Viewers who did not properly acquaint themselves with True Blood‘s fifth season finale will pay the price to kick off the sixth, which starts with a fury of blood, chaos and death. By the end of the hour though, “Who Are You, Really?” settled down and created some decent possibilities moving forward for its main characters, and ones that — hopefully — stay closer to home and life in Bon Temps than the realm of the Vampire Authority. Late in the episode, Eric says to Sookie that she will always be “the girl in the white dress who walked into my bar.” Sookie expresses that she does genuinely want to go back to being that girl, which would be a refreshing change of pace for viewers, too. Hit the jump for why “I hate the beach. Fish piss and sand in your cooch.”
Season Six should be approached with cautious optimism, as series creator Alan Ball left the show last year to pursue other interests (like creating the excellent Banshee). Ball had a specific vision for the show that has deviated mightily (so I am told, at least) from the books. While the True Blood world is a crazy and fantastical one, we’ve seen over the last two seasons that there are still ways to take that much, much too far. The season finales for the fourth and fifth seasons left most viewers exasperated, and yet, when summer rolls around, here we all are, gathered to see if the show can recapture the charm and magic of its first seasons.
As the episode title suggests, this week was all about identity. Alcide is wrestling with the power of being pack leader, Sookie wants her old life back, Jason tells Sookie her alliances are in the wrong places, Pam works out her feelings with Eric and Tara, Sam loses Luna, Jessica chooses her maker over her friends, and Andy is a dad. Then there’s Bill.
The biggest question both answered and unanswered here is what happened to Bill. Last we saw him, he was resurrected as “Billith,” but what exactly that meant was uncertain. “Who Are You, Really?” showed that some part of Bill as we knew him is still here, but with incredible new powers. He’s also still controlled by the magic that consumed him, as was illustrated in the last few moments when he got his own three-way of sorts (not as nice as Alcide’s though). Having Jessica pledge herself to him and help keep him on the straight and narrow is a nice development — the two have always had a bond, yet never get enough scenes together. Jessica seems to be becoming, in a way, his Pam.
Pam, for her part, can’t catch a break. With Nora back, she’s been relegated in her position with Eric, and now that Fangtasia is being closed by the government she’ll have even less to keep her busy, besides looking after Tara and both encouraging and warding off her affections. Having Pam do more than spew out one-liners (great as they are) would be appreciated, but her with Tara could end up being a good pairing that would give them both something to do (as Tara has notoriously been given some of the worst storylines of the series).
Speaking of — Sam, who is usually saddled with the most boring and useless plots, didn’t get to do much beyond see Luna expire and take over the role of guardian for Emma. Andy, too, found himself the guardian of an unlikely brood, but unlike Sam, Andy and Arlene usually serve as the much needed comic relief at least. Alcide, for his part, filled the nudity quotient. No real complaints there.
True Blood is often fractured and chaotic in its storytelling, but with Sookie’s rejection of Eric and the rise of the Fae storyline (both with Warlow and even Andy’s six new kids), things could be set up for something good to come. “Who Are You, Really?” spent the first half of the episode washing away the mess of last season before setting up its own interests for the upcoming one. Despite the change of showrunner halfway through this season, there seems to be, perhaps, a glimmer of hope.
Episode Rating: B-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— This episode was a mess to start with, but it got better. I try to grade within a season, and start low so I can aim high. It’s not an exact science.
— Stephen Moyer directed this episode.
— “I’m supposed to be escorting you rag-tag band of fuck offs to safety” – Nora
— The governor plot with the True Blood manufacturers is already dragging, though the curfew and shutting down of businesses could have interesting implications. I have zero interest in this Governor or his quest for power.
— “Bill was my first … everything. Loving him is just in my blood now” – Sookie
— Sookie staking Bill was a genuine surprise. So was her kicking Eric out. I hope she stays single for awhile, she’s at her best when she’s unattached. Also, she and Eric have zero chemistry on the show besides friendship.
— Jason gets dazzled (or “brain raped”) so easily.
— Which Jason line was the best? Too many to count. The “little gay kid from the Sixth Sense” maybe? Or “My parents have gotten really racist and kinda scary since they’ve gone to heaven.”
–“When you stick Mr. Happy inside of somebody’s hoo-ha without a raincoat on, babies come out!” – Arlene
— “We’ll hot tits, Arlene!” – Andy
— Genuine laugh: the reactions to how fast the fairy kids grew up.
— Fact: Eric uses the USPS.
— Is HBO hard up for cash? Very prominent mentions of Lipton and Purell in this episode.
— “I’m your number one bitch, don’t ever forget it” – Rikki
— I hope LaFayette gets a decent plot this season.
— A note on nudity: long-time readers will know my thoughts on the balance of nudity. I’ve come to terms with the fact that HBO is almost never going to show male full frontal except in the rarest of cases, and I’m actually ok with that. Would the penis be shown flaccid? Erect? Personally, some well-toned abs, a nice bum and some defined arm muscles on the menfolk are really just fine to balance out the full frontal female nudity (which there was a lot of in this episode). Everyone has their opinions on it, but I have to commend True Blood more than, say, Game of Thrones, for keeping a pretty fair balance in those terms. I may score that week to week as well.