Clearly, True Blood had a plan all along. We should have trusted that the series would wrap up a few of its extraneous storylines eventually, it just took a hell of a long time to get there. And sure, some of those storylines - ahem, Terry and the Ifrit - came out of absolutely nowhere just so Scott Foley could have a guest star role, we’re not going to dwell on the series past mistakes. The point is, that at least for the final three episodes of the season, True Blood is actually poised to do this thing right.
After sewing up Lafayette’s Brujo storyline and Terry’s smoke monster mess, the series is finally ready to give Hoyt the ol’ boot to Alaska. (Sweet baby Jesus, don’t let the cameras follow him there.) He even conveniently had Jess glamor him so he wouldn’t remember her or Jason. Of course, this opens up a world of hurt for both Jess and Jason, but it’s clear they’ve got plenty going on in their own lives to keep them nice and busy.
Jason is helping Sookie, who’s now permanently buddied up with her brother after the coroner fed on her and met an untimely death with a chopstick in funniest and best opening scene of the whole season. Watching Sookie get frustrated (and occasionally drunk) this season has been one of the best character changes in the show. We can’t watch her be Miss Bon Temps for years on end. Angry Sookie is good Sookie.
And angry Sookie is on the trail of her parents’ vampire killer, Warlow. After coming up empty in Bud Dearborn’s files, Jason does for Sookie what every mystery TV show or movie should have taught her: take her dead Gran’s advice very literally. Jason discovers an ancient scroll under the floorboards of Gran’s bed, because obviously “look under the bed” did not refer to the piles of old report cars in shoeboxes, Sookie.
The problem is, the scroll is written in some hieroglyphic language, and the scholar Sookie and Jason consult says it doesn’t look like any human language he’s ever seen. Of course, they take it to Claude, who reads it, but says it doesn’t make any sense. They need an older fairy to try and make sense of it, so they call in a very pregnant Mirella (the fairy who had sex with Andy in the woods, and judging from the Holly-Andy starry-eyed lovers scene, that’s going to be a problem soon). She uses fairy light to read the scroll and determine that Sookie’s ancestors promised the first Stackhouse fairy - which just happens to be Sookie - to Warlow. What’s worse, Sookie now has to worry about the entire vampire population being intoxicated by her blood too. And Russell has finally severed ties with the Authority because he’s desperate to find her, breed her, and uncover the secret of her blood. Basically, this is a really horrible moment for Bill and Eric to be high on Lilith.
Next: Eric goes Dark Side and Pam brings back her mad/happy face.Unfortunately, Bill really does seem to be buying into this whole vampire Bible nonsense (sorry, holdouts, it’s not looking so good). He brings Jessica to the Authority headquarters and instructs her to study the vampire Bible - which is exactly what she was escaping after leaving her mortal life behind. What’s worse, is that he’s trying to bring Eric to this dark side. He and Nora force Eric to drink Lilith’s blood while Nora takes a few drops like a hungry little puppy. Together, they see a vision of Godric, who tells them they have to fight the fight right before Lilith appears and kills Godric. It seems that Nora has come to Eric’s side, and perhaps she has. Our only indication is Eric’s hokey “acceptance” of the Lilith way and his induction back into Bill and Salome’s little council.
And while Eric’s true allegiance is at the forefront of our minds, we do have to deal with Russell. He’s kind of a giant, undefeatable ancient vampire. No biggie. He is frustrated by the focus on scripture in this fun new ripper cult he’s joined. He wants to spend his time hunting down fairies so vampires don’t have to be governed by the sun. Luckily, Sookie happens to be implicated in this whole discussion, so while we’re not sure of the political workings inside Eric’s brain, we do know that he (and Bill for that matter) still hold their regard for Sookie above all of this political and theological nonsense. Which is giant relief and simultaneous pain, because if they care so much why are they just sitting there? Oh, because if they up and leave to save a human, Salome might have them turned into red goo like they did to Molly at the beginning of the episode? I guess that’s a pretty good reason.
