I love True Blood, and I pray this is the end of it. The tea leaves all read “buh-bye,” but in this first episode, we’re mainly talking mop-up from last season’s remarkably messy—even by Blood standards—finale. But before we get into the particulars, some thoughts from this devoted Trubie.
I know there are people who feel the show was great when it was an elegant, fleet, and witty anti-intolerance fable. And feel that, as early as Season Two, when Maryanne the cannibalistic Maenad (Michelle Forbes) started having psychedelic Southern-style Burning Man-ish parties on Sookie’s impeccably well-maintained lawn, the chronicles of everyone’s favorite fairy telepath—Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin)—had already fallen into their shark-jumping phase.
Me? I always said that, like that lawn or the improbably ever-fresh pitcher of lemonade in Sookie’s fridge, there were things about True Blood you just accepted. I said, “Cannibalistic Burning Man run by a Mad Maenad? I’ve waited my whole life for this!”
And then when Seasons Three and Four gave us the batty-beyond-belief Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare), Vampire King of Mississippi, a white trash were-panther named Crystal Beth, the lounging vampire Queen Sophie-Anne Leclerq (Evan Rachel Wood), who loved nothing more than to play Yahtzee (!), the revelation that Sookie was a fairy, that Jesus (Kevin Alejandro), the love of darling Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), was in fact a powerful Mexican bruja, and a curse caused Pam (Kristin Bauer) to embark on the holy grail of finding the right foundation—Smashbox? MAC? Maybelline?—to cover her rotting face, some called foul.
But me, I was in seventh heaven as the show gave up even the slightest lip service to realism on the road to becoming the most faux Southern fried nü-Hammer, blood-Romantic, were-vamp gore-show, splat-palooza of all time,and it became clear that Blood creator Alan Ball would not drive 55, and the only way he’d stop was if he were six feet under.
And now it must end. It must not be allowed to become an undead parody of a parody of itself, like Dexter.
My sense of Season Five, from its tagline—“Everything is at Stake”—onwards points towards end games from which the show will not be able to renew itself without becoming a faint Xerox of past bloody wonders.
So with the prayer of “I love you—now die,” some highlights:
The episode opens one minute before the very end of last season’s finale, whipsawing from Sookie accidentally shooting Tara—whose fate will have to remain a secret for a spell, sorry—to a hilarious frenzy of tidying as, a few miles away, Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) clean up the sticky remains of Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck) who’d just outed herself as anti-Authority before meeting the True Death at Bill’s hands when he learned she desired some of Sookie’s fairy power.
Alas, a pack of ninjas (or is that a flock, a murder or a bushel?) bag them in silver netting and stick them in a limo trunk. Eric’s shout of “That’s the Authority we’re up against!” not only IDs their attackers, it suggests a more epic storyline that would render any little tales from humble Bon Temps, LA passé.
Meanwhile, the Rev. Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian), ex-head of the Fellowship of the Sun, shows up gay and glamouring himself into Jason’s apartment, availing himself of that law of physics that says for every standing body of flesh there is a correlative moment when that body WILL fuck Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten).
But then the door slams open, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) declares herself “the progeny of the king of Louisiana!” and Newlin’s old news for now, as Jessica mounts Jason.
Shock cut to: A spy-movie-style male and female pair listening to Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs” in a limousine. In the trunk, Bill and Eric are bound in silver netting (take note, slash fiction folks—this will be a good year for you).
One of the show’s more casually ridiculous escapes transpires: Bill finds an umbrella and stabs the car’s gas tank, which, after he asks Eric for some fire, blows up. Seriously. Bite this, believable solutions!
Crawling from the wreckage, the McCartney fan, whose name is Nora (Lucy Griffiths) finds Eric, and the two embrace and smooch deeply.
Nora is Eric’s sister and yeah—more TV incest. Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Bored to Death, Dexter, Supernatural, WTF?
At first I had no idea. But then a seeming cop-out, Eric’s revelation to Bill that he and Nora are “only connected through our maker” had me thinking. Because their “maker” is Godric (Allan Hyde), who died, or ascended heavenwards in a swirl of light and ecstatic disintegration season two’s “I Will Rise Up”.
With “everything at stake,” why would the show bring on someone who is Eric’s only living connection to the person he loved more than anyone or anything in his life, Godric?
Okay, before I mull myself into a coma, back to what Nora was actually doing. She’d planned to save Bill and Nora before their umbrella-gas-tank maneuver because, hot taboo sex aside, she’s a ruling member of the Authority working to tear the damned thing down from the inside.
So, Vive la révolution! Except Nora, Bill and Eric get caught by more Authority ninjas and there’s something about the way one of them bullhorns “Do not fucking move!” that makes me think Bill and Eric are screwed for quite a while.
Otherwise, here are the updates you need:
Captain Andy. An APD to all you Wire fans desirous of Chris Bauer nudity—your prayers are answered. Captain Andy is seen consorting with witch Holly (Lauren Bowles). Nice butt, Chris—who knew?
Terry. Terry (Todd Lowe) is now playing guest to his old Iraq war pal Patrick (Scott Foley). Flashbacks, fistfights, hallucinations occur—within, like, five minutes of screen time. How do you ratchet things up from there? A: Terry has kids, a wife, a life, oh dear.
Lafayette. Is this horrible? I want him to die so he can be with Jesus (boyfriend Jesus). Of everyone on True Blood, nobody has suffered more and gained less than Lafayette. So when he and Sook look for Jesus’ body and it’s not there, I’m thinking that if my end game theorem is true, maybe there’s a way Lafayette can peaceably slip this mortal coil and be forever with his beloved Jesus.
Jason. This whole episode is like a Stations of the Cross redemption trip for Sookie’s older brother.
He tries to apologize to Hoyt (Jim Parrack), but Hoyt just calls him a girlfriend-fucker, accurate but hardly sporting.
He goes to Bill’s house, where Jessica is having a party with college kids her own age in a kind of adorable/pitiful simulation of what her life would have been like if the whole vampire thing hadn’t happened. After Rock Banding The Runaway’s “Cherry Bomb” (one of those True Blood moments sure to become a viral animated GIF), Jason leaves with some hottie but gives her an impassioned speech on how he wants be a better man instead of having sex with her, and still the space/time continuum did not collapse. Which leaves . . .
Alcide (Joe Manganiello). Who saves Sam (Sam Trammell)—whose problems with Luna (Janina Gavankar) are just confusing at this point—from becoming puppy chow for the werewolf pack that thinks he killed Marcus (Dan Buran). Alcide tells the pack that he’s a lone wolf now, and then he hightails it to Sookie’s to offer his protection from Russell, who, despite being buried under a few thousand tons of concrete the last time we saw him, is somehow back!
Russell. The only American vampire willing and able to punch his fist through someone’s chest on national TV and gloat about it. Russell (Denis O’Hare)—the one-vamp/one-man guarantor of True Blood quality!
Me, I’m going out on a limb here and predicting a terrific, apocalyptically satisfying season of over-the-topper-most True Blood. May it be its last.
Ian Grey has written, co-written or been a contributor to books on cinema, fine art, fashion, identity politics, music and tragedy. Magazines and newspapers that have his articles include Detroit Metro Times, gothic.net, Icon Magazine, International Musician and Recording World, Lacanian Ink, MusicFilmWeb, New York Post, The Perfect Sound, Salon, Smart Money Magazine, Teeth of the Divine, Venuszine, and Time Out/New York.