It’s a bad sign for last week’s season premiere when this episode was a marked improvement, yet was still kind of awful in its own right. One of True Blood’s biggest weaknesses throughout its run has been portraying its villains as dangerous on a larger scale (which is why its individual villains like René or Russell were always more successful) . By necessity, the show has remained very Bon Temps-focused, but this focus becomes an issue when—like now—a sense of larger-scale dread is necessary to sell a story. I’m just not buying what True Blood is selling.
“I Found You” puts in the work to make these roving packs of sick vampires seem like a threat. The show wants Sookie and company rolling up on a completely abandoned town to seem eerie and full of doom. It even occasionally succeeds, like with the mass grave right off main street. But as quickly as the dread builds up, it fizzles out when the whole endeavor turns into yet another way for Sookie to feel bad about herself. It’s not enough that, seven seasons later, Sookie’s story hasn’t evolved at all. It’s that the show still feels it must underline this story and then put an exclamation point on it by having her find a diary of a woman going through a very similar situation. True Blood, I guarantee that we get it. We didn’t need the Diary of a Vampire Loving Anne Frank read out loud to us to spell it out.
What’s crazy is that everyone is trying their hardest to find Holly, Arlene, and Nicole, but no one has the bright idea to check out the damn vampire bar. So instead of the humans being smart enough to figure out what’s happening, storm in on all the vampires during the day while they are sleeping, and save their friends, the show writes entire, mostly-pointless scenes for these Hep V-infected captors, even though it’s obvious they are all going to be dead soon. The only saving grace is Arlene realizing she knows one of her kidnappers and using that connection to attempt to get them released, which turns into one of the more reliably entertaining bits of the episode. Carrie Preston is consistently better than the material True Blood gives her, and she does hilarious work with a better-than-usual setup here, using all of her innate humor and manic likability to make this staid hostage situation story a lot of fun. When it ends with her captor dissolving into goo while feeding on her femoral artery, well, that’s what True Blood is supposed to be. It’s good to see they still remember it.
Despite the sort of lipstick-on-a-pig affability of Arlene’s story, the rest of the infected vampire threat remains a mess. If people just stay in their houses at night, don’t invite vampires inside, and the authorities root out vampire nests during the day, won’t they be able to get this threat in control rather quickly? How many infected vampires are really out there? How the heck were they able to wipe out a whole town, unless that whole town was full of morons? The latter might be the key to understanding this story, as the people of Bon Temps start out by doing something smart—doubting Sam and Andy’s ability to protect them in the face of actual danger—and turn it into something profoundly stupid and silly. People questioning authority here is a good thing, especially because the authority of Bon Temps is so pathologically dumb. Even people turning it into a potential conspiracy between them and the increased presence of supernatural danger tracks. What’s silly is how True Blood immediately takes something interesting (like a townsperson manipulating the deputy into giving them guns by pointing out that she likely never got promoted because she is black and female) and turns it into a cartoon, with these average folks turning into the worst American stereotypes the second they touch the hot metal of a handgun. It’s ridiculous.
Still, there are things about this second episode that point to season seven being potentially not a lost cause. The humor is back, best exemplified by Jason CSI-ing the abandoned pizza and everything involving Arlene, who remains a fun character to watch despite the fact that she outlived her actual usefulness on this show long ago. Then there’s the case of the episode’s opening, a blatantly pandering bit of fanfiction featuring Eric and Jason having sex after spouting out some truly hilarious C-level romance novel dialogue. What saves the entire thing is that it’s so clearly obvious True Blood knows what it is doing here. The show knows it is teasing its audience, and also, it knows the audience will eat it right up.
And oh, I did. As much as I didn’t want to, I did.
- Tara appears to be dead, maybe, and Lettie Mae can only see her when she’s hopped up on V. And Tara is apparently trapped in some sort of biblical allegory? Sure thing.
- Eric is in France and Pam found him. Please come back to Bon Temps, Eric, and tell these idiots what idiots they’re being.
- So Sookie left that poor woman to rot in the woods, and that woman later becomes important to finding the decimated town. Then Sookie threw her cell phone in the woods, a phone Jessica was counting on her having so she could help with Adilyn. Sookie, you are the worst.