at all. It would be interesting to go back now and review his interactions with supernatural folks in the earlier episodes. I kind of doubt this twist has been planned for that long, but it would be fun to think so.
This episode actually surprised me a lot. I started writing out why I thought Scott Foley’s character (I’ve been so disengaged with this storyline I haven’t even bothered to learn his name) would be killed indirectly or accidentally by Terry in order to lift the curse because I didn’t think the writers would be willing to sacrifice Terry’s “innocence” by having him kill his former commanding officer outright. I even wrote this “…but it would be truly badass if Terry just did the balls-out thing and shot Scott Foley in the head.” And then he did! And it was awesome! And not only did I love the scene and still love Terry, but I was thrilled – THRILLED – that this dumbass storyline was finally concluded. Rest in peace, Felicity’s boyfriend.
Wrapping up… Emma is in the hands of Russell Edgington, which is somewhat terrifying, but again – just one more great indication of the lengths True Blood is willing to go to keep viewers engaged. No one is safe. Nothing is sacred. Anything. Can. Happen.
In the climactic showdown, naked pig-man Sam saves the day (did anyone else thing “Willow” or “Hannibal” during the pig scenes?). I know I’m beating this horse to death, but one last time – props to the writers for not trying to find a too-clever-by-half way to clothe Sam and Luna before they started with the day-saving. Shifters are naked when they shift, so when they shift back to humans and start kicking ass, well, they’re naked for that too. I know HBO doesn’t shy away from nudity (or bad language, for that matter), but I just really admire how both are incorporated into this show in a way that’s not overly deliberate or sensational – just as a matter-of-fact when it’s part of the natural flow of the story.
A lot of this season’s storylines were wrapped up with this episode, which I think is probably clearing the way for some pretty awesome drama in the final few episodes, most likely centered around an epic Authority showdown. Can’t wait.
Quick final thoughts
- How adorable was the scene where Sam and Luna admitted they love each other?
- Alcide aged well… Debbie apparently peaked at 14
This was my stream-of-consciousness note-taking during the cold open:
What the hell was with that opening scene? Luna is Sam? Sam is Luna? Huh? Sam isn’t a skinwalker, is he? We know Luna is, but Sam didn’t actually kill any member of his family, did he? Okaaay… so Luna turned into Sam so that she could carry out her plan for revenge.
Yeah, that about sums it up. By the end of the episode we still don’t know HOW it happened that Luna shifted into Sam (unless she did it on purpose, which is possible, I guess, but it didn’t seem like it was played that way) or at least WHY she wasn’t able to shift back, but props to Sam Trammell for doing a hell of a job channeling Luna’s character into his physical body. That was fun to watch and as un-cartoonish as is possible in the True Blood universe. Looks like Luna might be in trouble though; their scene together on the couch was touching and very well done.
Between the vision of Godric and that fact that he’s Eric, it’s not surprising that Eric is the first to come down off the Lilith(?)/vampire-blood high and back to sobering reality – he’s the one who is most obsessed with control – a concept antithetical to “drug” use.
It’s good in moments like that to see these characters in their current circumstances reflect those we came to know in the first few seasons (case in point – the return of attitude-for-days Lafayette). I thought it was a nice call back to the original Sookie/Bill relationship when Jason confronts her about dumping her powers.
But it seems we may be losing Bill to the dark side; is his “evolution” going to trigger this season’s climax when it comes into conflict with preserving Sookie’s well-being? Bombing True Blood factories? Pretty cold and calculating, Mr. Compton. Tsk tsk tsk.
We learned a lot about Bill in this episode – including insight (via flashback) into an interaction with one of his children after he become a vampire, triggered by Salome’s invitation for Bill to join her for a “snack” of a young mother. When Salome asked why he didn’t change his kids, we find out that Bill believes immortality to be a curse. Is Salome changing his mind? Does Bill have more residual humanity because he’s “younger”? Is that a consistent characteristic throughout the vampires we’ve seen?
