Oh, what a complicated mess you weave, True Blood.
This week, the series finally makes good on its season-long Russell Edgington promise – and it’s about time. I’d wager there’s not a single True Blood fan who’s not tired of seeing Russell covered in a thin layer of blood and mucus and writhing in his clandestine hospital bed. Finally, we get to see him get a little more decent: he’s still writhing around, but with a full epidermis. But while that trouble brews, the rest of Bon Temps is engaged in a series of disjointed, unexplainable magical issues. It’s a veritable surplus of supernaturals. And it’s giving me one helluva headache.
First, we get the plotline we’re most concerned with: Alcide and Sookie. They pick up right where they left off. They’re drunk and hot n’ heavy. They take this little party upstairs and just as they’re about to have sex, Alcide says he’s “waited so long for this” and our collective hearts break in unison. Clearly, Sookie’s making a drunk decision, but poor Alcide’s been holding out for months. And that’s when it happens: Sookie throws up all over his feet and Bill and Eric appear to make an awkward situation unbearable. (And awesome. I could get used to this love square, or is it a parallelogram? It’s been a while since I took geometry.)
Anyway, Bill and Eric aren’t there for some voyeuristic fantasy in Sookie’s head (she’d probably be wearing a ridiculous red negligee and fuzzy little heels if they were). They need Sookie to un-glamour the human – Alcide’s boss, Doug – who was present when Russell was unearthed. Eric is also there to make her feel guilty for dumping them both and moving on with Alcide while he and Bill were left to be tortured by the Authority. He’s clearly a bitter ex-lover, but I think Eric/Sookie shippers would appreciate a little more anger about the whole Alcide thing on Eric’s part.
And he does get angry — he just doesn’t admit that it has anything to do with Sookie. Alcide doesn’t want his boss mixed up in the vampire business and says they should have killed Russell when they had the chance. This descends into unintelligible arguing, made worse by the fact that Sookie hears it all as dogs barking. You tell ‘em sister, all men are dogs! But at least Alcide gets it honestly… and actually. The barking begets Sookie’s uncontrollable laughter, because she’s finally realized after four and a quarter seasons that her life will never go back to being okay. She will always be in some danger and haunted by some ridiculous creature. Welcome to Earth, Sookie Stackhouse. The rest of us have been waiting here for you.
Of course, within this little outburst, she betrays a glimmer of hope for fans of her vampire coupling. She says she thought she'd be okay if she made a decision (and since we’re giddy little television watchers, we’re assuming that’s in reference to Bill and Eric), but it never changes. Does that mean she still wants them, but she chose herself in hopes of making it all go away? (Yes, that’s exactly what she’s saying.) With that (and about a bottle of peach schnapps in her system) she agrees to help the incredibly handsome vampire duo.
And because the True Blood writers love to put characters in the most awkward situations, Sookie arrives with Alcide, Bill, and Eric to un-glamour Doug. She takes a peek inside his head, and in his memory she sees someone approach and sees her necklace: It’s a symbol of the Authority. Bill automatically assumes it is Nora, since she was a female member of the Authority and she’s a Sanguinista. This drives a rift between the loving brotherhood that these two shared for the past four episodes. Well, it was disarming and cute while it lasted.
But, we’re on a Russell-finding mission here, folks. Whie Eric and Bill fight about Nora, we see that she’s still being held in a jail cell and being tortured. If she did free Russell, she got a raw deal. We cut immediately to Salome, who commands that Bill and Eric be put on a 24 hour deadline to find Russell on pain of death. And when she later tries to convince Roman to turn to more outwardly violent tactics against the Sanguinistas, the possibility that the Guardian’s femme fatale is the woman with the Authority necklace lodged deep in Doug’s memory is more and more likely.
As Bill and Eric receive Salome’s cruel command from Molly, the Authority tech expert, Sookie is reading Doug’s mind and giving driving directions to Alcide. Sookie leads them to what any movie fan knows is a breeding ground for supernatural problems of all kinds: an old abandoned hospital. Sookie is also apparently a fan of movies, because she knows splitting up is unsafe and that her “microwave fingers” can come in handy. She storms ahead and Alcide laughs at the overbearing vampires. Look: we all want Sookie to get back with either Bill or Eric, depending on your “team” preference (damn you, Twilight), but it might be a good thing to see Sookie take a little vampire sabbatical with Alcide. He seems to be a lot more about letting his hot-blooded nature inform his decisions and a lot less about telling Sookie what to do.
Finally, after Alcide’s laughter quiets down, they find Russell’s expired and future meals, including a begging, desperate young man hanging from the ceiling. The bodies lead to Russell, who still looks fairly sickly, but with that pesky skin issue miraculously cleared up. Eric does what every horror movie teaches us is a terrible, terrible decision: he gives Russell the revenge/unfinished business speech and as he does so, menacing sound rings out and Russell urges the cocky vamp to “give it your best shot.” Sookie turns in fear and that’s it. Scene. Come on, Eric. How dumb and arrogant are you? If Russell has been ailing, clearly he’s got someone strong, and capable of trapping multitudes of helpless humans, at his disposal. And it’s likely there’s more than one of them. How could they lead themselves into a such a trap? We’ll find out just how screwed they are next week (sigh), but I’d wager they’re upstream without a paddle.
