Season five of True Blood is nearly at its halfway point and yet it still feels like all of its stories are just beginning. This wouldn’t be a problem if the wheels were spinning in interesting ways, but this season is starting to suffer from what plagued the last: the inability to just take off the narrative training wheels and get to the meat of the story already.
This stalling is no more obvious than in the story of Russell and the Sanguinistas vs. the Vampire Authority, which has slowly (and I mean slowly) gone from a potentially compelling conflict to a classic case of “shit or get off the pot already.” With Russell finally making an appearance it seemed as if things were finally going to start coming together, but his one scene was set up more as tease for what will happen next week than anything else. What we did see promised classic Denis O’Hare goodness, though, so next week is sure to be at least a little bit more fun.
The main problem with this story so far, though, is that it has no meat on its bones. There’s nothing for the audience to sink their teeth into: It’s all boardrooms and sterile torture chambers, endless vague discussions about faith vs. pragmatism, and the occasional staking. I mentioned this last week, but what this story is desperately missing is some sense of the other side. Right now the Sanguinistas exist in hushed tones and veiled threats; they’re all potential and no action, and not at all scary. It’s very reminiscent of the demon war on Supernatural, where the demons were more talked about than actually seen. There, it was mostly due to the budget constraints of telling an apocalyptic story on a CW budget. Here, it just feels like another way to slow play a story that’s already far too slow to remain interesting.
It’s the Terry storyline, however, that really rankles. Not because it’s moving slowly—it is actually the most logically-paced plot on the show this season—but because it’s just so terrible. The story became outwardly supernatural tonight with the reveal that an Islamic supernatural being called an ifrit was exacting revenge on the soldiers for what they did in Iraq. Despite being supernatural, however, it still feels like something out of an entirely different show. When doing such a political story, it feels almost necessary to make at least some commentary or put some context on the proceedings. As presented, this is pure exploitation, with the show using our own mental associations with real-life atrocities perpetrated by soldiers in order to fill in the blanks, then teaching everyone a lesson by having a fire and smoke monster kill everyone for kicks. It’s simply too heavy a story for True Blood, especially when mixed with the silly special effects of the monster.
There were bright spots, though, mostly comprised of individual scenes featuring the show’s better characters. Once again Tara was surprisingly at the center of this, with her defiance of Pam and then newfound friendship with Jessica being the highlights of the episode. Tara and Jessica’s conversation was especially welcome, as Jessica desperately needs a friend now that her relationships with Hoyt and Jason are so complicated. Seeing as Tara ended the episode feeding from Hoyt and fighting with Jessica because of it, this friendship may be short-lived.
Less of a bright spot and more of a “what the hell?” spot was Lafayette, whose fight with the demon witch inside him continues to manifest itself in stranger ways each week. This week it comes in the form of a maybe-dream, maybe-real vision of Jesus’ severed head on his coffee table, trying to talk to him through sewn-up lips. The head leaves him and ends up in the room of his crazy mother Ruby, though, who seems to be expecting him. It was a truly creepy image, and the jarring nature of it actually worked for Lafayette’s mindset; we’re just as confused as he is in the moment. Jesus’ body being missing was quickly glossed over in the first episode, but if one thing is sure it’s that True Blood never met a plot point it could forget. Where it will go, who knows, but at least it is attention-grabbing.
Bringing up the rear as far as interest goes was Sam, whose discovery of his dead shifter friends points towards a gang of people who kill supes for sport, and who manage to shoot not only Sam but Luna as well at the end of the episode. Sam surely isn’t going to die, so if anyone cared about Luna this might be a distressing turn of events. As it’s presented, however, it seems like a way to add yet another story fragment to this already fragmented season, stretching the show way too thin. This season started out on a promising note, but things can only get stretched so far before everything just breaks.
- Did Alcide really say “I’ve waited so long for this” right before he was about to have sex with Sookie? Goodness, they sure have neutered his character completely. He’s barely a character at this point.
- Arlene’s hand covering Andy’s naughty bits was a nice little bright spot of comedy.
- Now that Jason knows vamps killed his parents, is he going to go all anti-vamp again? I think the show has just decided to cycle through two stories for Jason on a never-ending loop.
- Let’s all agree to call Tina Majorino’s character Vampire Mac, shall we?
- Andy: “I fucked a fairy?”