The scene between Hoyt and Jessica was heartbreaking (and as always, Deborah Ann Woll just kills it – in a good way) and also a really honest depiction of a “normal” relationship that has fallen apart (albeit skewed for the True Blood universe). Oh! And Mrs. Fortenberry is Dragon? Oh shiiiiiiiiiit.
I was about to be so disappointed in Pam for not coming to Tara’s aid against that high school slut, but of course, my girl Pam does not disappoint. If Tara’s character’s purpose is to serve as a catalyst for Pam’s struggle to form a new bond with someone in Eric’s absence, then I’m almost on board…. almost, and only because Pam is pulling it off so awesomely.
In less awesome news, I just wasn’t feeling the werewolf storyline this week. I thought they were going to fight, not hunt – wasn’t that what the training was all about? Wasn’t JD already villain enough after he tried to give Emma V – was it really necessary to have him suggest hunting a human? It doesn’t seem that JD would be strategic enough to anticipate that Alcide would forfeit rather than hunt the kid, and JD also seems to be confident enough (especially when he’s on the V) to think he could beat Alcide in a heads up competition (hunting and tracking or otherwise). That was just strange… and stupid.
My favorite scene this week had to be the séance, which is strange considering how much I despise that storyline and most of the characters involved with it. But that scene just shifted beautifully from hilarious to intense – thanks in large part to Nelsan Ellis, who is just extraordinary.
What kind of bond do the Claud-fairies have with Sookie’s family, exactly? And why did Sookie switch to the vampire’s point of view? Is it because she has a stronger connection with Bill than she does with her mother? Is the vampire in question actually Bill? Or is “Warlo” a new character? That seems like a cop out, but maybe the writers will make it worthwhile.
I guess I was left with more questions after this episode than anything else. Who is Warlo? Who pulled the gun on Hoyt? WTF was in Sookie’s bathroom (another moment, like last week’s Lilith vision, when I got a very distinct vision of the Fonz on water-skis)? Answers to these questions… and more… on next week’s True Blood!
- “Lilith wants me to eat a baby.”
- “Now you’re a member of two minorities!”
- “My mad face and my happy face are the same.”
- “Hooker, I ain’t in the helping bidness no more. I’m in the fuck off while I smoke a blunt bidness… and bidness ‘bout to pick way the fuck up.”
Amid all the chaos of the opening scene, what stood out to me was Bill calling out Eric’s name. I get that they have a history – you might even call them frienemies (ugh), and yes, they’re each others’ only allies while in the Authority facilities, but still – I heard from Bill an awfully desperate cry for Eric’s safety. Hmmm.
I also find myself wondering why Jason doesn’t have any kind of fairy powers – the writers have never given us any indication that he and Sookie aren’t biological siblings, have they? And Lilith help us all if the fairy Claud-sister’s reference to additional fairy powers is a harbinger of more convenient super powers trotted out when they further the plot. Groan.
We got a little of the superhero storyline trope in this episode (admittedly, acknowledged by the writers) when Sookie finds out that she might be able to live a normal life again, but as Sam (Raimi?) reminds us… with great power, comes great responsibility. As usual, Sam asks the everyman questions, and gives the everyman answers. He’s the audience surrogate, and I love him for it. But the episode ends with Sookie eschewing his advice and the honorable course in favor of a life more ordinary, but something tells me Jason’s recent streak of nobility is going to have him convincing her to hold on to her powers. (Oh, and why would he and/or Sookie have thought that Jason was responsible for their parents’ death? Did I miss something there?)
Sam’s certainly embracing his powers – how funny was it watching him roll around on the floor of the weapons shop? I’m wondering who this mysterious “Dragon” is – how funny would it be if it turns out to be the slack-jawed drawling deputy? He doesn’t seem hateful, but the interesting thing about hate is how easily it disguises itself.
While I’m finding the politicizing a little heavy-handed, I will say that I watched the interactions among the members of the “hate group” with interest. The rhetoric they use – while not intentionally manipulative – is pretty persuasive when you put yourself in the shoes of a character as sympathetic as Hoyt, which, of course, is the MO for any group with a similar agenda.
