True Blood tonight was the tale of two shows: the one that Lafayette aptly calls the “everyone’s falling in love” soap opera of a partying Bon Temps—just hours after their vampiric population slaughtered their guns ‘n redneck constituency—and the high gore/camp of Eric and Pam’s secret assassination mission in Dallas (everyone loves a classic, I suppose), aimed at slaying the littlest monster of all.
…I’m not sure either was good. But one was definitely more entertaining than the other.
The primary one involved the fallout over the last several episodes. Alcide is dead, Tara is dead (hopefully), and half the town died in or outside Fangtasia, save for Arlene, Holly, and Nicole. This of course means it’s time to boogie!
Honestly, I have to side with Nicole’s rude but accurate rant from later in the night. When Sookie comes down after a night of grieving over her dead boyfriend, even if she didn’t really love him, and discovers that she is hosting a party supposedly in his name, it goes from making Lafayette seem caring to clearly overstepping his boundaries. Remember, this is a man who took seasons to overcome the horrors he suffered himself in Fangtasia and then the death of Jesus. Of course, it’s only the beginning of his newfound boldness, but we’ll get back to that in a moment.
Overall, the storyline of a Bon Temps social, which much like the season premiere party that got half the cast captured or killed only three days ago in show time, serves as a great storytelling device to get all the characters in one place. And once there, we are supposed to marvel at their peeling layers. But this one just rang false throughout the night.
Half of the town is dead. Half of them were killed by people at this party. Hell, three of the people at this party just witnessed dozens of others killed by Vombies before narrowly surviving, and they’re talking about marriage proposals and new boyfriends. In short, in a show where the dead mingle with faeries, this might have been the most absurd fantasy sequence in the show’s seven-year run.
Amongst those fleeing into life-affirming denial joy are the couples seeking to shake up their relationship status quos. The most syrupy and endearing of these was Andy proposing to Holly. He even gets to use Gran’s ring when Jessica just assumes that it’d be perfect for her newly BFF sheriff. These Stackhouses really are accommodating! Just 24 hours after Andy’s deputy led a raid that got one of his other deputies killed while she was pursuing vigilante justice, Andy acts like the world is safe by getting down on one knee to marry Holly. Sure, why not? They’re a cute couple, awkwardness and all. Plus, it gives Jason one of his two scene-stealing lines of the night (to Andy and Holly’s respective teenage kids): “Word to the wise, I don’t know if the two of you are fucking or not. But that’s going to have to stop right now.”
Next, was the most bizarre love triangle (or is it a quadrilateral?) on a show that once featured werepanthers as an apple of Jason’s eye. Thus re-enter Lafayette. And James. And Jessica. And Jason. And Violet. Okay, fine, it’s a pentagram. And just like that five pointed star, it is a poor omen for True Blood.
Obviously, Jason and Jess are end game for this series, but how we’re getting there is messier than the red stains Tara made on Bellefleur’s backyard. First, James, who admittedly was a non-entity as “Vampire McDreamy” last season—and whose recasting made no difference for the lackluster character—is now apparently a little bit gay. It’s Bon Temps, they all try it once in a while.
Even Jason, who is having his own vampire Grinder dreams, hypocritically dings this with his other great line of the night: “You mean with all that sensitive musician shit, it never occurred to you he might be gay?” No, Jason, but Jessica seems to be as distraught as my apathy when she winds up in Jason’s arms for more than comfort—more than just canoodling too. At this point, it’s like a weird detour into a cul-de-sac and that’s just leading us back to where we started with Jessica and Jason. But unquestionably the oddest thing is that Violet overheard the fang-banging and didn’t join in the fun with a stake. It’s even crazier than seeing Lafayette point a judging finger at Jessica moments earlier, not unlike an antelope lecturing a cheetah about its feelings.
But the absolute nadir of the night had to do with Sookie and Bill. Now, I have gone out of my way to defend the show’s painfully obvious intention of tying a knot between these two wacky kids. I even support it, all things considered, since HBO’s Sookie never had as strong a connection with Eric or Alcide. However, they literally whitewashed Bill of his whiteness tonight. And I gagged a little.
