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: an episode to remind us whey we loved this show in the first place!
Just like pretty much everyone else who’s watched every single damn episode of the show over the last five years, I have a love/hate relationship with True Blood. (If you’ve been reading these recaps over the last few weeks, you’ve probably gathered this already.) So far, this season has been pretty much this entire love/hate process in microcosm — flashes of potential awesomeness interspersed with all-too-frequent appearances by fairy grandfathers and stoopid werewolves.
But this week! Holy shit! Suddenly, out of nowhere, True Blood put together its best episode since… well, god knows when, really. Crucially, where the show has been increasingly cartoonish over recent seasons, this episode struck the perfect balance between rollicking entertainment and darkness. It crammed in plentiful plot exposition — the revelation of Warlow’s back story, the return of awesome Pam, the return of awesome Sarah Newlin (including a bunch of glorious dialogue with Jason), the confirmation that Lilith hasn’t worn clothes for about five millennia — and still found time for a creditable amount of rampant sex, along with not one but two killer cliffhangers to keep us agonizing over what’s gonna happen next. Bravo.
All in all, it was a reminder of the fact that this silly show about vampires can be pretty damn compelling viewing when it puts its mind to it. As far as key plot points go, there’s the revelation that Warlow was indeed made into a fairy/vampire hybrid by Lilith, something like 5,500 years ago, and that he’s spent the ensuing time very, very unhappy about this. Bill sees Warlow’s daywalking abilities as the key to vampiric salvation, but the man himself is having none of it — he hates vampirekind almost as much as he hates himself, a fact demonstrated by the fact that he apparently killed Lilith by letting the sunlight into her tomb. A couple of weeks back I questioned whether the show’s writers or actor Rob Kazinsky could pull off this tormented soul idea, but it seems to be working well so far.
The other great Warlow-related revelation is that he visited Sookie’s parents when she was a child, to try to convince them to hand her over so he could make her a vampire. This doesn’t entirely wash with the whole hating-vampirekind idea, suggesting that there is more to be revealed — but in any case, it may be a moot point given that Sookie’s father tried to kill her to avoid this happening years ago, and ends the episode by trying to do so again after she rather foolishly summons his spirit, which promptly possesses Lafayette and tries to drown her. (It won’t, of course, otherwise there’d be no more show, but it’ll be interesting to see how this cliffhanger is resolved.)
This episode also gave the first glimpse into the vampire internment camp, and it ain’t a nice place. The cold, clean, pseudo-medical sets are pretty much Hannah Arendt’s banality of evil in architectural form, while the experiments range from the comical (two vampires fucking like crazy as scientists watch in amazement) through the uncomfortable (the last-man-standing type game Eric is forced to play with three fellow inmates) to the genuinely sinister (the scene where a dentist pulls out an unfortunate vampire’s fangs, apparently without anesthetic.)
Pretty much every vampire on the show bar the aforementioned Bill and Warlow have contrived to end up here by the end of the episode, and things aren’t looking good. Tara and Jessica land in a sort of vampiric Oz scenario, poor Willa gets stuck in an isolation cell with only a lascivious guard for company, and Eric and Pam… ugh. This episode finally sees the return of awesome Pam — she has some great exchanges with her human therapist, especially her “Pain is a useless emotion” soliloquy — but ends with her and Eric locked in a sort of cage fight for the amusement of the Governor and his cronies.
It’s a dramatic scenario, but barring some sort of outlandish deus ex machina rescue — never beyond the realms of possibility with this show, in fairness — it means only one of Pam and Eric make it out of the makeshift arena alive. Which is a problem, because they’re two of the show’s best characters. Sookie’s not gonna die, obviously, but one of these two… Well, it’s possible. (And it was rumored before the season began.) But please, say it ain’t so.
Anyway, despite all this, the highlight of this week was the reunion of Jason with Sarah Newlin, who has been all kinds of awesome in this series and gets all the best lines in this episode. Before she runs off to track down Jason, she barks at the Governor, who has spurned her to take his newly vampirized daughter to the internment camp, “When a woman comes to you in black lingerie, you unwrap her!” When he fails to do so, she goes in search of Jason, and the resultant dialogue is pure True Blood gold: “You always seemed like a nice lady behind the crazy and the hate,” Jason tells her, to which she responds, “I truly believe: God wants me to fuck you!”
All proceeds swimmingly (“How’s god feeling now?” asks Jason as he’s giving the former Mrs. Newlin an almighty seeing-to, to which she shouts gleefully, “Righteous!”) until Jessica turns up, at which point everything goes south. Sarah is clearly not happy at having shared her man with the undead, and surreptitiously calls the goon squad to drag Jessica away — but not before telling Jason, “My body is a temple and you have defiled it with your vampire-lovin’ pecker!!” Now, where else do you get dialogue like that?! Until next week….