True Blood’s first five episodes this season had everyone essentially jogging in place. We got to watch as characters circled each other, throwing vague promises of retribution at each other while waiting for something—or someone—bigger to spark them into action.
Enter Russell “Peace is for Pussies” Edgington.
The return of a mobile, furious Russell launched this episode to the bombastic level the season has been promising all along. Not only did Russell bring us Sookie’s second fairy blast of the season. He also brought us an electric standoff between new best friends in crime Eric and Bill. The rivals’ reluctant alliance has been this season’s most enjoyable relationship to watch, precisely because of moments like this one, with Eric salivating at the prospect of killing Russell while Bill firmly stayed his hand. While the show made a valiant effort to reinvest us in Bill and Sookie’s relationship with his fake-glamoring, it’s been far more interesting to watch Bill clash with Eric than remember how honorably he can pine.
By the same token, Sookie’s touch and go relationship with Alcide found a good rhythm tonight. This welcome shift is mostly thanks to the fact that season five Sookie has been delightfully cavalier about her love life, as opposed to her attitude in seasons past. If even season four Sookie had realized Eric glamored a crush of hers into finding her disgusting, she would have taken at least three episodes to come back down to earth. Eric clearly crossed a line (glamoring remains one of the creepiest concepts on this show), but Sookie rolling her eyes, reversing Alcide’s memory loss, and moving on was undeniably refreshing.
Also refreshing was the show finally figuring out how best to use Christopher Meloni’s Roman, which brings us to the episode’s finest and most surprising moment: R.I.P. Roman. After weeks of languishing in The Authority’s isolated fortress, Roman had his finest hour to date in “Hopeless.” Yes, we got another proselytizing monologue, but this one at least had some real, immediate stakes (pun not intended, but necessary), as he convinced the Authority to execute Russell. The overhead shot of Russell kneeling in their circle was thrilling enough to make me briefly forget the rambling hours we’ve spent in that underground lair, with the less than threatening group I had mentally renamed the Evil League of Evil.
It didn’t hurt that Meloni and Dennis O’Hare played this final scene beautifully. As Roman visibly fought not to take too much pleasure in the prospect of staking his foe, O’Hare’s Russell went from frothing at the mouth in fury to wide-eyed deference to twisted glee in a matter of seconds. It wasn’t quite a “we will eat you after we eat your children” Russell moment, but it came pretty damn close.
Unfortunately, “Hopeless” could have been a stellar hour by True Blood’s standards but for the plotlines that have been problematic from the start of the season, which continued to weigh it down. Terry’s descent into Iraqi spirit-induced madness (now there’s a phrase I didn’t think I’d be writing any time soon) continues to drag, while the saga of Sam and Luna continues to depend on emotional weight that the two simply haven’t earned yet. Sam has been looking for a purpose since he killed Maryann at the end of season two, but it remains to be seen if getting shot by a Mystery Machine full of human hooligans who hunt supernaturals for sport will be the thing to do it.
Finally, we inched toward more revelations about the fairy world, as the siblings Stackhouse returned to the fairy strip club. Spurred on by another dream of his dead father, Jason involved Sookie in the search for answers about their parents’ death. They confronted their cousin Hadley and bar owner Claude, who both somehow know more about the Stackhouses’ deaths than anyone we’ve met in Bon Temps.
As most of these things do in True Blood, the answer apparently boils down to one thing: Sookie. In a flashback to the rainy night the siblings' parents died (which more than vaguely recalls a very similar night over on The Vampire Diaries), we see that a vampire stopped the Stackhouse parents because he smelled Sookie’s Band-Aid in the backseat, soaked with her fairy blood. The visual reminds us of both Sookie’s most pronounced character traits: her intangible singularity and persistent childishness. As a symbol, it’s a little clunky, a lot striking, and oddly touching. In other words: True Blood in a nutshell.
- If Eric and Bill’s is my favorite relationship this season, Pam and Tara’s increasingly complicated bond is a close second.
- The Sanguinistas remain a vaguely sinister force to be reckoned with, but the blood-spattered windows of the school bus and the final freewheeling shot of Nora hopefully mean they’ll come into focus soon.
- “I guess you’re too cool for school to believe in anything other than yourself.” – a giddy Roman in a blue polo shirt to Eric and/or any dad talking to his daughter’s prom date
- The supernatural-hating bigots shout, “Yes we can!” after a kill. Discuss.
- Jessica: "Well, you look ridiculous."
Hoyt: "That's one opinion."
The Internet: “Dude.”
- Sookie: "I'm just going to sit here quietly and slip into a coma."
- Carrie will be back next week!