Where last week’s True Blood was enjoyable more for its unbelievable insanity than its narrative coherence, tonight’s was delightful on a pure storytelling level. For the first time this season, it felt like the show finally settled into its stories and figured out how they all fit together to not only advance the season-long story arcs but also create a satisfying individual episode. It also managed to be surprisingly touching for a show that’s typically far more interested in emotional shock than any sort of resonance.
The best thing about the episode: The never-ending Authority storyline finally makes a little bit of sense. Before Roman was staked and Russell entered the picture, it felt like an aimless slog trying to hint at some sort of religious-fundamentalist allegory, but failing every time. Now that Lilith has arrived (or has she?) everything is much more focused. The fundamentalist ties are obvious—inserting Steve Newlin into the proceedings once felt like a weird shoehorn but now feels like well-placed foreshadowing—but the true heart is the story between Bill and Eric. Their bond has always been a shaky one but fighting to save themselves from the Authority brought them together, only to tear them apart now that Bill is firmly in their camp and Eric, firmly not. With the Authority planning on drying up the TruBlood supply in order to force mainstreaming vamps over to their side, they also finally have a plan. Fundamentalist vampires with a purpose and a plan sound like bad news for the state of Louisiana.
Also working tonight for the first time all season was Sookie’s decision to either embrace or reject her fae heritage. Last week she was determined to deplete her fairy magic and return to being human, but Jason stops her and explains they can use her gifts in order to find the vampire who killed their parents. Never mind that the idea of their parents being killed by a vampire was sloppily introduced only a few episodes ago; it is now the most important thing in the world to them and obviously their story arc for the rest of the season. Sometimes, with True Blood, you just have to play the cards they deal you. Thankfully, the search for the vampire is shaping up to be magically delicious in its ridiculousness, with Sookie channeling the power of her fae brethren to psychically travel to the past and inhabit her mother’s mind during the attack. When she does this, though, she accidentally psychically connects with a very bad vampire named Warlow, who appears to her as if she’s a kid who said “Candyman” in the mirror and threatens her life. The whole thing is silly and fun and also features a few great brother-sister bonding scenes, which Ryan Kwanten and Anna Paquin always nail.
Most surprising tonight, though, has to be the combination of the Hoyt/Jessica and Sam/Luna arcs, which finally came together and both in strangely touching ways. There was never really any doubt Hoyt would be confronted with the opportunity to kill Jessica. There was also never really any doubt he wouldn’t actually kill her. But the conversation between the two was the first time the story has felt emotionally honest all season, and the first time Hoyt has been more than a throwaway joke in weeks. Their final exchange being Jessica saying “thank you” and Hoyt responding with “fuck you” was perfect. As for Sam and Luna, Luna’s situation gets way worse when she all of a sudden turns into Sam and can’t turn back. It’s the obvious comic relief for the episode but it’s also tragic, because after what happened to Sam’s brother she knows this will only lead to death. Sam having a heartfelt conversation with, well, himself was simultaneously uncomfortable and weirdly touching. Although don’t we all wish they would have had him kiss himself? It’s True Blood, embrace the crazy!
Finally, in “storylines that are pretty dumb but mostly worked tonight” we have Lafayette and Terry. Lafayette—who between Tara’s turning and the weird torture-porn story in Mexico has been practically ruined this season—finally gets a chance to shine, first in a touching scene with Jesus’ ghost and then with a brief glimpse of “old Lafayette” when Arlene and Holly ask him for help tricking Terry and Patrick into thinking the ifrit is off their tail. Of course, it doesn’t work like that; Lafayette instead accidentally channels the ifrit, who is named Zifira and agrees to lift the curse if either Terry kills Patrick or Patrick kills Terry. For a vengeful smoke monster, this doesn’t seem like such a bad deal.
The one story that doesn’t work and likely will never work is Alcide’s endeavors with the wolf pack, who are so far removed from anything else on the show it might as well be its own spinoff. At this point, Joe Manganiello is around only to show some skin and act like he’s better than all other members of his species, and it’s more than tedious. The bloodthirsty pack master who wants to start hunting humans might factor in once the Authority returns vampires to their non-mainstream state. For now, the entire story feels like the perfect time to go get a sandwich.
- Tara and Pam bonded over Tara’s revenge fantasy against a racist, piece-of-trash high-school acquaintance. Every time this show even remotely tries to touch race, I just cringe. But hey, at least Pam and Tara are getting along!
- Albert Einstein was half fairy. Sorry, there’s no way anyone so smart could be associated with anything from that species.
- Bill’s flashback was completely unnecessary and random. True Blood just can’t figure out how to make flashbacks work within the structure of the show.
- Eric and Nora’s official parting of the ways was lovely, but Eric’s tears looked pretty human. Good for showcasing Alexander Skarsgard’s skills, bad for vampire mythology continuity.
- “I need a baby. Lilith wants me to eat a baby.”
- Russell: “First may I say: God has the most beautiful tits I’ve ever seen!”
- Lafayette: “Hooker, I ain’t in the helping business no more. I’m in the ‘fuck off while I smoke a blunt’ business and business is about to pick way the fuck up.”
- Pam: “You don’t know me that well. My mad face and my happy face are the same.”