Major props to True Blood this week. "Hitting the Ground" was a majorly bloody, plot-heavy, death-filled barnstormer of an episode that kept adrenaline high after last week's excellent episode. We had the glorious offing of what has to be the show's worst character, Sookie finally seems to have gotten it into her head to dump Bill, we made some headway on the big mystery surrounding her, and the we may no longer have to deal with Sam's trashy parents quite as much, all with a minimum of dog-fighting shown on screen.
I want to start with the death of Lorena, basically the first thing that happened in the episode and a real giveaway that this was gonna be a good one. Bill strangles her with his silver chains while she bites Sookie, and she basically gives it up, telling Bill she loves her. "You wouldn't know love if it kicked you in the fangs!" growls Sookie. As a kiss-off line, it's…well, it's not great. But it doesn't matter, because two seconds later, Lorena has a stake in her heart and is vomiting up blood. This character has been such a deadweight on the show and on Bill's character in particular, and she lost any allure she had starting out once we realized none of the bigshot vampires took her very seriously. Sorry, Mariana Klaveno, but I'm happy to see you go.
"Hitting the Ground" was all chases and bloodletting (with a little dash of shirtless Jason comedy thrown in on the side) but the episode revolved around bringing the mystery about Sookie into focus, even though nothing was said outright. Sophie-Anne's escort Hadley (Sookie's cousin) whispers the big secret into Eric's ear, usually an irritating way to drag everything out, but it's clear now that it all revolves around the magical properties of Sookie's blood and how it ties into her powers. Still in "rescue-Bill" mode, she hauls him into the back of Alcide's truck and stays with him in there -- bad idea, as he goes apeshit on her neck and damn near drains her dry. The intriguing part comes in the hospital, where we learn (from a doctor) that Sookie has no blood type and (from Jason) that she's basically never, ever gotten sick.
A slightly loopy near-death fantasy sequence underlines everything for us. Sookie is whisked into some kind of magical sex garden (with lots of dancing but not nearly enough nudity) where people drink shiny water from a pool and wear lingerie. Sookie is guided around by an English lady called Claudette who warns her that Bill is going to drink up all her light. This has to be something to do with her powers and the energy she can shoot out of her hands, right? Bill, who only got a little smoky from the sun after feeding on her, brings Sookie out of her coma with his blood (I guess vampire blood doesn't have a type) but she starts screaming once she wakes up. Has her experience in the garden of quasi-Eden soured her opinion on Bill? I am not one for extended near-death fantasy sequences and Alan Ball way overused them on Six Feet Under. But I approve drawing back the curtains on Sookie's abilities in any way, because it'll help her character get more involved in plots. Same with her dumping Bill. Date Alcide instead, he's much more useful!
It was nice to see Sookie's little support system gathered together in the hospital, each of them behaving according to type: Tara going medieval on Bill's ass, Jason getting all emotional and giving a super-lame speech, and Lafayette keeping any gross sentiment in check. Alcide is hovering on the fringes right now; "I'll smooth it over," he says after Lafayette yells at a hospital employee. I hope Tara changes out of that wedding dress soon, though, as becoming as it might be on her. Franklin, as many commenters speculated last week, is almost certainly alive. Sookie made a point of saying that vampires turned into bloody mush after they die; anything else, they can recover from. Pretty sure he'll be back before the season's end.
Before he got to the hospital, Jason was in his usual comedy B-plot, first having a shirtless party with Hoyt at home and speculating on Crystal's mysteriousness (he thinks she's named after the champagne, but Hoyt thinks it's more likely her middle name is "Meth") and then interrogating one of Crystal's cousins in the lockup. Jason's method of interrogation needs a little work, since it mostly involves him making puppy-dog eyes. Luckily, the cousin is in such dire need of some meth, he barely notices. I'm not sure I give a shit about Crystal's mysterious origins though. Jason's in love with her, so that means she's doomed, it's just a matter of when she dies, not if.
The Mickens dog-fighting plot, something I really don't give a shit about, came to a head and it was pretty boring as usual, although it was funny to see Sam try and impersonate a dog-fighting fan by laying it on thick with the Louisiana drawl and fail miserably. The mysterious power Joe Lee holds over his wife and Tommy, despite being incredibly pathetic and foolish-looking even when he isn't in his Y-fronts, is inexplicable. I don't get why it's such a struggle for Sam to get Tommy to run away with him. I don't think everything's resolved (the Mickenses will definitely try and get Tommy back) but we probably won't have to deal with them every week, and Tommy might be a decent character on his own. I liked his flirtation with Jessica a few episodes back. And I'm really, really glad we weren't subjected to any on-screen dog-fighting. I'm no animal rights nut but that just ain't what I'm looking for from True Blood.
The only problem with this episode up til the final ten minutes was the lack of Russell. What with all the violence, his absence was conspicuous. That was all made up for with his magnificent confrontation with the Magister. True Blood is very good at quickly flipping the switch and making powerful characters suddenly look meek and pathetic (hell, we already saw it with Eric trumping Sophie-Anne this year) and Russell's takedown and decapitation of the creepy Magister was an excellent example. It's been great watching O'Hare let loose with the villainy and I definitely prefer his direct methods of violence over the Magister's creepy physical and psychological torture. I've enjoyed Zeljko Ivanek in the role but it's definitely time for us to learn who's next on the power ladder and we got our first hints this week with repeated references to "the Authority," a title as ancient-sounding as the entire vampire hierarchy seems to be.
As a villain, Russell's goal is undeniably simple: he wants to take over the world. It sounds a little lame but the question of why vampires have decided to intermingle with humans rather than challenge them outright has always had a fuzzy answer at best, and going up against that concept is the real purpose of the King of Mississippi, I think. Sure, he's a Dracula-esque evil Nazi, but the rigidity of the vampire world's rules have gotten a little stale, so his rejection of the Authority, whatever it is, will serve True Blood well, plot-wise.
No Jessica this week at all. She's really woefully underused this season. It was nice to see an extended portion of Hoyt, but still, we shouldn't have to make do with one or the other every week.
I was really hoping that after Lorena got staked and Coot got shot, Alcide would kill Debbie and make it a trifecta of annoying characters dying this week. Sadly she was spared, but not before uttering another MTV-worthy line: "You picked a dumb-ass time to call me a bitch, bitch!"
Nice to see Pam back, stoic in the face of the Magister's torture and a few choice lines: "Great, they’ll go with my chains," she says to her new present of silver earrings.
Russell, who has some slave chambers in his own mansion, is taken with Eric's torture dungeon. "We must talk franchising later."
Hoyt's new "girlfriend" is annoying, but Jason's endorsement of her tasty biscuits hilariously underlined just how easy it is to get to that boy's heart. "I really want you to taste my biscuits," Summer breathes at Hoyt.
HBO continues to suck, so here's another picture from a previous episode. Sorry!