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: family ties that bind, for better or worse. And Billith doing his best Russell Edgington impression.
After last week’s vampirism-‘n’-sex extravaganza, it was inevitable that there’d be something of a comedown this week, and so it proved this week — although not for the reasons you might expect, because there was plenty of vampirism, and plenty of sex. But by god it was dark, exploring themes of how your past can haunt you, and how both sins and frailties are passed down from generation to generation, both amongst humans and amongst vampirekind.
The two cliffhangers from last week were resolved fairly quickly — no, Sookie didn’t drown, and no, Eric and Pam didn’t kill one another — but in untying those strands, the characters only really bound themselves into greater knots. Sookie got rescued from the murderous spirit of her father by Warlow, who’s basically the avatar of lineage-related angst. She duly spent most of the episode hanging out with him in a fairy hideaway, and ended up having luminescent fairy sex with him as the credits roll. Eric, meanwhile, got to watch his sister Nora getting injected with some sort of synthetic vampire plague and, by rescuing her when the opportunity arises, potentially exposed himself and pretty much every other vampire to infection. Family ties, indeed.
There was plenty of moral equivocation here, but the brutal irony was that really none of it stemmed from the characters who are supposed to be monsters, i.e. the vampires — no, it all came from the humans. The scene where Sarah Newlin basically tried to force a random vampire into raping Jessica as a way to torture Jason… well, it reinforced the idea that she’s pure (charismatic) evil, and also the idea that it’s the sanctimonious, hypocritical humans who are definitely in the wrong here. “I’m a vampire,” proclaimed the unfortunate male, “not a rapist.” For his trouble, he got blasted with UV light and dragged off to an uncertain fate.
There was also the revelation of Governor Burrell’s master plan to inflict genocide on vampirekind, which involves releasing a new batch of True Blood that’s been tainted with the aforementioned vampire plague. Of course, he’ll never get to see it come to fruition, because Billith finally stopped wondering what to do and started just doing, providing the episode’s great dramatic moment when he liberated Burrell’s head from his shoulders and left it as the sort of statement of intent that’d make Russell Edgington proud. How far we’ve come since the days of Nice Vampire Bill, eh?
Even the most benevolent of humans proved themselves questionable this time around. Arlene’s Eternal Sunshine solution to Terry’s past carried all sorts of ethical issues, although they barely had time to manifest because the dude who promised to kill Terry didn’t know any of this, so… yeah. The resultant murder was horrible to watch, not to mention the bitter irony that it was Arlene’s attempt to lift Terry’s burden that condemned him to death. To be honest, the whole sad business really only served to provide a sort of empty drama — I’m not sure exactly what we’re supposed to take away from this, beyond the idea that, again, a man can’t escape his past.
Elsewhere, this episode brought the blessed revolution of the tiresome werewolf subplot — Sam returned his adopted daughter to her family, i.e. Alcide and the wolfpack, and for his trouble got told to leave town for good. It’d be hard to believe he’ll be gone from the show forever, but at least this (hopefully) means that we don’t have to put up with former Nice Werewolf Alcide strutting around like a prize asshole. Woo. Hoo.
What happens from here will be interesting. Basically, no-one came out of this episode looking particularly good — with their very existence threatened, one can only expect the vampires to respond with extreme prejudice. There will be blood, no doubt. Until next week…