3.11 Fresh Blood
In the penultimate episode of True Blood‘s third season, Eric Northman finally revealed the grand plan for His Majesty, a thoroughly deserved flame-grilling in the dawn sunshine. Sadly, the plan has one or two catches. Firstly, Sookie’s just about out of blood, having been drained by both Russell and Eric in order for them to be able to ‘enjoy’ the sun, and secondly, having ‘enjoyed’ the sunshine, Eric will suffer the same flame-grilled fate as the King.
Eric’s insistence at sacrificing his life after finally avenging his family (being a good 2,000 years younger than Russell pretty much guarantees he’s toast), at first glance seems a little too noble for our favourite sheriff. However, over the last three years, Eric has become a far less abrasive and, in some cases, even affectionate character, and his determination to save Sookie and Pam is ample proof of that progression.
In large part, this episode belongs to Alexander Skarsgard. Always exceptional, his intense reaction to Eric’s first steps into the daylight was simply superb. Added to the fantastically sweet moments between him and Pam, and a myriad other touches, Flesh And Blood goes down as one of Skarsgard’s finest hours. All we can do is pray to the True Blood gods that he’s not really going anywhere.
Of course, the Skarsgard isn’t alone in the amazing stakes. Denis O’Hare’s portrayal of the madness of King Russell has been faultless all season. While the mania may have slowed somewhat this week (clearly, the presence of the goo keeps him calm), His Majesty’s childlike tears at the prospect of daywalking were almost touching, and although it’s likely he’ll be taking our glorious sheriff with him, his presence provided some of the high points of the entire run, and whatever the True Blood team have got planned for next season, Russell will take some beating.
Elsewhere, Sam’s transformation into Joe Lee continues apace this week, although he mostly manages to keep his trousers on. Drunk and enjoying one of his trademark self pity parties, the barman manages to alienate the entire town in the space of one evening, all because people think he’s ‘nice’. Seeking solace in kindred spirit, Tara, someone who also enjoys a good wallow, the comfort will be short-lived. As payback for Sam throwing him out, Tommy robs his brother blind for the second time.
Sam’s sudden penchant for drunken aggression sat somewhat uneasily in what was an otherwise measured and well paced episode, putting Sam in danger of joining Jason in the ‘what the what?’ column where characters languish with little to do.
Other transformations afoot in Bon Temps include Hoyt into Jess’ all you can eat buffet, Yvetta’s wholehearted change of allegiance, and most bizarrely, Lafayette’s mental decline. The poor boy is rapidly becoming a candidate for his mother’s new roommate. After his V trip through the generations leaves him hallucinating shamanic masks and talking voodoo dolls, surely a one-way ticket to the loony bin beckons, but this being Bon Temps, he might just get away with it.
Could his present condition be tied to the presence of Earth Mother-worshipping Holly, and her not very effective herbal remedies? It’s more than likely, considering that Arlene is about to unleash something wholly unsavoury on the unsuspecting residents of Bon Temps, that Lafayette’s hitherto unrevealed powers are about to come in handy.
As the season’s penultimate episode, Fresh Blood showed a return to the slow burn storytelling used to such great effect in season one. With the small exception of Sam and Jason, the tactic worked well, and when the cliffhanger arrived it was all the more powerful for it. No elaborate showdown, no bloody fights, no faerie magik, just a quiet and beautifully executed manipulation of an egomaniac.
Being a cliffhanger, of course, means that we’ve yet to discover the actual fate of Eric, Russell or Sookie, but with just one episode left, someone’s got to go.
Hopefully, the last episode will at least provide an Alcide reappearance, as a consolation. And Jason is apparently going to try and prevent a Waco-style massacre before the credits roll for the last time this year. Surely, for that reason alone, it’s going to be unmissable.
Read our review of episode 10 here.