It’s thrilling to see that True Blood is getting back to its vampire roots in season five, after three seasons of casting a wide net across the supernatural spectrum. The intricacies and depth of vampire relationships, both personal and political, make for an endless amount of facets to explore. And with two freshly created vampires, plus the introduction of the species’ highest-ranking bloodsuckers, the storytelling remains captivating and entertaining. If there were a single lesson to be learned in this week’s True Blood, it’d be “don’t fight Authority.” Things definitely won’t go your way if you try to resist the higher power, whether or not you’re a vampire.
First up: What to do about Tara? “You can’t leave, you’re her maker!” Sookie shouts at Pam after being tossed around the backyard by Tara. “And I made her. She’s your problem now,” Pam retorts, but orders Tara not to bite Lafayette and Sookie, and Tara to stay in the house – and then peaces off to Fangtasia, leaving a positively pissed Tara behind. Tara’s still on a rampage 30 minutes before sun up, so Sookie masterminds a sneak attack that involves Lafayette giving Tara his blood while Sookie silvers her to get her into the cubby. It’s traumatic for everyone, and leaves Lafayette questioning if he and Sookie did the right thing when they played God. He is this close to staking Tara while she sleeps when Sookie stops him. “It’ll get better,” Eternal Optimist Sookie Stackhouse promises, citing Jessica’s evolution as hope. “Tara is in there.” The first sign of that is Tara’s pledge when she emerges later that night. “I will never forgive either of you,” she vows venomously, running out of the house, Sookie’s newly bought silver mister and Pam’s orders be damned.
One could argue the theory that Pam’s maker issues can be attributed to her current daddy issues. That is, the rift that developed between her and Eric before he was taken by the Authority – and the fact that she actually has no idea where he is or what’s happening to him, despite their hundred-year relationship. We get to see the start of that relationship, as Pam flashed back to her first meeting with Eric, when she lived as a tough-as-nails brothel owner in 1900s San Francisco. After discovering one of her girls dead at the hands of a vampire, Pam was approached by a lecherous man while walking home – only to be saved by a vampire, Eric in appropriately dashing period garb. “You’re not afraid,” he marvels, as he finger licks the blood from the man whose heart he ripped out and gives Pam money to buy a new dress before dashing off. The memory causes her to wake in her coffin with tears in her eyes.
Elsewhere, Rev. Steve Newlin has turned into Nan 2.0, preaching peaceful coexistence between vampires and mortals. “I used to think I had found the light, but now I have found it . . . in the darkness,” he explains. He’s also still every bit in love with Jason as he was last week, and goes so far as to crash Jessica‘s house party to offer her $10,000 for Mr. Stackhouse. “Let me ask you a question, Steve. Have you seen Jason’s butt?” she inquires, getting him to turn into a quivering mess and go up to $20,000 before flipping the switch. “You are pathetic. Jason is my friend. I do not sell my friends,” she says, and Steve initiates a fast-paced, drag-out, hair-pulling fight. “My dad’s the king,” she warns him. “Not anymore!” he declares gleefully, his scalp still in her hands. Authority Pawn Steve is every bit as maniacal as Fellowship of the Sun Steve, and he leaves Jessica in a pissed-off mood.
Speaking of the King, the time has come to meet the Guardian, played by Law and Order: SVU‘s Christopher Meloni in a turn reminiscent of the Godfather. The Authority itself is part fantasy creation (the building itself is like the vampire version of Harry Potter‘s Ministry of Magic: instead of flushing yourself down to your desired location, you share a blood prick to clear through security) and part social commentary: Phase one of the interrogation is a group questioning over the loudspeaker from an anonymous individual. Bill begs for Nora and Eric to be released; the voice says “noble gesture, but a lie we both know,” and the lights dim. “Awww, you just FUCKED US!” fellow prisoner Nigel cries. There’s no waterboarding here; it’s bouts of harsh UV light when you’re in vampire prison.
Phase two involves individual interrogations in which the prisoners are tied up to an IV of a solution containing electrolitically refined silver. Every time the answer is unsatisfactory, the IV gets turned on and the silver goes straight to the bloodstream. Chancellors Salome and Peter handle the questioning of Eric and Bill, respectively, and each tries to convince the subject that the other has come clean. At the crux of all of this is the religious foundation of vampires. The original bible – the vampire bible – states that before God created Adam and Eve, he created Lilith, who was a vampire. “We were created in God’s image, not human’s,” Peter underlines, then recites Adam and Eve’s true purpose: “And their flesh shall nourish yours, their blood shall flow within you, for as the beetle nourishes the lark, so shall human nourish vampire.” The main issue at hand is the division between the vampires who want to mainstream and the fundamentalists who hold the vampire bible’s word as the absolute truth.