Steve Newlin, on the other hand, is well-deserving of a stake through the heart at this point. As cute (and completely disturbing) as it was to see Russell and Newlin dance to Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” … in a pile of dead bodies, Newlin is more grating than he was when he was leading the Fellowship of the Sun. And his smile was enough to make me squirm at that point in the series. Newlin not only squeals with joy when he witnesses the True Death (Molly’s) for the first time, he also treats Emma, the werewolf, like she’s an actual dog. It’s demoralizing and not even close to being funny. He’s just an awful little boy - but we knew that when he tried to buy Jason from Jessica at the beginning of the season.
Luckily for little Emma, Sam and Luna manage to sneak into the Authority by chasing Newlin to his media appearance in New Orleans with Sam’s magically appearing airline miles. (Isn’t this supposed to be fantasy? Shouldn’t these two shifters have turned into bald eagles and flown themselves to Nola?) When they reach Newlin’s dressing room, they turn into mice and sneak into his bag so they can find Emma wherever Newlin is living these days. Unfortunately for them, Newlin is living at the Authority headquarters these days, so even though their clever plan will lead them to Emma, their ability to escape without being killed is pretty lacking.
And speaking of lacking, Pam’s business has practically come to a halt with the vampire attack rate going through the roof and the lack of Tru Blood supply. Humans are hiding, and vamps certainly aren’t saddling up to buy martinis. Still, Elijah - the new sheriff who looks suspiciously like the dreadlock-laden kid from Glee if he were a bigger fan of ‘80s glam rock - demands payment, saying that the “rates” have gone up. After he hands them each and insulting 20 bucks, he also demands that their Area creates 30 new vampires by the end of the month on pain of Pam losing everything, including her progeny.
Finally, Tara decides to take matters into her own hands - it just might also cost her and Pam a whole lot more than the vampy Fangtasia property. She lures the Judas Priest worshipper - I mean, really, why else would he dress like that? - into the bar so she can behead him. Pam, using her mad/happy face again, is intrigued by Tara’s gumption. Pam had decided they’d just give up Fangtasia and live “in the wind” which honestly, in the political, bloodlusty environment they’re facing sounds a lot less like a Bob Dylan song and a lot more like trouble. Luckily, Tara’s stunt determines that the pair is going to stand their ground against the Authority - it just might not be as simple as tricking a sheriff into his True Death when the big guns get there.
Next: Cleaner plot be damned, we still have a million questions for True Blood...See? Aren’t things already simpler? Wasn’t this week’s plot so much easier to understand? Aren’t you happy that we actually had the time to witness Jessica and Jason get truly emotional over losing their best friend to the glamoring he demanded? These questions are easy to answer: Yes, all around.
There are a few other questions this episode left us with that aren’t so easy to answer. Like:
Why the hell are Bill and Eric just standing there while Russell basically declares he’s going after Sookie?
Why don’t they sense her fear and pain any more? They were never able to turn off their feelings so easily?
Seriously, how stupid are Sam and Luna? Did they really think they could get into the Authority and get out successfully?
Where is Alcide? And more importantly, is his shirt there too?
Is Mirella going to have a baby Andy? And why, oh why, would we want more confused policemen on this show?
Did Bill really say that the Authority’s main chamber dates back to the Byzantine era? Why? How? Would the ancient vampires really have migrated over to whatever North America was then so they could build an underground chamber in Louisiana?* Why would anything have been built there? Wouldn’t it have been built somewhere, oh I don’t know, the empire the time period was named after actually existed? Or is this, perhaps, one of those Japanese garden situations, in which some member of the Vampire Authority paid someone a lot of money to dismantle a chamber in Italy and have it perfectly reassembled Stateside?
*Sub-question: Why is the center of all vampire culture located outside of New Orleans? And why do all the huge debates about vampires take place on New Orleans television? Isn’t this supposed to be an international issue?
Alright. So True Blood hasn’t managed to solve all of its problems. But at least it’s got the most cumbersome ones out of the way. And, the series is managing to offer up a serious shake-up in a dynamic that even up until last season was all about who Sookie was going to agree to have sex with that week. It’s fun getting beyond the over-played love triangle - but at the same time, it’s nice to see the glimmers of recognition and concern on Bill and Eric’s faces so we know it’s still somewhat there.
