TV Review: TRUE BLOOD 5.6 “Hopeless”

Let's celebrate a rare thing– a damn fine episode of TRUE BLOOD!

Holy hell, now that was fun!

This was the best hour of True Blood I’ve seen all summer. The pacing was swift, the jokes made me laugh out loud and I was truly engaged and entertained all the way to the end, even during Terry’s scenes! Nice job, show. (Too bad I was forced to file this review so late in the week. Never get sick, kids. Stay young, stay healthy and make your deadlines.)

Series creator and showrunner Alan Ball wrote this episode, titled "Hopeless," and like a master trash storyteller, Ball balanced all the disparate elements and characters quite well, something the show has struggled to do all season. Sadly, Ball can’t write every episode, and True Blood will probably return to its usual mix of campy fun and frustrating, disjointed rhythms next week. But we had a winner this week, so let’s celebrate what’s become a very rare thing in this here day and age – a pretty damn fine episode of True Blood!

Let’s just skip to the end first and talk about the scene we’ve all probably been waiting for – Russell Edginton’s battle with Roman, the power-tripping but toothless leader of the Vampire Authority. Russell is one of the show’s most entertaining and intriguing characters, and Roman is one of the most disappointingly dull characters of the season. So it was with great pleasure that I watched Russell slam Roman down on the table, yell, “Peace is for pussies,” and stake the undead life out of him. What a sweet moment. We didn’t get to see Roman explode, so it’s hard to say whether or not the golf-shirt wearing vamp met his “true death.” What do you think? Will Chris Meloni return next week? I kinda hope he does. (And I kinda hope Roman grows a pair too.)

Russell didn’t have a lot to do in this episode, but he clearly stole the show with his depraved declarations about wanting to gorge on human blood because, “I like it. It’s fun. It makes my dick hard!” It’s hard to argue with that logic. Russell’s reasoning for doing what he does makes a hell of a lot more sense than the faux religious pacifism that drives Roman’s Authority. Russell may be a murderous psychopath, but he’s pretty damn awesome. It’s good to see him up and about and acting all murderous again.

I’m looking forward to seeing the aftermath of Russell’s attack on Roman. Will he kill the rest of the Authority roundtable, or will his act somehow bring about the return of the Vampire goddess Lilith or kick off some kind of prophesied event, like the one Nora was babbling about in her cell?

We were treated to some much-appreciated sly comedy earlier in the episode. The Authority forced Bill and Eric to glamour Sookie and Alcide after they found Russell. Bill being Bill, he only fake-glamoured Sookie and used the opportunity to express his drippy gooey feelings for her. Again. Still, it was a sweet moment between these two, and it made me nostalgic for the simple romance they shared back in season one. Eric took a completely different angle with Alcide; using the opportunity to glamour the poor wolf and make him feel repulsed by Sookie. (I’m surprised Eric didn’t make it so Alcide pees himself every time a Vamp walks in the door.) You gotta love Eric. Unlike Bill, who plays the part his superiors want him to play like a good dog, Eric is “too cool for school,” and routinely dismisses all the religious and political nonsense going on around him, even though that nonsense can and will have huge implications on the entire world.

Later on, Jason took Sookie to the Fairy nightclub, where they learned that a Vampire attracted by Sookie’s Band-Aid blood might have murdered their parents. Unable to accept this knowledge, Sookie had a mini breakdown and blasted the other Fairies in the face with her glowy palms. But the Fairies blasted back, like they do.

Let’s catch up with the rest of the cast in handy bullet point form:

-Terry Vs. the Ifrit: Our favorite fried fry cook was forced to say goodbye to his love and his family after he learned the truth: A murderous “smoke monster,” which is really a fire monster, wants to kill him because he was cursed by a woman he was forced to kill. There’s still nothing new or uniquely compelling going on here, but I was more intrigued and invested in Terry’s story this week than I had been previously this season. Todd Lowe is doing a great job here, making Terry someone you want to root for. I felt his pain and regret, and I felt invested in watching him try to resolve the crazy situation.

-Jason and his junk: Jason is getting dream visits from his daddy now. I love how Jason turns into a happy, glowing kid when his dad is around. We didn’t get to see Jason wearing footie pajamas this time, but we did get to see him looking and feeling like a confident and less confused young man, if only for a moment, which was a treat. I like that he’s remembering his former self, the happy kid who felt good about himself before he more or less became a sex addict.

-Lafayette: Now this is finally getting good. I don’t care for the Season 4 leftovers that are driving Lafayette’s story, but it was hard not to love his scene with Ruby Jean here. This was probably the funniest scene in an episode full of funny scenes and moments. I’d love to see more of Lafayette and Ruby Jean together, especially if their dynamic continues this way.

-Sam and the Shifters: Sam’s story still has little to no connection with anything else going on in the show, but at least it’s getting more interesting as the season progresses. It’s a shame Sam killed the wonderfully backward Stake House employee; that guy was a hoot. But I like seeing Sam team up with Andy, and I’m intrigued by the idea that humans are finally starting to learn about the existence of other “Supes” like shifters and wolves and Fairies. It’s a good idea for True Blood to explore the human reaction to these other supernatural beings.

-Tara and Pam: Tara is still stuck being Pam’s slave, which is dark and funny and adds an interesting new dynamic to the show. Pam now has someone to kick around and to praise at times, even if she’s only proud of Tara like a master is proud of a “well-trained dog.”

-Alcide and the Wolf Pack: Hey, look. Alcide wants to be leader of the Wolf Pack after all. And the hottest wolf lady in the Pack is backing his claim to the position. The wolves are the least interesting Supes on True Blood, and I don’t’ see that changing. At least we can probably look forward to some steamy scenes between Alcide and his new partner.

Steve Newlin. Where are you?