And speaking of agendas, I do kind of like where we’re going with the Sanguinista movement. Who woulda thunk that Bill would turn out to be the one the Sanguinistas may have successfully recruited? We’ve always known that Eric had a pretty ironclad set of principles, but Bill has always been kinder, especially to humans. But he’s got an edge to him, too. We know he had an agenda when he first pursued Sookie, and I always found his dismissal of her after she returned from fairyland a little off-putting, but I am still hoping he’s just caught up in the “enthusiasm” of the new Authority council and that he’ll snap out of it soon.
That “enthusiasm” led to one of the more memorable scenes in True Blood history – an Authority-led massacre of a wedding party in a New Orleans karaoke bar, preceded by a pretty hilarious group stroll through Bourbon street (Bill’s admonition of the taxi driver was especially fun). A few weeks ago, I said I was ready for less character and plot positioning and more action, and true to form, the re-emergence of Russell Edgington has brought forth the action.
His character is so much fun; how great was his sultry and smug delivery of “Edgington” on the karaoke stage? I have trouble buying that Salome or Nora believe that he’s truly, genuinely invested in the movement or the principles behind it. Surely they see his mocking glances and over-exaggerated gesturing for what it is? Blatant mocking of their religion. And look, I get that Russell is an awesome character, and the writers had to find some way to bring him back, but I have a hard time believing that among the entire vampire race, he was the only vampire Salome could think of who was more powerful than Roman and able to take him down.
It was interesting to see, though, how quickly the chancellors all changed their mainstreaming tune when they saw how far those now in power (Russell, Salome and Nora) are willing to go to enforce compliance with their new regime. Not that it’s surprising, necessarily, but it clearly indicates that among the vampires, there is no Authority greater than power and personal survival, which makes Eric’s conflict between commitment to his principles and his self-preservation all the more exciting to watch. Even the seemingly devout Nora is pretty flippant with her “she does” when Russell calls on Lilith’s forgiveness for murdering the dissenting chancellor.
Also, I’m sorry, but is there a budding romance between Russell and gay vampire-American Reverend Steve Newlin? Because…. Awesome.
Oh, and I guess I have to acknowledge Lilith. Well, she’s a naked chick who rose out of blood, may have been a hallucination, and seems to inspire enthusiastic blood lust in her followers. What else is to be said? I’ll admit that the phrase “jump the shark” floated across my mind when she first came on the scene, but then I remembered that I’m watching True Blood and quickly disposed of those silly “standards.” I’m wondering, though, if “seeing” her might legitimize Russell’s (or the other recently converted chancellors’) commitment to the religious principles of the movement.
I guess I have to talk about that disgusting scene with Lafayette’s mouth getting sewn closed while Jesus’ loco tio tries to take back his family’s magic. Not sure why tio’s baby mama got all murdery on him, but it sure was good timing. I wonder if she killed him before or after he transferred Jesus’ braja magic from Lafayette to the unborn loco-tio-spawn – nah, actually, I don’t really care.
Also still don’t care about Terry’s inner (and outer) demons, but I did think it was appropriate that Arlene shared her issues with Holly. As a Wicca, Holly is at least open to the idea of supernatural forces, though it’s ridiculous that after all she’s been through, Arlene is still resistant to the idea that – in the town of Bon Temps – something supernatural could be effing with her life.
I did enjoy the wedding video for the chance to revisit past happy couples and characters. I got a little sad at Hoyt and Jessica, and I loved the interaction between Lafayette and Jesus (though I remain glad Jesus is gone as a regular character). Oh, and Godric was back and so was former Sheriff Bud Dearborne was back – and he’s a dirty old man! Loved it! I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – Andy Bellefleur’s exasperated exclamations and ham-fisted attempts at police work have slowly but surely become one of my favorite parts of this ridiculous show.
