True Blood: In The Evening, Review

True Blood turns things around in a contemplative episode that says its true long goodbye to Terry Bellefleur and another, shocking, death.

It was a night of mourning in the newest episode of True Blood. Yet, as everyone bowed their heads to say goodbye to Terry Bellefleur and, surprisingly, Vampire Nora, something miraculous happened. I resisted the urge to throw dirt on this season’s earth box; a resigned duty I had been prepared to complete just a week ago. As this episode boiled into a long goodbye to mostly beloved characters (seriously, why are Nora and Terry dead with Tara and Alcide still breathing?), the writers wisely used it as an excuse to group all of their many, many protagonists together. Prior to this season True Blood has rather infamously been a disparate show with more loose strands than a yarn factory infested with kittens. However, Season 6 in the post-Ball era has remarkably been able to avoid this pitfall. Other than a werewolf subplot, which shall not be described, the writers have done a strong job of keeping everything interconnected, whether we care or not. Of course, the trade off can be some hilarious shortcuts. Take the show’s cold open and driving dynamic. Eric Northman has learned that “Hep V” is being placed in the miracle Tru Blood bottles running at the camp’s plant. Realizing the same fate is befalling his precious Nora, he spirits her away to safety. Simultaneously, he leaves his newest progeny, a supposedly helpless baby vampire named Willa, to fly solo as she runs around in a white coat to deliver dire warnings to his older, more pissed off daughter, Pam. These fast-moving scenes demonstrate two things. First, the writers have no problem playing fast and loose with characterization for plotting this year (an Alan Ball no-no), which is the only explanation for demure Willa going into full-on 007 mode and for Pam to stand for this farce. And secondly…we finally now know that Eric does love Nora more than his own progenies. After all, consider how fast he abandons them to the camp. To Eric’s credit, Nora is dying and in need of dire assistance. Though, his easy escape could just as easily have made room for a few more. In any case, he gets Nora to the only vampire who possibly can help: Billith. My, oh my, we have come a long way from Eric and Nora planning he/she’s demise a few episodes ago. This sequence is helped mightily in its plausibility by Alexander Skarsgard’s acting. The Nordic actor is allowed to display the quieter depths of his Viking Vampire without a dippy amnesia subplot cheesing it up. He recalls meeting Nora in a plague-ridden 1665 London that has more than a dash of Anne Rice thrown in. He met her on a deathbed of disease and now he brings her to another. In the 17th century, she was saved by Godric. Today, Eric hopes for her to be saved by a man he calls God. In one of strangest and most humanizing moment for these Undead creatures, Eric begs and pleads with Bill to give Nora his Lilith blood, a transfusion that even Nora rejects from fear of Lilith. But Eric believes his former rival in courting Sookie to be divine on this day and confesses it in a whisper that is as much an admission to himself as to Bill. His prayer for Billith’s help proves feeble though, as his blood does nothing to slow Nora’s demise. Eric begins to pin his hopes on Warlow, but Bill hasn’t the slightest idea where he is and there is always the in-demand Sookie.
 And as luck would have it, our fair faerie princess finally decided to reenter the plot after spending the whole of last week in a long foreplay with Warlow, the vampire who murdered her parents and sentenced his grandfather to a kind of purgatory. However, sensing that her “friend” Arlene—how can they be friends when Sookie hasn’t been by Merlotte’s, at least in uniform, for about two or three seasons?—is in trouble, Sookie takes her leave of the lamest vampire caller yet and finds Arlene in the cemetery. Learning that Terry is dead, Sookie spends the rest of the episode consoling Arlene and aiding her to tell the children that daddy’s not coming back. There is also a painful subplot that involves Sookie and Lafayette, who just got gay bashed by a grief-stricken Arlene, discovering Terry planned his death and left a life insurance policy to his family. Can they tell Arlene? Should they tell Arlene? In all honesty, True Blood, to my slack-jawed surprise, did an excellent job mourning Terry. As soapy and poorly handled as his actual death is, Arlene’s grief is palpable throughout the episode. We can even nearly forgive her for projecting needless anger at Lafayette. It also brings all the characters together. Andy and Holly, who in the former’s case lost a brother, Sam, who is finally freeing himself from mediocre plotting (or so it would appear), and even Sookie are finally allowed to spend time with their Bon Temps neighbors again. Seeing the gang back together reminds me of Season 1 and how I miss THAT show. And this is what finally allows us to mourn Terry, not his arbitrary write-off. But the biggest surprise is that it also brings one other Bon Temps resident by to issue his condolences: Vampire Bill. In the moment of the night, Bill strolls into Arlene’s home without invitation during broad daylight. With Warlow blood coursing through his veins, he can gratifyingly walk right past Sookie and issue a heartfelt word to Arlene. I had almost forgotten that Terry is a descendant of Bill and he admits to always liking the troubled kid. He also sincerely apologizes to Andy Bellefleur for Jessica’s actions. I can buy Bill’s acceptance of this, but I still am shocked the writers have allowed Andy, the town sheriff, to roll over to the murder of three of his daughters. As much as I separately like Jessica and Andy, there needs to be some sort of conflict for this amount of carnage that has been brought to his doorstep. Finally, Bill speaks with Sookie. She reveals she still thinks he is an asshole, blah, blah, blah. I really wanted to root for Sookie this year, but it seems all her proactive scheming has melted away to the gorgeous face of another vampire hunk. The way she berates Bill, one would think he killed her parents or something. Oh yes, I went there. Bill eventually seems to reach Sookie when he mentions that he is not only speaking of himself, but of her other vampire friend: Tara, Jessica, Eric and Pam. Sookie takes exception to Pam being named, but perhaps Bill should have said Nora. The Bon Temps psychic seemed to be getting along pretty well with the Northman sister during the “Kill Bill” premiere episode. Sure, she only has known Nora for a few days, but that is still a few days more than Warlow; a vampire who her blind protection of costs more precious time…time that Nora expires in.
 During the episode’s final moment, Eric says goodbye to his sister, as she turns to a crimson pulp in his very hands. A moment that is only witnessed by an empty-handed Bill. The look of pure anguish and lost turning to righteous fury on Skarsgard’s face may be his best moment of the season. It also makes Sookie’s dithering painfully frustrating as the camp inches ever closer to a Vampire Holocaust. On the subject of camp, the vampire death trap is under new stewardship. Last week, Lilith warned Bill of “the tyrant.” The Southern gent took that to mean Governor Burrell, the fanatical politician who Bill immediately ended. However, I am starting to think it was of Sarah Newlin that Lilith spoke. In the most implausible and hilariously bizarre scene in an episode that featured vampire sex and faerie teleportation, Sarah in her ho-hum, sing-song voice convinces a Louisiana state legislator to cover-up Governor Burrell’s death, at least until “Hep V” has flooded the streets. And somehow this pol agrees! Texans like to say, “We do things differently down here,” but apparently in Louisiana, state governance looks something akin to the plot of Weekend at Bernie’s. This so-absurd-it-is-good plot twist gives Sarah carte blanche at camp. Thus, her first action is to strip Jason of his leverage and slice his blood open while tossing him into the general population of female vampires. It appears that Jason is about to become the requisite blood bank. In a more intriguing turn, Pam has decided to stop being the local psychiatrist’s guinea pig and is instead laying the trap for him. In a truncated back-and-forth about hunger and libido, Pam proves that she can get into a head faster than this supposed expert who finds himself completely enthralled to the vampire seductress within minutes. That doesn’t look good for your health, doc.
 Ultimately, “In the Evening” marked a potential turnaround for the season, which has been sliding down the usual True Blood sinkhole for the past few weeks. I may be sorry to see Terry go in such a sorry manner, but it has galvanized the characters and given the writers the ability to tie all the crazy plot threads tighter. Sookie is involved in the main narrative once again and even got to speak to a few characters who do not want to sex her up this episode. Meanwhile, the threat of the camp and Burrell’s posthumous war, brought to seeming fruition by the deliciously evil Sarah, is reaching a fever pitch. Best of all, Bill and Eric are forced to work together again, providing for some potentially hilarious scenes after Eric gets his initial rage out. Speaking of rage, it should be interesting to see how Eric compartmentalizes the death of his sister when he learns that Sookie may have had the key to saving her. Next week should be fun as we enter the homestretch for the final three episodes. And who knows, after Terry and Nora’s deaths, perhaps a few more will also die/re-die this season? Since True Blood has been safely renewed for a seventh year, it may be time to wipe the slate clean. In the meantime, let’s raise a glass of Tru Blood’s finest to those who will roam Bon Temps no more. Den of Geek Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Rating:

3 out of 5