“Sunset” demonstrates the benefits of tighter storytelling. The escalating Sanguinista coup of The Authority has now closely drawn Sam, Luna, Pam, Tara, Jessica, and even Sookie, Jason, and the faeries into the fold. Even Alcide had a genuinely kick-ass scene worked into the episode, though I think this might’ve had more to do with the character fulfilling his shirtless appearance quota than anything else. Now that things are finally coalescing, the stage is set for what could be a very compelling and exciting season finale and “Sunset” contributed much to that excitement.
An ongoing concern I’ve held for weeks now is the authenticity of Bill’s commitment to being a vampire supremacist and this episode finally provided a clear if not weak explanation for his uncharacteristically sociopathic behavior. Turns out that Pam had the answer all along (we should’ve suspected as much). Once Jessica told Pam what she’s seen in her short stay at The Authority’s headquarters, we all learned that this is “nest behavior;” when vampires exclusively hang out together and drink each other’s blood over a period of time they tend to get a little nuts and Pam diagnoses Bill as a “nest on steroids.” Okay, I’ll buy it, I guess, because we’ve been seeing the powerful influence Lilith’s blood has on vampires, but it doesn’t feel like a very sturdy foundation for so much of this season’s wackiness. So Bill’s not evil so much as suffering from a kind of super-Stockholm syndrome. Eric is still way better.
In fact, let me just put it out there that Eric, Pam, Tara, and Jessica should probably just slaughter everyone else that isn’t Lafayette or Sam because these are the only characters with any brains or personality.
I thought the scenes in “Sunset” that worked best might’ve been those which let the camera do the talking instead of the characters. The opening sequence in which Bill is disturbed by the hallucinations caused by Lilith’s blood was solid and creepy and finally gave the audience a decent look into Bill’s psyche. The scene where Nora goes from evading Salome’s suspicions to panic-fucking Eric was very well done and also did well illustrating these characters’ perspectives without clogging up the episode with the clunky dialogue or endless speechifying that plagued the first half of the season.
Eric promises Nora that he’ll get them out of The Authority headquarters and thanks to some convincing acting on both their parts and a well placed neck-snapping (General Cavanaugh, we hardly knew thee), he actually comes through. I’m excited that he and Nora have each woken up to the insanity of The Authority and are at this very moment zooming around the night sky getting ready to reluctantly save the day – like a boss.
It really was too bad that General Cavanaugh had to go as it was great to finally see some of this mysterious governmental infrastructure that’s been implied by the series for years. Not only did we learn the man had balls of steel (how did he walk around with those things?), but we learned also that the U.S. government knows The Authority is responsible for the TruBlood factory explosions, has video of Russell and Steve’s Greek night, and probably also has a decent amount of new weaponry to take out vampires across the globe. I really liked hearing that last part because it makes sense and things that make sense don’t get enough attention on this show. You know that as soon as the full extent of vampires’ power became known to the arguably most powerful military on the planet they started working on weapons, it’s what they do. So hearing even just the suggestion of this gives me hope for True Blood’s future. That it might include some logical progressions and exciting speculative experiments rather than more love triangles.
Speaking of love triangles and world building details that inspire hope, the second new character to hold the distinction of finding their demise in the same episode as their debut appearance, the faerie elder (whose name appears to have been Elder, or was it Eldress?) hit both nails on the head when she simultaneously had “trouble focusing” due to being so old and existing on so many different planes (faerie Alzheimer’s?) and called Sookie out saying, “There’s a reason you slut your heart out to every cute guy out there with fangs.” Awesome. Unfortunately she didn’t get into that reason; only that it has something to do with her, Sookie’s, and Warlow’s destinies being intertwined. With only the finale left in the fifth season, I’m really hoping we actually meet this Warlow guy. Maybe he’ll stop Russell from drinking Sookie as dry as the Mojave. Anyway, who would’ve guessed that the master plan of a faerie with faerie Alzheimer’s would fail as hard as it did? Oh, everyone watching? Okay, gotcha. That’s what she gets for having such terrible aim. Poor Jason.
Faeries were generally just making a mess like nobody’s business as Marella, the faerie that translated Sookie’s contract/receipt thing, stopped by Merlotte’s to remind everyone that, oh yeah, Andy and her totally had sex a week ago (in True Blood time) and now she’s pregnant with his child (I don’t know how long faerie pregnancies are usually supposed to take but I think the writers decided to bring back that whole temporal displacement thing that they’ve been ignoring). I always forget that because each episode of the show leads immediately into the next, each season takes place in a matter of a few weeks or something. This hurts my head to think about as it was handled much better in Lost. Anyway, Marella warning Andy that breaking faerie promises is an act of war will somehow factor into next season, but I really wish it wouldn’t. There’s no need to create plots between the C-listers of Bon Temps, True Blood, I thought we already discussed this!?
In other news from Merlotte’s, Terry and Arlene are super cute despite losing all credibility for me. I’m glad they’re happy together again, but the fact that they can so suddenly revert back to a state of normalcy after all the bullshit they pulled throughout this season just highlights what an inconsequential waste of time their plot was. Also, apparently Lafayette is “a bitch, not a snitch – love it.” Like I said last week, I hate seeing Lala so little, but it’s better to see him being snarky than traumatized. His sole appearance in “Sunset”, however, just felt gratuitous. There’s a fine line between a character being charmingly facetious and a one-note punch line.
Another one of the season five plots that turned out to be a giant waste was Alcide’s wolf pack business. I thought JD’s V addiction would somehow get tied into at least some sort of confrontation with everyone else that’s now chilling at The Authority headquarters and I guess it technically still might but it appears that was just good ol’ fashioned True Blood filler. I like Alcide, but if he’s not going to add anything of consequence to the proceedings, maybe it’s time we say goodbye for a while, eh? Or just turn him into a one man (wolf) baby vamp hunting slice of awesome.
Did I mention how smart Jessica is? Well, she is. She immediately saw through Bill’s psycho-babble and even though he called her bluff on turning Jason, she still got around it. And on top of that, she made up with Tara. I know Pam was being sarcastic when she suggested the three of them would “braid one anothers’ hair and talk about boys,” but for Jessica’s sake I kind of hope next episode they do. We don’t have to see it of course, but Jess deserves some down time.
We didn’t get much from Sam and Luna this episode other than them getting caught as soon as they found Emma, but now next episode we can look forward to Sam giving Bill the “What the hell’s the matter with you?” speech that will either turn him around (disappointing) or hopefully end in Sam shifting into a lion and biting Bill’s head off. Maybe. All I know is seeing Sam and Pam randomly running into each other as prisoners at The Authority headquarters was just hilarious, I don’t even care if I can’t remember how they know each other. Oh yeah, Pam took the blame for Tara killing Elijah whom was the progeny (one of 204!) of that red-headed chancellor, the one with the Texan accent. I’m hoping Pam somehow kills her. Then all that’s left of The Authority is Salome as Bill popped the other chancellor, the African one, like a water balloon.
That’s about all there is this week. Now that it’s basically the end of the season we can all sit back and smugly judge how well the show worked this year (or didn’t) and while it exemplified some of the show’s worst traits early on, they eventually got ironed out and ultimately things are looking good for the finale. Whoever takes over as showrunner next season to replace Alan Ball will hopefully revitalize this show as it can still be one of television’s best – that is, when it isn’t wasting everyone’s time stretching out interesting plots to tell stories with no consequences or redeeming values.