Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

True Blood: “Karma”

Rutina Wesley
Rutina Wesley
TV ReviewsAll of our TV reviews in one convenient place.

It seems pretty appropriate that in True Blood’s final season, Sarah Newlin basically becomes God. She’s always been the symbol of the show’s insane longevity; a cockroach that refuses to be killed (and manages to be fairly entertaining in the process). Sarah started her tenure as part of a fairly sloppy religious allegory, but eventually mutated into something much more sinister over the course of her time on the show: A slimy, self-righteous social and political climber who will stop at nothing to destroy all vampires, especially if it elevates her status in the process. But now she has a different kind of religious enlightenment, enlightenment obtained by a few weeks in an ashram and her decision to make herself the potential savior of the vampires she previously condemned. It’s the perfect way for her to wrap up her time on True Blood—especially because she only ended up here because of her almost superhuman self-preservation instincts.

If there’s one character True Blood has fully understood throughout its run it is Sarah Newlin, so the final season seems like a great time to watch her shine; that is, if she manages to make it out of the show alive. Sarah downed the antidote in the madness of last season’s vampire prison scrum as a sort of last-ditch effort to make sure she was indispensable, and considering how much of the vampire population would surely be out to get her for causing the Hep V crisis, this was a good decision. Now she is in fact indispensable but being hunted by people who don’t know about her newfound status as their savior: the Yakuza (who are in league with TruBlood manufacturer and new character Mr. Gus Jr., who is out to get her for destroying his company) and Eric, who is working for them. How long before Eric is cured? Immediately is probably the best assumption. When both Bill and Eric were infected with Hep V it was fairly obvious that there would be some cure on the horizon. Better it come from Sarah Newlin than Sookie, I say.

Back in Bon Temps, Bill is stuck in a far more somber story, responsibly taking care of his affairs after discovering his Hep V diagnosis. What’s interesting about his story is something that probably shouldn’t be interesting at all: the logistics. Bill goes to see a vampire lawyer whose waiting room is filled with vampires getting their affairs in order, and it gives the Hep V crisis a scope and weight it hasn’t had for much of the season. True Blood has never been all that good about dealing with the idea of vampires on a wider scale—any stories about the Authority always hurt the show’s idea of a wider vampire network rather than helping it, and any stories about the wider human drama of dealing with the supernatural has been practically nonexistent—but showing the “human” vampire side helps make the season’s biggest antagonist about more than packs of roving idiot vamps on feeding frenzies.

Where Bill’s story hits home on a character basis, though, is in the people who are mourning him. Jessica and Sookie get several nice moments here as they deal with the news. Sookie’s role is especially touching as she has to live with the fact that it was probably her that gave him the disease without knowing. It feels like True Blood is trying to do an HIV allegory with this Hep V story, but if they are it is so clumsily handled that it’s hard to really grab onto. If the allegorical nature of it fails, however, the character moments of it work, especially at the end when it becomes clear that the show might be attempting to say a little more about Bill’s sickness. As he walks up to his doorstep and sees a distraught Sookie and Jessica, the soundtrack reminds him about karma, saying maybe he deserves it. After all, Bill’s initial interest in Sookie was at the behest of the Queen; falling in love with her wasn’t the plan. Isn’t it only appropriate that she potentially be his downfall? Sarah Newlin and her new outlook on life would likely agree.

There’s actually quite a bit of karma to go around Bon Temps, as it also hits Lettie Mae hard. Lettie Mae was awful to Tara while Tara was alive; it’s only in her death that she seems committed to helping her and finally making up for everything that she’s done. To do this she ends up having to sacrifice the one stable thing in her life, her marriage, and it is strangely disappointing because the Reverend has become one of the show’s more reliable tertiary characters. It’s episode six and still not very clear what exactly is going on with Tara on the other side (or wherever she may be), but True Blood made these scenes at least a little better in this episode by involving Lafayette. If the show wants to send Lettie Mae on a V-fueled trip into Tara’s trippy posthumous subconscious every week I’m in, but only if Lafayette gets to come along too.

Stray observations:

  • No flashbacks means that even though the narrative took some boring sidebars (Sam and Nicole, anyone?) at least it didn’t come to a screeching halt, helping the overall pacing immensely. This actually felt like an episode of television!
  • Eric and Pam remain one of the best relationships on the show. Just the way the two look at each other when they get put in front of the windows tells the story of a relationship that goes back a hundred years.
  • Bill killing the lawyer and her henchman was probably uncalled for, but fully awesome. Sometimes you just need to watch vampires be vampires on a vampire show.
  • Adilyn and Wade’s relationship isn’t interesting and obviously only existed here so Violet could kidnap them at the end. Violet is tiresome, as is her inevitable “burn down the world” rampage because Jason doesn’t love her.
  • Arlene arriving at the disgusting Bellefleur’s is great. It’s nice when the show keeps track of all the crazy things happening and uses them later for humor.
  • “This town is fucking crazy. You, you’re the mayor of crazy!” By deciding to leave town, Nicole immediately became the smartest character in the show’s history.