Did this week’s episode get you excited for the final two? Are you happy that True Blood got rid of the extra side plots? Do you think they’ll just come up with more ridiculousness to convolute the plot again?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
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We often seek some level of importance in our favorite television dramas, but I’d wager that most of us are just looking for a bloody good time when we sit down for an episode of True Blood mere hours before we embark on another work week. It’s supposed to be an escape, not a test of our political knowledge — and a wonky one at that. This week’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” takes the political themes the series has been throwing at a wall of blood-thirsty vampires and blows them out of proportion. Of course, on the bright side, it looks like that overarching theme is helping to weed out a few of our obnoxious, gratuitous storylines.
Season 5’s main plot — that of the vampire revolution — is necessarily political, but the fact that Salome and her new King, Bill, are waging a pro-vampire, anti-human war from their underground palace is so far from reality that it’s easier to find and process the wider political themes. And with a series like True Blood — whose strength lies in its ability to tantalize us — the easier the serious elements are to process, the better.
To some extent, Bill and Salome stay on that path this week. While many fans are still holding out hope that good ol’ Bill hasn’t turned to the dark side, the vamp himself isn’t quite sure either. He tells Eric he’s confused about which way is the right one, and all it takes is some hallucinatory sex with Salome, his apparent new lady, to set him on the path to Sanguinista royalty. He imagines Salome is both Sookie and Lilith (blood-covered edition) and they feed on each other. That’s one way to solidify one’s bloodlust. Bill is firmly (for now) on Salome’s side.
This is terrible news for Eric, who’s formulated an entire escape plan with Molly (Tina Majorino). He even successfully subdues his batty sister-girlfriend Nora with his intoxicating kisses long enough to bring her along for the ride, but Bill proves to be the side-switching traitor we feared. He calls the guards on Eric and has him arrested, and Bill-Sookie shippers everywhere weep. With all these issues plaguing both Bill and Eric, there’s no way either one of those handsome vamps is going to weasel his way back into Sookie’s newly independent little heart.
There is, of course, the possibility that Bill is playing absolutely everyone in some grand scheme to overthrow all the evil in the Authority, but if that’s the case, he’d better have a really amazing plan. His handful of little moves to convince Salome he’s on her side — if that is, in fact, what he’s doing — have cost so many lives already. It simply doesn’t seem like something that formerly-good Bill would do unless he really has changed. Still, we can hang onto the marked change in his face when Eric asked him if Sookie was really just food to him. It’s the only thing standing between Completely Evil Bill and Old Bill.
For now, however, we’re stuck with power-hungry Vampire Bill, seated at the throne with his temptress of a Queen, Salome. And while she claims to be on a mission for Lilith, both she and her king are clearly more intoxicated by their mutual power than they are by this “religious” mission. Their bloody influence is already expanding throughout our True Blood world – even Pam’s Fangtasia realm is threatened when a new, baby Goth Jared Leto vampire is selected to replace Eric as the Section 5 Sheriff and the ban on public feeding on humans is lifted. This surely isn’t helping to keep the Sanguinista duo grounded. It’s a story rife with political themes, but at least it comes in easy-to-digest little niblets.
When we travel back to Bon Temps, however, we find a socio-political explosion so bad, news reporters are even bringing the name Barack Obama into their speculative coverage of the race war brewing in the small Louisiana town. Three storylines converge (thank heavens — it was getting crowded in here) when Sookie goes searching for information about her parents’ death and winds up in the middle of the hate group’s (now referred to as the Obamas, thanks to their disguise of choice) tirade as Sheriff Dearborn’s kidnap victim.
As Sookie’s being thrown into the pig pen alongside an unconscious Hoyt, Andy and Jason find the Obamas’ website, a righteous explosion of hate, pulling from many of the excuses rattled off by U.S. Border vigilante militia: “These darned supernaturals are stealing our jobs and our money,” namely. And, to drive that point home, the perps are wearing Obama masks to prove that their mission is truly for the good of America — or it’s irony, or they’re just masks and we should all stop trying to figure it out as Jason (accidentally) wisely said. The site also provides videos of the group’s various evil deeds, like roasting vampires alive in the sun, and claiming it will make their “Dragon” proud. The group is using an authority model akin to that of the Klu Klux Klan, and when we find that ex-Sheriff Dearborn’s mistress Sweetie (the large Cheeto-eating woman Luna smelled when they rescued Jessica) is the Dragon, she drops some more ridiculous hate on us. “We can’t let them convert all the children to their shifter ways,” declares Sweetie. Well, as we know. You’re born a shifter, it’s not something you pick up at summer camp. Just like that, this hate group is a catch-all metaphor for general intolerance against other races and other lifestyles — which would be a great use of real world context if it felt like it had any real direction.
