True Blood: Season 5, Episode 8–Somebody That I Used to Know


“Praise Lilith! Praise Jesus! Praise Moses’ cock, I am born again!”


It was another ladle of torrid supernatural stew in the overseasoned mix of this week’s True Blood, still frantically juggling its excess of plots with surprising aplomb. The coup within the vampire Authority was less prevalent this week (although still hanging heavy over the show) and with good reason – this episode is the first to be directed by Stephen Moyer himself. Consequently, it was fairly light on the presence of Bill Compton; but when he did show up, it was for Very Important Plot Points.

After his vision of Godric last week, Eric was the first to sober up from the heady brew of Lilith-blood, recognising that he was high as a kite, and he managed to talk Bill down too – or so it seemed. Salome’s plainly eager to get back to the old ways as soon as possible, and had Steve Newlin go out and round up some unwilling human victims. But when she offered a pleading young mother to Bill for for lunch, he was less than keen. His avowal that he would not deprive a human child of its parent was obviously rooted in his own experience, but in case we missed that, we got an interesting flashback to him visiting his daughter’s deathbed in 1910.

But did the memory of his daughter’s unsuccessful pleas to be turned change his mind? It didn’t seem so at first, but the script sprung a surprise on us (and Eric) at the very end, as Bill was the one to propose the cleverest solution to converting mainstreaming vampires – destroy the source of Tru Blood itself, forcing them to feed on humans or starve. It’s an audacious plan that would likely work, hence our surprise at Bill after his generally humanitarian views up till now. Is he faking it? If so, he’s taking Eric in too – and he’s given the Sangunistas a genuinely good strategy that they hadn’t thought of themselves. It’s a measure of how successful the show is at balancing its vampires between sympathetic and genuinely threatening that I’m still wondering.

So once again, it seems that Eric Northman could be humanity’s only hope. Still, even I could tell that his attempt to reason with Nora on behalf of the spectral Godric was hardly likely to work. Religious fanatics tend to be deaf to actual reason, particularly when it conflicts with their deeply held beliefs, and so Nora proved, declaring the repentant Godric in his final days a “perversion”. The apparent tears in Alexander Skarsgard’s eyes were a nice touch – but then again, I thought vampires only cried blood?

The vampire storyline was mostly on hold this week, mainly dealt with at the beginning and end of the episode. Even Russell was comparatively subdued (well, as subdued as Denis O’Hare can be giving that performance). He seems to have taken up with the newly vamp/gay/comic relief Steve Newlin, which is fun, though I can’t see it ending well for either of them!

With the vamps in the background, we got a lot more concentration on some other plots that had been growing in importance. The hate group/lynch mob that Hoyt had fallen in with got a lot of mileage this week, as, predictably, they’d kidnapped Jessica as a little treat for him, the intent that he could kill her himself. Again, the script toyed with our expectations – surely Hoyt’s bitterness is only surface deep, and he wouldn’t kill his ex in cold blood (so to speak)? Actually I had some genuine doubts about that, particularly now we know that the otherwise sympathetic Terry Bellefleur is actually a war criminal.

But no, Hoyt couldn’t kill Jessica, even if he couldn’t forgive her either. One of the key themes this week was that of former friends/lovers/siblings finding themselves irrevocably separated by life changes, and here that was underlined by a quite sad little conversation between Hoyt and Jessica about how they’d drifted apart. It neatly echoed Eric and Nora’s argument, too.

Sam and Sheriff Andy were closing in on the hate mob from another direction, as Sam intimidated their unrepentant and uncooperative captive with the neat trick of turning into a cobra. But Sam was in for a shock of his own, as the hospitalised Luna, under heavy stress, had shifted into the shape of none other than – Sam Merlotte! Cue, the increasingly sour disbelief of the Sheriff – “I hate this goddamn town”. No wonder his predecessor retired.

