This week on True Blood we, the dedicated and wide-eyed fans, were once again burdened with too many plot lines and too many characters. Don’t get me wrong, I have and always will be a fan of the series, but I’ve had far too much information to process per second ever since last season’s introduction of the archfiend Marni.
Let’s start at the top: Tara does not want to be an evil, blood-sucking fiend (her words, not mine). Unfortunately, she is essentially a newborn infant thrown into the trash, as 20th Century Eric told us in an overly allegorical flashback about half-way through the episode. Apparently True Blood does not trust the viewers to understand any one plot line without the guiding hand of another. Tara seeks out the help of Sam, who thankfully does not have his own thread in this episode. He feeds and shelters her for the day. I’m thrilled to see this story played out, and I honestly wish that it had received more airtime. I like Tara quite a lot, and I’m saddened by the apparent lack of support for her character by the fans. Her story has always kept me engaged and I’ve always favored her role in the series. She’s suffered immensely throughout the show, but she has always been an envoy for perseverance. Even when she’s acted naively or in anger, she has remained an infallible portrayal of survival.
Secondly, Terry and Arlene are still fighting and Hoyt is an annoying fangbanger. I’m not really okay with this. Terry and Hoyt were the two hold outs for good people residing in Bon Temps, or so I thought. Nope, Terry has to have a mental breakdown and start treating his wife like an enemy rather than a queen and Hoyt has to go out of his way to look like a Hot Topic skinhead at an attempt at a vampire connection. I liked nice Hoyt and Terry. Bring them back (or stop pursuing their plot arcs)!
Next, we have the Authority headed by Roman, “The Guardian”, and his partner Salome (newcomers Christopher Meloni and Valentina Cervi, respectively). The Authority allows Bill and Eric to live so that they may find and slay the good-vampire-reputation-exterminator Russell Edgington—by the way, it truly is a shame that we have yet to see the famed spinal-cord-ripper from season three; he honestly was the best antagonist and certainly one of the best actors in the series. Anyway, it’s another episode of Bro-Time with Bill and Eric because Salome seduces both of them only to determine that neither one is a Sanguinista, vampires who are against cohabitation with humans (or “mainstreaming”). We do find out that Nora, Eric’s vampire “sister” is one of the Sanguinistas. I am happy to learn of this because it means that the true death is in the mix for a character in this overly populated television series.
A lot of backstory was established in this episode firstly by the introduction of Ms. Steele, a high school (or possibly grammar school) teacher who seduced an underage Jason Stackhouse years ago. Finally, he realizes that he is more than a sex-toy and appears to be on the path to maturity. Don’t get me wrong, Jason being the playboy of Bon Temps is an entertaining venture, but I’ve been waiting for him to come to terms with last seasons sexual assault and the point that he is, in fact, more than what’s between his legs. A sex-crazed Jessica visits Jason in an attempt at a sexual encounter but he promptly rejects her on the grounds that he’s tired of simply being a piece of meat. Instead of huffing and puffing and blowing his pants down, Jessica tells him that she’ll change into some sweats so that he can talk to her, because they are friends. I really loved this part of the episode because I had honestly expected Jessica to take what she wanted or run off to find some fangbanger coed, but instead she shows him what she has actually been stressing throughout the last two episodes: Jason is her friend, and she cares about her friends. What a turn of events: a respectable vampire.
Remember that flashback I that I had mentioned earlier? We finally saw how Eric became Pam’s maker, which was actually just a brazen manipulation on her part. Really? “I’m going to slit my wrists so that you have no choice but to make me into a vampire” is not the epic storyline that I had envisioned for the blonde dynamic duo. Sure, Eric was attracted to her because she knew what she wanted and she was quite good at attaining it, but that’s just a cop-out. That’s not savvy or compelling, it’s weak storytelling. Pam and Eric deserved better, and if not for the connection to Pam becoming Tara’s maker, I’d wish that this plot had been tossed. But it’s there, so we have to deal with it. Pam has aggressively become a weaker character since Marni laid the rotting curse on her, and now she’s verging on pathetic. I loved badass Pam, and I feel that she has degraded instead of grown. She has progressively established her co-dependence on Eric by losing her mind every time that he goes missing for ten seconds ever since season three, and I’ve just about had enough. Fortunately, she still delivers the best lines.
Oh yeah… Sookie and Lafayette tried to keep each other calm and Debbie Pelts’ parents came rolling into town. Really, that was the gist of the “main character’s” plot for this episode. Sookie finally told Alcide what happened to good ol’ Deb and he lost his temper. He tried to act cool and down to earth, but underneath it all, he’s just an angry hound and he’s finally starting to show it. He’s easy on the eyes, but I’ve been waiting for him to finally make an obvious mistake, because his dialed down anger has not yet upset quite as many people as it should.
Believe it or not, I overall really enjoyed this episode. Whether or not I agree with what they’re doing, most of my favorite characters received some solid air time and each of them was developed just a little bit more:
Tara is lost and angry at the world for being made and abandoned; Sam supports Tara and still owns Merlotte’s (at this point I wasn’t sure we’d ever end up back at work); Terry and Hoyt are more than “nice guys”; Jason and Jessica really are friends, not just a booty call; Eric is hopefully done having creepy sibling sex; Roman and Salome were developed as sympathetic fiends; Nora was tortured will hopefully be dead tomorrow; Sookie and Lafayette are finally having a tough time keeping their cool faces on because, yes, people have died around and because of them (a lot); Bill is awful (and still doesn’t exist in a realistic timeline… the flashbook took place in 1905, which means that Bill has been a vampire for about 40 years— he should be considered neither young nor naïve to vampire politics); Steve Newlin is the new Nan Flanagan; Pam is more in love with Eric than we had really known; Alcide has anger problems (with good reason, I guess); and Andy had his butt put up on Facebook and finally started going steady with Holly. Oh yeah, Arlene is still afraid of vampires and catty as always. I love you, Arlene.
See what I was saying about too many characters?
I know that I sound pretty cranky about True Blood, but I simply want it to be better, and I want it to start being better now. The truth is, I’ve loved this series since the day it aired, and I have loved the books since 2002. I’ve got reader-bias and I know it.