TRUE BLOOD Recap: “Life Matters”

     August 11, 2013


After a chaotic and largely irritating hour last week, this week True Blood produced what might be one of the show’s finest episodes.  “Life Matters” kept things simple.  Less Warlow, no shifting or were-things, and the first true funeral the show has really taken the time to have — and one, it should be mentioned, that was not interrupted by anything supernatural (like, say, an “oops! I’m not actually dead!” moment, which at several points I feared).  It was the yearly “kill the establishment” carnage episode on the vampire side, but for once, the show juxtaposed that with a healthy dose of humanity.  Hit the jump for why “I know that scream.”

true-blood-season-6-poster“Life Matters” may be the most straight-forward True Blood episode ever to air.  There were just two plotlines: the vampires taking over the facility thanks to Eric, and Terry’s funeral.  They both had their value, but Terry’s funeral could have spanned the entire episode, and that would have been fine.  The flashbacks to the characters remembering his life (Andy’s story about Fort Bellefleur, Sam giving Terry’s his chance at a job, LaFayette taking him under his wing, Sookie’s recollection at his love-at-first-sight feelings towards Arlene) were not just a great way to memorialize the character in a way the show rarely does, but it also reminded viewers of how grounded the show actually used to (kinda) be.

Those simple moments in the flashbacks were more interesting than most of what happened in the vampire plot, and “Life Matters” seemed to be the first step in living up to the promise that next year things will get back to basics.  It’s the relationships among these characters that have kept even the most skeptical among us going.  Though viewers may have lost their patience for Bill and Sookie, Pam and LaFayette and and other favorites have sustained our interested enough to keep coming back.

The restraint and humanity of the funeral scenes was juxtaposed harshly with the utter carnage at the vampire jail, though.  There was bloody genital removal and death by face stomp, and that was all to the same guy.  The rest of the scientists and guards fared no better, but Sarah Newlin was able to escape, as she always does, thanks to both her own resourcefulness and Jason’s mercy.

true-blood-life-mattersMercy was a big theme, as Bill ultimately sacrificed himself to save his vampire friends, minus Steve Newlin, who died proclaiming his love for Jason Stackhouse while meeting the sun.  Fitting.  But Bill’s sacrifice was nearly eclipsed by this and the melodrama of Jason yelling at Sarah only to let her go.  The other vampires, high on fairy blood, took to the sun and forgot all about their poor savior, who was desperately trying to ward off true death.  Was his “resurrection” at the price of his “godliness”?  We can only hope.  It would be hard to say goodbye to Bill, but Billith has run its course.

“Life Matters” was one of the few times life really has mattered on True Blood, and it did so to great effect.  Next week promises more chaos and carnage and crazy vamps on the loose, and it actually seems that everyone might be united against them (at least in a desire to calm them down).  But how the show chooses to wrap things up in a way this year that will, unlike prior years, leave us hungry to return, is an enormous mystery.  “Life Matters,” though, was a good start.

Episode Rating: A

Musings and Miscellanea:

– I’ve really enjoyed how self-referential the show has been this year.  Lettie Mae’s appearance (even though subdued) was a nice callback, as was Hoyt’s mother mentioning him (having an ugly GF no less), Eric mentioning Ginger’s distinctive scream, and Sookie admitting publicly that, oh by the way, in addition to everything else she is a telepath.

– Ohhh racist grandma.  What would a funeral be without you?

true-blood-life-matters-1– This episode was also directed in a noticeably lovely way that is also unusual for the show.

– Sookie’s light did repel Bill.  Will that be important next week?

– Alcide is suddenly back in the picture for Sookie.  But that denim under the blazer …

– Raging Bitch IPA is indeed a real beer.

– Why is Jason still associating with that wannabe vampire who nearly drained him to death?

– I’m still upset they had to kill of Terry.  This episode reminded me just how far he’d come over the course of the show.

– Bye bye True Blood (the drink) … for now.

  • cloud720

    The time spent at the funeral was bullshit. Terry’s death didn’t warrant that much attention. Kill off Jason, Sam, or even Andy if you want to spend that much time on a funeral.

