Episodes like this are why True Blood can be such a profoundly frustrating show. This episode has a gorgeous, emotional center, one the series has been building up to for five seasons. It has people finally doing rational things, like realizing Sookie might be the cancer at the core of Bon Temps. And then it surrounds these things with a bunch of nonsense.
All right, maybe not nonsense—a tragic story about soldiers killing a bunch of Iraqi civilians is far from nonsense—but it certainly has absolutely no business being even within sniffing distance of this show. Terry’s PTSD from his time serving in the Middle East started as a bit of sad character information, adding color and pathos to a background player. As Terry has become more and more part of the story, though, the show followed its worst instincts: to use this bit of character information and build an entire storyline around it. It’s been easy to ignore up until now as it existed as one of those weird going-nowhere stories True Blood loves to tell, but those jarring scenes tonight that attempt to be something out of Generation Kill are impossible to ignore. Stuck in the middle of this silly show, they almost feel disrespectful. They certainly feel out of place. And I hope they are limited to this episode, to never be spoken of again as the storyline veers more into its inevitable supernatural end.
Also on the silly end of the spectrum tonight is Andy and Jason’s sojourn to the fairy refugee camp of sin and sex. The existence of this magical place is fairly well set up, but it issn’t big on character consistency; if just last week Jason was dying to get over his sex-addiction issues, none of those concerns are present in his interactions with a beautiful fairy here. It’s not more than yet another crazy setpiece for the show to exploit later, but it does set up a very convenient place for humans to hide when this vampire civil war comes to a head.
But, for all of this complaining, there is a lot to like about this episode. By far the best is Eric’s decision to release Pam from his hold as her maker. If this season has one through line, it’s the bond between vampire and maker and what that means. It hasn’t been quite as effective as it could have been because of the decision to play it extremely slowly over the first three episodes, but all of Pam’s flashbacks and her reluctance to deal with Tara come to a head in this episode, in the best way. Eric and Pam’s relationship has long been one of the best ones on the show, and it’s been cultivated well over the years. So to see Eric decide it’s time to sever that bond in order for Pam to survive anything that might happen with him and become a maker in her own right is moving in a way True Blood doesn’t achieve very often. It doesn’t hurt that Tara is the best she’s been in ages, showing a great rapport with Pam, cracking jokes with Bill, and trying to talk some sense into him with regard to Sookie. It was refreshing.
As for Sookie, perhaps the best thing about this entire season is everyone in Bon Temps’ growing realization that she brings them nothing but trouble. From Lafayette’s witch demon trying to kill her by enchanting her brakes to Tara loudly condemning her every move, Sookie no longer simply walks on water and it’s been great for the show and the character. The tricky thing here is although many people are cursing her existence, there are still enough people on her side to extricate her from all of the insane situations she puts herself in. This time it was Alcide, who lies to the Pelt family about who really killed Debbie, and Jessica, who compels Andy to drop the entire case once the Pelts leave town. People are still cleaning up Sookie’s messes without her asking, but at least she spends the last half of the episode drowning her sorrows in various bottles and then hooking up with the ex-boyfriend of the werewolf she just killed while her two vampire exes look on. Just another day in the life.
Finally there is the Authority storyline, which is becoming more and more obtuse the more it drags on. Roman is still busy uncovering moles in his midst and stamping out the Sanguinista movement in the least cinematic way possible: by endless interrogation. Nora gives up young kid vamp as an accomplice, and Roman dramatically stakes him in front of the entire Authority. The more this story develops (or doesn’t develop, as we’re seeing), the more these scenes feel completely pointless. The staking tonight felt like nothing other than an excuse to be “shocking” and kill a child. What more do we learn about the Sanguinista movement? About what Roman is doing, or even who he is? Is he crazy or sane? Are the Sanguinistas crazy or sane? There is no context to this story, and the entire thing is suffering as a result. Not to mention Russell as some unseen boogeyman hiding in the shadows, a named threat but one we haven’t seen in the first four hours of the season.
The idea of a vampire civil war and how that would affect the creatures’ precarious truce with humans is an interesting one. The execution of this idea so far, is much less so.
- I’ve never liked Sookie more than when she drunkenly changed the lyrics to “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”.
- Sam’s shifter friends were so long forgotten their story became hard to track, but it seems they were killed as some sort of warning to Sam. The most likely culprits are the werewolf pack. Just when it seemed Sam was getting pulled out of that awful story, they pull him back in.
- Lafayette, to Sookie: “You know what, you the fucking angel of death.”
- Pam: “Congratulations, you’re a grandfather.”
- Jessica: “So I had a few friends over, okay? No one got eaten; no one got drained.”