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by Jeff Stone
July 14, 2014 1:33 AM
17 Comments
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Review: 'True Blood' Season 7, Episode 4 'Death Is Not the End': The Gang's All Here Whether We Like It or Not

Kristin Bauer van Straten as Pam in "True Blood." John P. Johnson/HBO

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.

READ MORE: Should Your Interest In 'True Blood' Be Reborn for the Final Season?

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. 

If there's one thing everyone in Bon Temps can understand, it's being a murderer.

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!

Grade: C+

17 Comments

  • Raychill | July 18, 2014 2:40 PMReply

    pretty sure from arlene asking sappingly wat vampire keiths name is that she will end up with him- he was all up in her face where terry's hallucination was. he was very yum tho so i approve of vampire keith. getting annoyed with jessica, and liking willa and eric father-daughter scenes very much i don't want her to ask him to release her she's just a lil babe ;(

  • Tito | July 18, 2014 10:25 AMReply

    The fact is that True Blood is the same its always been. The difference is that the quality of other TV shows has gotten a lot better. Watching True Blood after Game of Thrones? Come on.... Same as Dexter, True Blood has had its years and its time to let it go. I still love the show, the characters and the laughs it has given me over the years.

  • Anna | July 16, 2014 7:12 AMReply

    The best parts of this episode were the backstory on Fangtasia with Eric, Pam, and Ginger. For the first time since the car scene with Laffy and Jesus in S5, I almost cried when Pam tells Eric how she glamored Ginger and he tells her she was bad and then Pam's like "but you love me anyway," and Eric says "Always." See, that's what I'm talking about. The only other best part of this episode was Lafayette. The rest was a mess.

    So, I guess I'll be glad that there were a few actually good parts to this episode that rank up there with stuff from S1-S4 after about 2 seasons of mostly bad or just plain bad or bland episodes. It's a shame that I'm actually glad that this is the final season.

  • Anna | July 16, 2014 7:22 AM

    And I forgot to add as a note to the review writer that Lafayette didn't murder the love of his life. Marney did. She used the fact that he was new to his power and so she was able to over take him and use him as a weapon. He's a good person, so of course he feels guilty but it clearly wasn't his fault and he's not a murderer.

    I've always wondered why Laf wouldn't want to learn how to better control his power and gifts so that can't happen again.

  • Brian g | July 15, 2014 2:46 PMReply

    This was one of the best episodes in forever. No filler - all love for TB.

  • adri | July 14, 2014 9:54 PMReply

    best True Blood episode since season 4!! classic true blood

  • Cait | July 14, 2014 8:16 PMReply

    Your reviews are hilarious. I have no idea why True Blood is still on, and this season isn't giving me any answers. Keep doing what you're doing!

  • michael | July 14, 2014 6:05 PMReply

    Keith ends up with Arlene and if you took more note then you would maybe come to the conclusion that Eric may want to settle things with the Yakuza. Don't you think it was funny how they show up looking for Sarah Newlin after Eric's flashback of them killing his love interest?

    Your review sucks cheesy balls!

  • Isabella | July 14, 2014 5:15 PMReply

    This was an absolutely terrible review. Do you even enjoy watching the show?!? Last night's episode was the first time in a long time that I felt as connected with the show as I used to feel. Fangtasia has always been a fan favorite, so it was wonderful to see it's origin.

  • Sam | July 15, 2014 8:11 AM

    Completely agree, the last season didn't do it for me, and this episode was classic True Blood for me, silly, funny and bloody. Jason and Pam especially made me laugh out loud a few times..."He was a good guy...with a funny voice".
    This review seemed to find the Sookie scenes the best bit, which immediately makes me suspicious. Sookie, personally, is the worst thing about the whole show, and her giving advice made me wanna vom.

  • E-EM | July 14, 2014 3:22 PMReply

    Agree with Divared - I far prefer to read a review from a real fan. It seems to me you just don't "get" what it is about this show truly appeals to its fans. I've watched the show from the beginning. While some seasons have been painful-ish to watch (second half of season 4 through season 6), I'm so pleased the writers brought the action back to Bon Temps. I'm personally looking for less action this season, and more time to see relationships develop or be re-kindled. LOVED this episode beginning to end, would give it a 10. Eric, Pam, and Ginger episodes were AWESOME - and a real fan would appreciate and find the humor in it. Do us all a favor... pick a show you actually like and write about that instead, wouldja?

  • Leslie | July 14, 2014 3:07 PMReply

    Who the heck is Vampire Keith? Have we seen him before?

  • Divared | July 14, 2014 2:11 PMReply

    First off, try and make sure you spell actor's names correctly. It is Zeljko Ivanek, and yes, there are those of us who enjoy all the cameos. Second, why does Indiewire employ critics who clearly dislike the shows they are writing about? Snark is fine sometimes, but you constantly trash a beloved show in it's last season. I happened to love this last episode. Jeez, Indiewire, I write for IMdb so I volunteer to review for you.

  • eljay | July 14, 2014 12:22 PMReply

    I've watched all of True Blood to date and this season has been spectacularly unspectacular. There have already been more headscratching groaner moments in the first four episodes than all of the past six seasons combined. Jason's "This is our Normandy" and Bill's response. Weeeeak! I've lasted this lon so I will go with them to the end, but it sure doesn't look promising!

  • Emily | July 14, 2014 11:38 AMReply

    I thought the last episode was really intense I wish they could find a cure for Eric I would love to see him and sookie together. I think the season will end with sookie dying or being turned that would be a good ending to the last season.

  • trubbie | July 14, 2014 10:40 AMReply

    I think vampire Keith might get love from Arlene. As the episode finished with Terry saying to Arlene "be happy" and after when she "wakes up"she asks the name of the vampire who saved her. It could be also only a ironic hint from the writers since Arlene was always really against vampires been saved by one. But could as well mean love right? Who knows. If Eric doesn't end with Sookie please make him end with Pam or Willa. I really enjoy this episode. Though it bought back the best of past True blood.

  • Data1001 | July 14, 2014 2:00 AMReply

    For the first time this season, I can honestly say I enjoyed an episode of True Blood from start to finish.

    And yeah, I'm one of those people who thought it *was* cool to see Robert Patrick again. Plus, I did like the flashbacks with Ginger and how Fangtasia came to be.

    For me, this episode contained the best of what True Blood has given us in the past: real emotion, great character interaction, a definitive conflict, well-done action, and some nice humorous lines (i.e., Sookie's "It's only lunch" and Eric's "Unfortunately, I triggered an avalanche that killed an entire ski village").