We’re hurtling towards the climax of S5 of True Blood and the show is desperately trying to pull its disparate storylines together. With only three episodes left, how’s that working out?
Let’s bitch it out…As we’ve discussed multiple times, True Blood has too many characters and too many storylines. As we near the end of the fifth season (and the last for creator Alan Ball), this is more evident than ever as the majority of ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ is spent jumping from scene to scene with nary a breath in between. While this can occasionally feel incredibly disorienting , the speed and brevity of the various scenes also produces a sense of urgency and momentum; so much so that episode ten feels like it is ramping up towards a climax.
Unfortunately it also means less time than normal with some characters. Completely absent is the most disappointing storyline of S5’s latter half: the wolfpack, so we get no Alcide (Joe Maganiello), no Martha (Dale Dickey) and no JD (Louis Herthum). Also absent are Arlene (Carrie Preston) and Terry (Todd Lowe), who must be taking a well-deserved family vacation after last week’s Ifrit encounter. I think most viewers would consider this a blessing in disguise since the episode is busy enough without accommodating less than stellar storylines. As it is, ‘Gone, Gone Gone’ doesn’t need the additional pieces since there are already so many in play.
So what matters? Well, it appears that Bill’s (Stephen Moyer) religious conversion may actually be legitimate, although there’s no doubt in my mind that Eric (Alexander Skargard) is faking his – at least until he can figure out how to get the h*ll out of the Authority’s compound. He’s in an especially precarious position after the Authority stakes Molly, aka Vampire Mac (Tina Majorino) in the post-credits scene. Thankfully Russell (Denis O’Hare) decides that he’s had enough of the pontificating of the group and stages a grandiose exit to pursue his own 3000 year old agenda in a move that will likely put him back atop the most dangerous vampire list. This may be enough for Eric (and perhaps Bill if he can be rescued) to distract the group long enough to put down Salome (Valentina Cervi).
As it stands, their time is running out: with all five major bottling plants destroyed, TrueBlood is nearly gone and vampire-on-human violence has increased 50%. Even Sookie (Anna Paquin) isn’t safe – a fact that’s revealed in the teaser scene when she’s attacked by former coroner Mike Spencer (John Billingsley). Thank goodness for those ultra-durable chopsticks and Sookie’s willingness to dispatch a vamp in her own living room! (P.S. We’re not the only ones who doubted the strength and durability of those chopsticks)
If True Blood has done right by any of its storylines in the last few episodes, it’s this one. Considering the incredibly sparse amount of time the show has dedicated to the depleting stocks of TrueBlood, there’s still a powerful amount of fear generated through ‘Gone, Gone, Gone.’. The brief scenes when Jason (Ryan Kwanten) removes Sookie from their old house after the attack, as well as the vacant emptiness of Merlotte’s, and the subtle undercurrent of danger as Hoyt (Jim Parrack) leaves town, are all very effective. It makes you wish that the show would expand its worldview to better encapsulate the damaging effect this TrueBlood shortage is having, as opposed to dedicating time to small scope stories such as Sam (Sam Trammell) and Luna’s (Janina Gavankar) attempt to recover wolf-pup Emma (Chloe Noelle). It’s one of the difficulties of having so many characters: the show has written itself into a narrative corner so that it can’t explore bigger themes because it has to give all of its characters something to do.
The result is that we continue to spend time with the Authority instead of witnessing just how crazed the streets have become now that the blood has run out. This is unfortunate, because watching the attractive people in charge stake each other in a dank underground boardroom is hardly more exciting than seeing the result of their plan as it sweeps across the globe.
- One benefit of the micro-level storytelling is the investment we’ve made in characters. It’s a toss-up whether Hoyt has been relevant this season, but I’ll freely admit to feeling emotional as he begs Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) to glamour him to forget both her and Jason. This feels like a nice send-off for the character, who may yet return in a future season (much like Rutina Wesley’s Tara did when she left town). At the same time, given the dangers vamps now pose to humans, I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn next episode that Hoyt’s truck is abandoned on the side of the road and he’s feared eaten
- Speaking of Wesley, I’m still frustrated with the lack of attention Tara and new mama Pam (Kristin Bauer) receive. On the plus side, they continue to make the most of their time on-screen when Tara uses Ginger (Tara Buck) as bait to lure Elijah (Keram Malicki-Sánchez) to his death. It’s fast and brutal, and makes me love these two gals more than ever (even if their wardrobes and hairstyles seem to be regressing back in time more each week). Lesson to learn: when danger erupts, dress like it’s the 80s and carry a big sword
- Not a ton of new info on Sookie’s search for Warlow – the vamp that killed her parents. Jason proves his promotion to the Bon Temps police force isn’t entirely unwarranted when he finds a box buried under Sook’s bed, and when they take it to Claude (Giles Matthey) and a very pregnant Maurella (Kristina Anapau), they discover that Sook has basically been sold to Warlow 200 years ago. This is not good news
- Also not good news for Sook: Russell intends on mass producing her blood so that vamps can walk in the day. This seems like a logical progression of the story that ended in S3 when Sookie used her magical Faerie blood to trick Russell so that he could be captured and imprisoned in cement. Salome, on the other hand, is not excited by this prospect (since she’s a stick in the mud), but Russell takes care of her pretty easily. I’ve enjoyed Cervi in her thankless role as Salome this season, but even I will admit to a smidgen of satisfaction to seeing her get bounced off a column by Russell’s backhand
- Side Note: Did anyone else chuckle when the truth behind Russell’s inclination for “Greek” is revealed to be a fraternity and not the nationality? It makes sense given that I’m sure Russell would prefer feast on a group of hunky college jocks. He’s such a dirty old vampire
- Are we meant to assume that Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) has known all along that Emma is a shifter? It’s weird that he would still keep her knowing that she’s not all cute and cuddly all the time. With Sam and Luna loose in the compound and looking for Emma, I have a feeling that we’ll be saying goodbye to Steve before the end of the season.
- Finally, after this week and last week, I’ve invented a new True Blood drinking game: take a shot everytime Luna says the ‘F’ word. Tonight she is in two scenes and says it once which means that there’s a 50% chance that if you see Gavankar, you’re getting sauced. Ugh I hate that terrible character…
- Elijah (reflecting on Pam’s comment that Fangtasia’s business model is ‘old fashioned’): “Yeah, you and blockbuster’
- Lafayette (after a subdued vampire-hating human goes to lay down on the floor): “Not you, dumb fuck – the gun”
- Tara (after Elijah indicates that Pam must produce 30 vampire progeny within a year): “Fine then, I’ll make two. I always wanted kids.”
- University historian (pontificating on the arbitrary nature of the symbols on the scroll Sookie has brought him): “Why does my ex-wife name her toes?”
- Russell (overhearing Lucy Griffiths’ Nora and Eric hatching plans to force all vamps to read the Book of Lilith): “Are we seriously sitting here talking about education reform?”
And then there were two. What did you think of this third last episode of the season: did it bounce around too much, or do you feel like everyone got their due? How much trouble are Tara and Pam in for killing Elijah? How will Bill and Eric escape the Authority? Do you think Russell will be killed when he goes after Sookie? Did you shed a little tear during the ‘goodbye Hoyt’ scene? And – using the rules of the drinking game outlined above – how drunk do you think we’ll be after Luna confronts Steve over her daughter? Hit the comments below with your thoughts and we’ll see you next week.
True Blood airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO