TV Review: TRUE BLOOD 5.2 “The Authority Always Wins”

Mike thinks TRUE BLOOD needs to find some focus with a quickness.

What a hot, bloody mess! Is it me or is True Blood feeling more erratic and lifeless than ever? I’m not ready to give up on the show just yet, but this follow-up to last week’s passable Season 5 premiere just didn’t grab me. Correction: The parts not featuring the newly vamped (and delightfully dandy) Rev. Steve Newlin didn’t grab me.

I get that the show is setting up several things that will (hopefully) pay off later in the season, but there’s gotta be a more interesting and compelling way to lay the groundwork than this. “The Authority Always Wins” felt long and tedious -- like True Blood  was just going through the motions without trying to seduce us. This show is supposed to be a hot, sleazy and tantalizing bit of fun, not a collection of disparate, plodding supernatural stories.

There are too many different plots unspooling with too many characters running off in different directions. As has been the case before, True Blood is seriously lacking a sense of focus. It’s possible that the show could pull most of these different plot threads together in a satisfying way a few episodes from now, but the odds of that happening are not good. As it stands, we’re dealing with five or six different plots (maybe two or three that are somewhat compelling) plus flashback stories and subplots that don’t seem to have anything resembling a unifying theme. True Blood needs to find a focus quick!

Fortunately there was still some fun to be had here. I’m loving the hell outta Michael McMillian’s performance as Rev. Steve. He’s come out to the world as a vampire, but he’s afraid to come out as a homosexual, which is probably the show’s fun and silly way of saying that there are still a lot of people out there who will trust a blood-sucking monster before they’ll invite a gay man over to dinner.

And being a fan of made-up mythology, it’s interesting to learn more about the origins of the True Blood vamps and their connection to the show’s version of God. It seems like Alan Ball wants to explore/create the fundamental mythology for the show before bowing out as showrunner after the season is over, and that’s fine by me. What we learned here – God supposedly created vampires in his image, starting with Adam’s first wife Lilith, and created humans as Walking Happy meals – was quite insane and intriguing. While I appreciate that aspect of the show, I’m disappointed with how the vampire elders, known as The Authority, are being portrayed here.

The Authority are supposed to be a scary, badass crew, but instead they come off like scared, outmoded stiffs. It’s disappointing. I was hoping the show would offer something fun and fresh with The Authority, especially since the usually awesome Chris Meloni is the group’s leader, Roman, but there’s nothing fun or fresh about a group of tired-looking people bickering around a conference room table.

Unfortunately, it seems The Authority and their objective and the whole vampire bible thing, while cool and interesting in concept, probably won’t add up to much this season. These elements are only here to set up a great big ideological grudge match between The Authority and the newly freed Russell Edgington – with Bill and Eric working an angle somewhere in the middle of it all, of course. So here’s hoping things start to get fun and crazy and totally worth watching once Edgington wakes up.

Let’s dig in to some of the other plot threads in handy bullet point fashion!

* Vampire Tara – I liked watching a hurt and regretful Lafayette’s reaction to the Tara Monster. It was sad and funny all at once. And Sookie’s trip to the “Stake House” made me laugh out loud (You gotta love those gun-toting, vamp hatin’ backwoods Christians and their simple, uncouth ways). But I could care less about Super Speedy Tara Vamp, really. There wasn’t any tension as Lafayette was standing over Tara’s sleeping body with stake in hand, mostly because I knew Sookie would talk him down, and partly because I really didn’t care if Tara lived or died. So, yeah I suppose I can do without this thread altogether.

* Flashback Pam – Pam is one of my favorite characters on the show, so I should be delighted that we’re learning more about her with 1940s Human Pam flashbacks. Still, there isn’t anything interesting happening here. It’s just a slightly less edgy Pam acting like a jaded whorehouse madam and getting to know Eric. I can’t help but think this is all set-up for Pam’s eventual betrayal of Eric.

* Jason and His Junk – I like the idea of Jason growing as a character. It looks like he’s pretty hung up on Jessica, which makes sense (she is arguably the hottest young thing on the show). But I don’t see this relationship ending well. Still I like the fun little power struggle between Jessica and Rev. Steve that’s playing out here, and none of it would be possible without Jason and his “hard” ass (and other hard parts). And as far as Hoyt’s concerned, maybe it’s best if the show just forgets about him this season. We already have WAY too many characters to keep track of.

* Werewolves and Shapeshifters – The wonderful sight gag of a wolf puppy in baby pajamas was almost worth sitting through all the nonsensical arguing going on here. So cute and fuzzy! But, yeah … first Alcide decides to take off and leave his idiot pack behind, then they beg him to stay (minutes after telling him to get lost), and then he leaves, but feels guilty about it and OH MY GOD SHOW, DO SOMETHING COOL WITH ALCIDE ALREADY DAMMIT! There’s not much to talk about concerning Sam Merlotte, which is a shame, since he’s one of the more relatable, down-to-earth characters on the show.

* The Bellefleur Boys – Other than the Vampire Tara insanity, it’s Terry’s story that I’m probably the least interested in this season. Don’t’ get me wrong – I love Terry, but I love him as a background character, the kooky, war-fried burnout who always has something surprisingly poignant to say. As for Andy Bellefleur, I was glad to see him turn over that vial of V to Jason, because Lord knows I can’t handle revisiting the annoying Junkie Andy plot! Side note: Andy and Jason found Debbie’s car, which could mean they’ll be closing in on Sookie, who killed Debbie in the Season 4 finale, very soon.

Until next week, remember all’s fair in love and war, including hair pulling!