Next: Tara gets her sea-legs... and then some. And while that gang of misfits is busy adventuring, Tara is busy becoming a full-grown vampiress. Pam dresses her up in her vampy attire – which actually looks pretty damn good on Tara, who’s only ever worn ill-fitting cotton tank tops and jeans as far as I can remember – and uses her maker command to force Tara to take the job as her new bartender. But this is Tara, my friends. And as you know, Tara is always, always trouble and hardly does anything without kicking and screaming or acting out first. And right on cue, an innocent little blond girl comes into Fangtasia hoping to be fed on, and Tara jumps right across the bar and does it in front of everyone until Pam grabs and scolds her like the violent, loving parent she is. Pam threatens Tara’s life, because her behavior could shut down Fangtasia, and other than Tara, Fangtasia is the only thing left that connects Pam to Eric.
But that’s a lot of commanding for Tara, whom we know doesn’t deal well with authority or friends who make valid points about how to better run her life. So she pouts in her Pam-hand-me-down corset as Jessica approaches with an offer of friendship. They were both turned against their will and they’re both baby vampires, so they’re stuck in the limbo between makers and humans. Parents just don’t understand, man. After they swap stories about resisting the urge to feed on everyone who walks by and Jessica brags about the wonders of “feeding and f**king at the same time,” Jessica brings the whole concept of vampirism home: they’re going to be young forever and they’re going to live forever. With that power, they can do anything. Of course, it’s not that simple or quite that freeing (just ask the Authority), but Jessica’s fervor and honesty are pretty convincing. Where do I sign up?
Of course, a friendship like Tara and the sweet, bubbly Jessica didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving. It’s minutes before Tara goes outside for a cigarette and finds Hoyt dressed up like the usual desperate fang-banger. He tries to get her to feed on him, but she won’t… yet. He ends his proposition with a self-depreciating outburst about how he’s not good enough for her. And that seals it. While Jessica takes on the young blonde from the bar, Tara takes the neighboring bathroom stall where she feeds viciously on Hoyt until he cries out. And just like that, her friendship with Jessica is destroyed with the emotional equivalent of a torpedo. Jessica hears Hoyt and fights Tara in the girl’s bathroom to protect him – even though he definitely begged for it and made Tara feel bad for not wanting to drink his blood.
This final incident could signal reconciliation between Hoyt and Jessica, but I sincerely hope it’s all on Hoyt’s bullheaded side. He’s a seriously thin character and now that he’s broken up with Jessica, his involvement in the storyline is fairly cumbersome. This is one couple that needs to stay away from any sweaty, drunken midnight hookups. Please.
While Tara and Jessica are getting together and falling apart, Terry and Patrick are being tied up by their old war buddy, Ehlers, who’s demanding to know who followed them there. He’s clearly mentally unstable and Patrick assumes Ehlers torched their other friends from the war. Ehlers holds a gun to Terry’s head and says he saw a fire monster, the Ifrit, kill their friend Keller and his wife. Terry thinks back to the fated night in Afgahinstan when they killed all those civilians and they found one woman who was still breathing. Patrick insisted they kill her, but not before she cursed them with the Ifrit. And after they shot her and burned all the bodies, Terry remembers seeing the fabled Ifrit – which looks a lot like a poor man’s Lost Smoke Monster. When Terry realizes the Ifrit is real, he tries to get all three men to escape, but Patrick traps Ehlers, convinced the man is just a crazy person who’s gone around burning all their houses down. And as Terry and Patrick hash it out, the Ifrit comes and consumers Ehlers. Well, crap. I guess we have to deal with this supernatural nonsense now. It’s simply too big to ignore. And while I will write about this ridiculous plot line, I assure you I am not going to like it.
Next: Jason's fairy pains.But we’ve only talked about approximately sixteen characters, so you know we’ve still got a ways to go. Jason and Andy are both recovering from the fairies’ mind-erasing blast… and they both wake up totally naked. Jason has a dream wherein he imagines himself as a little boy, except it’s still Ryan Kwanten, just dressed in little kid pajamas. He sits down to breakfast with his parents and they start bleeding from their necks because his fairy cousin told him vampires killed his parents. As icing on the cake, they offer him sex as a remedy for what ails him. It’s not hard to unpack this one, folks: Jason is remembering parts of his cousin’s message and he’s still dealing with that whole sex addiction issue, in case you thought that was all sewed up.
And Jason’s head continues to get wonky when he and Andy investigate the deaths of Sam’s shifter friends. They both have shots to the head, but Jason imagines them to have bite wounds on their necks and then he starts remembering everything. The faeries clearly need one of those Men In Black-grade mind erasers, because the microwave fingers trick didn’t work so well. Jason tells Andy that the women are fairies, but Andy is most concerned with being a good boyfriend to Holly, so he wants nothing to do with all this fairy nonsense. But let’s not forget about the ET-finger bond he made with his choses fairy. This will not go smoothly.
