True Blood hits the halfway point of the season with a humdinger of an episode that seemingly hits fast forward on the majority of the storylines.
Let’s bitch it out…If nothing else, ‘Fuck The Pain Away’ is certainly an eventful episode.
What makes it fairly impressive is that it manages the feat of striking a balance between the 15-20 disparate storylines, collapsing several into one as the majority of our vampire population takes up residence at Governor Burrell’s (Arliss Howard) prison vamp camp. In a single episode Jess (Deborah Ann Woll) is captured and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Tara (Rutina Wesley) surrender themselves. They join already-imprisoned Steve Newlin (Michael McMillan), Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) and the Governor’s recently converted daughter, Willa (Amelia Rose Blaire).
There’s a sense of momentum that comes as a result of condensing all of these stories together. Even if the majority of our players are individually sequestered, there’s a consistency in the presentation and threat posed by the new location. Knowing what we know from Billith’s (Stephen Moyer) vision in 6×02 ‘The Sun’, it feels like we’re barreling towards that inevitable scene of our vampire characters staring up into the burning daytime sky. And that’s exciting!
In the last few episodes, we’ve also witnessed the emergence of a unifying villain: Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp). Consider the role Sarah plays in Jessica’s capture, as well as her glee in setting up gladiator stake match between Eric and Pam – this is one dangerous bitch. Initially when online commenters began suggesting Sarah would be a central figure in the remaining season six episodes, I could only scoff. After all, this is a former religious nut with beauty pageant hair, but in the last few weeks, it’s clear that Sarah’s association with Burrell and her ability to parlay her sexuality into power has turned her into one to watch as we head into the latter half of the season. She may be a bit dense at times, but Sarah Newlin is getting sh*t done.
Now Sarah Newlin may occasionally be a little blonde, but at least she’s not the stupidest girl on the show. Surprisingly enough that title now belongs to Pamela de Beaufort. During our introduction to the goings-on at Camp Stake-em it seems that we’ll be treated to a montage of “vampire game” tests but the comedy in Pam’s therapy scenes quickly dissipates as it becomes clear that she’s telling the human shrink (Pruitt Taylor Vince) waaaay too much. It’s hard to believe that Pam wouldn’t realize that the information she’s providing will be used against her. And while she has no way of knowing how it will be applied, you’d have to consider how much other information has been collected in this same way. Unfortunately that’s where always-eager-to-please Steve Newlin comes into the picture (his Level 4 statues connotes just how complicit he’s been in betraying his new species). The resulting stake-off between Pam and Eric is intentionally cliffhanger-y, things are definitely not looking good for the formerly inseparable duo.
Another unexpected duo also comes together as Billith (Stephen Moyer) spirits away Ben/Warlow after Sookie (Anna Paquin) wounds the latter. Just as Nora (an unseen Lucy Griffiths) deduced, Warlow is the key to hurting Billith. Their connection extends deeper, though, as we learn that Billith is also Warlow’s Maker, and therefore able to command him. This serves not only to advance Billith’s goal to synthesize Faerie blood to “save the vampire race”, but also frees Sookie up to Ouija it up with an underused Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis). Unfortunately his Whoopie-in-Ghost impression is a wee bit deadly when Papa Stackhouse’s ghost decides that the best medicine to protect Sooks from Warlow is not preventative, but rather infanticide. What’s a father to do besides drown her in a nearby lake? This is all very silly; why not just shoot her? Why drive all the way to the water and manhandle her under the surface?. Once again, this is little more than a false cliffhanger on which to end the episode.
Oh True Blood, who do you think you’re fooling?
- I suppose it only makes sense that an episode named after a notorious Peaches song would feature an increased amount of nudity and sexuality. In between copious bare bums (including Warlow’s, Ryan Kwanten’s Jason and Sam Trammell’s Sam) we also get some acrobatic bedroom shenaningans between Jason and Sarah and brief, perfunctory coitous between Warlow and Lillith in 3500 AD. There’s even some female sexual tension as Jessica, high on Faerie blood, grinds up against Sarah. Looks like someone did get that lingerie memo after all
- Alcide (Joe Maganiello) is still power tripping as pack leader…and I don’t care
- Terry (Todd Lowe) wants an old army buddy (played by Teen Wolf‘s Gideon Emery) to kill him…and I don’t care
- Sam f*cked Nicole’s (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) pain away, but now that Papa Alcide (Robert Patrick) has spotted them they may be in danger, girl…and I don’t care
- Andy (Chris Bauer) – strangely enough – is stuck in the land of pathos tending to his one remaining Faerie daughter. And strangely enough, I do care. I hated the idea of this storyline last season, but Bauer is selling me on it and I’m genuinely interested to see what becomes of his inevitable confrontation with Jessica and/or Vampire Bill
- Atrocious wig alert! I’m not the only one who laughed/groaned when the subtitle 3500 BC popped up, am I? Also, can we talk about how redundant it is to show the village massacre and the creation of Niall’s quest for vengeance when it was talked about it last week?
- Re Jason’s body: I could totally look like that if I wanted to…I just don’t wanna
- Finally, memo to True Blood: if you want to “do” the whole women in prison thing, please refer to Netflix because they’ve got it covered…
- Sarah (after Burrell dismisses her) “When a woman comes to you in black lingerie, you unwrap her”
- Jason (when Sarah tells him she has a new powerful man): “I guess that’s good because Steve turned out to be a gay vampire”
- Jason (to Sarah): “You always seemed like a nice woman behind the religion and the hair”
- Sarah (to Jason, after learning he slept with Jess): “My body is a temple and you have defiled it with your vampire-loving pecker.”
- Jess (when Tara observes her strange behaviour): “I ate four Faerie girls and I’m so fucking high”
As you might have guessed, Jason, Sarah and Jessica pretty much killed it this week. I’m less excited for the potentially true death of Eric or Pam, though they’ve both been such sour pusses this season, maybe a shake-up needs to happen? (Nope, I don’t even buy it and I wrote it). What are your thoughts on how the vampire prison storyline has been condensed? Any love for the wolves or shifters? Do you care about Andy’s remaining daughter? Sound off below
True Blood airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO