Now that we’re officially in the second half of the season, True Blood appears to be doing that thing it does where regardless of the momentum (or lack thereof) its various stories are carrying, the show just doubles down on the crazy, for better or worse. The good news is that even if this doesn’t seem to work well on a logical level it at least tends to deliver on the outrageousness. “In the Beginning” found the insanity dialed up a notch and the “Other” metaphor about this close to just taking a piss on the fourth wall, but at least most of the plots are moving forward, I just hope they all have something to say by the end of the season. Let’s break them down in terms of winners and losers.
First off, the episode’s big win – seeing Russell Edgington do his best impression of Lorne from Angel while crashing a karaoke wedding party so damn wholesome that the audience wouldn’t even mind when it saw that one vamp drinking from a child. But I’m getting ahead of myself; before we can get to the bloodiest little karaoke bar in New Orleans, we first had to watch Russell celebrate his triumph over Roman by stapling Eric to the wall during an extremely painful strobe light session. The “#1 Protocol”, as it was called by the chancellor with the sweet goatee who interrogated Bill when he and Eric first arrived at the Authoriy’s headquarters, seemed to be pretty lame sauce, but Russell gave himself up anyway. I really don’t understand this at all. When exactly did Russell become “born again”? I know he’s a bit psychotic but he’s not stupid so why would he relinquish his revenge on Eric to follow Salome, an apparent true believer of this Sanguinista movement? Is she older and more powerful? Is Russell simply doing what he thinks he needs to in order to survive with the winning team like Bill? I’m sure there are reasons but it’d be nice if the show worked more to define them as opposed to letting me guess them here.
Despite not making much sense to me, I didn’t really mind the Authority in this episode because I find watching vampires trip their faces off to be utterly amusing. Plus, any episode in which Godrick makes an appearance definitely wins me over. I absolutely love how Bill has been gradually replaced by Eric as the male lead of True Blood. He is an infinitely more interesting and compelling character and I’m hoping after he rescues his sister Nora we’ll see this trend in full force. It’s a shame Christopher Meloni couldn’t have been taken better advantage of and I think I’ll miss the goateed chancellor whose name I learned from IMDb (and not the show itself – tsk, tsk) was Dieter Braun (played very well by Christopher Heyerdahl), but I guess their demises will hopefully not be in vain and instead pave the way for some compelling vampire drama in which the virtues of equality and acceptance will be expressed with such monumental force and poetic grace that henceforth the series will not be known as that gay vampire show but the artistic reckoning of intolerance everywhere! …or maybe not.
Really the whole thinly veiled social critique that True Blood has been espousing is something in which I absolutely believe, but it’d be nice if it wasn’t used so blatantly to beat me over the head, like Bugs Bunny bitch-slapping Elmer Fudd with one of those giant fish, as it was in the scene at the hospital between Sam and Sookie. Since Sookie learned from her guardian faeries over in faerie burlesque land (I guess they really did throw out the whole temporal dissonance thing – sigh, True Blood) that her luminescence, a nice way of saying how much of a faerie she is, will eventually run out if not used wisely – something that definitely could’ve been better defined – she’s been contemplating whether to try ridding herself of her faerie powers and be entirely human. As I’ve mentioned previously, this reflects the X-Men storyline in which a “cure” for the mutant gene is discovered and thus the question of whether it’s better to live a difficult yet natural existence is morally superior to comfortably living a lie is introduced and even thoughtfully discussed by Sookie and Sam. Now in real life of course the right answer is to tell people who recommend “treatment” for homosexuality to go stick it up Rush Limbaugh’s fat ass, but since super powers are a far cry from one’s sexual orientation, I totally get Sookie simply not wanting to hear other people’s thoughts any longer. What I liked most about Sookie and Sam’s discussion was actually what Sookie said about how even if they each were just plain ol’ humans, “The hate would still bother us.” Even those not directly affected by hate should absolutely be troubled by its existence. Oh, and Sam’s still a supe-killer hunting badass. I wish his new storyline/mission could be treated with a bit more bravado than simply tackling and hitting people in hallways (remember when he ruined that were-panther redneck’s face in Merlotte’s? – that was awesome), but I’m just thankful he has something to do.