Okay, final thoughts. First, Alcide’s already moved on to a new wolfskank, which I guess is fine, but it really devalues the “love” the writers made us believe he had for Sookie (/goes to edit last post where incorrectly predicted this relationship would be one-sided). Like Eric, Alcide’s character is steadfastly principled, and it seems inconsistent for his character to go from committed to Debbie to Sookie to wolfskank in a matter of days. But, you know… men.
Second, I feel like the relationship between Jason and Jessica is meandering without much of a purpose, but I enjoyed their confrontation primarily for the awesome line about Jason remembering every cow he’s ever eaten… and secondarily for how 0 to 60 this show goes in terms of cranking up the drama. These two go from having an argument to her biting him and him SHOOTING HER IN THE HEAD. Yeah, I know she’s a vampire with super-healing powers, but I still feel like going straight to SHOOTING SOMEONE IN THE HEAD is slightly drastic. Call me old fashioned.
Finally, Tara still sucks, but it was hilarious to see her “minister’s wife” mother dressed in her Sunday best and making her way through the crowd in Fangtasia just to disown her vampire-stripper-bartender-cagefighter daughter. It’s also telling that while this is the best Tara’s looked… ever, Pam still steals every single scene with just the slightest raise of the eyebrow or shifted glance. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I have a raging girl crush on Pam. Homegirl can ROCK the CRIMP.
Line of the week, from Gay-Vampire-American Reverend Steve Newlin: “I’m like a tree in the wind. I’m just so happy to be included.”
P.S. Dear True Blood writers, Tina Majorino is being underutilized. Please remedy.
You know what my favorite part of this episode was? The 1,200 times my cable provider’s expensive-as-shit service paused and then skipped, causing me to miss a second or two of dialogue and really improving the entire viewing experience for me. Time Warner is the Tara of cable companies.
About half this episode was taken up with storylines I couldn’t care less about… the ifrit, stupid fairy stuff, Jessica and Hoyt’s relationship, and Lafayette’s discovery that he has to go rescue Jesus’ spirit from his insane grand-uncle or whatever. The other half was awesome thanks to Russell-fucking-Edgington in all his batshit insane glory!!!
If ever there were a scene or performance in True Blood that would be award-worthy, it would be Russell’s diatribe against the Authority right before his execution. He’s right – he is the only honest one in the room, and while it might seem at first like he has no reason to be dishonest, after all, he’s about to die, what does he have to lose? In actuality, he’s setting himself up as a beacon for the other side – both the Sanguinistas and those who, like Eric, don’t subscribe to any particular religious viewpoint. Plus, he had some awesome lines with spot-on delivery.
A close second might be Alfre Woodard’s scene with Nelsan Ellis. Holy crap that’s a lot of acting power in one room. Their interactions are just so perfectly timed and natural, not to mention the stellar dialogue. Love every second of it.
Has it been proven before that Sookie is impervious to glamouring? Because I don’t remember that, but (and excuse me for potentially stating the obvious here), that appears to be the case because she certainly seemed to remember everything that happned at the asylum the morning after Bill’s glamouring. And damn Eric for cockblocking Sookie/Alcide, though it seems that Sookie’s fairy powers were able to restore part, if not all, of Alcide’s memory, so maybe there’s hope for a hot fairy-werewolf hookup yet. I hate myself for writing that sentence.
Did the prisoners give up the name of the traitor, and then the chancellor killed them? Or is he a traitor to the Authority as well? Is anyone genuinely on the Authority’s side? And who is the Authority now that Roman is dead? I’ll be pouring one out for Christopher Meloni tonight… Detective Stabler’s visit to the True Blood world was far too short (but since you’re dead now, please go back to Law and Order: SVU. They need you. Desperately.)
Loved seeing Eric and “Boy Scout” Bill verbally spar over the religious aspects of their state of being. Bill’s a shrewd guy who can appreciate playing the game in the short term in order to preserve himself in the long run, and Eric’s clearly too “cool for school” as Roman put it later in the episode. I keep going back to Salome’s observation earlier in the season that Eric is committed to nothing but himself. I wonder if we’ll ever witness an Eric who feels differently (and is not under the effects of a necromancer)?
