Such a relief that Tara is no longer a feral vampire/Tasmanian devil whirl wind of pointy toothed guilt. Not only is she articulating thoughts with all the subtly of a sledgehammer which Tara is known for, but they carry the weight of a character who may actually drive the plot as opposed to cling onto it like a bug on a windshield.
Speaking of efficient conversation, how impressive is Pam’s texting? Sequences like this and early in the premiere when we saw Eric cleaning up Nan Flanagan’s viscera like a cracked out Ferris Bueller trying to beat his parents home, activities which contrast their relatively mundane, human nature with the superhuman execution with which they’re carried out, are as funny as they are successful world-building, an area which was one of the show’s greatest strengths earlier in the series and has since taken a back seat to other priorities. Bon Temps may be filled with about a thousand characters for us to keep track of, but that doesn’t necessarily lend it a personality. Sometimes the details which hit hardest are those that belong to a set of circumstances, but they don’t hurt because they covertly constitute an environment instead of yet another person.
There’s a reason bars and restaurants, places with details which we imbue with meaning due to the comfort they provide us, are always used as story settings. That’s why I was happy to see Merlotte’s host a turning point for Tara, and for once Sam is there instead of sticking up for his girlfriend’s in-laws whom murdered his brother and nearly tortured Sam to death. On the other hand, Sam is stuck once again in a caregiver position for Tara, again relegated to the support staff of a story starring other characters. But it is interesting to see Tara refrain from ripping out the throat of a young woman having some car trouble despite being a ravenous newborn. She also successfully abstained from doing the same to anyone else at Merlotte’s after she was discovered by the staff there. The fact that I hope this will prove to be testament to the strength of Tara in some worthwhile plot where she isn’t merely hounded by Sookie and Lafayette for another nine episodes is the only thing keeping me from wishing the dream sequence where Tara gorges on Arlene actually happened. Not that I hate Arlene, but Lilith knows this show has a character surplus as it is and it could certainly lend some weight to Tara’s newfound disposition, but I’ll wager watching her hang on to her humanity will become a thematically stronger story than watching her either be a guilt monster or a guiltless monster over Arlene’s death.
Plus, if Arlene isn’t around, how else will we be able to find out even less than we already know about Terry and Patrick’s ex-soldier firebug conspiracy, something that is teetering on the edge of becoming a fucked up Hardy Boys mystery. It might be a bad sign that I was relieved to not have to hear about this story in this episode.
It looks like Tara will get to have a plot outside of being defined by Sookie and Lafayette’s presence as they have a murder to cover up and Lafayette has this sweet new recipe for bleach infused gumbo courtesy of the culinary skills of the Jesus styled demon (seriously – what happened to his corpse?) which momentarily possessed him. I like this because seeing Lafayette tap into his inner strength last season was one of the few season four plot lines I enjoyed (for the most part at least). Lafayette’s always been a BAMF so it would make sense to see him become even more powerful and influential instead of just running around being snarky or traumatized or occasionally breaking a few deserving skulls.
I’m assuming Sookie will ultimately cover up her murder of Debbie Pelt by light-palming (I can’t decide if that sounds like a Buddhist martial arts maneuver or an antiquated way to describe making out) everyone into faerie world because why else would the episode remind us of their existence not once, but twice this episode? Jessica’s foray into this world could be a way to breathe new life into the failed experiment in faerie politics of last season.
Jessica also continued to play a role in Jason’s story this episode by continuing to prove that beneath her layer of “my dad’s the king” attitude of diva shopping and partying there’s a loyal and good-hearted friend who’s cool to abandon a booty call to support someone she cares about. Season five has been taking pains to reacquaint the audience with Jason being defined by his sexual promiscuity to the point of compulsivity. But like with the coed at Jess’ party, Jason rejects Jessica’s physical advances in light of his realization of hitting bottom after finding no lasting satisfaction from returning to the root of his compulsive behavior in Ms. Dylan, the former high school teacher whom presumably took Jason’s virginity and set him on a path of addiction. It’s about time the show started to get real with Jason after casting him as the lovable fool for four years and the device they used to do so makes me think it might actually stick this time. The plot was successfully somber (aside from the god-awful saccharine sweet music playing in the background of Jason and Jessica’s scene – seriously, that plus the same deal for Salome’s seduction scenes were way over the top) but I think the saddest part was the fact that Ms. Dylan’s cat’s name is Prince Charming.
In a rare demonstration of thematic unity for the show, Sookie’s trouble with taking care of Tara was reflected in Pam’s flashbacks to the events leading up to her siring by Eric. These scenes have been exceedingly entertaining and this time we even saw Bill and Eric’s first meeting. Pam and Eric’s pillow talk of the responsibilities inherent to siring a vampire worked well to tie the episode together somewhat as it ended with Pam begrudgingly realizing she now has to choose between committing to her claim of not caring by ignoring the suicidal Tara as well as her responsibilities or disproving that claim to an extent by saving Tara from a nasty case of tanning bed head.
Finally, there was of course the continued story of The Authority which was essentially a rehash of last week’s events. The most stark distinction this episode was the reveal of my prediction that Reverend Steve Newlan is literally, “the new Nan Flanagan.” The fact that Newlan possesses all the integrity and survival skills of a cockroach should make for interesting if not entirely unpredictable developments.
The Authority has also finally come to the conclusion that Bill and Eric are not a part of the Sanguinista movement of vampire fundamentalists, but former Chancellor Nora in fact is. The Sanguinista’s belief in the radical supremacy of vampires over humans has led to uprisings in Europe, which suggest this vampire civil war might actually come to a head this season. This story has been dragging its feet a bit in favor of showing the audience how much The Authority likes to argue about how authoritative they are as well as how best to assert such authority. Authority. Authority. Authorit– sorry; I sometimes get caught in a loop.
It was interesting to learn a bit more about Salome through her seductions/interrogations of Bill and Eric. She is the biblical Salome, a figure I was previously unfamiliar with but who is famous for her lustful exploits. I’m digging learning more about the vampire culture as related through the Old Testament, a text which is so fundamentally ingrained into actual civilization. This all makes me think Roman (who I’ve actually heard be referred to more often as Guardian, unless my hearing’s going at an early age) may have some clever biblical origins as well.
I also must mention how thrilled I was as a fan of Veronica Mars to see Mac (Tina Majorino) has apparently been turned into a vampire and has retained all of her tech-savvy wit which she applies to The Authority’s R&D department. A series so steeped in genre conventions could really benefit from that show’s uplifting Whedonesque dialogue.
The bottom line is once all this extensive torture and grandstanding research and preparation is completed, The Authority will have to take action to quell the Sanguinistas and until that happens I’m at least enjoying the distance kept between this thread and most of the rest of season five.
P.S. – Andy and Holly are still cute and Hoyt has learned to apply eye liner.