Bill’s flashbacks have been a bit of a puzzler all season. They’re not particularly illuminating. They’re horribly integrated into the narrative, almost invariably bringing the pacing of the episode to a screeching halt. They’re not visually interesting. They’ve been the most baffling thing in a season full of baffling things (Yakuza, anyone?).
That is, until this episode. It’s abundantly clear now that the point of this Bill retrospective is a sort of This Is Your Life character-redemption tour to make up for his tour of terror last season, and meant to impart meaning to his impending death by highlighting a happier and more innocent time in his life. When Sookie calls her fairy grandfather Niall to help heal Bill, it’s Bill’s flashbacks that Niall makes Sookie see as a consolation prize for not being able to heal him, as if sepia-toned memories of a simpler time is a sufficient replacement for being able to save his life. It’s Bill’s impending death that leads Sookie back to his arms and back to his bed, for a somewhat grotesquely veiny sex scene. It’s been quite a long time since Sookie and Bill were something the audience was expected to invest in, and I’m not sure their reunion here works, but it’s three episodes from the end of the show forever, so I understand the urge to do it. But the flashbacks, those are inexcusable.
True Blood also appears to be using the tragedy of Bill’s death as a way to impart meaning on this entire Hep V story—and in turn to its entire final season—but so far it’s been wildly unsuccessful. Each episode feels like it is inching toward the series finale simply because there’s not much actual story to this Hep V plot; at least not enough to fill an entire season. Instead of compelling twists and turns in the search for the cure (or the supposed roving gangs of vamps that have conveniently disappeared), we get slow-moving, useless time wasting. Bill and Eric are both sick, but it feels shockingly light on emotional impact. Instead of a breakneck search for Sarah Newlin so they can get the cure, Pam and Eric take a nap and Sarah starts seeing visions of all of her past lovers. Instead of doing anything to drive the plot forward, we get an entire episode of two teens deciding they don’t want to have kinky sex (thank God for fae mind reading!) while their parents stare at a lake talking about how sad they are. It’s maddening.
Even moments that have delivered on emotional resonance earlier in the season fall a bit flat here. When Hoyt returns to Bon Temps to identify his mother’s body, all of his interactions with Jason threaten to be as emotionally devastating as their quick phone call earlier in the season. They should be emotionally devastating, as Hoyt is one of the purest examples of the show’s strange edict that you can’t really escape Bon Temps, even if the vampires there erase your memories of most of it. But the whole story is poisoned by the show giving Hoyt a very attractive, very smart, very sweet girlfriend (good for Hoyt!) who Jason then can’t stop ogling. It’s very Jason Stackhouse-appropriate behavior, yes, but even Jason has limits of decency, and these seem to cross those lines. Jason nicely tells Hoyt a false story about how his mother died to spare having his last memory of her be a negative one. It’s lovely but ruined by True Blood’s inability to take the moment seriously for even one second. It’s frustrating.
If there’s any story that best exemplifies True Blood’s aimlessness right now, it’s Arlene’s new love story with Keith the vampire. (I will continue to call him Keith the vampire, because for some reason a vampire named Keith amuses me.) There is no reason for this story to exist. It’s only purpose is to give Arlene a potential happy ending after the whole mess with Terry. But the story is a little easier to take, simply because Carrie Preston is so great she makes you care about Arlene, even though Arlene has essentially been a tertiary character for her entire run on the show. When the show is over, though, will Arlene’s happiness with Keith the vampire be something True Blood will be remembered for? Other than as part of a fairly disastrous final season? I sure hope not.
- I almost can’t believe we had to watch an entire storyline where two (essentially pointless) teenagers decided whether or not to have kinky sex, before then deciding to have normal sex. Almost. Can Violet just kill them already?
- Speaking of Violet, why do Jason and Violet live in his crappy house when she has a fancy sex den?
- Really, Andy and Holly? The kids leave their car at the treehouse and you think they got to Oklahoma City how? By fairy teleportation?
- Did Sookie change into a white dress just so she could dramatically run across the cemetery and up to Bill’s doorstep in it? Of course she did.
- Because this show can’t drop a storyline for even one episode, we see a quick glimpse of Lettie Mae and Lafayette digging up the yard from last week’s visions. I’m sure the current owner will be pleased.
- Sam wonders if he’s crazy for wanting to stay in Bon Temps. Yes, Sam. Yes.