TV Review: True Blood 5.12, “Save Yourself”

Despite being really unbalanced by a first half weighed down by the sheer number of useless plots contained therein and a second half that moved well by cutting that dead weight, though leaving many loose threads in its wake, the fifth season of True Blood was a fun ride.

Joseph Kratzer

Contributor

Rating: ★★★½☆

I was happy to see during the opening credits that showrunner Alan Ball wrote this episode, his very last one as part of the show. It gave me hope that the episode would be a great season finale and a proper farewell to the man that brought this series to television and forever changed people’s thoughts on softcore vampire porn. Instead we got a cool episode, but nothing close to what a finale should do.

Finales are supposed to be the cap at the end of a collection of stories which provide a sense of closure and thematic resonance. True Blood has been too all over the place to have anything even close to resembling decent pacing or thematic cohesion, so instead a bunch of stuff just happened until all the bad guys were dead. Pretty much what happens in every season of this show. But that doesn’t mean everything was wrapped up; far from it. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if this wasn’t True Blood. Since it is, I’m afraid all these loose ends will either be forgotten about or will show up way down the road in the eighth season out of nowhere to give birth to some supporting character’s babies.

First let’s go over what was covered. So I whined about Bill for most of the season saying that I wish the show would just have him commit to being a full on bad guy. Then when it started to look like that’s the way he was headed, I complained I couldn’t buy it. Well, in “Save Yourself” we not only saw Bill become 100% evil, I actually bought it. At the end of the episode, after Bill poisoned what Salome thought was Lilith’s blood with silver before staking her, Sookie pleaded with Bill to stop being such a terrible person. His response was cold and cruel and most importantly, full of self-loathing. Anyone who’s seen Chronicle or Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog knows how well the origin story of a super villain can be done. Fifth season Bill fits in well with the protagonists of those films in that they all reach their pinnacles after walking paths filled with self-loathing. Bill expresses his fatigue of carrying the weight so many heroes are plagued by. In turning his back on Sookie and Eric and pretty much everyone in the world, he’s also forgoing his very annoying conscience, and that’s quite a welcomed relief for Bill. If only he was as cool and carefree as Eric, he wouldn’t have had to resort to throwing the world into a supernatural war.

Speaking of, I guess the whole hostile human-supernatural environment created by the events of this season will be seen next season? This is what I mean by not feeling like a finale. So many plots were brought up this season which either dwindled away like Lafayette’s Jesus-demon-abuello thing or Jason’s sex addiction introspection, or they just pissed me off like Terry’s ifrit nonsense and Hoyt’s flirtation with the worst named hate group ever. But what’s worse than plots that had unsatisfying conclusions or a complete lack of consequences are those that just float in the background, presumably to be picked up sometime in the future, like Warlow, whoever he is, coming for Sookie and the fact that vampires around the globe still don’t have any TruBlood, yet humans know they exist and are murdering poor, unsuspecting fraternities everywhere. Cliffhangers are one thing, but using a significant amount of valuable time to build something up just to leave it alone is another. I liked Luna’s eleventh hour reveal that shifters exist and her whistle blowing on The Authority, but Warlow was introduced quite some time ago and has been consistently alluded to, yet despite all the effort invested in this topic he’s nowhere to be found.

And does Jason have a tumor or something? Considering this was written by Alan Ball, creator of Six Feet Under, I can’t rule out his hallucinations simply being a bit of magic realism, but since it’s also True Blood I have to consider that he’s actually seeing his dead parents tell him how despicable vampires are due to psychological and physical trauma; either that or they’re ghosts, which I don’t think is the case here. Except for Hoyt, Jason’s had the most unbalanced season this year, transitioning without the blink of an eye from discovering the roots of his sexual promiscuity to being constantly angry at vampires because one of them orphaned him. Again, this was done already in season three and even if it weren’t, it didn’t amount to anything other than the newest priceless addition to the English lexicon, “That train has sailed.”

