True Blood: Born Again

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True Blood S05E10: "Gone, Gone, Gone"


Last night's True Blood was insanely good. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and both reactions are supposedly the twin pinnacles of entertainment. But it went beyond that and hit me to the extent that I was lying in another room away from the TV, reeling, for 45 minutes after the fact. Typing that out, I feel a little ashamed, but isn't that what good television should be? Maybe my brain chemistry is firing a little too close to the surface, but I don't think so, because I was still rolling my eyes at shit like The Hangover 2 airing immediately beforehand on HBO. I'm not complaining: This weird punch to the gut feels almost good, because until I felt it, I assumed that gut was numb and dead and gone. Nope! Turns out I still have feelings. Thanks, True Blood!

Anyway: What am I talking about? Oh yeah, I knew from the cold open this was going to be a fantastic episode (read that in your head with a fangirl nerd lisp) because it erred on the side of excessively funny. The old open on TB fake news (my favorite thing in the world) segued into a depressing tableau of Sookie getting all cat-lady-spinster-comfers-cozy in her jammies. Then a coroner tried to give Sookie a toothy case of cunnie-lingie, and she staked him with um, Chinese food chopsticks? True Blood never finds its footing as solidly as when it lets its comedic instincts take charge, and this opening was a perfect example of that.

From that jaw-dropping cold open we traveled to Andre the Seal Girl, shirtless, and I will say this: Girl looked good with her shirt off. I mean, if you put that on my headstone I'd be happy, so it's meant as the highest of compliments. I imagine the studio gym where True Blood actors work out with their personal trainers as being the most competitive of atmospheres and girl could have held her own with that concave tummy.

What put the first of several lumps in my throat in a series that's increasingly about FAIRIES AND MAGIC was that one Authority Figure saying calmly, "We could convert you, but we don't think you're worth the effort." Like, denying someone even a martyr's grim consolation of being incorruptible—that's extremely dark. And hey, let's keep in mind there are three women in Russia facing three years of prison right now for essentially dancing in a church, so if you think fanaticism isn't a hot topic and rational thought isn't a fragile flower, Google "Pussy Riot" and get back to me. But let's get past the first fifteen minutes of this episode and remember this show is about VAMPIRES AND WEREWOLVES before debating world politics.

Bill got Eric and Nora high and then crept into the other room to watch them on a security cam. Eric and Nora watched their dad (the ever-luscious Godrick) get his throat ripped up by Lillith, which to Bill looked like two high people shouting at the ceiling. You'd think this would rouse him to consider these visions of Lillith as nothing more than vampire-peyote phantasms, but Bill certainly wasn't monologuing his inner thoughts on his lonesomeness, and the experience was enough to convince Eric to start parroting the party line. Meanwhile, the Authority had quietly blown up every single True Blood factory. Like, I am so glad it immediately played that extreme. It made Bon Temps and every scene after sing with tension.

The foxy unknown playing Lillith has got the hardest job on the True Blood set. No lines, just frowns, stomping around covered in a sticky coating of Hershey syrup and food coloring all day, not eating carbs and sporting a full head of pubes. It's every woman's nightmare! I seriously hope Alan Ball is writing a major part for this actress in his next series to reward her for being such a good sport and only getting to act via sticky frowny faces.

Bon Temps, you get the feeling, is steeped in a paraonoid atmosphere in which people would rather order food than leave their houses at night: and wise choice, citizens. In this tense mire, Jessica stepped into Merlotte's and almost got killed by some inbred extras, except Sam and Lafayette intervened. It was a touching show of solidarity, like "I'm not a vampire but I support their right to exist and if you want to gang up on them I will regulate your ill ideologies."

Can we talk for a moment about how this show can directly address hot-button issues because it can always claim the guise of a "fantasy" element to sidestep being "on the nose"? No? We all get that? It's patently obvious? Okay cool. Tangentially, F*CK Chick-Fil-A. Anyway:

There followed an exchange dissolving the love triangle between Jason, Hoyt, and Jessica that pretty much slaughtered me. The writing was brilliant and the acting, if it had occurred in a movie, would have warranted an Oscar nod for Deborah Ann Woll. One of the great developments of our age is the ability we are given to enter relationships for years with multiple people throughout our lives and especially our young adulthood. I know, I sound like a preachy slut right now, but seriously, this is a uniquely modern cultural experience only possible in say, the last thirty years and I believe it adds exponentially to the progress and development of human society, in that becoming intimately close with a person is akin to moving to a completely foreign city and learning a new language for a few years. Even when you move again, you remember words of the foreign language and the perspective it embodies and you carry a deepened understanding of the world outside your own slavishly selfish interests. A serious relationship, even after it's over, gives you empathy and depth, and it gives life meaning, even if the relationship ends in heartache. Every human relationship has worth, unless of course you're out there hate-f#cking rando people you meet on Craigslist, in which case you know you're filling some hole that can't be filled and seriously cut it out and feel better because you're too cool for that if you like True Blood.