And what has he uncovered about Nora? Anyone else think she wasn’t referring to Lillith when she said “It’s all part of her plan. She was right… she’s been right all along?”
So, let’s talk wolves and shifters for a second… Alcide is teaming up with some random chick to fight for his right to par… I mean, to be pack leader. A new love interest? Probably. But my prediction is that affection will be one-sided, and presuming Alcide is no longer “disgusted” by Sookie romantically, she’ll still be his main priority. Sam and Luna seem to be okay. I’m actually kind of surprised – seems Luna would be a pretty expendable character, and if any show is willing to kill a mother in front of her child, it would be True Blood. But as it is, it seems she and Sam – and maybe even the wolf pack, under Martha’s direction – are going to join Sheriff Bellefleur in the search for the supe slayers.
The big question from this episode is, of course, which vampire smelled Sookie’s blood on that band-aid in the back of her parents car, leading to their death? Seems Eric, Bill or Russell would all be solid bets, but I’m going with Bill for the exquisite potential for drama.
Great lines this episode:
- “I guess that whole friendship thing’s on hold.”
- “You did good out there, fighting… made me proud… proud the way a human is proud of a well-trained dog.”
- “Slap an iStake on him. I don’t want to get dirty.” Forrrreeeeeshadowing!!!
- “Jesustits!” Andy has slowly but surely become one of my favorite characters if only for his powerfully funny one-liners and the understated delivery that makes them come across so naturally.
- “In the name of MY ASS!” – There were two other delightfully obscene exclamations from Russell during this scene, but this one was my favorite for being flippant and rebellious for the pure joy of being a jerk.
Terrible acting and ridiculous storylines… must be Sunday! That’s not a knock against this episode, by the way. In fact, I really liked it, and “boot and rally” just happens to be one of my favorite expressions. The majority of the scenes, taken individually, were just “meh,” but the ones that hit, hit big. Like that cold open. Oh my god, that was hilarious. There was something about the framing of vulnerable drunk Sookie in her pink bra, and Alcide shirtless and puked-upon juxtaposed with very cool, very in-control Bill and Eric all in black blocking the door – it was greatness.
Sookie was actually almost tolerable in this episode… and when she imagined the “boys” fighting like literal dogs, I laughed along with her. Maybe she should always be drunk. I guess it could be an indication that she’s really taken Lafayette’s criticism to heart, but we’ve thought that before with her and other characters, and it hasn’t resulted in any long-term change in perspective. In any case, she was blunt and take-charge and had this great attitude that essentially said “fuck it, if I have no choice but to be an active participant in this supernatural freak show, let’s get freaky, bitches.” And I liked it.
The flashback/dream sequence scene with Jason in the Masters of the Universe footie pajamas was also too much fun to hate, despite the ick factor of his mother talking to him about blow jobs. Also icky? Tara and Hoyt. Is there some big redeeming moment coming for Tara? Because they are just sending her further down the hate-hole as far as I’m concerned. I liked where the Tara-and-Jessica-as-girlfriends story was going, but that was kaput by the end of the episode. Tara’s even bringing Pam down. Pre-Tara Pam would’ve come up with a much better comeback than “No, I want you to sit on your ass and play scrabble. Yes, I want you to bartend.” WEAK.
But that scene did help me put my finger on one of the reasons I don’t like Tara. Check out her delivery of these three lines:
- “If I wanted to look like a drag queen, I’d have raided Lafayette’s closet.”
- “The more things change, the more they fucking stay the same.”
- “I am many thangs, but sweet ain’t one of them.”
In the span of two minutes, she delivers three lines that are way too deliberate to be believable, even in the True Blood universe. Not only are the lines themselves weak – a little too nail-on-the-head – but her delivery smacks of intentional and measured pacing. It’s all just too artificial and it bugs. Plus, her shoulders are too broad to pull off that corset.
