True Blood took on a decidedly more serious and dramatic tone this week (and I write that knowing full well that something as ridiculous as the Urkel-bot episodes of Family Matters look serious when compared to last week’s crazy outing).
Season 5, while spotty at best and dull at worst, has been a huge improvement over last season, and this week’s episode set into motion a series of dark events that, if handled correctly, could lead to some awesome payoffs down the line.
While things felt a bit darker and more foreboding here, "Somebody That I Used to Know," directed by star Stephen Moyer, was also packed with the typical True Blood silliness – Luna shifting into Sam (groan worthy), Alcide asking Rikki to go steady in the middle of a sweaty Skinemax-worthy sex scene (amusing), and Russell Edginton flirting with a star struck Steve Newlin (hilarious).
While there was plenty of screen time devoted to the Hate Group’s shenanigans, the Wolf Pack grumbling, and Lafayette and Terry’s stories (or Terry’s story, now co-starring Lafayette, I guess), the show surprisingly found a way to make us care about its three central three characters again. There’s some interesting stuff going on with Sookie, Bill and Eric, y'all, and surprisingly, none of it has to do with their on-again, off-again love triangle.
Despite some terrible Nightmare on Elm Street 3 style CGI, Sookie’s search for the vampire who killed her parents is starting to feel suspenseful and downright creepy. I like the layers the show is adding to this mystery, especially the idea that Sookie somehow bonded with the mystery killer Vamp during her daytime séance with the Fairy kin. We’ve seen a lot of out of body experiences on True Blood lately, but Sookie’s sequence, in which she relived her mother’s memory of being murdered and then took on the persona of the killer, felt surprising and promising. I’m looking forward to learning the killer’s identity. Who the frak is Warlow? I wants to know, son!
Sookie and Jason had one of the night’s best and most tender moments, in which Jason reminded Sookie that being special is something to be cherished. The show is giving us some great Stackhouse brother-sister bonding this season, which reminds us that the importance of family is emerging as one of the season’s major themes. Sookie and Jason are looking to avenge the murder of their parents, Bill was reminded about the regret he feels over losing his human family, and Eric is struggling to put his sister back on the right path.
Eric was felling disgusted with himself and with his Vampire Authority frenemies after their crazy murderous rampage on N’Orleans. I like the idea of Eric being the rebel again, but his rebellion is steeped in a noble cause. He’s not interested in betraying the memory of Godric and watching the world become a gross and soulless Sanguinista Vampire feeding frenzy. His tense scene with Nora, which he attempted to strangle the crazy out of her, made it clear that he was alone in wanting to honor Godric’s message of peace and respectability between the races. Even Bill, normally the show’s best excuse for an “honorable” level-headed Vampire, seems to have joined the Sanguinistas in their plan to crush the Mainstreaming movement and view the human race as a breed of walking Happy Meals.
And what are we to make of Mr. Bill? His idea to bomb all the Tru Blood factories (there are only five?) and force all Vampires to start feeding on human blood again was actually quite brilliant. If Bill is turning evil, it sure looks like he’d be one hell of a crafty big bad. I kind of love the idea of Bill becoming the main villain of the season. His “evolution” here was a lot more exciting than the frustrated, placated act he’s been selling all season.
While Bill was away fraternizing with the Vampire Nazis, the good ol’ boy Hate Group nabbed and beat poor Jessica, locked her in a room and tried to force Hoyt to kill her. There wasn’t much tension here, as we all probably knew Hoyt’s love for Jessica wouldn’t allow him to murder her. But the image of Jessica beaten and balled up on the floor was difficult to watch. Luckily, she got her revenge and snapped one of her captors' necks before Sam and Sheriff Andy busted in to rescue her. Luna smelled the recent presences of a menthol-smoking woman with a poor diet. Sounds like Hoyt’s big mamma, Maxine, may be connected to the Hate Group, which doesn’t surprise me. It was probably Maxine who pulled a gun on Hoyt in the middle of the road.
Tara and Pam’s relationship continues to develop. It was fun watching Pam give Tara a surprise gift. Of course, Pam being Pam, the gift was a dumb, rude, racist chick who used to torment Tara in high school. It’s good to see these two not arguing for a change, but something about Pam turning that woman into a slave, even if she was a racist bitch, felt wrong. It’ll be interesting to see where Pam and Tara fall and who they’ll back when the Authority’s plan is set in motion and the real shit starts to go down.
Terry’s story continues to drag, but at least there was some forward momentum here. The spirit of the woman who cursed him promised to call off the Ifrit, but only if Terry killed Scott Foley. Now Terry has to worry about two useless characters who want to kill him: a chuckling CGI fire monster and a desperate, dull Scott Foley. I can’t decide which one I care about less.