I’m seriously racking my brain over how quickly True Blood went from the glory that was “At Last” to the atrocity that was “F–k the Pain Away”. Like, can anyone explain to me how such a well-paced, expositive episode shifted into this… mess?
The first half hour in particular was just grueling to watch, although I felt myself wanting to gouge my eyes out throughout the entire hour. The editing was choppy, the cinematography and costuming included a great homage to Kevin Sorbo, the dialogue and character motivations didn’t make a lick of sense, and I felt a general sense of being dragged through the mud by that silver chain. From Eric and Tara turning themselves in, to Sam waking up with a hangover, Terry hiring an assassin (is it hiring if the assassin says “You don’t need to pay me”?), the weird vampire sexperiments, and most notably the ridiculous, phoning-the-scene-in sequence in which Warlow was created by Lillith, this was one trippy ride… and not the fantastic high-on-each-other’s-blood-and-having-Viking-Sex-in-the-snow-while-covered-in-animal-skins kind of trippy.
“F–k the Pain Away” seemed to heed to one of the handful of standard True Blood philosophies for not knowing where to go with its own show: make characters have sex that have no business having said sex. Of course I’m referring to Sarah Newlin and Jason Stackhouse. The reasons for this ridiculous, unnecessary scene are threefold: 1) show Ryan Kwanton (Jason) almost naked, 2) get Jessica into the concentration camp, and 3) almost certainly to get Sarah Newlin pregnant… If you recall, she is a little bit baby crazy (plus she was just denied by her current lover, Truman).
But I think the thing I’m most offended by (and I realize that this is my personal beef and probably matters to literally zero other people on the planet) was Warlow’s faerie culture. They were from 3500 B.C.E., yes? Well… How come Eric’s people looked less sophisticated in 1000 A.D.? (I guess that the obvious answer here is that Warlow’s people were fae and Eric’s were human.)
How come Lillith referred to a singular “god” when she raped Warlow? At that time in history there were exclusively polytheistic (multiple gods rather than a single god) religions. The first monotheistic (single god) religion found its origins in Zoroastrianism sometime after 700 B.C.E. Like… if the writers are going to take the time to monopolize the most popular and Google-able vampire origin myth of Lillith (someone on the writing staff clearly plays way too much Vampire: The Masquerade and can’t come up with an original idea…), why not go a little bit further with it? On top of my anthropological/mythological complaints I’d like to speak with the costuming department about their recycled Xena: Warrior Princess costumes. We’ve seen a LOT of cool props, makeup, and costumes come from the sometimes-horrific and sometimes-silly True Blood, including an enticing fae culture in which the Shakespearean Queen Mab ruled, so why skimp on our new hero’s origin story?
But maybe I am taking True Blood WAY too seriously and should just get on to the damn reviewing part of this review.
Performance wise, I think it’s safe to say that Chris Bauer (Andy) stole the whole damn episode, followed closely by Nelson Ellis (Lafayette). While Andy may not have known his daughters long, Chris Bauer made me genuinely feel for Andy with his worry, anger, and tears. Although, if I may interject with a writing criticism regarding Lafayette: Lala freakin’ killed Jesus while possessed. Why is he agreeing to speak with the dead? He KNOWS where that leads.
What kind of shitty writing is this? I have a general distaste for the lack of character motivations right now in True Blood. Allow me to lament the ways:
Alcide: Literally the big damn hero of season 5. Saved the Shreveport pack, killed all the baby vamps who were terrorizing the general population. Now has devolved into Resident Douchebag of True Blood, followed immediately by Sam.
Sam: Saved Alcide, also saved by Alcide, yet is somehow at odds with the new packmaster. Also, somehow able to sleep with a young woman after the death of what can likely only be described as THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE. Not mourning, just running and f–king.
Lafayette: Sweet Lala can do no wrong, but consistently being possessed by spirits that want to kill the ones he loves should be a sign to, I dunno, stop communing with the dead.
Warlow: Apparently Niall’s father; still has the motivations of a protagonist and antagonist. I would like to feel good or bad toward this character. Suddenly he is super sympathetic, I’m still unsure whether a bad guy or not.
Sarah Newlin: Embodiment of the Good Christian Contradiction. I actually am in love with the portrayal of a religious woman who fornicates outside of marriage/her express relationships yet finds it necessary to demonize those she gets into bed with. Still, “God sent me here for this booty call” does not endear me to the writing staff at all.
Corbett and Michelle Stackhouse: Were we ever supposed to think that Sooks’ parents were good people? Because the ghosts and/or weird figments of Jason’s imagination make me loathe these characters entirely.
To end on a slightly more positive note, my favorite part of the ridiculousness had to have been Pam with the psychiatrist. Pam is clearly the only consistent character on True Blood, and though her revelations may have been detrimental to all of vampire-kind, it was expressed in the only way Pam could. So kudus to the writing staff for THAT gem. I also very much enjoyed the dialogue between Jessica/Jason/Sarah and the interactions between Jessica and Tara. Basically, right now the Northman tribe is carrying the show for me.
I’m at a loss, guys. I truly enjoyed “At Last”—the gothic homage to classic horror, the well-paced scene transitions, the great dialogue… the very shirtless Eric. I thought that True Blood was not only returning to its roots but also giving us something fresh and exciting… I now realize that was just because my favorite True Blood staff writer was behind the episode (Alexander Woo), and I can expect anything not coming from him to be pure, filthy garbage.
Please, someone help me enjoy “F–k the Pain Away” even the slightest bit, because I’m losing hope for my favorite television show…