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True Blood: “Run”

So, my biggest problem with True Blood last season was that it started with a lot of energy but then just ran out of steam and ended with a big whimper. I'd say the opposite about season four, which is still dogged by some weak material but has cohered nicely around the witches vs. vampires plot in a way that's more interesting than most of the show's villains thus far. It was pretty hard to empathize at all with the Nazi werewolves or the religious brainwashers, but Antonia, as extreme and psychotic as she is, feels like a more formidable power. She may be a monster, but she's a monster created by the vampires, a specter of their past wrongs, which makes her attack on the tolerance press conference (a shamelessly skewed, hollow event, according to Bill and Nan) all the more effective.

"Run" ended with one of those cliffhangers that gets my eyes rolling. I also don't know how many TV shows have had episodes titled "Run," but it's a lot, and they always have the same theme: Shit hits the fan, and then we cut to black, because after a certain point the action will just get boring or confusing, and cutting to the aftermath is just easier. The dramatic climax of the witch-controlled vampires attacking the tolerance event was good fun. I liked the bodies flying around and all that. The big problem here is that it strikes an awfully similar note to Russell's on-screen rant from last year. At a certain point, the vampire struggle to remain respectable in the eyes of the public is just going to seem unrealistic, with all this rampaging and murdering going on.

For example, Nan is a fun character. I really like her interactions with Bill, and the cut to her being silvered up (and her subsequent mega-bollocking of Bill) was great. But she needs a little more to do than just yell at Bill for not "cleaning up" whatever mess is going on. At a certain point, we're gonna need to peel back the curtain a little more on the people in charge of Bill, past the King level, up to that council of shadowy dudes or whatever. Because as fun as the vampire plots have been this year, we're stuck in a bit of a feedback loop with the overarching plot of vampire integration. We'll see if the closing three episodes do anything to address that.

On the vampire front, there was something else I really liked in "Run," and that was Sookie's dream sequence with Bill and Eric. As a rule, I really don't care too much about the love triangle or who Sookie ends up with or how soft the focus should be on their unending love scenes or what non-bed locales they should pick next for them. I really do not mind. I understand some do, and that's fine, but whatever. But I really liked that for once, Sookie stood up for herself, even if it was just a blood-fueled hallucination, and exacted some real control over her suitors. Sure, she's always objected when Eric or Bill have claimed her as "mine," but the objection has largely fallen on deaf ears. Not this time, as Sookie convinces them they're going to have to share.

Now, if that sequence just turns out to be a bit of cheesecake-y fantasy so we could have a new spin on a True Blood sex scene, well, that's too bad. An interesting enough point was still made. But I'm hoping that there'll be some impact once everything settles down and Sookie realizes both of her suitors are flawed, both are addicted to her blood, and both could probably do with a little lesson in sharing.

I've been positive thus far, but "Run" was actually a pretty bad episode, with a lot of time wasted on the werewolf pack (Marcus has quickly become such an unlikeable, pathetic figure), Sam and Luna suddenly deciding to go camping in the dead of night because it would be "safer" (seriously, wtf?), and a dorky Sookie plan that involved a clearly almost-bonkers Debbie and gathered not very much info on Antonia's plan of attack. It did set up the final confrontation, and it did at least give Sookie something to do, but the whole thing was pretty ploddy. Tara, also, is back to her usual self— imprisoned against her will, suckered into doing something awful by a charismatic figure, and relying on Sookie to save her. Oh dear. Maybe she can have a heroic moment vs. Antonia. I'm hoping so. Anyway, it was a lot of dillying redeemed somewhat by the exciting battle at the end of the episode, but the dillying is not so easily forgotten.

The side-story of Lafayette being possessed by the restless soul of Mavis, while almost completely disconnected from the main plot, turned out to be the most interesting thing going on this week. Kevin Alejandro got to show some real fear and emotion while dealing with the situation, and that dramatically pumped up the Jesus likeability ratings, in my eyes, at least. Meanwhile, Nelsan Ellis continued to do terrific work as poor Mavis, and the whole thing culminated in a genuinely moving, if quite corny, bit of lame special effects. Corny is the best word for it, but maybe I was just happy that True Blood was actually resolving one of its season-long plots in an interesting enough fashion without any silly end-of-season cliffhanger or violent showdown. There were nice touches of comedy from Andy (getting the V shakes again) and Terry (shouting in soldier-speak at everyone about "defilade" and the like) too. My one objection? I wish Lafayette had called Mavis "hooker" instead of "bitch" as she floated into heaven or whatever. It would have been even more delightfully inappropriate.

So, three episodes to go this year, and there are a lot of directions this story could go in, some of them interesting. Let's hope True Blood picks up the pace a little and doesn't get that usual end-of-season fatigue.

Stray observations:

  • "Werewolf, I'm gonna need you to shut the fuck up."
  • I didn't even write about Sookie getting shot last week/recovering this week because it was such a dramatic non-event. We all knew she'd just drink vampire blood and recover.
  • "Going back to nature is 100 percent the opposite of running away." Uh, okay, Sam.
  • Among Jessica's possessions that Hoyt tosses in the "monster box": the Twilight book and Taylor Swift's CD.
  • Oh, and Jason and Jessica had sex. I suppose it's a momentous development, but it was well-telegraphed and just another in a long number of characters on this show falling in love after they drink a vampire's blood.
  • I liked Andy's response to Mavis saying he sounded like a white man: "Open the door, you racist shitbag!"
  • "When you guys role play, does Lafayette ever turn into a woman named Mavis?" "I'm gonna forget you ever said that and head on in."
  • Bill tells Nan the tolerance conference without humans is stupid. "It's like having a civil rights protest without any black people." "They're called African-Americans."

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