Pam, on the other hand – can rock that trashy eighties style like nobody’s business. I also like that Pam’s clearly dealing with her release from Eric by pouring herself into her work. It’s very clear what matters to Pam. She’s motivated by loyalty for Eric (though it remains to be seen to what extent that’s still true) and her dedication to Fangtasia, which is, in itself, a displaced loyalty to Eric. But anyway, I digress. The point is that right now, we’re not clear on what motivates Tara – I mean, sure, she died for Sookie, but now that she’s estranged herself from Sookie and Lafayette, what does she have to “live” for? And maybe that’s why I’m struggling with her as a character – because she’s struggling too. She’s rudderless and purposeless… but I think that’s kind of always been true for her; it’s just more obvious now. Up to this point, she’s served primarily as the go-to victim for the bad guys in the supernatural world and the go-to wrench in the good guys’ plans to right things in that world.
This week, the good guys go hunting for the bad guys in an abandoned insane asylum… because, obviously. And there, they find new horrors around every corner including our long-awaited reunion with Russell Edgington. But first – does anyone think that there’s any chance the woman who dug up Russell is NOT Salome? Because I don’t. And if I’m wrong, well, it’ll be a first… but also, it will be a huge credit to the writers who I feel have been foreshadowing that big reveal since the second episode. So, if it turns out to be Nora or the red-headed Texas chancellor or someone else, well, they’ll have pulled one over on me.
I guess I have to address the smoke monster and Terry and Felicity’s boyfriend and the crazy guy in the basement and Iraq and war and fire and the curse and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. In case my analysis is too subtle for you, I am not compelled by this storyline. Nor by the Lafayette demon/Jesus head situation, though it was, as always, awesome to see Alfre Woodard on the screen.
It appears we have an anti-supernatural hate crime spree going on in Bon Temps. Interesting that Jason is heading back to the anti-vampire mindset he had in season three (I think). He noted that vampires have been “getting away” with murdering humans and covering it up for centuries… it looks like the writers are setting it up to equate this revelation with his search for the truth about his parents’ murder, but I wonder if he will swing back toward the less tolerant side of the fence during his investigation… or after. I won’t be too sad if Luna dies, but I hope Sam pulls through. Something tells me he will.
- “Apparently” and “I’m sorry to hear that.” No one can say so much with so few words the way Eric Northman can.
- Drew is goo!
- Tinkerball! (Confession: I watched this episode five times, and I laughed at this line every single time.)
I wonder what it would take for me to like Tara as a character. I’m really trying to pinpoint what it is about her, exactly, that just ticks me off. Her accent is terrible. She’s always bitching and whining but never doing anything about changing her situation. But is she redeemable, as a character? I don’t know. At this point, I just want Pam to command Tara, as her maker, to stop being lame.
So, Pam saved Tara for the time being, and after a quick chat with Bill, Tara seems to be on track to accept her new vampire lifestyle. She’s inexorably linked to Pam now, and it remains to be seen if that makes Tara a better character or Pam worse.
At any rate, Pam’s role should be more interesting now that she’s been released from Eric. The scenes between those two were so powerful and intense and beautiful – it was a good demonstration of the range True Blood can master. From cornball, self-aware comedy to serious, meaningful drama. I loved her initial attempt to recreate normalcy in her relationship with Eric – “congratulations, you’re a grandfather,” and I thought she verbalized very effectively how hurtful Eric’s distrust of her was – “if you can’t trust me more than Bill Compton or a werewolf…”
I wonder if we were getting some foreshadowing in the juxtaposition of Pam’s scene where she coaches Tara on eating Melanie and says “This is who you are now. Top of the chain. No human can hurt you any longer. They’re yours to savor” and the next scene, in which the Guardian rails against the Sanguinista traitor and commands that the chancellors fall in line with the mainstreaming movement. Great performance by Christopher Meloni, by the way.
I could see Pam, if not favoring, at least empathizing with the Sanguinista point of view. But is she political? Her interests so far have seem pretty focused on Eric and Fangtasia and on preserving her relationship with the former and the relatively peaceful success of the latter. She’s a pragmatic, problem-solving kind of gal, and I’m not sure she can be compelled to care about something quite so broad or the Authority’s agenda if it doesn’t affect her daily life.
