Battle lines are once again being drawn in this, the final season of “True Blood.” As Team Sookie, Team Vince, and the H-Vamps circle each other like metaphorical rumbling hoods, this episode we see the return of Sarah Newlin, and find out what’s been going on with Eric finally. And in the midst of all this, will we lose yet another cast member or two to the grim reaper? Even on its last legs, the series continues to surprise, check out my review of “Fire in the Hole” after the jump.
The pre-credits scene shows us clearly that Team Vince and the H-Vamps are not the only baddies lurking about in this final season. As always with “True Blood,” things get much more complicated before it ends, so why not add more gasoline to the fire with the return of one of the series’ more relentless and batcrap crazy heavies? Yes, that’s right, it’s really Sarah Newlin trying to yoga away her past in that California studio.
For those of you without a scorecard, Sarah Newlin, expertly played by cheerleader from conservative hell Anna Camp, was the wife of Reverend Steve Newlin. The son of a rabid anti-vamp advocate, Steve and his wife carried on dad’s work, building the Fellowship of the Sun that eventually helped in the concentration camps for vampires in the sixth season. Later when Steve turned gay and vampire, Sarah displayed mad skills in both leadership and viciousness. There are a lot of people, mostly vampires who’d like to see her dead.
Found and Lost
After the credits, we kick back to where last episode left us off, as Pam has found our favorite Viking, Eric, and he’s not well. Eric is sick, showing signs of Hep-V, and world-weary. Pam asks about his mood and we’re fed a flashback to the 1980s, at the dawn of Tru Blood, when Eric and Pam are approached by The Authority, and Eric is smitten with a French girl named Sylvie. We are still given no clue of how he survived his burning on the mountaintop last season, but are treated to this sick sullen version of the anti-hero we love to hate and hate to love.
The Yokahoma Corporation, responsible for Tru Blood and apparently conceptualizing mainstreaming with The Authority come calling on Eric. They want him, but rebel that he is, he doesn’t want them, and tells their representative from The Authority (have we seen her before?) to eff themselves. They’ll be back, and it won’t be pretty. This is the eighties, a decade that decidedly doesn’t like Eric’s hair, but we do know by the 2000s he’ll be working for The Authority as a sheriff with much cooler hair. Perhaps this flashback is an origin story.
There seems to be a theme of “True Blood” so far this season, that of lost characters, like Eric. We’re being given versions of our favorite characters that we do not like. Is this some kind of subconscious cue from the creators so when the show goes off, we’ll all say, “Good riddance”? Because if it is, it may be too late. There are a lot of folks who have given up on it already, or have dismissed the show as too campy, too over the top, too far gone to love or enjoy any more. Many folks, when they hear I’m reviewing this show, express disbelief, “Is that still on?”
Eric is not the only one on this sinking boat. Alcide the other hunk on the show has been almost cuckolded, and Lafayette, a character that was so popular on TV he did not meet his book death on the small screen, is becoming more obnoxious by each episode. To his credit, Joe Manganiello still looks good with his shirt off, and knows exactly where to look for Sookie when she bails on him. Lafayette, on the other hand, has become a cartoon and a clown, in some ways an offensive stereotype, and has none of the charm that endeared us to him in earlier seasons.
Speaking of Sookie, she has a plan. Brought to mind by the diary of the dead young girl from last episode, she proposes to be vampire bait. She’s going to lure the H-Vamps out into the open, let them catch her, thereby leading Bill to their lair. As she and Bill wait out in the woods the talk turns to Alcide and love. Sookie suspects the werewolf loves her more than she loves him. Honestly, I can’t help but smell set up here.
Meanwhile it seems that Sookie and Bill are re-connecting. He is a whole new vampire after the events of last season, and he now has a new blood link to Sookie. To quote John Lennon, it’s almost like starting over. They are talking, their feelings are out in the open, and just like the old days, they are out in the middle of the night hunting monsters again. Everything old is new again. Poor Alcide.
The Waiting Dead
As Alcide is being talked about like a saint and a savior. I can’t help but think that maybe he has a target on his chest. If he dies, especially in the pursuit of, or saving of, Sookie, it would go miles in the character building and motivation of her character. It might make her a better character, or more importantly, maybe a likable character. And it might drive her into the arms of Bill, as, some might say, it should be.
I can’t help but think similarly of Lafayette as he tries to get high with Jessica’s man James. Is an overdose prewritten in the cards? One could say the man’s death is far overdue. If Lafayette lives, I sure hope we get more Brothers Johnson. It is the final season, and it’s not like other characters, both major and minor, aren’t dropping like flies. Mrs. Fortenberry for instance, but I guess we’ve always hated her. Unfortunately, as we’ll get to in a moment, she’s not alone…
There is an island in this episode, an oasis, and it is the scene between Willa played by Amelia Rose Blaire and Reverend Daniels played by Gregg Daniel. Not just a poignant scene, but a well crafted and performed one as well, the man feeds the vampiress than removes her from his house, but that’s not all that’s happening here.
His wife, Tara’s cray-cray momma, Lettie Mae, has been tricking Willa into giving her her blood. Just like the alcohol before it, Lettie Mae has become addicted and Reverend needs to save his wife. It’s survival and it’s love. There’s no camp here, no double entendre, just the good acting and writing that HBO and early episodes of this series were known for. Sweet oasis.
When we return to Eric’s 1980s French flashback, we confronted with a familiar scene, but not from this show, from another. The Yokahoma goons return, this time as if they walked out of a William Gibson cyberpunk novel, all black suits and Japanese slick. They mean business. They take Pam, and Sylvie, and make Eric choose who gets to live. Hmmm… now why does this sound familiar? That’s right, because it’s from “Arrow.”
Yes, while it is very Lady or the Tiger in effect, a very similar scene played out in the CW’s TV series about DC Comics’ Green Arrow, also another tall hunky blond protagonist. In “Three Ghosts,” the mid-season finale of the show’s first season, young Oliver Queen is given a choice of who lives or dies – Shado or Sarah, each a lover, and each precious to him. While Oliver doesn’t have a chance to choose, Eric tells the Yokahoma hoods to save Pam. Thus we know why Sylvie is a sore point between them.
Nothing Ever Goes As Planned
Throughout the episode the various forces of chaos, Team Sookie (sans Sookie), Team Vince, the H-Vamps, Alcide, Sam, and the dynamic duo of Sookie and Bill are running around the woods like chickens with no heads. You knew that eventually everyone would cross paths at least in the final minutes of the show. And bingo, they do, and it ain’t pretty. The H-Vamps get vanqed, but in the process, Alcide takes several bullets in the chest. Come on, you knew it was coming, right? The real shame of it is that poor Alcide had so damned little to do so far this season. He coulda been a contender, ya know? Seriously, to me, it seems a poor waste of a great actor and great character.
Elsewhere, Pam finally gets Eric off his ass by telling him that she knows Sarah Newlin is still alive. As if on cue, we switch to California and find that Sarah, under the new name Noomi isn’t just talking yoga classes, she’s doing the yoga instructor. Seems her new life is good until the same Yokahoma baddies we saw earlier show up looking for her. This could be interesting.
But still, poor Alcide. I guess “True Blood” is making good its threat to off at least one character every episode. I wonder who’s next…