Speaking of something to do, tracking down the witch doctor grandfather of your dead lover to recover said loved one’s severed head from said grandfather’s dark arts sacrifice is just a hair more tedious than cleaning out the gutters or filling the dishwasher. Lafayette went through a lot in “In the Beginning” and though it’s not exactly clear at this point how safe he is, at least he’s alive and Jesus’ abuello is not. I’m a bit surprised that the pregnant wife killed Jesus’ grandfather and not Lafayette’s demon spirit, but this was is more interesting and in true True Blood fashion, it reintroduces yet another character!
The other surviving Stackhouse had great scenes throughout this episode and as much as I like Jason, I’m still not in love with what his character is doing these last couple episodes. After discovering the root of his sexual addiction, something that could have been a real turning point for the character, Jason has been seemingly ignoring it in favor of stoking his anger at vampires in frustration over the discovery of his parents’ murders. Again, we’ve done this during the Fellowship of the Sun arc and there’s no need to retread it. I’m afraid the show is setting Jason up for some kind of holy fool position in which he unknowingly plays some sort of pivotal role in this vampire war that keeps getting built up. That being said, even though Jason didn’t really have a reason to get pissed at Jessica (as she said, “Do you know the name of every cow you ate?”), it was pretty neat seeing him really take full advantage of having an argument with a woman who can instantly heal from a gunshot point blank to the head. Between this and getting her ass whooped by Tara last week, Jessica’s really taking a beating lately.
Tara meanwhile continued to do her damnedest to lose herself in Fangtasia by volunteering to pole dance when her mother, the trashiest character to ever appear on True Blood, and you know that’s saying a lot, dropped by to disown her. Luckily Tara handles this like a champ in front of the old minister’s whore, but once she leaves, Tara sheds some deserving tears. It was certainly a nice moment for Pam and Tara as they embraced before Pam awkwardly reminded Tara it was “time to get back on that pole,” (oh Pam, you’re the best), but I think I’ve seen about all there is with this plot and am eager for it to actually either feed into the Authority storyline or evolve.
The storyline which is obviously the most devolved is clearly the Hoyt joins a hate group narrative. This is so god damned stupid. Since when did Hoyt become so heartbroken that he became capable of going from letting any vampire drink from him to actively wanting to hunt them down and kill them? Hoyt is better and smarter than this. Everything about that scene where Hoyt first falls in love with a god damned hate group was so ridiculous, even for True Blood’s standards, I could barely watch. This is either going to lead to Hoyt having to choose between his new BFFs and Jessica or Hoyt’s going to pull another undeserved 180 and turn out to be a double agent who was simply playing at being an idiot so as to get close to this Dragon fellow and promptly bash his skull in with Sam. Either way, the former is lame and predictable or the latter would be sweet but nonsensical.
The Terry is cursed by a fire monster for his sins in Iraq plot has officially lost any shred of potential it once held to be something worth telling, not that it ever looked good to begin with. Why Sergeant Douchebag, I mean Patrick, is sitting with Terry literally waiting to be killed by a fire monster is never made clear and makes even less sense when he’s the one talking Terry out of putting a bullet in his brain. From the civilians killed in Iraq to this half-assed suicide attempt, True Blood has not only done a disservice to its audience, but insulted anyone who’s ever dealt with the horrors of war. The only silver lining of this plot has been Holly reminding Arlene that Holly’s a witch whom helped Arlene attempt a mystical abortion, that they work with a faerie, and their town is crawling with vampires, werewolves, werepanthers, and shifters – REMEMBER? Okay, Holly didn’t say it like that. In fact, I give props to Holly as she was able to not accuse Arlene of being mentally deficient at all during that conversation.
And on top of all that we had to watch Alcide in the silliest bandana and boardshorts ensemble ever donned on True Blood. I’m sure those who are fans of shirtless Alcide couldn’t care less, but it just came off as distractingly goofy to me. This whole wolf pack plot is struggling to find its relevant footing but at least thanks to J.D., the pack master Alcide’s training to challenge, it’s trying to tie itself into the larger vampire war plot.
Vampire karaoke buffet, collective blood soaked hallucinations, a stab-happy baby mama, Jessica getting shot in the head for a sec there, and Hoyt trying to put the love into a hate group – yup, it’s definitely the half-way mark of bat shit insanity that lets us know we’re just four episodes away from the finale. Until then I’m with Steve Newlan, “just a tree in the wind – I’m just so happy to be included.” Oh and good for HBO for including the extremely talented and catchy K’Naan in this season’s soundtrack.