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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

True Blood: Frenzy

Illustration for article titled True Blood: Frenzy

Alan Ball's back at his trusty typewriter this week, circling themes such as blind faith, not being oneself, and coming into existence through belief or imagined belief. He's taking this penultimate episode of the season to really look at the characters he's created. And if it weren't for the return of the old Jason Stackhouse to Bon Temps, the place would be kind of miserable. This episode was a sobering (granted, sobering for the world of True Blood) followup to the zombie romp of last week, with the zombies speaking truths and generally shifting from physical destruction to emotional damage.

That's a heavy opening paragraph, but this week's mood was damp, even with the ree!-ree!-ree! horror music and freaky antics. It's almost like we've gone from a zombie war zone to a haunted house, where nearly every door that opens has someone creepy inside.

The go-to sweet relief of Jessica and Hoyt's relationship turns sour at the open of the episode, with Jessica losing Hoyt after she chows on his mom, leaving Jessica to scream with pain. (And rage? She was crying, but I'm wondering if this emotion will lead her to something else in the final episode.) Hoyt chooses his mother over Jessica, only to have his mother turn on him pretty nastily. His speech in a previous episode about his mother being all hate seems to be true. The black eyes in this episode seem to bring out a truthful streak in Bon Temps residents. Mrs. Fortenberry tells Hoyt that his father didn't die the hero of a burglary—he killed himself. She lied not to protect Hoyt's image of his father, but to collect the insurance money. This bit is particularly cruel to Hoyt, who's been fairly infallible as a character.

Behind all of this is Ball's guiding philosophy, which essentially explores the power of faith and humanity. We've seen blind faith before, more explicitly with the Fellowship Of The Sun, and more subtly with Bon Temps' reaction to non- or part-humans and how that challenges or changes their definition of humanity. Ball hits us with it all this episode—Queen Evan Rachel Wood casually says, "Surely you know that everything that exists imagined itself into existence." A bit loaded for something spoken so nonchalantly. I had to rewind a few times to make sure I understood the gist of what she was saying: That blind faith can bend physics, creating creatures and rituals and what not.

She's talking about Maryann here, but it raises questions about Sookie and Sam. Flashbacks have shown us that they both had these powers when they were little, and that the powers alienated them from their families. We didn't really see anything that would have suggested they created these from some need to escape or imagine—as the queen says was the case with Maenads. Human's puritanical tendencies make them more susceptible to her powers, and the black eyes pull out all of the things they imagine saying but never do.

Hoyt tells his mother, "You aren't yourself," when she's mean, and Lafayette says the same thing ("they aren't themselves") while Sookie watches zombies run amok in Gran's house. Ball seems to be playing here with smoke and mirrors, making us look at these characters and really think hard about what it is to be human. He uses Sookie again as Ms. Innocent Eyes, despite her not-so-innocent ways this season: "How come there's so much wrong in the world, Lafayette?" He then has her go inside a place that already feels worse than her near-rape, and has her cuddle on the floor with a nasty guy who whispers mean nothings in her ear. This is where the haunted house thing really came out for me—it was certainly creepier than the normal True Blood creepy, which is usually more along the lines of that dude playing with what appeared to be intestines. It's seedy and vile. Good thinking with the pan to the head.

Cutting through all of this is Jason, who's mercifully back in fine form after his Fellowship detox, imagining what it's like to be Sam Merlotte the shifter, having sex with a dog as a dog, or laying an egg as a hen and then eating it. He also explains to Andy that he works out all the time and watches porn to learn tricks for the ladies. It's not easy being Jason Stackhouse!

The episode started slowly, with everyone inching toward their action destinations.
Totally boring as usual this ep is Bill, who's only good deed was to introduce us to the queen and her sexy vampire heaven. Then the show took off at the halfway point, so much so that I wish I could have watched this twice before typing it up. Too much going on here.


Maryann says she was summoned by Tara, thanks to Miss Jeanine, who turned out not to be the right vessel. There are consequences for pulling that kind of energy, and so really, Tara has brought this on herself and on Bon Temps. Figures! So while her shaking might not work to bring her back to black-eyed land, a good sucker punch does the trick, and now she's upstairs making an egg with Eggs and smashing Gran's glassware. Lafayette has turned, too, so Sookie's all alone in the house.

If Maryann's always looking for the hottest vessel to sacrifice, and Sookie's trapped in her house with psychic powers (what ARE you?), it looks like Sookie might just be the vessel she's always wanted. Bill's seeking out Sam for his help, and Eric too might come to the rescue. I'll give it to Mr. Ball. This setup for the season's conclusion was both intriguing and surprising, and ultimately, a little sad.

Illustration for article titled True Blood: Frenzy

Grade: A-

— The queen's world was interesting but a bit oddly placed in the season. Why are we sitting by the pool when we could be DOING something? It's like Alan Ball's intentionally frustrating us, just like the queen's doing to Bill. Wasting our time! This is the second to last episode! We've got shit to do!

— Seriously, thank God for Jason and Andy, for growling things like, "It ain't about pussy!" when the episode's felt a little bleak.

— Hoyt's senior picture was pretty awesome.

— What's in the egg?

— I wish it would occur to Sookie that she drank Bill's blood the first night they met. Then she could just accept it as irrational and go hit on Eric.