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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

True Blood: “In The Beginning”

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Now that’s the kind of batshit insanity True Blood delivers so well. While “In The Beginning” was far from an objectively perfect episode of television—honestly, it might not even have been an objectively good episode of television—it was a perfect encapsulation of how exquisitely entertaining the show can be when its warped sense of humor and specifically strange worldview come together in all the right ways.

Last week’s sudden departure of Roman is turning out to be one of the best things that has happened all season, as the Authority storyline finally got out of its endless cycle of boardroom speeches and out into the actual world. With Roman gone and the unsurprising reveal of Salome as Russell’s accomplice, the Authority is revealed for what it really was all along: a sniveling, power-following group of individuals who care more about their own mortality than any sort of mainstreaming philosophy. Salome promises the return of Lilith if they all drink her ancient blood and think about her really hard or something, and Russell threatens death to all of those who don’t agree, so even skeptics like Bill and Eric drink. But instead of the Lilith blood passing through their system like regular vampire blood would, it hops them up like hillbillies on their first hit of V.

This leads to one of the more entertaining sequences of the last few seasons, as the vamps cavort around Bourbon Street and then crash a quiet family karaoke night by eating everyone in the club. In the end, Lilith appears (or does she?) and Eric has a vision of Godric, who warns him not to fall under this spell like Nora has. The religious allegories and actual mechanics of this storyline are an absolute mess, but the execution tonight was so fun that it’s surprisingly easy to hand wave these doubts away. One thing is for sure: If Russell had shown up a few episodes earlier, the Authority storyline might not have seemed like such a drag.

Also very entertaining tonight was Sookie, who is quietly making a case for becoming a useful character again. The first few episodes of the season when she helped Tara turn made it seem like she would continue on her path to being one of the most maddening characters on television, but since then, her blasé “fuck, my life is annoying” attitude has been fairly amusing. Tonight, she learned her fairy magic is potentially finite and makes the decision to try to deplete it as much as possible. Rationally, this is likely a horrible decision, because she’s used her magic hands to get herself out of more than a few hairy situations, but on a character level, it feels just right. Sookie was also at the center of two great character scenes, one with Jason and one with Sam. Although her romantic entanglements have almost always been lacking, her more platonic relations with the opposite sex are usually spot-on, and these continued that trend. Anna Paquin has the ability to be a very sympathetic actress, so it was nice for her to get a chance to flex these muscles again.

Another character that’s been in storyline hell for several seasons now is Sam, but he might just have found his calling tonight: crime dog! By giving him a purpose and a reason to use his shifter skills again, he’s suddenly relevant, and Sam Trammell reminded me why I could never hate Sam, even when he was at his least useful. Sam rolling around on the ground sniffing for clues is one of the funnier things the show has done in a while.

Sam’s pursuit of the hunters also shows how True Blood’s storytelling style means the second half of a season is almost always more satisfying than the first half, as many of the disparate storylines are headed for a collision course. Sam is hunting the hunters just as Hoyt is joining forces with them, and there’s no doubt Jessica will be in their crosshairs soon. This is unfortunate for her, as she just ruined her relationship with the one person who would protect her at any cost: Jason. (And let’s add Jessica biting Jason and him subsequently shooting her in the head as one of the better “oh shit!” moments of the season.) It’s been boring and clunky getting to this point, but now that we’re here, at least some of the monotony seems worth it.


Less related but no less insane is Lafayette, who went back to Don Bartolo’s house to find out what is happening with the morbid visions of Jesus, only to find Jesus’ severed head and a madman determined to retrieve the family magic he thinks Lafayette stole. Instead of something horrible happening to Lafayette—well, besides his lips being sewn together—he is saved by Bartolo’s baby mama, who stabs Bartolo to death and frees Lafayette. What this means for Lafayette we don't know, but anything is better than where he was headed, right?

The thing about True Blood, though, is that when it’s on a determined arc of insanity like it has been in the last few episodes, there’s always something more horrible on the horizon. As long as it stays this entertaining, I say bring on the misery.

Stray observations:

  • So vampires killed Sookie and Jason’s parents. The likelihood it’s a vampire we know is about 100 percent, yes?
  • Tara and Pam continue to be a great pairing. Tara’s unsolicited hug was perfect. (Pam’s crimped hair, however, was not.)
  • On the bad end of the spectrum tonight: Arlene’s interminable wedding video and Terry threatening to kill himself. The only saving grace was the ridiculous smoke monster special effects shot.
  • The stuff with Alcide and the wolfpack still feels like nothing but filler, but I’m sure it will come into play when the vampire war begins. For now, though, if Alcide is going to try to be sexy and not wear a shirt, he should at least take off that ridiculous headband. No one can take you seriously when you look like Cobra Kai, dude.
  • Eric: “Never, you bible-banging cunts.”
  • Steve: “I’m like a tree in the wind; I’m just so happy to be included.”
  • Jason: “What the fuck kind of question is that? I ain’t never fucked a cow!”