And like that, all my hopes for True Blood finding a second wind in the post-Alan Ball years have slipped away like drops of blood in the third act of The Shining. This is not to say that the series is as bad as Season 5. No, it is just as clear as faerie light that the show will never recover from the Lilith episodes. Which is ironic, as the Lilith storyline was one of the few saving graces in this week’s jumbled mess of a television program.Clearing the air right off the bat, Terry Bellefleur is dead. At least as dead as someone can appear to be on a show about corpses and the blondes they bang (yes, that happens too). And I’m upset to see him go. Not just because I always liked Terry, who is played with a quiet and affable dignity by Todd Lowe…but because of how they sent him off in such a contrived and poorly handled way. They killed off a lovable character in an insulting fashion, but it is not even the worst part of the episode.Nope, let’s start with why the show is jumping into the belly of a shark (note: INTO), but unlike Jonah, or even Geppetto, and those aquatic beasts, there seems of little hope of climbing out.Sookie. In Season 5, the writers didn’t really seem to know what to do with Miss Stackhouse. Perhaps it was because Paquin was pregnant during filming or maybe, due to the character’s habit of just sleeping with each pair of fangs that walks through her door, she had become repetitive. In any event, she was a bit of a non-entity.Several weeks ago, we witnessed Sookie take action to protect herself from the clutches of Warlow, the mysterious ancient vampire who killed her parents and was coming for her. Well, last week that all went to pot when Sookie discovered that her parents WERE PLANNING TO KILL HER to keep her safe from Warlow (wrap your minds around that for me) and then Ghost Dad decided to posses Lafayette to finish the job.When this episode opens, Sookie cannot even save herself from being drowned by a clumsy spirit, despite having the full function of her body. She is saved by…wait for it…Bill. Well not quite. I would take Bill over what happens. Sensing that Sookie is in trouble, Vampire Bill, despite vowing that Sookie was dead to him, sends his new progeny, Warlow (thank you Lillith blood!) to go save Sookie in the daylight. Luckily Warlow is soft enough on LaStackhouse for Sookie to explain the situation. Warlow banishes Papa Stackhouse from Lafayette’s body and then sweeps Sookie off her faerie feet. Not before Bill summons him back. However, even though Warlow only knew to save her because of Bill, Sookie is still convinced that Bill is the devil or some such nonsense and “rescues” Warlow, as he had saved her life twice now. Like a fanged Prince Charming.Once their powers combine to make mystical Faerie Planet a possibility, Sookie spends the rest of the episode in a meet-cute scenario with the real Warlow. She thanks him for saving her from her no-good-dirty-rotten-bastard-parents and he apologizes like a gentleman that she had to learn of her parents’ shortcomings in such a grotesque fashion. Around this time, it slowly dawns on me that this is actually supposed to be a shipper episode. The intent is for us to root on these wild and crazy kids, despite the impossible odds! Sookie is not taking control of her life and destiny…she’s getting ready to bang yet another fang.Why? Because he saved her life and says he has been looking for her for over 5,000 years. She is his soul mate. He convinces her of his nobility because he is disgusted by what he was forced to become thanks to Lilith and promises that if she became his fellow vampire, they could live forever in the daylight without ever having to kill. They’d simply feast on each other’s fae magic.Sookie has been burned twice now by vampires. Bill had the 19th century Southern gallantry thing (plus the way he says “Suuhkeehhh” is still kind of great) and Eric was the Nordic Viking bad boy with a heart of gold only she could see. What does Warlow have besides a self-loathing complex that makes Bill look like a hellraiser? Oh well. By the end of the episode, clothes are off and Sookie is not only letting Warlow drink her blood, but she drinks from him while they have sex. Will she become his vampire lover? Who knows; who cares. The show still works in places, but it has become clear that Sookie Stackhouse will no longer be in those spots. As a character, all she can do anymore is be rescued and take off her clothes. Otherwise, she is kind of dead in the way of narrative.Speaking of dead narratives, let’s get back to Terry. All season, he has been kind of glum, which is a surprise. After being so happy and well adjusted during the middle seasons, succeeding to manage his PTSD thanks to the love of a good woman in Arlene, he entered a funk when a contrived plot thread from the past in one Scott Foley walked into his life. He killed Foley’s character for the right to live with his family and find peace. But he decided to kill himself this year because…um, the producers could not figure out what to do with him? For some reason, I expected the writers to get out of this corner. But it wasn’t until Terry got glamoured, the first clever thing to happen to his storyline this season, that I realized he was a dead man walking.When Arlene confides in Holly that she worries Terry is going to commit suicide, Holly helpfully suggests that they have a vampire glamour Terry into forgetting his troubles. “Holy shit,” gasps Arlene with a stunned laugh. “Of course, I wasn’t even thinking straight. Of course that’s the answer!” Line of the night.Ergo, Holly has one of her friend’s husbands, who is a vampire, come over and glamour Terry into forgetting about the Iraq War and