Well, friends, it’s time to settle in and accept the fact that True Blood has grown out of control like ivy crushing a frail, wooden trellis. It’s happened and there’s nothing we can do about it. All we can expect now that we’ve reached the halfway point of the season is for the remaining episodes to try to unravel the mess that’s been made. And we’re somewhat prepared for this since Russell Edgington is involved, but he’s not the one we should really be worried about. He’s since joined Salome and Nora in their praise of Lilith – so soon after renouncing their movement – and now, he’s simply a “fun”-loving vamp in the midst of a movement he only supports as long as it’s fun for him. Russell is relatively innocent and our fears are centered on another axis of evil: her name is Lilith.
And while men have provided a great deal of the conflict for the series – Sookie is a magnet for them – this season is greatly about the wiles and woes of women. Nora kidnapped Eric and Bill and brought them to the Authority; Salome played Roman and freed Russell for the love of Lilith; Sookie is struggling with the notion of her fairy essence and whether or not she should keep it; Arlene is destroyed in the wake of Terry’s Ifrit insanity; Pam is learning independence from Eric and the concept of motherhood; and Tara is learning that even though Pam is a bit cruel, she’s a better mother than Lettie Mae ever was.
But first, let us deal with this mess called Lilith. At the Authority’s chambers, we find Russell’s face splattered with blood, so we can be sure that last week’s staking really was the end of Roman. The Authority troopers sweep in to take Russell, as Salome pleads with them to keep him alive. We see one final flicker of the Bill and Eric buddy system when Bill sweetly panics because he can’t find Eric: He’s strung up on a column and his sense of humor has clearly not been dampened: “The view from up here is spectacular.” When they find themselves locked up once more, Bill and Eric reveal that they’re more stupid than we thought. Boys, we figured out Salome was the one who released Russell weeks ago. Try to catch up. They don’t catch on until they’re summoned to her chambers, where Nora and Russell are freely frolicking while Salome clears the “mystery” up for them and admits the plan was hers all along. She couldn’t carry the burden of having gone against scripture to kill the Guardian, Roman, so she needed Russell to do it for her. Somehow it’s okay if Russell does it, but I’m calling BS. I say she just didn’t have the strength or bravery to do it herself.
Meanwhile, Russell is only halfway committed to this whole Sanguinista movement. He’s just happy someone is allowing him to roam freely without having to escape the Authority’s rules at every turn. He offers Bill and Eric an olive branch, clearly brought on by the high of complete and utter freedom. Bill and Eric are distrusting of everyone and deny Salome’s offer to join them until the following day, when they attend the Lilith ritual and assume they can participate and simply pretend to play along.
But, it’s never that easy. Boys, when did you become so damned naïve? Did you really think it would all be so easy? Still, Bill shows himself to be the weaker of the two, as he has all season, whenever he’s bent to Roman’s mumbo jumbo “for survival,” Eric has stuck to his guns and look: they’re both still alive and well. He says he still believes mainstreaming is the only way to keep the world from imploding, yet when the Lilith praising starts (and Russell beheads the first dissenter) Bill and Eric drink the blood of Lilith along with everyone else, assuming it couldn’t hurt.
Next: Lilith’s blood isn’t so sweet…Well, if drinking vampire blood is like a drug to non vampires, then drinking an ancient vial of the original vampire’s blood is like heroin for vampires. The entire gang, including a very cozy Russell and his new plaything Steve Newland (who are actually kind of cute despite Russell’s bloodthirsty nature and Newland’s former desperation for Jason), storms Bourbon Street in New Orleans and begins intimidating innocent humans and claiming the streets as their own. It’s not long before they descend upon a karaoke bar full of cartoonishly boring, vanilla people, ripe for blood-sucking. The group drains the entire bar, leaving a wasteland of dead bodies, leaving no one behind. Russell is even shown drinking the blood of a young boy – we’ve traveled into truly ruthless territory. The likes of which we’ve yet to see on True Blood. Suddenly, a drop of blood manifests itself in the form of a naked Lilith, rising from the pool of blood that coats the floor. Why is she naked? Well, I think the bigger question is why the original vampire is emerging from a pool of human blood in the middle of a karaoke bar.
