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 season is proving no different — silliness abounds, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. This week: gore. And more gore. And Lafayette in a suit.
If you’ve been a regular reader of these recaps — or even just a regular watcher of the show in general — you’ll know that a common complaint about True Blood over the last couple of seasons is that there have been too many extraneous subplots. The problem is that these draw attention away from the show’s main appeal: the vampires. This week’s episode couldn’t have illustrated this idea better if it tried: it spent the entirety of its running time cutting between this season’s most and least compelling plotlines.
First, then, the bad: Terry’s interminable funeral. The shell-shocked chef was a reasonably sympathetic character, but the idea of trying to illustrate the impact of America’s military misadventures always felt somewhat out of place in this show, and the various plots surrounding him have been narrative cul-de-sacs, at best mildly tiresome and at worst flat-out ridiculous (last season’s fire demon, for instance.) Killing him off a couple of episodes ago seemed like a cheap grab for emotional resonance, but at least it promised to be a step toward streamlining the show.
Sadly, no. Devoting half of this episode to his funeral seemed entirely unnecessary, especially the various flashbacks about his life — why provide a bunch of backstory for a character you’ve just killed off? The various speeches felt mawkish, even if the sight of Lafeyette in a suit is just as awesome as one might imagine (“Is that a boy or a girl?” wonders Terry’s grandmother, who’s pretty much a cardboard cutout of Southern close-mindedness.)
But anyway, enough of Terry, because the rest of the episode was devoted to the resolution of the vampire holocaust plot, and gave rise to some of the most glorious carnage that’s ever been seen on True Blood. The episode begins with Eric Northman descending on the vampire concentration camp internment camp like a daywalking vampiric tornado, leaving a trail of body parts in his wake — arms, legs and one disembodied penis, which is right up there with Sons of Anarchy’s severed testicles as far as recent televisual cross-your-legs-and-wince moments go.
Once he’s slaughtered everyone in sight, Eric throws open the doors of the camp, and much bloody revenge duly ensues as a bunch of very hungry and pissed-off vampires inflict all sorts of torments on their human captors. Huzzah.
Billith isn’t far behind, and not amused to have been denied the opportunity to fulfill his destiny by freeing the imprisoned masses. Still, he gets his big moment of salvation — his vision of a group of vampires meeting the sun in a white room comes true as the gloriously deranged Sarah Newlin sneaks up and opens the roof. But wait! Bill is there to save the day, providing his fairified blood to protect his friends (well, all of them except Steve Newlin, who gets cooked by his former wife.) It’s a beautifully shot sequence, by the way — the scene in which the various vampires cluster around to feed off their white knight is reminiscent of a renaissance painting or something, all dramatic, baroque beauty.
His prophetic vision fulfilled, Bill seems destined to die, with three scabby Liliths manifesting to carry him off to born-again vampire heaven. Bill’s having none of it, though, snarling, “I’m not going anywhere.” And sure enough, Jessica appears to save the day, with her new vampire lover providing Bill with enough blood to stay alive and walk out into the sun with his friends. Vampirekind is saved!
There are plot holes aplenty here — wasn’t it that basically all the vampires (except the select few who knew about Hep V) drank the tainted True Blood? How come most of them are apparently fine? Wouldn’t they have to wait until night before they escape? And why is it that only Jason manages to track down Sarah Newlin, thus conveniently allowing a dramatic meeting wherein he’s is presented with the opportunity to kill his former lover, but proves unable to carry through on the chance?
Still, it doesn’t really matter, because as a viewer you’re too busy cheering for the vampires’ righteous revenge. It does, however, raise the question of what’s going to happen for the remaining episodes of this series — the vampire holocaust is averted, the tainted True Blood is destroyed, and pretty much everyone involved with the whole nefarious vampire extermination plan has been reduced to ludicrous gibs. There are a couple of loose ends to tie up — no doubt Sarah has more Jesus-lovin’ lunacy in store, and there’s the question of where Eric disappeared off to in the episode’s final shot. And there’s the question of just how long the show’s core vampire crew will be able to wander around during the day.
But this episode felt like closure, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. One thing’s for sure: if the remaining episodes are devoted to the werewolves, the TV’s going out the window. Until next week…