The Guardian’s introduction comes by way of a religious ceremony that blesses Lilith and the Lord, “first, last, eternal, from whom we were born,” and shares his blood with his fellow Authority members, which, if you’re sticking to current vampire pop culture references, recall Twilight‘s Volturri and Vampire Diaries‘ original family. Meloni’s Guardian is a ruthless leader, who deems “a threat to mainstreaming is a threat to us. Fundamentalism is a dead end, and I won’t fucking have it!” Bill and Eric’s future seems to hang in a perilous balance, until Bill offers an exchange: their lives for the newly rediscovered Russell Edgington. Despite his declaring “I feel like staking you so fucking much right now!” upon learning that Bill and Eric didn’t kill Russell back when they were ordered to, Guardian is intrigued. “Unlike the two of you, I understand there are a great many things more important than my personal desires.” A deal is struck, and the episode’s last image is a bloodied, scaly Russell, coming back to life in a way not unlike Voldemort.
Werewolves and Shifters
As expected, Alcide is refusing to take on the leadership role that is now his after he killed Marcus. He thusly refuses to partake in the custom of eating the dead packmaster’s flesh, to which Marcus’ mom reminds him, “What you are interested in is irrelevant. There are laws.”
Marcus’ mom is quite intent on telling everyone what’s best for them: Luna is taking care of Sam when Marcus’ mom shows up, begging to let her care for Emma. “What happens when Emma turns? She’ll need a pack. Blood is blood,” she protests as Luna shoves her out, adamant that her daughter will be a shifter, not a were. Her anger extends to Sam, who tries to make her be compassionate towards Marcus’ mom’s demands. She reminds him that Luna is her charge, not his – at which point he leaves, and she goes to see what’s keeping Emma awake. Turns out Marcus’ mom’s request was right on cue, because there’s a very cute wolf cub in pajamas staring back at Luna from the floor of Emma’s bedroom.
The wrath of the lady wolf isn’t finished: Jason and Andy discover an abandoned vehicle that turns out to be Debbie Pelt‘s van, and Jason knows enough to piece together that she was Alcide’s girlfriend – but can’t work out the details past that just yet.
Terry‘s behavior has only gotten more erratic, in a way that seems to indicate that his PTSD is coming back with a vengeance. Arlene wakes to see him hovering above her, saying, “We’re all gonna die, he’s coming for us,” and later, at Merlotte’s, he shoves her across the kitchen when she interrupts a flashback. Both times, we see glimpses of Terry’s frantic war memories, but nothing is clear enough to glean what’s happening. When he refuses to tell her, Arlene shows up at Patrick‘s motel room to get some answers; she doesn’t have any luck, and then Terry shows up. “I have kids, Patrick, and I have too much invested in this man to watch him lose his mind, you hear me? You two fix this,” she orders as she leaves at their request. Turns out that missing unit member mentioned last week is alive, and Patrick and Terry must find him. Again, the attention to Terry’s war past has been intriguing; I hope the payoff in finding out what’s going on is worth the time it’s dragging out.
Meanwhile, Andy and Jason are turning into quite the romantic confidants, with Andy confessing to his work partner that Holly hasn’t talked to him since last week’s awkward kid encounter. Jason tries to convince Andy that playing it cool is the best way, and that he’s OK with that approach to his and Jessica’s relationship. But playing it casual catches up to him when the son of a woman Jason slept with shows up at the sheriff’s office and punches Jason for ruining his life. His dad is now divorcing his mom, and it’s all Jason’s fault. “Jesus, Stackhouse, have you slept with every woman in this town?” Andy wonders. “I don’t know. I’m close, I guess,” Jason says sheepishly. Though he’s emotionally matured significantly since season one, you can’t help but recall how Jason’s womanizing ways conveniently gave Renee a way to frame Jason for the town murders. Something’s going to give, and it won’t be something Jason can charm his way out of.
But Jason does try and improve his relations with Hoyt, who still wants nothing to do with Jason and kicks him out of his mama’s house. In one of the more lighthearted moments of the episode, Maxine Fortenberry kicks Jason out of her house, pretend-screaming at him the entire way, but then whispers “Thank you for breaking up Hoyt and that red-headed slut. I’m gonna bake you a pie!” Good to know some things never change.
Favorite Couple: Jessica and Steve. The power struggle between these two vampires with a love for the same human is two for two in spirited exchanges.
Winning Species: Again, the vampires – in particular, the Authority, thanks to our finally getting an inside look at its infrastructure.
Losing Species: Humans, because even though their reduced numbers make it hard to create a solely human story line, the richness of their stories can’t compare to the supes.