Hoyt erasing the memory of his relationship with Jessica to rid himself of the pain of their separation was so relatable and yet obviously tragic. And erasing his friendship with Jason—I don't even know if that could logistically work without costing Hoyt the bulk of his primary education, but still: devastating. The whole storyline was one of the most profound and effective uses of "vampire powers" in any vampire franchise I have ever seen.

Jason would revisit this devastating loss later, pulling Hoyt over as Hoyt made his way out of town and awkwardly trying to reconnect with a friend who no longer remembered him. The sense of loss was so complete, and connected as abruptly and unexpectedly as a sucker punch.

Also: Who knew Sam and Luna being in mortal danger would make them so much more compelling? Sam sleuthing out Steve Newlin puppy-napping Emma was endearing, and it was both hilarious and horrible when Steve Newlin started yelling at Emma for assuming her human form. I've never been invested in Luna or Emma before, now I cannot wait to see how this storyline turns out. Brilliant.

Another emotional high note was Pam's reveal to Tara that Fangtasia meant nothing to her, that she and Tara would "live in the wind" the way she and Eric had, it seriously choked me up. It was a huge reveal of how much Pam cares about Tara, and Tara slaying the new Sheriff (with the help of the delightfully excitable Ginger) was a reciprocation of that. The way their storyline is going continues to be my absolute favorite part of this series.

My one complaint about this episode, and it's pretty minor, is that the SECOND Sookie and Jason saw these ridiculous doodles they should have thought to themselves, "Corny bullshit? This must be fairy language!" NBD, just saying, if something looks incredibly stupid, it's probably related to those G-D fairies.

Turns out, according to this seriously stupid-looking parchment, Sookie is the property of Warlo, but like most ownerships of humans first contracted in the 1700s, the legality of this document should not be taken seriously. Plus, if Warlo feels strongly about owning a Stackhouse, where has he been lo these last 29 years? I like a shadowy villain waiting in the wings, but I like Russell taking center stage even more:

Every time Denis O'Hare launches into his Ambiguous European Accent my heart skips a beat. I love that he is now essentially waging war on fairies and every vampire who isn't him. I love his wooing of Newlin, I love "Teenage Dream" ("you and me/will be young forever") drifting through the air as they dance amongst slaughtered bystanders. Granted O'Hare looks upsettingly ethereal this season, like he would faint if you played a loud bass around him, but that only makes Russell Edgington seem somehow more sinisterly powerful. The conflagration of fairies and shifters in the next episode could be—and here's something I never thought I'd say—pretty exciting.

Guerrilla shifters vs. vampire terrorists vs. corny-ass fairies. PLUS: true love, in the sense of Tara and Pam clicking like their psyches had called out to each other all along. And Jessica living out everyone's personal horror show when you realize your parents went off on some ideological tangent as soon as you left for college. AMIRITE?!?! You go to school for one quarter, you come back, and your parents have incredibly impassioned ideas they have never articulated before. And you're like, "Wait a minute... maybe you should still be running a carpool, because you're putting a lot of energy into some pretty weird directions." Kids of "Born-agains"/compulsive recyclers/alien conspiracy theorists chime in on the comments, PLEASE.

Anyway, I still hate being underground with the Authority, but I think Jessica being brought in (a decision punctuated by Jessica furiously stepping into her flip-flops) will help bring things to a head, and Eric and Bill will not stand for Russell waging war on Sookie. And the sooner the writers re-ignite Sooke-Eric-Bill, the happier I will be.

This episode was an excellent investigation of what beloved characters can do if writers care to use them. Parts of the episode were almost painful, but it was because it stretched how I felt about characters to an extreme that it reminded me of the depths of my own emotion. How did this week's True Blood strike you?


QUESTIONS:

– Tara killing the new Sheriff: Will Pam be angry or grateful?

– What animal will Luna and Sam morph into to escape detection at the Authority?

– If Sookie belongs to Warlo, why hasn't he snatched her up sooner?

– .If you could erase the memory of an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, would you?

– Does Eric actually buy this Lillith hogwash or what?