TRUE BLOOD Recap: “Whatever I Am, You Made Me”

     June 24, 2012

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In my preview post for the season, I mentioned that the show is at its best when it returns to Merlotte’s, the heart of the True Blood universe.  It grounds the story, integrates a number of different narrative arcs (which, in this season is certainly necessary), and builds character development.  It makes Sam slightly more interesting and Sookie likable.  What more could one ask for?

Consider me turned – I am truly enjoying this season of True Blood.  There was a meme I saw this week that said “if you take away the love triangle, The Hunger Games is essentially a televised fight to the death … and Twilight is about a girl who moves somewhere it rains a lot.”  In True Blood, take away the Bill-Sookie-Eric love triangle and you get … a much better show.  So far.  Keeping the supernatural action to a minimum (and refocusing on vampires rather than every possible creature imaginable) has been a welcomed change in tone from the chaos of last season.  Additionally, keeping Bill and Eric’s Excellent Adventures separate from Sookie has been to the benefit of all involved.  Even though tonight’s episode was quieter than most, it set up some interesting things to come. Hit the jump to find out why you should never negotiate with apostates!

true-blood-season-5-poster“Whatever I Am, You Made Me” felt, like much of the season so far, more like a series of vignettes than one cohesive story.  Maybe in the spirit of Paris, Je T’aime we have a sort of “Bon Temps I Fucking Love Ya!”  There were good things to be found even in outer reaches such as another Arlene and Terry confrontation, which are great scenes because Carrie Preston and Todd Lowe play them with such depth and humor.  Arlene’s frustration is sad – we really do feel for her and her messed up life.  But Terry’s sweet yet curt responses that have her on a Need To Know basis (where she basically isn’t told anything) were still funny.  The little moments, too, like when Arlene discovers Tara or when she stares at Lafayette and mutters “turning your own kin …” — these are the sort of things that give the True Blood universe much-needed character depth (which can be hard to achieve when you introduce people just to kill them off).

Also worth noting is how, for the first time, Sookie is not necessarily the main focus. We essentially began in the first episode with Eric declaring “fuck Sookie!” and I can’t say many of us disagreed. But with Sookie busy tending to Vampire!Tara and her murder of Debbie, she’s actually snuck back in to being likable. Especially because, for once, no one else on the show finds her to be so. Sam has moved on (though him trying to not think about her boobs was a nice touch), Tara is rightfully pissed off, Alcide, Bill and Eric are over it, and Pam, well, Pam has never been into it. And that has redeemed Sookie to such a degree that when she used her fairy powers to slam Pam against the wall at Fangtasia, I nearly cheered.

true-blood-anna-paquin-season-5-episode-3-imageThe real focus has returned, perhaps rightfully, to the vampires. Though the logic of Lilith / the Vampire God / how humans were the race that birthed them all yet God is a vampire how does that work / Salome / etc is a complete mess, the fun of The Authority and their ways nearly makes up for it (there’s an app for that!). Bill and Eric teaming up is also a welcomed break from their (apparently century-old) bickering. When Salome seduced them both (and Bill via zipless fuck, no less) I was worried she would be another Sookie, creating a jealousy triangle. But the two men finding out almost immediately afterwards that they were in this together only strengthened their sense of united purpose. Still, things like Nora being a Sanguinista and Eric being the knight in shining armor to save (bisexual?) Pam’s brothel from Bill and Lorena were missteps (my head hurts even thinking about this. Eric’s character was never a nice guy, he was always a cold, blood-thirsty jerk. Changing him to be more like some kind of Downton Abbey Dapper Dan rather than the bored Viking Fangtasia owner we met in Season One is a confusing decision).

Back in Bon Temps, there were some great little moments with Andy and his Facebook-i-fied ass, Jessica smelling something tasty (a fairy?), Layfayette being potentially possessed by the demon Jesus, and the consequences of Sookie murdering Debbie with her parents looking for her. We even got a goth Hoyt (lawd …) and Jason’s Psyche 101 (which was quite deeply tragic). It did, however, set up the basis of a friendship between Jessica and Jason, which is a good direction to take that story. But the night belonged, literally, to Tara and her blood-thirsty ways. Though she seemed to try to fry herself to death (who could blame her? As a friend said to me last week, “the best thing that can happen to Tara at this point is the true death”), it seems that her maker will likely swoop in to save the day. After all, Eric instilled in Pam long ago that being a maker is a sacred thing, which she has apparently set aside. Might she start to take a more active role in Tara’s nascent vampirism?

true-blood-season-5-episode-3-kristin-bauer-van-straten-imageDespite the fractured nature of the storytelling, nearly each story feels worth telling. Even though these are “building block” episodes, they’re still entertaining. If this season can hold to this pattern, it may be one of the best yet.

Grade: A-

Musings and Miscellanea:

— Lots of shirtless men this week, huzzah! Also a fair amount of naked ladies as well. Bonus: here’s Pam and her bosoms posing for Entertainment Weekly.

— I want to know more about that little kid vampire. How old is he really? I also love how he shouts and slams his fist on the table constantly.

— Pam’s super texting / typing were great reminders of “other” vampire abilities. The moment Tara starts realizing how heightened her senses are now was also a nice touch.

— I really want someone to start a Good Guy Sam or Good Guy Alcide meme.

— So Jason was seduced by Anna Draper as a boy … what would Dick Whitman think!

— “As we say in Surrey, ‘sod off you cunting twat!'” – Nora

— There was a great honesty in the conversation between Andy and Holly about who they are, with all of their faults. It was very adult, very real, and kind of sweet.

— Yep the “there’s an app for that” girl was Tina Majorino, a.k.a. Deb from Napoleon Dynamite and Heather from Big Love.

— Steve Newlin being dressed down by Roman was great and has set up a lot more Gay Vampire American Steve Newlin to come (which I think will be a good thing).

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