One of the most interesting things about Bill Compton is that he is a Civil War veteran. Southern Gothic loves vampires and immortal characters, but as decreed by Anne Rice, they always have to be from France or Italy, or even Sweden for a certain Undead sheriff. But Vampire Bill is from that house on the hill in old Louisiana. There is something intentionally subversive about that, and even charming when an actual son of the Confederacy can sweet talk his way into the blindness of the Daughters of the Confederacy’s local charter.
But let’s not pretend during True Blood’s last moments that since Sookie’s going to end up marrying this guy that he didn’t fight for the Confederacy. If you want to make him the reluctant cynic who had startling prophetic visions about the “Lost Cause” like the second coming of Rhett Butler, fine. But to pretend that an apparent man of affluence and the planter class of Louisiana, as noted by his rival Charles in this week’s flashbacks, is actually so against the War that he’d lead Charles’ own slaves to freedom and deserted is the most absurd thing I’ve seen since Mel Gibson’s 18th century plantation owner in The Patriot paid his black laborers a fair wage in the field. If you wanted to absolve Bill of the racial politics of the Civil War, it might have been best not to bring them up at this point. Especially when after being caught as escaping by Charles, with Charles’ “property” no less, that he wasn’t executed as a traitor.
I think Bill Compton’s Civil War origin is a terrific one and I’m all for exploring it more thoroughly than whatever vineyard owner’s daughter Eric was feasting on—but this was a bigger mistake than trusting your daughter with Eric Northman. Not even Stephen Moyer’s perfectly strong peformance could salvage the writing here.
All of this soapiness certainly overshadowed the equally silly, but far more entertaining B-subplot. As fellow Den of Geek writer Tony Sokol said to me at the 40 minute mark, “If the next 15 minutes aren’t a bloodbath, I’m outta’ here.”
Luckily for Tony, that could summarize how things wound up.
In the secondary, but far more gratifying, story of the night, Eric and Pam went back to Dallas at a location from True Blood’s season two heights in order to kill Sarah Newlin. And the “Kill Sarah” subplot, right down to Ginger clinging to the coffin, was beautiful. Sadly, Eric let Willa go, thereby excusing her from any story of consequence for the rest of the series, but everything after that was on the up-and-up.
First, Eric found out that Sarah’s sister never died, she was just being paid off by Sarah to stay “disappeared” while Sarah gave her vampire sob story. Do I believe that the (falsely) demure, if foolish and nutty, Sarah from season two would have done that while she was crying on Jason’s arm? Probably not. But do I think the hellion diva that is madness in high heels, and who saved season six from being a complete waste of time, might be possible of doing this? Hell yes, and I’m glad to have her back!
Anna Camp is a secret treasure on this show, and its best villain after Russell Edgington. Seeing her flash her big Texan smiles in equal measure with her equally big puppy dog eyes when she mewls, “Hi Mommy?” is the True Blood equivalent of Vader lifting his hand in front of a jabbering underling. It’s obviously not about to go well, and we’re going to enjoy every moment of this massacre.
And rain blood it did at the episode’s highlight location—the Bush Library, which is holding a fundraiser for Senator Ted Cruz. Seeing Yakuza kick down the doors of this locale and pull out Uzis and samurai swords is so over-the-top that it’s like the overflowing camp has filled back up to the tip of the glass from the outside. The only thing that would have made this gonzo satire better is if one of the “Republicunts” (Pam’s words) had jumped out to say, “Guns don’t kill people—“
And so it ended as quickly as it began for Sarah’s parents who met the same fate as everyone around her has. “But I’m not a monster, I’m a Buddhist!” If so, she surely brought peace to her family this week. Meanwhile, Eric let Sarah slip through his fingers while he dealt with the Yakuza. But I’m sure that he’ll catch her, especially after the episode’s last scene that revealed…Bill’s got Hep-V.
How did Bill get the disease? I’m not sure, but I suspect it has something to do with when Sookie exchanged blood fluid with him again. How did she contract the disease? Who knows. But on a show that clearly showed Arlene get bitten by a half-dozen Hep-V carriers last week, and now has her romancing a vampire who knows she must be infected (maybe he has a death wish?), and a series where “the world is over” but Ted Cruz is still having fundraisers in Dallas, it’s best not to think about it. Bill’s sick, and he is going to die badly. Well, at least until Eric finds the magical cure that Sarah Newlin undoubtedly has or knows about that will save the lives of both vampires.
Maybe it can save the seventh season, too? I don’t know though. After this week, that might be the biggest lost cause of them all.
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