“What if they’re not crazy? What if God is a vampire?”
Another packed episode of True Blood this week, with the religious-crazed vampire Authority still sequestered underground, while Sookie’s continued quest for her parents’ killer brought her into collision with the police – and shapeshifter – search for the Obama-masked hate group killing supernaturals. Elsewhere, Terry and Patrick wrestled with the requirement to kill each other to lift the Iraqi fire demon curse, and the werewolf pack politics intersected with the vampire plot as Russell showed up to demand fealty from the newly official pack leader.
That’s a lot to be going on by anyone’s standards. It’s notable that, unlike previous seasons, this year hasn’t focused on one or two main plotlines, but given them all pretty much equal weighting. In terms of importance, the vampire fundamentalists’ plan to, effectively, rule the world seems dominant, but actually it’s given no more screen time than any of the other multifarious subplots going on. This does give each episode a rich mixture of complex goings-on, but can also seem like a lack of focus.
Thankfully, even in the melee of plotlines, True Blood never neglects the aspect that makes it good drama as well as horror/soap – the vividly-drawn and charismatically acted characters. Pretty much the entire ensemble got a chance to shine again this week, as the plots began to collide and coalesce into something with a little more focus.
Hence, the newly Sanguinista Authority’s plans (from an idea by Bill Compton) to destroy the world’s producers of Tru Blood, leaving vampires with no alternative to feeding on humans, were impacting Pam and Tara’s stewardship of Fangtasia in Eric’s absence. This gave Kristin Bauer van Straten and Rutina Wesley some spiky exchanges as they mulled over what would happen if the synthetic blood ran out. Pam and Tara have, unexpectedly, been a great double act this year – effectively, they’re two of the show’s bitchiest, most-sharp-tongued characters, and they work really well together. And it’s nice to see that their snarky sniping at each other is underpinned by an unwilling liking and respect, which they’ll need now that the Authority have replaced Eric as area Sheriff with a human-guzzling, arrogant, goth-wannabe.
The Authority themselves were still locked in their underground bunker (shades of Adolf Hitler?), as their plans unfolded outside. They all seem to be in a state of tranced-out religious bliss as the Tru Blood factories burn merrily away on the news – all except Eric Northman, who’s champing at the bit to get out, but can’t without some of Salome’s blood to trip the lock. It’s an interesting twist to make the usually aloof, uncaring Eric into humanity’s sole hope for peace, but the scripts have been playing it well. Eric’s always been a rebel, but now that rebellious streak just happens to coincide with humanity’s interests.
He’s still the same old Eric, with his contempt for everyone except the few he occasionally admits to caring about. Hence an emotionally charged attempt to ‘rescue’ Nora, who’s now obviously a True Believer. Eric admits that “I want to believe” – and perhaps he really does, but it’s not in his nature. Alexander Skarsgard was as brilliant as ever as the deeply repressed Viking vampire – and still very easy on the eye. And tall. Very, very tall…
Unfortunately for him, it looks like Bill not only wants to believe but actually does. I’d thought his suggestion of burning the Tru Blood factories last week must be some sort of feint, but no – when it comes down to it, he’s sold Eric out as a heretic. Salome, keen for another bookmark in history after demanding the head of John the Baptist, will presumably be sharpening her blades again.
Eric might not be able to get out, but it seems the newly-infatuated Russell Edgington and Steve Newlin face no such problems. Russell’s taking his new feller to visit his ‘pets’ – the werewolves who’ve served him so well for so long. Under newly-affirmed, V-addicted pack leader JD, they seem prepared to roll over and take this lowly position – all except crusty old Martha, who seems to be the last bastion of wolf decency. This gave Denis O’Hare another chance to show how Russell can turn in an instant from humorous geniality to terrifying monster, as he grabbed her currently wolf-shaped daughter to be a hostage to fortune.
So, the Sanguinista plot has already intersected with Pam and Tara at Fangtasia, and now with the wolves. Perhaps Alcide will ride to their rescue, but he’s sloped off to visit his bitter old dad (a great turn from former T-1000 and X Files investigator Robert Patrick). In the mean time, Russell’s ‘kidnap’ of wolf-Emma will presumably also drag Sam and Luna into the fray, though Luna’s problems of late seem to have made her forget she has a daughter to worry about.
Luna seems to have suffered little ill effect from her involuntary skin walking as Sam last week, and the pair of them are yet again trailing the bloodhounds of Bon Temps’ Police Department to find the leaders of the Obama-masked lynch mob doing the rounds. Andy Bellefleur may be no great genius, but as a man of the South, he knows instantly what it means that the Obamas call their leader “dragon” – they’re trying to be a new version of the good ol’ Ku Klux Klan.
But who could the dragon be? After a bit of ‘enhanced interrogation’ of their only captive (ie beating the crap out of him), Andy and the faithful Officer Stackhouse figure it out by far easier means – the Obamas’ website has a video clip in which one of the masked men has a very familiar pair of cowboy boots. Yep, it’s none other than former sheriff Bud Dearborne. This was less of a surprise than it could have been, after William Sanderson’s brief appearance a couple of weeks ago, but the twist was that it was actually Bud’s fancy woman, the inaptly named ‘Sweetie’, who was running the group.
And here, yet another plotline intersected, as Sweetie and Bud not only have Hoyt tied up and drugged in their pig barn, but also Sookie Stackhouse, who’d been visiting Bud to find out what he knew about her parents’ death. Not much,as it turned out, but her mind-reading ability and fairy thunderbolts marked her out as yet another target for the Obamas. Fortunately for her – and Hoyt – two of the pigs turn out to be Sam and Luna. Again, not much of a surprise,and with the arrival of the cops, it looks like this plotline’s over for now. Just as well, as after making some interesting allusions earlier, it did seem to have run out of steam somewhat. The irony, of course, is that hatemongering Sweetie actually has a point – the vampires really are trying to take over the world.
Another plot came to an end as Terry cornered Patrick, who’d kidnapped Arlene as bait. It’s a horrible dilemma – could you kill your old buddy to save your family? And yet Patrick had been shown to be pretty contemptible in the flashbacks, being the principal instigator of the war crime that Terry was complicit in. Nevertheless, it still felt a bit shocking that Terry actually went through with it, shooting his former comrade in the head just as he had with the Iraqi woman who started the whole thing. Fortunately for Terry and Arlene, she showed up as a ghost and had the Ifrit clean up the body – looks like death in Bon Temps is getting back to its old, consequence-free status!
So, we’ve now seen the conclusion of the Ifrit storyline, along with (apparently) the end of the Obamas, to go along with the winding up of the Lafayette-is-a-brujo-demon plot and the apparent forgetting of Sookie’s murder of Debbie van Pelt. The Sanguinista storyline is intersecting with that of Russell, and the werewolf pack, and Fangtasia, with only the fairies and the vampire murderer of the Stackhouse parents till unconnected with the rest of it. With only three episodes to go, it seems that the show is (finally) cleaning narrative house and gaining a sense of focus. Not that it’s been anything less than entertaining throughout, but we’re getting into the endgame now, and hopefully things will build to a climax without an entire episode of ‘epilogue’ like the one we had last year after the main plot was over.