Guys, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Lily Sparks has taken the next few weeks off for a VERY important reason. No, she didn't get sucked into an interdimensional faerie world (at least I don't think she did). She's on her honeymoon! I can't tell you whom she married, but I'll give you a hint: He's handsome and rich and he's Prince William's younger br—whoops! I think I've said too much! Oh dang it, Lily's gonna be so sore at me. Anyway, yeah, I'll be attempting to fill in for Lily while she's gone and we're just all going to have to deal w/it.
Just some background on me and my relationship to True Blood: Unlike Lily I don't have encyclopedic knowledge of this universe—I've seen every episode, but come on, how much nonsense can my brain reasonably retain?—and I definitely haven't read the books. Also unlike Lily, I'm nowhere near as captivated by the central love triangle as she is (recapping The Vampire Diaries has left me with severe love-triangle fatigue). But! Lily and I are on the same page about almost everything else: The essential awesomeness of Pam, Lafayette, Jessica, and Jason. Marnie's underratedness. Godric's dreaminess. Tara's trials and tribulations and hairdos. The utter waste of space named Andy Bellefleur. The simultaneous likeability and hateability of Sookie. Eric > Bill. You know, reasonable opinions.
Everyone knows that to watch True Blood is to know that not every subplot is created equal. It seems almost foolish to complain about how uneven a typical season can be—that's like complaining about dolphins being so wet all the time! Get over it, they're sea beasts. But I don't know if there's ever been a season of True Blood so wildly uneven in subplot quality than this current fifth season. I have been legit tempted to fast-forward through certain parts, and that's never been true before. But what's crazy is that some of this season's subplots are the strongest this show's ever had. Even crazier? TARA's subplot is the best right now. What is even going on anymore? True Blood is going on, that's what.
So for these recaps, I think it'll be more fun if we don't pretend True Blood is just one show; that'd be unfair to the subplots that AREN'T dead weight. Instead let's recognize that True Blood is more like six TV shows in one and it's basically an anthology series at this point. So let's look at each subplot separately, just as the good lord (Lillith) intended! Ladies and gentlemen, "Let's Boot and Rally":
THE LOVE SQUARE (Sookie, Alcide, Eric, Bill, and Russell Edgington)
We began more or less where last week's episode left off: A shocking cliffhanger in which Sookie was just about to remove Alcide's clothes. WOULD she or WOULDN'T she take off Alcide's clothes?? Answer: She would. Almost immediately Sookie was drunkenly rubbing on Alcide's exoskeleton because YOLO, but before things could get TOO NSFW, she puked up a ton of peach schnapps on his boots. FYI, here's what it looked like when Sookie was out of frame. Just, you know, for your records:
Anyway, then Bill and Eric arrived just in time to witness this sexy awkwardness and totally vampire cockblocked the sloppy happenings. The duo informed Sookie that Russell Edgington was loose and presumably wanting to drink her up real good. In a fairly funny scene, a still-drunk Sookie just sort of rolled her eyes and accepted that her life has become an insane nightmare, put on her coat, and led them right out the door to embark on another night of what has become her new full-time job: Dealing with vampire foolishness.
Their first stop was Alcide's construction headquarters where Sookie de-glamoured Doug, the dude who was on duty the night Russell was freed. When she tapped into his memories, she learned a few things: (1) The freshly unearthed Russell Edgington looked like the baby Freddy Krueger puppet from A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, and (2) he was rescued by a woman wearing the same necklace worn by both Nora AND Salome! This episode wanted us to believe that Nora was the traitor, but let's be real, all signs continue to point to Salome just as they always have.
Speaking of the Authority (we'll get to that subplot in a bit), Bill and Eric received a call from Molly informing them that the "countdown" had begun: Find Russell or get murdered by their own jewelry. So THAT raised the tension a bit. Or it was supposed to; I was busy daydreaming about what must've happened between the time Mac went from Neptune High School's resident tech geek to the Authority's in-house IT vampire. Who BIT you, girl? Was GHB involved? Call Veronica!
Anyway, the gang of five then relocated to THIS frightening location. That's the abandoned hospital and/or asylum where Doug had taken the Russell Edgington puppet before he'd been glamoured to forget. In another funny Sookie scene (she was kind of on fire in this episode), the vamps tried to get her to just hang out in the quad while they went in, but she reasoned that her faerie powers were actually more powerful than their powers were, and before we knew it she was leading the charge into THIS scenario:
Whoops! I truly hope those were dummies and not just some underpaid extras. Anyway, a stack of rat-strewn body parts could only mean one thing: Russell was nearby. After stalking around in the shadowy nightmare facility, the team came across another room where live humans were dangling from the ceiling in sacks! Just a bad, unsettling situation all around.