We know from last year how dangerous it can be for a shape shifter to imitate another actual person, but the seriousness was mixed with humour here. Sam Trammell’s idea of playing a woman playing Sam Merlotte wasn’t particularly subtle, but his slightly camp femininity was certainly good for a laugh. As was his mopping Luna/Sam’s fevered brow while admitting, “you’re very handsome”. Sweetly, it was his kiss that brought her back to herself; but I wonder whether more will be made of this incident or if it will simply be one more thing to come back to in later years?

It looks like Lafayette’s brujo problem may be over – certainly he’s got away from Don Bartolo, with the murderous assistance of his angry wife. This left Jesus free to spectrally appear in Lafayette’s car (now an elderly Volvo Amazon – I wonder what happened to the Mercedes?). It was a nice directorial touch from Moyer to keep Jesus slightly out of focus in every shot, emphasising his nebulous reality.

But Lafayette still has problems, as Arlene and Holly have roped him in to help with Terry’s problems in his capacity as a medium. Fed up, he’s started charging for these services – well, so would I. But it’s another hair-raising seance (except for Lafayette, who doesn’t have any hair) as the murdered Iraqi woman Zafira makes an appearance, and boy, is she pissed. Turns out she will lift the curse – providing Terry kills Patrick. Or vice versa. Either way, one’s got to kill the other. Cue Patrick doing a runner – but I wonder if the show will have the balls to make Terry go through with this. Certainly won’t help with his PTSD, that’s for sure…

The Shreveport werewolves popped up to finally have that duel between buff, heroic Alcide and disreputable, V-addicted JD. After a particularly raunchy sex scene between Alcide and his hot young female trainer (which had me straining at the screen trying to see the details of Joe Manganiello’s brief, out-of-focus full frontal), the challenge was on. With the added spice of having to hunt a terrified college runner to the death. Alcide being the heroic type, he dropped out rather than try that, but fought JD anyway. He was about to have his head stove in when Martha turned up to give JD a damn good bollocking. I guess if the mythos is following genuine wolf behaviour, only a male can be pack leader. And yet Martha is so obviously the best candidate that perhaps we’re about to see a werewolf feminist revolution.

Tara was having problems with asshole customers, as a racist high school acquaintance popped up in Fangtasia to insult her all over again, under the impression that customer service rules would prevent Tara from returning fire. For a while it looked that way, especially when Pam turned up to give her a scolding and offer the spoiled prom queen a drink on the house. I was particularly sympathetic, speaking as a former store clerk who never got backing from the management when it came to dealing with awkward customers. So it was a very pleasant surprise that Pam had captured the former prom queen to be Tara’s plaything and lunch. I guess Pam would be a pretty cool boss after all, though you wouldn’t cross her – “You don’t know me that well. My mad face and my happy face are the same.”

Sookie, persuaded by an unusually eloquent Jason not to blast away all her magic, was experimenting with new fairy powers (with a little help from the local fey gang). Turns out she can project herself into the past and inhabit her mother’s experiences, to try and solve her parents’ murder. Instead, much to Claude’s surprise, she managed to project herself into the vampire that killed them. He was wearing another of the show’s convenient hats to hide his identity, and I’d assumed that it would turn out to be either Bill, or, more likely, Eric. That would be the interesting, if a bit predictable, thing to do.

But no, turns out the attacker’s name is ‘Warlow’ – at least according to Claudine, who was seen blasting him with fairy magic in the past. Sookie’s new power has aftereffects though, as a spectral ‘Warlow’ materialised out of thin air to growl threats at her. Still couldn’t make out his face though, and I’m convinced that the name is fake and it’ll be a vampire we’ve seen before. Maybe not Bill or Eric, but if it’s someone previously unknown, that would be as much of a cheat as the solution to most Agatha Christie mysteries.

It was another fun episode, charged with the usual heady mix of violence, action and supernatural sexiness. Stephen Moyer did a perfectly good, and occasionally inspired job of directing, and I’m surprised he hasn’t tried it before; though I guess being one of the leads of the show is quite a heavy workload in itself! I know no other cast members are trying it, at least this year. With all these plots being given virtually equal weight this season, I doubt any of them would have the time.