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.”
“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.
Mercy 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?
— 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.