all his worries. Faster than you can say hakuna matata, there are no worries on Terry’s face and all is well. He goes to work like a happy employee and dotes on his loving wife. I’m sure he was grinning right up until the gunman put one in his neck. The gunman who he forgot that he asked to kill him. Arlene comes out to sing “Hush, Little Baby” and I think we were supposed to be sad. And I was sad; sad for a show that thinks it is being shocking when it lays out the groans like this. Not every character death can be Red Wedding/George R.R. Martin goodness, but at least something on the level of Godric or Gran, who were both only on the show for a few episodes, should not be out of the question. Terry is an old lovable favorite background player, but his death was so strained that all I could think as it was happening is ponder whether I should give this episode 1 or 2 stars.Fortunately, there is Billith’s storyline. In the surprise twist of the year, Billith, the mind numbingly awful cliffhanger from Season 5, may become the season’s MVP. After realizing Warlow is off discovering Sookie’s inner-glow, Bill sedates himself into a light coma for a counseling session with Lilith. She is bored with his whining and sends him back empty handed. Thus, he decides to throw away all this annoying crap and do what any vampire should have done weeks ago: Kill the governor.Billith ingests what’s left of Warlow’s blood and goes on a rampage in the daylight hours. After giving an armed salute to Governor Burrell’s bodyguards, Vampire Bill and Governor Burrell have a little heart-to-heart. The gov. took Bill’s daughter, Jessica, when he kidnapped her. Burrell squeals back that vampires took his when they killed his daughter (who is still perfectly fine and locked up downstairs). What are these two big nuts going to do? Turns out they are going to butt heads, because Burrell doesn’t want to tell Bill where the camp is and Bill doesn’t want Burrell’s skull attached to his body. In a truly bloody brilliant moment, Burrell cries as Bill begins to bite at his neck, “Cut off a head, another will grow in its place.” Bill then obliges by literally ripping off the governor’s head with his teeth. “THEN I’LL RIP THAT FUCKING HEAD OFF TOO!” Bill cries to Burrell as if he was in a George Romero adaptation of the Poor Yorick scene. Beautiful.Too bad Bill didn’t wait to, you know, glamour him for information about where the camp was located. Because the governor’s will is still being done. It was announced earlier in the episode that he had partnered with the manufacturers of Tru Blood to get the synthesized good stuff back on the streets. Remember that random scene from the first episode? Well, here’s the payoff.It is learned this week that the governor and his camp have created what can best be described as part Vampire AIDS and part Vampire Ebola. A truly horrifying STD that is meant to exterminate the vampire race, which they lovingly dubbed “Hepatitis V.” We learn all this because the governor had it injected into Eric’s sister, Nora.In what amounted to a cliffhanger fakeout last week, the governor’s attempt to turn Eric and Pam into Spartacus and Varro backfired spectacularly when they killed their guards instead. Rather than having them executed, the governor pulls a Bond villain and has them escorted away. I would have dinged him right here for that, but he then pops up later to seemingly inject Nora with a fatal disease before a horrified Eric.
Eric responds by summoning Willa, whose escape is so nonsensical that the show doesn’t even bother to show how it exactly happened onscreen—and thus I shall not bother trying to rationalize this plot hole. Once Willa is by his side, he attempts a daring evacuation with his new progeny and sickly Nora while searching for Pam, Jessica and Tara to join them on their quest. But in one of the episode’s final cliffhangers, he stumbles upon the governor’s Tru Blood distillery and realizes that each bottle is being squirted with the awful stuff coursing through Nora’s blood. Ruh-roh.Overall, the episode could be easily summed up as when a vampire (excluding Warlow) was on screen, it worked. When any other character was onscreen, the wistful sound of a deflating balloon could be heard in the distance.It is a shame that True Blood appears to be squandering yet another solid season of build-up. The vampire angle is still interesting, and I do wonder how Eric may save Nora and stop the late governor’s nefarious schemes. Yet, I want to skip the rest of it, including Terry’s funeral.I like Terry. Even in the show’s worst seasons, his tortured PTSD giving way to hard-earned recovery was a gratifying background plot that should have been left alone. If the writers and producers are really so tired of the character (or lazy) and cannot come up with a new plot thread, please send him off like Hoyt. Or Godric. Just do not kill him off like this is “Days of Our Lives: Bon Temps.”Much of the rest, including Alcide threatening Sam to never show himself in his hometown again, feels tacked on and like wheels are spinning. I still don’t trust Warlow. He likely has an ulterior motive that Sookie will be upset to learn in a week or two. But it doesn’t matter, because that is the exact same story of Bill Compton. It’s just being told very quickly, like being hit with a dozen hammers at once is somehow preferable to being hit with them one-at-a-time.Honestly, the twists of Eric and particularly Bill’s storylines saved this week from being a total wash. But I still wish that I could have Holly’s friend make me forget all the pain of the last hour.Den of Geek Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars (thank Billith for it being so high)