Next: True Blood's political troubles.And that’s where the series gets in trouble — especially with Sweetie’s declaration that shifters could somehow transfer their shifter-status to innocent little kids after her group’s site situated itself in the border-debate. The writers are grabbing us by the neck and slapping us in the face with it: see, this is how ridiculous it is that we’re having a debate about gay rights in this country. Also, intolerance against immigrants is bad. The series is showing us that our real life set of intolerant folks sounds just as ridiculous as these hateful crazies. And even though, to some extent, the writers have a point, dressing up the intolerant side as a band of directionless crazies isn’t helping us win any debates. It’s just placating us for being on the right side of the debate, which is why True Blood should probably dial it back a smidge and leave the explicit writing for its sex scenes.
The good news is that this storyline may in fact be wrapping up, or at least merging with the biggest storyline: the vampires are taking over the world, as Claude the fairy claims. Luna and Sam tell Andy and Jason they smelled pig droppings at the Obamas’ house when they found Jessica, and Jason turns this into actual police work and figures out that Dearborn and his Lady Dragon are at his ex-wife’s farm. There, they find Hoyt and Sookie, and Jason tends to them while Luna and Sam execute their (actually) naked rage on the Obamas. They may feel better now that they’ve caught their tormentors, but they’ll surely have another bout of rage when they learn that Russell wrested puppy Emma from granny Martha.
We’re still not sure if Hoyt is alright, because we leave off with Jason trying to wake him up — if Hoyt is dead, Jason and Jessica are surely going to spend the next few episodes blaming themselves and their raging lust for sending their friend down this path. Jessica and Jason’s strange, uncertain dynamic has been one of the more interesting threads this season, and this guilty wrench is upping the ante. Besides, with Sookie all independent and Bill and Eric smooching Sanguinistas, we need a supernatural sexual entanglement to latch onto.
Finally, we’ve got Terry’s fire monster nonsense, which isn’t as political as a story tied to the war in Afghanistan should be. But boy is it completely useless. Thankfully, after Lafayette did his best Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost impression last week (and then referenced that movie this week and made it all worth it), we’ve witnessed the merge and cleanup of some very inconvenient plot lines. For starters, Lafayette is back to being a hilarious sidekick with some handy powers (like talking to Sookie’s Gran to help her solve the mystery of her parents’ murder). More importantly, Patrick (Scott Foley) is dead. Finally. I can’t even be upset at how abruptly it happened because it needed to happen to keep me from tearing my hair out for the rest of the season.
Terry finally mans up and kills Patrick when the terrible Army sergeant kidnaps Arlene and threatens her life until Terry agrees to be the spilled blood to ward off the Ifrit. Suddenly, Patrick has a wife and kids – something he failed to mention this entire time — and he uses them as an excuse for Terry acting as the martyr. Basically, Patrick is a babbling psycho, and for that he must die. Arlene and Terry pull a few craft punches and wind up holding Patrick in suspense — and at gunpoint — while Terry waits for the Afghani woman to appear to him and bless the murder. She does, Terry kills his old friend, and the Ifrit swallows up the body. Bing, bang, boom. Now let’s just hope we’re not treated to the Terry mope-athon for the next three episodes, because this feeling of freedom from Stories We Don’t Care About will have been completely wasted.
And speaking of things being wasted, why is Alcide spending the entire episode driving to Jackson to see his Lone Wolf of a father? Alcide is one of the most compelling characters on the series, yet we’ve spent all season worrying about Terry and his tormentor stolen out of a Lost episode.
Thankfully, however, True Blood is starting to resemble a sense-making series again. If all goes as planned, all that’s left to solve is the giant supernatural war a-brewing (piece of cake, right?), Sookie’s parents’ murder, and the mystery surrounding Alcide’s lack of shirtless scenes this week.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
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