    • pinkincide

      Yeah, he was a good character, but they never did enough with him to warrant a whole episode of mourning.

  • Agent777

    That sucks they killed Terry. Lafayette should have died, did die in the book so it would make seance, and it would be a bone to the fans of the book.

    • verasgunn

      If they killed off Lafayette now I’d probably be done with the series. It’s a shame Terry died, particularly the way he did, but Lafayette is not only one of the best characters on the show his storylines are only bearable because Nelsan Ellis does such a fantastic job in the role.

  • adgrom

    Who cares about Terry, honestly? He really was a background character whose death really means little imho

    • Agent777

      Terry always held it down and wasn’t annoying like a lot of other characters can be. It also shows how weak the show still is because they don’t have the balls to actually kill off a major character.

  • Skinny Pete

    I thought this episode was among the most painfully bad of the series. The pacing/editing was horrible. Terry was a good character, but his (poorly written) death hardly warranted the amount of time spent on funeral and flashback. Especially when it was so jarringly intercut with the show’s usual campy bloodbath approach, the attempts at serious emotion at Terry’s funeral only served to underscore how low quality the acting and dramatic writing is. The flashbacks in particular just felt like random moments that had no bearing on much of anything, some of the most scatterbrained material in a largely scatterbrained series. Bill’s realization that the small amount of Warlow’s blood he had consumed would be enough to allow him to save all of the vampires in the sunroom seemed to defeat much of what had come before in this season. And on the subject of the vampires in the sunroom, didn’t every other vampire in the detention center drink the tainted trublood? Why was there only one vampire afflicted with Hep V? Didn’t Eric basically just unleash a host of diseased vampires? And seriously, the green screening when Sarah Newlin went on top of the reservoir couldn’t have looked much worse if it tried. Or am I just being too harsh on a show that has always been very flawed because of watching this episode after watching the return of Breaking Bad?

    • Agent777

      True Blood hasn’t been more than goofy entertainment for ahwhile. Which is sad because the first season, truly, was on par with the first season of Deadwood and Game of Thrones, and I hear from my gf the books are really good, and have tons of supernatural type character not even hinted at in the show.

    • Nick L Lopez

      I don’t think Eric knew they were all infected. For all we know, he figured Willa or somebody else warned everybody. It’s possible they will all start showing effects of Hep V. It’s kind of unfair to compare anything to Breaking Bad, since there is no other show that really compares at the moment. Dexter was the show I watched after Breaking Bad and…well not good. Agent777, while True Blood has seen much better days, the show at it’s best was never on par with Game of Thrones or Deadwood.

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  • Oolie zool

    I found the funeral to be typical of most of the side stories, boring and drawn out. The vampire stuff, for me, was far more interesting. I want to know what happens with Eric, Bill and these new sun-friendly vampires, especially Eric. His character now is such a departure from how he was early in the show and to me, he is the most likable character on the show now.

  • enzofloc

    This was one of the worst episodes. Lifeless vampires sunbathing and boring Sookie at a funeral. Makes me not want to watch any more. The show is old, trying too hard to recapture its former wild ostentatious fun. I can’t believe it’s limping on for another season.

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  • conradthegreat

    episode rating: A? wow….. for an apparent fan of the series, you’ve got awful review skills Allison

  • Rina

    Thank you so much for writing an actually great review. It seems that since S1 the fans forgot that this show is not about vampire carnage but about the community of Bon Temps, and Terry Bellefleur was the heart of that community and brought them together in an honest and emotional way last Sunday. It also seems that most people don’t know that we don’t hold the funerals for the dead but for the living. Honestly, I think some people just want the show to be about Eric Northman ripping off genitals for an hour.

  • Someone

    The worst episode ever. Terry’s funeral was unnecessary and all scenes from his past were pointless. But overall (after I’ve finally watched 10th episode) I have to say that it wasn’t the worst SEASON ever and that’s good. But it was AMONGST the worst seasons (together with the 2nd and the 4th ones). It looks like they can’t do even seasons right. But I loved the 1st, 3rd and 5th ones so I really hope that the 7th one will keep this tradition going and will be AWESOME!