To make matters worse, Jason is now convinced that Supes (supernaturals) are killing each other and humans and making it look like accidents as if there’s some sort of supernatural conspiracy swirling around them. He sees the wooden bullets used to kill the shifters and he finishes up his theory by projecting his “knowledge” that vampires killed his parents. And whether or not he’s right, it doesn’t seem to help the other two shifters left in Bon Temps.
Andy interviews Sam about his friends and he’s forced to give up his identity as a shifter in hopes of helping Andy figure out who committed the crime. Andy seems to be sympathetic, but that doesn’t save Sam when he goes to visit Luna and explain the situation to her. After they embrace and he promises to check in on her and keep her safe, he walks outside and is shot by a band of hooligans wearing Obama masks and standing in an old pickup truck. Luna comes outside to help him and they kill her as baby Emma turns into a wolf and runs away.
Poor Sam has the absolute worst luck of anyone on this show. If he’s not being duped by a maenad’s plaything, he’s losing his little brother, or being played by one of the many women in his life. And now, he’s lost Luna. Sam, however, seems to have sustained minimal injuries, so he’ll have the drive and the life force to tell Andy about the shooters, who were clearly after shifters specifically. Could they be werewolves trying to cover their tracks by killing shifters the way a human would? Or are we introducing yet another group of rivals for the already complicated world of dueling vampire mentalities, shifters, werewolves, fairies, and humans? How much more can we take?
Apparently, a lot more. After killing his trusted chancellor, Drew, when he was revealed as a Sanguinista, Roman is mourning Drew and his mainstreaming movement. The betrayal is making him question everything. Salome tries to sexy-walk him into taking a more violent stance against Sanguinistas – until now, he’s resisted militarizing against the opposing viewpoint because it doesn’t fall in line with the humanistic approach that mainstreaming is based on. Though he’s annoyed when she brings it up, he later brings the council together and says a masked version of the age-old phrase “You’re either with us, or you’re against us.” Vampires can either return to the old world ways of using humans as snacks and hiding in the shadows, or they can promote mainstreaming and live with the humans. Salome’s sinister grin and the presence of an Authority necklace at Russell’s unearthing signal even further that Salome may be behind everything. The only question is why would she work so hard to instigate such a large-scale battle between the two sides?
And while we’re weighing perplexing sociological questions about vampires and humanity, Lafayette is still dealing with his “funky brojo shit,” unfortunately. In his madness, he wakes up and sees Jesus’ head trying to speak through his sewed shut mouth on his living room table. At the same time, Lafayette’s mother wakes up in the middle of the night and sees the same thing in her hospital bed, but she seems to actually understand Jesus’ message. This is another example of the series having too little time to explain what the hell is going on, but I’d bet you a vial of V it’s going to be a giant mess.
While the Russell problem, the Authority battle, and the ever present question of “Who is Sookie Stackhouse Kissing This Week?” are progressing just as we’d like them to, all these extraneous stories about fire monsters and dark magic are bringing us down. Even the fairy complications are mind-curdling, but considering Sookie is a fairy, it’s obviously an issue we can’t do away with completely. Let’s hope for sanity’s sake that this surplus of supernatural happenstance gets cleaned up quickly so we can focus on what’s important. All these extra storylines are killing the pleasant buzz I got from seeing Alcide in all his shirtless glory for the first 30 seconds of the episode.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
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Poor Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow). Some years back her parents and brother were slaughtered by Richard Fenton (Jonathan Schaech) a teacher who had developed a psychotic fixation on her. Richard went to an insane asylum but he broke out and now he’s back in town just in time for Prom Night where he resumes his pursuit of Donna and knocks off some of her friends for good measure. Bringing up the rear is dogged Detective Winn (Idris Elba) desperately trying to nail Fenton as the body count mounts. Sooner or later--and it’s much later unfortunately--Donna will come face to face with Fenton one last time. With characters as one-dimensional and dumb as these there’s not much the cast can do except stand around in their prom outfits waiting to get killed off. As the deranged killer Schaech stares glares and skulks around. Leading lady Snow widens her eyes and worries accordingly throughout while Elba tries to inject a little intensity into the stock role of the cop on the case. Working from a bad screenplay by J.S. Cardone first-time helmer Nelson McCormick displays little enthusiasm--either for the genre or for this particular film. The scare tactics are hackneyed and usually involve characters surprising each other--a gag that gets really old really quickly. When one character mutters “This is getting silly. Enough already ” we couldn’t agree more. And we’d add “boring” to that statement. It should be noted however that there’s an awfully high body count for a film rated PG-13 even if the film isn’t as bloody as one might expect. McCormick and Cardone have re-teamed on the upcoming remake of The Stepfather and if their collaboration here is any indication horror fans may have reason to be afraid--very afraid.