Who is this season of "True Blood" for? I guess one could argue that's it's for the die hard fans, but is there really a "True Blood" fan that thinks to themselves, "Boy, I hope we get one more glimpse of Robert Patrick as Alcide's dad before this season's over?"
Huge chunks of this episode were given over to cameos from characters past, and while it's certainly possible that some audience members were glad to see them, I was just bored to tears.
The good news: No Lettie Mae!
I guess I understand the impulse to bring everyone back for one last hurrah, but "True Blood" has historically been so bad about writing out its characters that I'm really not sure all of these guys deserve a victory lap. Surely poor Terry deserved better than to show up as a hallucination due to blood loss, right? Hoyt coming back is a little more promising, although his original departure, where he was glamoured to forget not only his relationship with Jessica, but his entire friendship with Jason, was pretty ridiculous. I dread endless scenes of Jason and Jessica pretending they don't know him, then making significant eye contact when Hoyt's back is turned.
This episode featured not one, not two, but THREE scenes of people being told their loved ones were dead, plus multiple flashbacks to the full history of Fangtasia. That is a LOT of filler, but somehow there apparently wasn't time for a scene where Jason talks to Violet about murdering his former best friend's mom. That was actually a scene I was interested in seeing, "True Blood"! Did we really need that many flashbacks to Fangtasia's origin? Well, I guess we had to see Zelko Ivanek as the Vampire Magister again, to keep that nostalgia cameo train rolling.
The good news is that things picked up considerably in the back half, as it's finally revealed what's up with Jessica: She's been refusing to feed for weeks because of her guilt at killing the fairy sisters. This actually yields not only a good scene with Sookie, but one with Lafayette as well. Sookie reads Jessica the riot act, telling Jessica that she doesn't care about her problems, only making sure Jessica's 100% for their assault on Fangtasia. Lafayette takes a more sympathetic angle, telling Jessica that he had to murder his old boyfriend. If there's one thing everyone in Bon Temps can understand, it's being a murderer.
And of course everything with Pam and Eric ruled. I know I said the flashbacks were filler, and they were, but they were still pretty entertaining. Pam stealing Ginger's idea for Fangtasia was almost as hysterical as Eric's 90's ensemble. Between that and Eric sassing Bill again ("Pam says you wrote a book where you claim not be an asshole anymore"), I have to wonder if the writers are deliberately hobbling the other characters so that Eric and Pam are the only ones we like.
The one sour note in the flashbacks was Ginger's bit about the college class she was taking about "the other in society, and how we treat the other, vis-à-vis vampire lore," which was one of those winky, self-referential "It's really about the show, GET IT?" moments that really have to be handled with care. But I'll allow it, since it was surrounded by scenes of Pam working in a video store.
So in the present day, the gang storms Fangtasia and in the melee all the Hep V vamps are killed, along with Vince's human crusaders. The action is actually pretty tense, since the last few episodes have made it clear that no one is safe, but everyone comes out of the battle all right. It briefly seems like Arlene's going to expire, but she's saved thanks to the timely intervention of Vampire Keith.
Can I talk about how much I loved Vampire Keith, the drummer in James's vampire band? Keith is just such a funny name for a vampire. Why couldn't this show be about an all-monster band? Perhaps the creators were concerned about a lawsuit from the author of the "Samantha Slade: Monster Sitter" book series? That's probably why.
My real question now is what drives the narrative from here? Both sets of antagonists were dispatched within this episode, and surely it won't take Eric and Pam six episodes to run down Sarah Newlin. I'm concerned that with all the looking back this season has been doing, the characters will just revert to old patterns. Is Sookie going to have to pick between Bill and Eric again? Will Hoyt come back to town and fall for Jessica again, leaving James free to hook up with Lafayette? I don't know, just as long as the writers don't forget about Vampire Keith. Vampire Keith needs love, too!
Jeff Stone loves cartoons, wrestling and hour-long prestige cable dramas. You can follow him on Twitter @WheelbearGo.