But I digress. So Bill flings off the weight of the world by downing the entire container of Lilith’s blood. At first it looks as though Bill bit off more than he could chew, but after exploding into a puddle of viscera, Bill reemerged, reborn presumably as a reincarnation of the vampire god. As truly badass as this is, and as awesome a big bad Bill can now be next season, knowing that this was to be what the entire season built to, I can’t help but think it could’ve been done so much better.

But before Bill became what is apparently now known as Billith, we got some really great moments. Right off the top, there was the spectacular departure of Russell Edginton. I don’t necessarily mean spectacular as in good, I mean it was sensational. After Russell drained the elder faerie he triumphantly walked virtually effortlessly against the firework-esque current of the faeries’ collective light-blast in what may have been one of the most victorious moments for the 3000 year old monster, which is exactly why he had to die. I get it. And as much as I’m sad to see one of the show’s best characters reduced to a stain, it’s better he be killed by Eric as vengeance for the Viking’s family than dragged through the mud before being erased like Hoyt.

Eric is on his game in “Save Yourself”. It seems that for as far as Bill has fallen, Eric has become proportionally cooler. From asking Jason to, “Pull over please,” to telling him, “Oh sweetie, don’t be a fool,” Eric was as snarky as he was quick with eliminating The Authority headquarters security personnel.

I was also beyond thrilled with Sam in “Save Yourself”. He and Luna have been consistently tough as nails (and naked) this whole season. In the finale they really worked together to successfully free Emma from The Authority headquarters. Luna posed as Steve Newlin to retrieve Emma and after she was sat in front of a live national news feed by Chancellor Roslyn, she couldn’t hold Steve’s form so Sam flew into Roslyn’s mouth as a fly then shifted into his human form, exploding the chancellor from the inside out. This was even more badass than his oxen impaling of Maryanne the maenad in the season two finale. Unfortunately Luna’s vomiting blood after blabbing about The Authority suggests her life might actually be at risk next season. I hope not though purely for the fact that even though Sam would probably make a pretty great dad for Emma, he’s way more interesting when he’s not trying to take care of family.

Alcide is clearly getting along with his family. I didn’t mind Alcide’s slow ascension to Pack Master of Shreveport, but come on – it had nothing to do with anything else going on. After Martha showed up at Alcide’s dad’s place with Alcide’s girlfriend, Ricki (oh yeah, I forgot she existed too) going through V withdrawal, Alcide decides he’s ready to level the playing field and take some steroids V to take out JD, which he does quite swiftly. Hopefully if we see Alcide next season, which we’re almost certainly going to, his appearances will be relevant to the rest of the season.

The worst part of “Save Yourself” though was absolutely the funniest as well. Turns out Marella’s pregnancy is her 73rd so she’s quite good at handling the labor when her light breaks (get it? Instead of water?). Really good actually. Maybe too good. Anyway, after giving birth to four babies, she promptly leaves them all with Andy. Andy’s girlfriend, Holly, doesn’t seem to mind all that much either. She handled being her boyfriend’s faerie baby mama’s midwife very well. And thanks to Lafayette, Arlene, and that drunk chick from the second season, the absurd levels of ridiculousness of the situation were lost on no one. Andy Belfleur taking care of four half fae babies sounds absolutely terrible and I don’t see how it could go anywhere, which is why I’m pissed the writers ever bothered to include it, especially since it’ll probably be swept away sometime around the second or third episode next season.

So despite being really unbalanced by a first half weighed down by the sheer number of useless plots contained therein and a second half that moved well by cutting that dead weight, though leaving many loose threads in its wake, the fifth season of True Blood was a fun ride. This season makes me think that as much as I’d like the series to start taking itself more seriously, maybe it should just embrace the silliness and have Lafayette sit at the front of the screen Mystery Science Theater 3000 style providing hilarious running commentary throughout.