But it wasn't long until they happened upon what they'd REALLY come for: THIS GUY!
Welcome back, Russell Edgington! You look, um, better? Fierce words were exchanged between Russell, Bill, and Eric. Stuff along the lines of "Prepare to die," and "Give it your best shot." But before we got to witness any bloody explosions, Alcide wolfed out and disappeared! Or was he dragged away? It was hard to tell! And since it was the last shot of the episode I think we were supposed to be pretty alarmed by it, but I was mostly confused. Where'd that dog run off to? I don't know.
But yeah, this was a great subplot. I loved all the haunted asylum stuff and it's always a pleasure seeing Russell Edgington again. And where I was once exhausted by the love triangle, adding Alcide into the mix made Sookie's love life slightly less maddening, so credit where credit's due! I was into it. Will there be a four-way? BRB setting up a Google alert for "Sookie four-way."
MY SO-CALLED AFTERLIFE (Tara, Jessica, Pam, and Hoyt)
Meanwhile my favorite subplot of the night was happening over at Fangtasia. After helping herself to Pam's hooker closet (the pastel-colored Talbot's outfits are probably stored separately), Tara emerged into Fangtasia as a bustier-clad vixen and Pam immediately put her to work behind the bar. Unfortunately Tara had a hard time not drinking the patrons and Pam had to put her in her place right away. A slight strangling, no big deal. Taking pity on Tara, though, was Jessica, who recognized that Tara probably just needed a friend to help her through things.
In one of the best scenes I've ever seen on True Blood (most of True Blood's best scenes have involved Jessica, just FYI), Jessica tried to convince Tara that her vampire cravings weren't evil and that once she got used to them the world would be her oyster. The subtle smile that creeped across Tara's face upon hearing this was pretty darn affecting.
It made me laugh when one of Tara's first real appreciations of her new skills was the ability to finish a cigarette in one drag. Cool? But then again, it's not like she can harm her lungs anymore, so that's gotta count for something. Anyway, at that point Tara had an encounter outside with Hoyt, who was all done up in his goth Duran Duran costume. After first rebuffing his advances, Tara eventually came to take pity on Hoyt's pathetic fang-banger situation and they ended up together in a bathroom stall exchanging bodily fluids. Unfortunately Jessica was one stall over and she was NOT happy about that particular hookup. Needless to say, Tara and Jessica's fledgling friendship seemed pretty well destroyed by episode's end as they threw each other around and choked each other out in the bathroom. Vampire growing up is hard!
This plotline was the best. I'm still slightly in shock that Tara—the character who I'd ever only loved ironically—is suddenly the one I care most about in earnest. That's just brilliant writing.
BLOOD IN THE CHEERIOS (Jason)
Another excellent plotline was Jason's: Following his faerie assault the previous night, he woke up in a flashback: Christmas morning. Dressed in He-Man footie pajamas. His parents and Sookie eating breakfast:
I don't know if you'll believe this, but there is very little difference between 10-year-old Jason Stackhouse and modern-day Jason Stackhouse. But his parents both seemed like extremely nice and loving people. (I also loved the Carol-Anne vibe lil' Sookie was throwing out here.) But it ended up being less a flashback and more a nightmare when both of Jason's parents began bleeding from the vampire bite wounds on their necks and he suddenly woke up in a cold sweat. Nude, obviously.
It was clear where this was headed: Now that Jason believes vampires killed his parents, we're witnessing him slowly turn into an anti-vampire bigot of some kind. But seeing as this idea was planted in his head by faeries both times, it's probably safe to assume they're trying to organize some kind of movement against vampires. Ugh, faeries are the worst.
Jason's plotline wasn't the biggest, but it intersected with Sam's in a compelling way (more on that in a sec.) But this was an example of even a small subplot being better and more powerful than the more prominent ones. Plus, you know, Jason nudity. Guaranteed B at least.