Luckily, Eric the “Bible-banging c**t” hater isn’t completely taken in by the blood of Lilith. Godric, in spirit form, is able to break through to him and convince him that Nora needs his help to understand that what they’re doing is wrong. In his heart, Eric knows it’s wrong. We know this is true when he looks at Nora and doesn’t see the vision of Lilith that is standing before her. At least we know that True Blood didn’t get as weird as we feared – Lilith’s apparition appears to be little more than a vision brought on by the high provided by drinking her blood. Let’s hope that’s the truth.
Meanwhile, Bill does not seem to be slowing down. While Eric stops to contemplate the acts he’s committed that night, Bill is as ravenous as ever. Could he truly be a sponge, absorbing whatever those around him are doing? We saw how hard it was for him to break free from Lorena’s free-wheeling lifestyle. Perhaps Bill is not as strong and upstanding as we’ve always assumed him to be. Could it be that Eric is actually the good one?
Perhaps Eric is the good one, but for now, that distinction has no bearing on Sookie’s life. She’s dealing with plenty of her own issues. After she used her light powers at the fairy burlesque, her fairy friends are concerned she’s using up her magic. If she uses it too often, she will lose her powers all together. While the thought clearly terrifies both fairies, Sookie’s eyes light up. She has the chance to be normal, just like she’s always wanted.
Plus, she’s riddled with guilt over her parents’ death. It was her special blood that killed them and after she talks to Sam, who says if he could become normal he’d stop putting his loved ones in danger, Sookie sees only one answer: she’s got to get rid of her magic. Jason does his best to convince her that there’s nothing wrong with her and that she’s not to blame, but while he visits Jessica to try and work through his feelings about vampires, Sookie tries to use up all of her light.
But before he can get to her, he’s knee deep in a fight with Jessica. She tries to convince him that all vampires aren’t equal – that some are good. It’s something we, the viewers, are beginning to question too, what with Eric and Bill going all blood-sucking zombie in New Orleans. Jessica starts to kiss Jason to show him how tender vampires can be, but he tastes the blood of the fangbanger she’s been feeding on upstairs. She tries to convince him the dude is just her dinner, but that’s not something Jason can wrap his head around – and to be fair, that’s probably because like he says, when a human is feeding on cow’s meat, there’s generally not any sexual interaction with the provider of the sustenance. And if Jason wasn’t already fully against the vampire way, Jessica’s reaction to his hate will surely finish him off. She bites him, something she said she’d never do to him because it was so intimate, yet now, it’s done in violence and anger. He shoots her in the head in an effort to get her off of him, and just like that, his only tie to vampire-centric sympathy is gone.
Meanwhile, Sam and Andy are dealing with the aftermath of their self-defense killing at the supernatural weaponry store. Sam’s keen nose ferrets out the box of Obama masks in the store’s back room, confirming what Hoyt’s latest friendship already suggested.
Hoyt, who is still the most pointless character on this show, is being initiated into the hate group (he even gets his own Obama mask later), whose angle is to eradicate everything that’s making them lost their sense of superiority in nature. Hoyt, still hurt by Jessica’s rejection, latches onto what he thinks is “love” radiating from his hateful cohorts. After their leader, someone who goes by “The Dragon,” calls to tell them Junior was killed at the gun store, Hoyt gives them Jessica’s full name and they convince him she glamored and “date raped” him. It’s obvious he doesn’t fully believe what he’s saying, but his hate is obtuse and obstructing that he agrees with them and says he fully hates her. He could have just condemned her to death, and now that Jason is no longer on her side, she could be in real danger.
The two groups later converge when Sam’s nose leads him on a chase through the hospital. He finds one of the men who shot at he and Luna and tackles him. It’s one of the men who was with Hoyt and while he’s working his regular job, Hoyt and the others are suiting up for another murderous mission. He smells one of the crew who shot him and Luna, follows him and tackles him. It is one of the men – one who was with Hoyt. It’s possible, seeing as the men were so eager to deliver an Obama mask to Hoyt, that they could be heading for Jessica’s house. And just when she’s been left alone by the one person who cares most for her.