Speaking of the Authority, know what else I loved this week? Stabbing a kid right in the heart! YES! This is why people watch – and love – True Blood. Because this show is not afraid to go there.
Not afraid to go here either: “It’s just a book. I know the guy who wrote it and he was high the whole time.” That was pretty ballsy, and I appreciated it for the subtle implications for the non-True Blood universe, but even more so for the questions it raises about the legitimacy of both sides in this political showdown.
We had a lot of intense drama this week. Alcide telling Debbie’s parents about her death was another truly moving scene and great performance by my future husband, Joe Manganiello.
I also really enjoyed Lafayette calling Sookie out for always being rescued at the expense of her friends. Referring to her as the angel of death was harsh, but not unwarranted, and it was a good tipping point to send Sookie over the edge from barely hanging on after Debbie’s murder to losing it completely after her accident and turning to the drink. And FINALLY, Alcide and Sookie get physical. ‘Bout damn time, but man talk about two ridiculous names for two hot characters.
And of course, Bill and Eric just happened to swing by as Sookie and Alcide were getting it on. I’m glad to see the Bill/Sookie love storyline revived, though, because they’re the core True Blood couple. We obviously couldn’t be satisfied with watching them live out happily ever after, but it’s nice to be reminded now and again that these two are where it all started and like Jessica said, “Sookie and you is different than Sookie and anyone else.”
Enough love crap. Here’s my question – why is the authority trusting Bill and Eric to catch Russell? Don’t they have the entire army of vampires at their disposal? Bill and Eric, aside from knowing the area and the conditions under which Russell was buried, have no special skills or insights that would make them uniquely qualified to capture Russell. Lest we forget, Bill and Eric killed a chancellor of the Authority, broke the rules, betrayed the Authority. There should be nothing more than cleaning products left of them at this point… I’m not holding out hope for some kind of satisfactory explanation. I think this is just one of those plot lines I’m going to have to chalk up to “supernatural TV show” and let it go. I did appreciate, though, that with Nora’s confession, they set it up so that the Authority won’t be a constant threat to Eric and Bill. Salome presumably secured their safety with her blood oath, but who knows what that’s worth to the Authority?
I’m still not feeling the fairy crap, Lafayette’s demon possession or the Terry storyline. It’s like the writers feel obligated to give every minor character s ome dramatic arc. I’d be fine with just concentrating on the main characters (there are plenty to keep us busy) and having them get into different situations that intersect with one another and the “normal” world inhabited by those minor characters… like the first three seasons. But maybe that’s why this show stays fresh – because it concentrates on other characters and doesn’t solely manipulate Sookie, Eric and Bill to provide the drama.
Okay, loose ends – Sam’s out of one scrape and back into another. His shifter friends got shot, which means he’s most likely a target as well. I can’t think of who might be after the shifters, other than the werewolves, but I wonder if it has anything to do with Emma being revealed as a wolf. And how much truth is there to the idea that vampires will drain anyone with a drop of fairy blood? Is that just political propaganda put forth by the fairy leaders in order to recruit “refugees?”
This was a great episode, and I think this season is shaping up really nicely. If nothing else this season, I’ve really enjoyed examining the meaningful relationships that have been formed in the vampire world. It was touching to see Bill recognize the “good job” he did in training Jessica.
Not a lot of pithy quotes this week – more poignant… like Eric saying Pam shouldn’t trust anyone, that he doesn’t. Good stuff.
CALLED IT – Steve Newlin is the new Nan. We started off this episode with the conclusion of the boardroom debate among the Authority chancellors – I’m still not convinced they’ve built up enough of a case to justify their decision to let Bill and Eric go, but I’ll roll with it for now. I actually think the chancellors are an interesting bunch – hopefully, we’ll get to see more of them. Speaking of which, there have been instances in the past of children playing adult roles (I can only think of the Twilight Volturi right now, but I know there are others), but the pint-sized chancellor isn’t doing it for me, which is a shame, because I think it would be really novel and cool to see a convincing performance from a kid acting like a jaded, world-weary, century-old vampire.
