‘True Blood’ Season 6 Episode 4 Recap: What’s Colder Than Cold?

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No TV show says summer to us more than True Blood, its Southern Gothic atmosphere and pulpy pleasures providing the perfect complement to sweaty evenings spent drinking mint juleps at home after another exhausting day in the hot sun. The show alternately drives us crazy and enthralls us, and this is season is proving no different — silliness abounds, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. This week: the show’s vampires get their evil on, and the elusive Warlow is revealed.

It’s perhaps an inevitable consequence of familiarity that the vampires of True Blood seem less threatening than they used to. Some of the best villains of previous seasons are gone — most notably the exuberantly deranged Russell Edgington, but also Roman Zimojic, Nan Flanagan, Salome, Talbot, and various others — and their replacement as this year’s prime vampiric villain is a fairy vampire, for Chrissakes (of whom more shortly).

Of the regulars, the once-intimidating Eric Northman has spent most of the last two series lusting after Sookie and generally displaying his sensitive side. Bilith is rather less terrifying than Lilith, and even the pleasingly callous Pam is spending most of her time trying to get Eric to notice her than to inflict sadistic vengeance upon hapless humans.

So it was rather pleasing this week to see the undead remind everyone of why it is we were supposed to be terrified of them in the first place. Eric’s use and abuse of the governor’s daughter for his own ends is one of the more unabashedly ruthless plot twists this show has ever seen, involving the exploitation of her youthful idealism to turn her into a vampire and pack her back off to her own father, all to prove a point. Meanwhile, Bill kidnaps four innocent teenage girls in order to synthesize their blood, and Jessica rather makes a bollocks of his plan by apparently butchering all four of them. No nice cuddly vampires this week, then.

The week’s big — albeit somewhat predictable — plot twist, however, came with the revelation that, surprise surprise, Sookie’s new love interest isn’t what he appears to be. As various commentators have predicted over the last week, he turns out to be none other than the elusive Warlow, the rapacious fairy-lovin’ vampire and progeny of Lilith who has been feeding on Sookie’s ancestors for centuries. The more interesting twist, however, is that he’s not just any old vampire — he’s a fairy vampire!

This an idea that seems as silly in practice as it sounds on paper. Or, then again, perhaps not — the idea of a character in whom light and dark are in constant conflict does actually seem a rather interesting one in practice, although I fear that neither Rob Kazinsky nor the show’s writers really have the chops to pull this off. He already comes across as rather too nice and in control for a centuries-old tormented predator, although happily he does at least rid the show of Rutger Hauer’s silly fairy godfather by apparently casting him into outer darkness. The episode ends with Sookie preparing to return the favor, although since there are still plenty of episodes of this season left, I’m assuming she will do nothing of the sort. At least not yet.

The real problem here is continuity — the duality of his nature notwithstanding, Warlow has had several opportunities to do whatever he wants with Sookie, and also had a couple of chances to dispense with Fairy Grandaddy. The entire plot feels tacked on at this point, although perhaps coming weeks will prove otherwise. In any case, the entire series seems to be starting to revolve around the idea of fairy blood as vampiric salvation. It’s better than Holocaust metaphors, anyway.

Elsewhere this week: – Remember back in Season 1 when there weren’t any werewolves? It was pretty great, wasn’t it?!

– There was a sly and welcome nod to Interview With a Vampire with the dress Willa was wearing when Eric turned her from living to undead. Anne Rice no doubt approves.

– There’s been a distinct dearth of hot blood-drenched vampire sex thus far during this season. What goes on?

– I’m guessing next week is the week that we finally get to see the inside of Governor Burrell’s concentration vampire camp. Pretty much of all of Eric’s love interests are now incarcerated there, setting the scene beautifully for him to go entirely medieval on pretty much everyone. Bring it on.