TRUE BLOOD Recap: “Authority Always Wins”

     June 17, 2012

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Already, in just the second episode this season, True Blood has successfully rerouted the drama (and let’s be honest, mess) of last season into new and promising directions. In probably the strongest narrative for the season ahead, Eric and Bill are teaming up to destroy Russell Edgington, taking their chances on meeting the true death fighting him rather than at the hands of the Authority.

That’s one big problem with True Blood – the stakes (no pun intended) are very low. Not only is there absolutely no chance that any major character is going to die, but the show has even kept alive some characters that the original book series killed off. Even though we knew that neither Bill or Eric would be meeting the true death any time soon, it is interesting enough to have them set to go up against Russell and potentially return to the Authority’s good graces (after all, as this week’s title tells us, the Authority Always Wins). Other new subplots were not so successful – hit the jump for more on them, and how to raise a baby vampire (hint: True Blood is not appreciated).

true-blood-season-5-posterBefore leaving the Authority scene though, I have to comment on the communion and the parallels with Christianity and, more specifically, the Catholic Church. Like Steve Newlin’s newly found homosexuality, the message here was straight out of Satire 101. Also, trotting out Lilith and saying that God is a vampire (I’ll leave you to consider the logic of that) felt unnecessary. One of the Authority’s greatest powers is how little we know about it, and the magic of vampirism itself. Seeing Authority members interrogate Bill and Eric like complete amateurs (“Your friend just gave you up,” they told Eric – even though only moments before Bill had offered to sacrifice himself so Eric and Nora could be freed) takes away from the assumption of incredible knowledge and power that these beings have amassed from being alive for thousands of years. And yet one chooses to dress like Sharon Osbourne?

Speaking of the past, I have always loved Pam, but Pam^x = A Better Show does not apparently hold. Perhaps what has made Pam so great is how she appears sparingly to dole out glares and one-liners and be a terrible maker (I mused last week that there was no way that Pam could be a worse maker than Bill, but I admit being completely wrong on that front). Delving into Pam’s past as an early 20th century brothel madam was boring at best, and has anyone else noticed how almost all of the flashback scenes on the show take place in the early 1900s? Does HBO just have a lot of costuming left over from Deadwood and Carnivale? Could they not have mixed it up and had her as a brothel owner from the medieval era and borrowed some threads from Game of Thrones? But I digress. I know the point is probably going to be to show Pam and Eric’s initial relationship juxtaposed with how upset she is to be without him now, but that’s old news.

true-blood-carolyn-hennesyAs for Pam’s new progeny – there are many who speculated last week that Tara would no longer be Tara, but a kind of half-brained vamp who behaved something like a fanged version of Animal from the Muppets. For most of the episode, her Hulk Smash! routine seemed to suggest just that. But the ending turned things around again, as it seems Tara will be spared that humiliation at least and restored to her regular state (plus being a vampire). As Tara ran off into the yonder (and Sookie, was that silver mist supposed to keep Tara in the house? Shouldn’t you have had some backup silver netting maybe?), I couldn’t help but think that Tara, in her anger and as is typical of her character’s penchant for making terrible decisions, will probably hook up with Russell. He’ll likely charm her into his fold, and only later will she realize that he actually wants to kill her friends and family, and is using her to get close to them (…again). I would love for her new vamp powers to finally give her some agency in life, but I have my doubts.

Elsewhere in Bon Temps, it was nice to see some character development with Jason and Andy – both Andy giving up the V to Jason, and Jason’s whoring ways catching up with him from several sides all at once. But as for interest in Terry’s past catching up with him … perhaps not so much. Unless his vigilante mission with Patrick turn out to have implications for Bon Temps (either because it includes another magical creature or puts the denizens at risk) it just feels like a step back for a character who, like Pam, has turned out to be one of the few to remain narratively unscathed. Plus, poor Arlene could really use a break.

It’s still too early to tell much about what lies ahead, but the larger narratives certainly seem have promise. The final shot of Russell beginning to strengthen himself made me want to cheer. He is undoubtedly the most successful villain the show has yet produced. Confusingly, one nearly wants to root for him …

true-blood-peter-mensahVAMPYRE!

Grade: B

Musings and Miscellanea:

—  Steve Newlin hanging around as an annoying, quasi-famous vampire may prove to at least provide a bit of comic relief, such as his interactions with Jessica. The negotiations over Jason’s literal ass were great.

— Ginger: “Why are you so dirty?” Pam: “I just came out of the ground, what’s your excuse?”

Fans of Hell on Wheels may recognize Bill’s interrogator as The Swede.

— What if Werewolf Law was translated into current politics? When you won a seat you have to eat your opponent.

— When the prisoners were subjected to the ultraviolet rays in their cells, why didn’t they get under the bed?

— So Emma is a baby wolf, huh … and such a cute one! Sorry, Luna, looks like she will be eating corpses soon enough!

— Hoyt’s mother is always a joy, isn’t she? “I’m so glad you broke up my boy and that ginger slut, I am going to bake you a pie.”

— Andy: “Jesus Jason, have you slept with every woman in this town?” Jason: “I’m probably getting pretty close.”

— The title of the episode had Cartman’s voice in my head all day. “Respect mah authoritahhhh!”

—  Lafayette and Sookie wandering around the house trying to find Tara reminded me of Alien.

Chris Meloni. That is all.

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