It’s so funny looking at my notes from an episode of this series. There are things like, “Nigel eats succulent newborns,” and, “Emma’s a puppy!” The reason you’re reading this though is because those notes aren’t surreal or morbid, they’re just slivers of the wonderful, bat shit crazy world of Bon Temps, Louisiana. So before I get ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning.
We picked up where last episode left off with feral Tara attacking Sookie upon her rebirth as a vampire to find Pam in her dirty yellow sweat suit saving Tara’s friends by commanding Tara to not harm them and remain in the house – worst babysitting job ever. One bit of plot I wished the season premiere’s season four recap included was why exactly Eric is so pissed at Pam. Like I think I mentioned last week, I blocked most of that travesty from my memory so I can only assume it had something obnoxious to do with Sookie. I was very pleased to see Pam’s flashbacks to her first encounter with Eric. As with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, two series which True Blood owes a profoundly great debt to, the flashback scenes which expand on these very old characters’ mythologies are among the most compelling. Plus, Eric in a top hat decapitating a would-be rapist is just flat out awesome.
This episode didn’t see this story progress too much but it did serve to let the audience see three important moments. First, while Sookie was shopping for supplies at a vampire hunting shop called The Stakehouse to keep Tara contained, we saw Reverend Steve Newland on a TV broadcast proclaim his newfound pride for and acceptance of vampire Americans (though not homosexual Americans) which makes me think he might actually factor into some major plot developments down the line as a mouthpiece for The Authority’s continued effort to mainstream. Second, Sookie prevented Lafayette from staking Tara in her sleep by reminding him that Jessica was difficult to control when she was first turned and they ought to give Tara the opportunity to come around before ending her new life. I was glad to see this conflict acknowledged because of all people Lafayette should know what a terrible idea it was to turn Tara, but since they went ahead and did so, the least they can do is see it through. Can you imagine how awful it would be for Lafayette to not only have the memory of stabbing his lover (whose body is still unaccounted for) while under Marnie’s control, but also that of staking his cousin? Lastly, it’s a good thing they didn’t kill Tara since by the end of the episode she apparently regained her ability to articulate her thoughts aloud and celebrated this achievement by telling Sookie she’ll never forgive her friends for bringing her back as a monster and then ran away despite Sookie’s nifty silver spray booby trap. This confused me as I thought Tara was under Pam’s command to remain in the house.
Watching feral Tara be, well, feral was quite interesting to me as it made me wonder about the nature of vampires in the world of True Blood. Is Tara behaving like a defensive primate or a predatory bat? It’s something that has never truly been explored except for Sookie’s stint in faerie land (but let’s not talk about that) and that one vital scene in season two where the former Queen Sophie told Bill about the nature of the existence of all these monstrous and supernatural creatures, essentially that if people believe in them enough then they exist. To this day that statement is the single most intriguing aspect of True Blood as it opens the doors to so many possibilities, but it hasn’t been revisited since. Are were-creatures and vampires descendants of ancient demons like in Joss Whedon’s aforementioned series or are they merely biological creatures as natural and deserving of life as humans, animals, and plants that have simply hid well over the years? This is the most interesting question I think you can ask about the mechanics of this series because its implications are so profound as to the nature of life and existence, but unfortunately it’s been pushed aside for shallow melodrama. On the other hand, Bill and Eric’s time with The Authority hints that we may actually get to see this area explored, but more on that later.
It looks like Sookie’s trouble isn’t limited to handling the Tara situation as we saw Sheriff Andy and Officer Jason find Debbie Pelt’s abandoned vehicle. Not that these two characters have ever showed much intellectual prowess except for when it comes to sleeping with every woman in town and getting over addictions to V, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll actually figure out Sookie killed Debbie. Maybe that’s how this whole super lame plot thread of Andy letting that judge’s son get away with the speeding ticket will come into play – once they realize Sookie murdered someone, Jason will attempt to use Andy looking the other way on a driving violation to prevent him from arresting Jason’s sister; because everyone knows that letting a speeding ticket slide is the same exact thing as letting a murder charge slide, right? Speaking of Jason’s misadventures in promiscuity, one of the episode’s funniest scenes was of a teenaged boy walking into the Sherriff’s office to punch Jason in the face for sleeping with his mom and significantly contributing to his parent’s impending divorce. I have no idea how this yet another new plot will in any way contribute to the overall story, but I can’t wait to see it ultimately abandoned once it goes nowhere. Perhaps this scene was merely meant to motivate Jason to visit Hoyt at his mom’s to attempt once more to apologize to Hoyt and salvage their relationship. The attempt didn’t go well but at least it let the audience see Hoyt stand up to his mom whom hilariously offered to bake Jason a pie for driving her son back into her flabby arms.
The other primarily human story of the season thus far is that of Terry and his old war associate (“war buddy” doesn’t seem appropriate in this case – but when does it ever? One has buddies at summer camp, not war) getting to the bottom of the mysterious house fire conspiracy we were all led to believe was due to that “pretty ghost” as Terry phrased it last episode. Again, not much substantial progress in this story either aside from a couple vague flashbacks which led Terry to be quite creepy and violent with Arlene as well as Terry admitting there is a surviving member of he and Patrick’s old squadron whom the two men will now go and track down. I had previously stated how refreshing this story is due to its lack of supernatural pretext, and I still believe that; however, thinking on it now I’m afraid this won’t be the case for long. I really hope the show doesn’t turn Terry’s time in Iraq, a very serious and all too real problem for the character (and countless actual soldiers and related family members), into the same kind of silliness Sookie and her gang of Scoobies encounter. Reducing this crucial aspect of the character to some ridiculous bit of monster mayhem would be a huge disappointment. I’m not saying a series can’t use supernatural elements to make valid and relevant statements (it’s the whole reason I originally fell in love with this show), but considering the series’ track record of late, I’d hate to see a story of a war veteran loose its potential.
But back to said silliness – Steve Newlan made another appearance in this episode by suavely dancing into another one of Jessica’s chic keggers with the “I <3 Vampires” chapter of the local university in order to offer Jessica $10,000 for the right to own Jason. Despite the absolutely god-awful guitar solo that played in the background of this scene, watching Steve and Jessica haggle over Jason’s dick was pretty hilarious and it demonstrated that despite her best efforts, Jessica is once again defending Jason’s well-being. As entertaining as it was to see Jessica hold a keg as though it were no heavier than a plate of chicken wings at Merlotte’s, this seems like one of those superfluous threads that could easily be streamlined into more substantial plot development.
Meanwhile, Alcide continued to refuse his responsibility as the new leader of the wolf pack which belonged to the man he killed, Marcus. Not much progress there either but the other characters involved in this story, Sam and Luna, did get one adorable and significant development – Marcus and Luna’s daughter appears to have grown not into a shifter but instead into the most lovely little wolf pup I’ve ever seen. It looks so far like this story will be that of, “How to raise a child who is fundamentally different than its parents”, which can absolutely be a worthwhile story to explore, because anything’s possible, but it seems like a story that belongs to Luna, not Sam which is a problem as he’s the character we’ve been following for over four seasons, not Luna. When the shifters were first introduced, I absolutely loved the contrast that was made between them and werewolves. Hearing Sam, and now Luna, describe them as “cannibals and criminals” and regard them as lowly animals was so ironic and hilarious but most of all good world-building and I wish the series would elaborate.
And now the best I’ve saved for last, THE AUTHORITY. It should be clear this is my favorite new element of the fifth season and why shouldn’t it be? Where in almost every other arena of the series old ground is tread, in The Authority we finally get to the top of the mountain. As the title suggests, this episode found Bill, Eric, and Nora at the mercy of this clandestine organization. Through their interrogations we learned that the vampires of this world do indeed have religious (though maybe not mystical) roots at least in as much as humans do in light of the revelation of the “Original Testament”, a.k.a. the vampire bible which includes scripture on the little known Old Testament figure of Lilith, the woman God created before Eve (seriously, go look her up!) whom in this case was the first vampire. Despite witnessing a ceremony in which members of The Authority (including a creepy little boy) ritualistically ingest Lilith’s blood (I couldn’t tell if this was more like when Catholics drink red wine as “the blood of Christ” or if this was literal blood which suggests Lilith could still be alive), The Authority does not adhere to the literal interpretation of their bible wherein it’s stated that the true purpose of humans is to serve as food for vampires (as in the Old Testament where it states animals’ true purpose is to serve as food for humans) and is in fact staunchly opposed to this perspective. So much so that Bill is able to bargain for his and Eric’s lives in exchange for delivering to The Authority Russell Edgington, the 3000 year old vampire who wants nothing more than to see that literal interpretation of their bible manifest on a global scale. Meanwhile, Russell looks absolutely decrepit which makes me wonder if that was him who slaughtered that guy last episode or if Russell has had some help escaping and recuperating from his cement tomb.
“Authority Always Wins” was ostensibly one of those early season episodes that do more to set up than actually execute and while that’s true, even the set up here wasn’t especially substantial. I remember feeling similarly though about the first half of the third season and then at the end Russell ripped out a dude’s spine. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another eight or so episodes before shit gets real.