True Blood: Dead Meat, Review

As Sarah Newlin digs her heel into the comeptition, True Blood becomes more than HBO's guilty summer pleasure; it's Dynasty with fangs.

There is a wonderfully ludicrous moment in tonight’s episode of True Blood. Sarah Newlin has had a rough day. First her man and intended hubby has to up and get decapitated, then she had to cover up his death only to finish her Final Solution. And now, her ex just won’t drink his life-destroying, “Hep-V” infected Tru Blood. C’mon guys, can’t you cut a God fearing Christian gal a break? The last straw comes when Ms. Suzuki, head of the corporation that distributes Tru Blood, comes in demanding to speak with the aforementioned deceased would-be hubby, Governor Burrell. Well, fiddle dee dee, there is only so much our smiling Southern belle can take! Hence, instead of rationally asking security to escort her off the premises on which she is trespassing, or even detaining her until her Final Solution is in place, Sarah Newlin charts a slightly more drastic course: She beats Ms. Suzuki to death with her own high heel after a cat fight ended with vampires a floor below feasting on the head of Tru Blood’s….well, head of blood. “Thank you, Jesus,” Sarah cries. No, thank you, Sarah. Because I now know what the new True Blood has become. It still wants to be that steamy beach time guilty pleasure you deny watching at work, but it’s become more than that. We knew Alan Ball was leaving, but who could have guessed the spirit of Aaron Spelling would take over? This isn’t just HBO’s summer fling; it’s Dynasty in fangs; Melrose Place with a dash of human entrails thrown against the wall; Dallas by way of Bon Temps. And it has more soapy suds than a laundry mat. When viewed in that light, the episode smashed through its new (melo)drama with varying degrees of success. The primary angle is the one we do not see enough of, Eric and Bill. Sadly, the only season where they got to interact more than sporadically was the abysmal fifth season. I had hoped these two wild and crazy vampire frenemies could work things out long enough to team up again for the last three episodes of the year, but alas we had to settle for more of the enemy part. Nora’s death becomes an afterthought as Billith twirls a flying Eric around the room like a baton while Eric taunts Bill for his precious doting on “Sookuah.” I’m not sure who I am rooting for in this scene, nor do I care. I just know that when this is over, these two should buy a house together. Sookie is optional.  Eventually, they agree to go their separate ways, which achieves comedy gold on both ends. For Billith, it means his odd formality around Sookie. For a woman he thoroughly resents and vindictively punishes these days, he is surely giving her a lot of breathing room to make up her mind if she’ll turn Warlow over to him. And when she reveals that Warlow will only come to Bill if she agrees to “marry” him as one of the Undead (more on that in a bit), Bill hilariously shrugs it off as a meaningless triviality. So, Bill is still soft on Sookie enough to respect her privacy and not force her to turn Warlow over to him (or use her blood himself), but he couldn’t care less if another vampire blackmails her into laying in the Earth? It really doesn’t make much sense, beyond “they’re mad at each other.” The real logic behind this rests with the writers finally discovering that Sookie and Bill are now much more interesting as spiteful exes than star-crossed lovers. And I will admit, every time she calls Bill “an asshole” (I believe this episode marks the third or fourth time this season) or he condescends to her plight, I nearly applaud. I also resist shouting “Jerry, Jerry,” as well. I wouldn’t call it good writing and never consistent, but at least is entertaining. Meanwhile, Eric takes the much more direct approach. For all his Bill-hating and supposed Sookie-hating, Eric accepts that something has to be done, otherwise his two progeny are going to meet the sun. So, sensing out where Sookie has been having her liaisons with Warlow in faerieland, the Viking Vamp makes plans. In another random tangent this week, Andy’s sole surviving faerie daughter, Adilyn, has been romancing one of Holly’s sons (who have apparently aged five years in the last two seasons). Lured out into a field with her shirt halfway off, she barely even sees old Eric Northman coming. He politely apologizes to for glamouring away the boy’s victory lap around Second Base before hunting Adilyn. He doesn’t kill her, he just needs to sip enough fae blood to find Warlow. Don’t worry, he leaves her for Andy to realize that he has earned “Worst Father of the Year.” But someone has to take action about Warlow because…  Sookie is really overthinking her situation. Realizing that Tara (and maybe Jessica) mean something to her, even if she tells herself Bill doesn’t, she has asked Warlow to help Billith. Warlow refuses unless Sookie accepts him as her eternal lover and allows him to turn her into his progeny. I understand that Sookie feels isolated because Jason and Niall have disappeared—something about which she never seems to think of asking Warlow about—and her parents tried to kill her. She is falling into another destructive vampire relationship. She even tells Bill that Warlow reminds her of him when they first met, which is ridiculous. Even Bill at his most self-loathing was never this boring or lame. Anyway, I get this is about her repeating past mistakes.  