I’m still not sure how we’re supposed to feel about the Guardian and the Authority. Intuitively, you’d think the audience would be opposed to the force that’s oppressing Bill and Eric, but they’re doing a hell of a job of setting up Roman’s Guardian character as both respectful of humanity and an advocate for peaceful coexistence, which kind of puts us, as the audience, on the same “side.” I suspect that Roman’s political stance doesn’t bode well for his long-term chances of survival, but a girl (who loves Christopher Meloni) can dream.
I still couldn’t care less for Tara’s storyline except insofar as it intersects with Pam’s, which is a pretty deft move on the writers’ part. Intertwining the lives of one of the show’s favorite characters with one of the show’s least favorite? Not a bad strategy. And it’s given us some insight into the depth of the relationship between Pam and Eric specifically and the maker-makee(?) relationship in general. At times, some of the True Blood themes can get a little heavy handed, but that doesn’t mean they’re not entertaining. It’s funny, though, because we’re getting the message about the maker’s responsibility to a new vampire drilled into us, but I think the same kind of thematic messaging could help clarify the Authority’s approach to delivering the true death as punishment, but it’s not happening, or at least, I’m not getting it. Maybe because it’s just not as entertaining as Pam and Eric and Bill and Lorena in a brothel. Can we pause for a moment and talk about how great it was to see Lorena back?
It was great. I love that crazy bitch.
Speaking of crazy bitches – is it just me or are all these exotic brunettes starting to look and feel the same? Salome. Nora. Lorena. Honestly, I had a little trouble following this episode… and not just because of all the pretty ladies. I fear we’re descending into a world of political maneuvering, and quite frankly, that’s not why I tune into True Blood. I don’t know if it’s intentionally being set up this way, but I find the Authority’s interrogation and political rhetoric really unconvincing – either because it’s not truly being fleshed out or because it’s being set up as some kind of red herring for a larger, more developed conspiracy. I mean, come on, with Detective Stabler on set, there’s no excuse for not nailing an interrogation scene.
Anyway, the interrogation was successful in one way – uncovering Nora as a Sanguinista (and introducing me to a whole new world of using the “c” word as a verb!) Does that mean that Eric is Sanguinista too? Is Nora dead after just three episodes?
And what was Salome trying to get out of her “interrogations” with Eric and Bill? I enjoyed her astute observations about their personalities – Bill is still looking for something to believe in and Eric only believes in Eric. Her interaction with Roman made me think that she may not be 100 percent sold on the mainstreaming movement, either, especially considering she recruited Nora into the chancellor fold. It was also a fun little device to weave her story into its historical origins.
Several stories were backburnered this week like Emma’s canine disposition and Terry’s issue (whatever that is) and several stories were given little more than perfunctory movement like Sheriff Bellefleur’s relationship with Holly, Hoyt’s post-Jessica recovery, Lafayette’s demonic tendencies, and the relationship between Sookie and Alcide. Although now that Alcide knows what Sookie did, perhaps we’ll see some real movement on that front next week. All in all, it feels like these threads were rushed and forced into the episode just to remind us that yes, these balls are still up in the air, and at some point, we’ll see them again. I’m ready to see those… ummm… balls. I’m ready for some real action instead of exposition and plot set-up.
The only real development this week was that, to the shock of no one, Jason was seduced by one of his teachers (oh, Anna Draper!), paving the way for his sex-crazed ways. He’s actually coming to a realization about why he is the way he is and taking positive steps to grow, even becoming friends with Jessica, who is on a parallel path of discovering that short-term indulgences don’t create long-term fulfillment.
In the same way, a few funny lines and sight gags don’t make a great episode.
- Pam fast-texting
- “You’re too cute to be goo…”
- “A good merchant doesn’t compete with her merchandise.” “And a good customer knows that everything has its price.”
- “She wanted to marry you and have your cubs!”
- “These beans is colder than titties in a brass bra.”
Despite a few brief moments of satisfaction, overall this episode didn’t cut it for me.