Next: Alcide isn’t pining over Sookie… at all.But Jason isn’t the only one who’s moved on. Alcide is filling his sexual desires with his partner, the sexy werewolf who vouched for him when he challenged the pack master. She does have the jump on Sookie in that she constantly walks around naked while Sookie insists on wearing actual clothing. But she does touch a nerve when she tells Alcide to take V once to level the playing field against J.D. whose completely hopped up on the stuff. Alcide may not stick to his feelings for Sookie, but he never wavers on V: “No. It’s like swallowing death. You take it, and you’re dead inside.”
Just then, Martha comes in to defend J.D., who she says was always so loyal to Marcus even though he believed that he had more right to the packmaster title. She eats her words later when she witnesses J.D. convincing the pack to take V, even baby wolf Emma. Martha may have started as an irrational bi**h this season, but she’s quickly showing herself to be nothing more than a fierce mother who refuses to believe the worst in those she loves. But this betrayal is bringing her to reason, as much as she might want to resist. Alcide may have another ally after all.
Oh, but there’s more. There’s at least a six-pack of characters we haven’t even touched upon. After Terry left her in order to keep her and the kids safe, Arlene is watching her wedding video and mourning the loss of the life she once knew – and in the process, we are too. We see Jesus and Lafayette when they were happy, Jessica and Hoyt considering marriage, and Jason still happily chasing tail. The world of Bon Temps is changed and marred, even moreso than when the video was taken – a time when the whole town thought they’d lost Sookie forever. But it may not be lost. Holly comes to Arlene with the best advice anyone on Bon Temps has ever given: she tells Arlene not to give up on Terry because clearly, they live in a world where nonsensical incidents and beings are the norm. She convinces Arlene not to give up on her husband, but she can’t do much about Terry giving up on himself.
When the Ifrit sneaks up on Patrick and Terry, it won’t kill them. In fact, it laughs and gains enjoyment from torturing the two former soldiers. Terry can’t take it and tries to kill himself because he doesn’t want to be tortured by this manifestation of their guilt for the rest of his life – well guess what buddy, that’s how guilt works. Patrick takes the gun and apologizes for giving him the order that cursed their whole regiment, and his intolerant comment about suicide being for Muslims aside, Patrick is the only who makes sense: Terry can’t throw his life away because he’s got kids waiting back in Bon Temps. Hopefully, Patrick will take his guilt and remorse and sacrifice himself to get this Ifrit out of our lives so we can focus on the important plotlines for once.
Speaking of plot points that need be sewed up (you’re going to hate me for that choice of words in a second), Lafayette visits Jesus’ uncle thanks to his mother’s “conversation” with Jesus’ severed head. There’s just one problem: Jesus’ uncle sews Laf’s mouth shut and is planning to kill him so he can reclaim the dark magic Lafayette stole from Jesus when he was possessed by Marnie. (You and I know how nuts this sounds, and we’re okay with the notion of a vampire religion. This story has got to go.) Jesus’ tio is about to kill Laf, but his wife jumps up and murders the magic man before cutting the bloody stiches off of Lafayette’s mouth. I’m always prepared for blood on this show, but the mouth-sewing torture was just a little too far for my tastes – and perhaps it’s a matter of adjusting, just like we did with the notion of watching attractive vampires suck on people’s necks and thighs, but it’s something I don’t care to get used to.
Finally, we have the secondary plot that I wish was more central. The compelling development of Tara’s relationship with Pam is not given nearly the billing it deserves, especially now that Tara’s mother has denounced her. Lettie Mae selfishly takes Tara’s new life – the one she did not want for herself – as a personal attack. At least we see where Tara gets her selfish notion that the world is out to get her. With Lettie Mae’s refusal, Pam is not the only mother Tara has – and she’s still more nurturing than her real mother ever was. Case and point: Tara is crying in Pam’s office and she allows Tara to hug her like a frightened child, but only for a moment. As soon Pam starts to feel something, she pushes Tara off. But it’s happening slowly – she’s coming to love her child, especially in the wake of her split with Eric.
With rich stories like the vampire religion, Russell’s real plan, Tara’s relationship with Pam, Sookie’s possibility of becoming normal, Bill’s apparent rejection of reason, why are we wasting time with fire monsters and Hoyt? True Blood, you’ve clearly still got the ability to ensnare us, but every step you take towards these half-baked stories is a step away from maintaining your grip.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: HBO]