The problem with this scenario is that if Sookie really doesn’t love Warlow, which would make sense if she’s only known him for three days beyond the whole “killed my parents” schtick, then why make any deal? Just hand him over to Bill and be done with it. There is nothing stopping her other than a desire to circle the drain by surprising Sam and implying that she’s in love with him or giving the verbal one-finger salute to her parents’ gravestones. Luckily, Eric solves all this needless melancholy for her. In the episode’s best moment, Sookie, resigned to accept her destiny of becoming a vampire, and Bill enter faerieland to fetch Warlow. Once there, they find he is drained of blood to the point of being nearly dead (unfortunately it continues to live). As Sookie looks overly exasperated with fear for her newest abusive vampire boyfriend, Bill just looks around the field and mutters, “Eric.” One could practically hear the strained screeching vocals of Roger Daltrey screaming “YEEEEEEAH,” as Bill resists the urge to put on the sunglasses. But there was more going on than just the main three’s lovey-dovey triangle. When Sookie tried to lay her problems at Sam’s feet, Sam revealed he has his own Days of Our Lives plot twist to contend with. Earlier in the episode, Alcide gave up the role of Pack Master to save Nicole and her mother from becoming werewolf chow. Unfortunately, that meant Sam could smell on Nicole something special that only Alcide had previously noticed: She’s pregnant. When Sookie comes strolling in to ask if he has feelings for her and to talk her down from the vampire ledge, he rightfully says, “Goodbye Sookie.” Is this a hint of a Sam-Sookie romance down the line? Maybe. But Sookie should look more carefully at Sam. His previous girlfriend, Luna, died a week ago in show time after leaving him to raise her child. Remember? Because Sam surely does not. Luna’s ancient history with Nicole in the picture. Hell, he’s asking her to move to Louisiana with him. Similar developments are happening within the walls of Sarah Newlin’s vampire camp. Despite knowing each other for only a day, Jessica and James are proclaiming their undying love for each other. And Jason is simply surviving because he has become the exclusive property of Violet, a “medieval” era vampire Catholic who has no problem drinking from Jason during lectures on the differences between feeding and fucking.  And then there is Sarah Newlin, all smiles and sunshine, as she talks about the weather before really digging her heels into the competition. That level of self-righteous hypocrisy has left the realm of mere satire or camp and transcended into what may be the series’ best villain since Russell Edgington got into newscasting. It would explain how all our heroes in camp, minus sweetly stupid Jason, are in the “round room” at the end. Pam, Tara, Jessica, Willa and James are all discovered, along with Steve Newlin, at being unable to drink the infected Tru Blood. So, Sarah has brought them all to meet the sun by the time we reach the episode’s end. Unless Eric, and maybe Bill, can stop her. Early in the episode, Bill makes a negative remark about Godric when he and Eric are bickering. It felt odd to hear that name and not just because Bill is wrong about the brief series high that is fan-favorite Godric. No, it felt peculiar because he was referencing a different show, one that featured a modicum of restraint and dignity. By the end of Season 6, we are no longer even in that same universe. Offbeat and humorous characterization have given way to absurd plotting and even sillier leaps in logic…and I am still kind of digging it. I hope that next week Sookie slaps Bill and he glowers at Sarah Newlin while Steve gravels on fire. And maybe, if we’re lucky, Bill and Eric will even get a spin-off. Until then, the show is only one Adam West cameo away from embracing its true nature at this point. Is it perfect? Hardly. But at least it knows…how to break into your head. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Den of Geek Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars


2.5 out of 5