‘True Blood’ Season 7 Episode 5 Recap: Battling the Slump

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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 its final season is as silly as ever. This week: shit, meet fan.

It’s hard for a show to maintain momentum across the course of 12 episodes, let alone after seven seasons. This episode spoke very clearly of True Blood‘s writers going all-out mid-season slump, throwing pretty much everything they could into the script. It’s one of those episodes where strictly speaking, nothing really happens, but at the same time, a whole lot happens.

As far as Bon Temps goes, the episode centers around a party that Lafayette takes the unilateral decision to throw for Sookie — to “celebrate life”, as he explains it, and to mourn the loss of Alcide. The whole celebrating life aspect goes south pretty soon, though, as the party provides the narrative pretext for the resolution of various plot lines, often in a pleasantly disastrous manner. As a bewildered Nicole observes at one point, “This shit doesn’t happen in other towns.” It’s all true. But then, that’s why we keep coming back to Bon Temps, hey?

Anyway, you can tell that shit’s gonna go down from the very start, mainly because there’s several instances of that TV thing where a character stands outside a party with their arms folded and their back to the door, waiting for someone to come ask, “Hey, what’s wrong? Why are you looking so pensive and moody? You should tell me all about it!”

For a start, there’s the resolution of the sexual tension between James and Lafayette — one minute, the two of them are outside talking, the next minute they’re having a frantic quickie in the car. Inevitably, Jessica wanders out in search of her boyfriend, catches he and Lafayette in the act, and the shit duly hits the fan. Or, more strictly, one serving of shit hits the fan, because the poor old fan takes quite a barrage in this episode.

Jessica deals with the pain of her boyfriend cheating on her by, um, having rampant sex with Jason in one of the upstairs bedrooms — Violet hears them getting it on and is not at all pleased, and no doubt more will be heard of this in episodes to come. Meanwhile, the odious Lettie Mae sneaks out of her house (after drugging the Reverend’s gumbo, apparently) in search of vampire blood, and decides that the most practical and unobtrusive way of doing so is, um, taking to Willa with a knife! Good job, Lettie Mae! Oh, and Andy proposes to Holly! And there’s some sort of rapprochement between Sookie and Bill! And Arlene gets hit on by the vampire who saved her life last week! And shit, it looks like Bill has somehow contracted Hep V as well!

But really, the best part of this episode takes place outside Louisiana — in Dallas, specifically, which is where Pam and Eric end up in their search for Sarah Newlin. It turns out that in beautifully hypocritical style, La Newlin actually has a vampire sister, Amber, who she’s been paying off for years to “stay in the coffin.” Amber is only too happy to help our hero and heroine locate Sarah — or, more accurately, to locate the Newlin parents, because no-one knows where Sarah is. The parents, though… that very evening, brilliantly, they’re attending a Bush Library to host gala for Ted Cruz, because of course they are. This is how True Blood should always do political commentary — in gloriously camp, overblown, satirical style.

This setting provides rich opportunity for all sorts of goodness — there’s Eric in a spectacular oilman cowboy hat, Pam in a wonderfully tasteless dress (“I’m a Republicunt,” she proclaims proudly), and American flags everywhere. (It’s no accident, I’m sure, that this is the episode where we also get flashbacks to Bill’s past, where it turns out he aided slaves to escape the south via the Underground Railroad, much to the chagrin of the local Confederate dixiecrat types.) It turns out that happily, Sarah is conveniently at the gala too — she’s snuck in to ask her parents for help in avoiding the yakuza, who are also out for her blood.

But it’s all too late, because the writers launch yet more shit at the fan with the arrival of the aforementioned yakuza, who clearly give precisely no fucks about freedom, democracy and the American way — they shoot up the Ted Cruz gala for all they’re worth, and in a glorious moment of synchronicity, happen on Sarah at just the same time that Eric does. Whoops. Of course, in a standoff between a thousand-year-old undead killing machine and three Japanese dudes with guns, there’s only gonna be one winner, and Eric isn’t about to be robbed of his revenge, dispatching the yakuza in pleasantly gruesome style. But what happens with Sarah? For that, dear readers, we have to wait until next week.