How amazing is Russell? While I’m usually not a fan of True Blood’s “stuff is boring, let’s make people crazy” method of character development (see: the entire town last season), but Russell’s recent crazy streak is pitch-perfect and a whole lot of fun. He carries Talbot’s remains around in a punchbowl, for God’s sake! And talks to it! Just letting Alan Ball know, if True Blood ever gets cancelled, I would be entirely okay watching a show that was just King Russell and his two friends, Talbot-Jello and Spiney.
Besides its wonderfully irreverent final scene, True Blood took a turn for the serious this week, as its characters actually began to contemplate their actions in real-word terms. Sookie cleaned up dead bodies, Jason learned that keeping Crystal is going to be a lot harder than getting her, and Eric had to face up to the consequences of his actions. But most impressively, the episode took a serious look at Tara’s storyline. It’s been kind of difficult to reconcile how enjoyable Franklin’s presence on the show has been this season with the fact that the reason he’s entertaining is because he’s been horrifically abusing Tara. The show acknowledged that tonight, and tried approaching Tara’s story with a level of realism and seriousness we haven’t had in a while. In some ways, True Blood’s utter lack of realism helps to curb the horror of the terrible things that sometimes happen; because the world is so unapologetically surreal, things like the fact that Arlene was in a serious committed relationship with a serial killer, or Bill’s head-twisting adventures, don’t seem gruesome or dark, but rather campy and over-the-top. When the show sits down to talk about Tara’s rape the way they would a horrifyingly normal rape, one devoid of vampires or weird nightgowns or texting “motherfucker”, it brings an unexpected seriousness and intensity to the plot. It was a risk the show took, because it’s so tonally different from the usual soap-opera hijinks, but I think it needed to be done. Especially because it didn’t feel like an obligatory, after-school special moral, but rather like something in keeping with Tara’s character. And it made Franklin’s sudden reappearance at the end disturbing in a new sort of way.
Jason gets to play the hero at the end of the Tara escapade, finally firing that damn Chekov’s gun he’s been carrying around for the past three episodes. Mostly Jason spends the episode back in season one mode, that is, acting like an idiot because of his girlfriend. There’s no way that Crystal is being completely on the level with Jason. She ran to him for help, but she refuses to sever her ties with her creepy, abusive family. She’s basically been pitting him against her family, but keeping valuable information from him. Like, for instance, that her family are some kind of shape-shifters that can easily kill him (and nearly kill Kevin.) To be fair, Jason’s had more than enough hints to figure out that Crystal and her family are were-somethings, but he’s Jason. He’s not exactly Sherlock Holmes. Or Inspector Gadget, for that matter. I understand that Crystal can have divided loyalties, but if a teenaged idiot like Tommy can get away from his parents, Crystal should be able to figure it out.
Usually, I’d credit that to the fact that Tommy has a far better, more mature mentor to rely on, but in this episode we finally see Sam snap. Sam’s been the voice of reason for some time, and it’s fun to see him go off that, but I hope the show doesn’t start thinking that everyone needs to go gritty and dark to be interesting. But it’s hard to blame him for being frustrated, when Tommy is back to being an irritating little jackass. He even makes Arlene cry! Fortunately, the new therapist/waitress Holly shows up to offer advice and fix everyone’s problems. I’m glad to have another reasonable person on the show, but it’s only a matter of time before she turns out to be a genie or mermaid, or at least a mind reader.
Speaking of mind readers, Sookie is, in fact, in this episode. She just spends it looking at photo albums, again, and talking to Hadley, again. But we do get to meet her little nephew, also a mind reader, and find out that Sophie-Ann and Russell are looking for any mind reader, not just Sookie. Time to bring back that bellhop from season 2, writers! Bill got a bit more to do than Sookie, and takes his own trip to the soft-focus land of plot resolution. He discovers the secret of Sookie’s lineage from Claudette, but the episode ends before he gets around to telling the audience. I already know what’s up with Sookie, and anyone else who has read the books already does too. So I’m not sure why the writers are drawing the reveal out so much, it’s not suspenseful for the half of the audience that already knows the secret, and for the other half it’s just frustrating. Also frustrating was Bill’s apparent onset of amnesia this episode, since he spend most of it giving Sookie mournful puppy-dog eyes for not trusting him. As Jason might say: dude, you almost killed her two episodes ago. The audience hasn’t forgotten yet. He even tries it on Claudette, telling her that he “would never hurt Sookie”, but she calls him out on it. I’m sure that Bill and Sookie will get back to normal in no time, but for the moment, she’s entirely justified in being cautious around him.
We’ve seen that Eric was willing to have sex with Talbot (!), badmouth Godric (!!) and even smile regularly (!!!!) to get on Russell’s good side, but now that the jig is up, the wind seems to have gone out of his sales. He comes home to an investigation from PR vamp extraordinaire Nan Flanagan, but when it seems like they’re going to kill him, the viking doesn’t even put up a fight. We also get our first peek at the Authority, but it doesn’t reveal much more than that it’s composed of vampires who have heads and own a big table. I had sort of pictured the Authority as something vague, etherial, and ancient, so the idea that it’s a few hundred years old, American, and run like the Tribunal in Metalocalypse is kind of disappointing. But they opt not to kill Eric (hooray!) and instead give him the, erm, authority, to go after Russell and kill him, off the record and without any AVL assistance. Though I can picture Nan turning around in midair after seeing Russell’s broadcast to offer Eric all the flamethrowers and stake machine guns he needs. I doubt that Eric would actually get that lucky, but it’s going to be a blast watching him and Russell go at it.
“As much as you want to be human, I think I’m meeting you halfway to vampire.” - Sookie brought this up last episode as well. Anyone else think that the she’ll have killed someone by the end of this season?
Dude! I got the gun! Shut the fuck up!
“Can’t do much antiquing after dark, can we?” - Summer is hilariously terrible this episode. I didn’t mention it, because there was a lot of plot going on, but I really enjoyed seeing Jessica and Hoyt together again. I hope those two crazy kids can make it work. Okay, Jessica made some mistakes, killed a guy, but she’s young, everyone went through that.
“I’ll be damned. Maybe god loves fags.” - I also didn’t talk about Jesus and Lala, since we didn’t learn anything except that Ruby and her son have the same taste in makeup, but Jesus and Lafayette are immensely sweet together.
“We will eat you. After we eat your children. Now time for the weather, Tiffany?”