MEANWHILE, IN THE WORLD'S FANCIEST BASEMENT... (The Authority)
For their part, the Authority mostly just stood around acting dramatic. Obviously they're better off without that wretched child vampire, but it's kind of hard to get into this subplot because of how obvious (for now) the Salome stuff is. I mean, she HAS to be the traitor, right? I don't know if I've ever suspected otherwise, which means it's not really the best mystery so far. Hopefully we're wrong? But the one thing I DO really like about the Authority subplot is Nora's insistence that Lillith Herself will be arriving on the scene soon. I LOVE that idea. Mainly because for many seasons we believed The Authority to be the all-powerful vampire cream of the vampire crop. But then we learned they're just a bunch of weirdos in a rococo basement. Not very intimidating, you know? But now we know there is a vampire GOD. So that's raising the stakes right there. I really hope we'll get to meet her. Until then this subplot is mostly just zzzzzzzzzzz.
SITTING DUCKS, ETC. (Sam and Luna)
I have not enjoyed Sam's subplots in a very long time and Luna in particular has been 100 percent useless. But at least something interesting happened this week. First off we learned that Sam's shifter friends had been murdered with wooden bullets. Which meant that whoever had killed them were probably targeting more than just shapeshifters. Even Jason understood that Bon Temps had been overrun with "supes" and that violence had only increased since vampires came out of the coffin. But just when Sam arrived to inform Luna that their naked moonlight jogging friends had been real murdered, he was gunned down by THIS mob of masked murderers:
Then, like all people do whenever they hear screams and gunshots, Luna ran outside to see what the deal was. She got pretty convincingly killed, unfortunately. I mean "unfortunately" because her character was a single mom and a decent person, plus the actress had a good gig going. But still, I won't miss Luna, let's be real. Then her daughter ALSO ran outside directly into gunfire only to shift into a baby wolf before running away to safety. Uh-oh, looks like Sam might be a single dad in the near future! Assuming he lives. Which he probably will. (Sigh.)
But the main takeaway from this subplot was that Bon Temps now had a KKK-esque band of murderous goons to deal with, and it was likely that whatever fueled their hatred of shifters was related in some way to what Jason was experiencing toward vampires. Perhaps a mounting sense of dread had pushed the town's human citizens into a much darker mindset? Murder is loathsome, but psychologically it would make sense for "supes" to become targeted by the human populace.
So, despite deep and perhaps permanent disinterest in what happens to Sam Merlotte as an individual, I'm definitely interested to see what happens next with regard to this masked gang. Their reveal (plus the end of Luna) saved this plotline from being fast-forward-worthy.
ONE CREEPY ALARM CLOCK (Lafayette, Jesus, and Lafayette's Mom)
Usual True Blood MVP Lafayette arrived home extremely upset at having accidentally transformed into a Mexican demon and cursing Sookie's car. Right off the bat we knew his problems weren't going away anytime soon. First of all, his blue devil face came back anytime he looked into a mirror but ALSO his collection of tchotchkes was totally hassling him about whatever. His mantle was like an episode of Wonderfalls all of a sudden: Just lots of annoying trinkets waving and taunting him; it was very rewarding when he swept them all onto the floor and stomped them to pieces one at a time. Quiet, tchotchkes!
After openly begging the spirit of Jesus to return and give him guidance, Lafayette awoke later in the episode to find Jesus's SEVERED HEAD propped up on his coffee table, its mouth sewn shut and struggling to say something! It was a creepy sight to see, so I can only imagine what was going through Lafayette's mind. Fortunately he wasn't the only one dealing with that scenario:
Lafayette's mom was, too! Oh, Alfre Woodard, welcome back. I'd totally forgotten about this character. It seemed like when she was first introduced a few seasons back there would be a POINT to her, but then she was totally forgotten about? I don't know, but I surely hope she'll get to do a lot more now. Alfre Woodard is the best.
So, not the hugest subplot, but the creepy imagery and inherent excellence of all three characters left me totally captivated. More pls.
FIRE STALK WITH ME (Terry & Patrick)
Ugh. These guys. Okay, to be fair, this subplot ended MUCH stronger than I thought it would. I definitely don't care about Terry's situation, especially not his experiences in Iraq, and certainly not anything to do with his war buddy Patrick. So when last week they broke into their former comrade's bunker and discovered crazy-person collages on the wall I was groaning with boredom. Sorry! I just can't be expected to care about these guys when another scene with Tara is literally minutes away.
But! At least we got a fantastical bit of information to learn: The cause of all the fires that had been afflicting their war buddies was a curse laid upon them by a dying Iraqi woman. She summoned something called an Ifrit, which is essentially a fire demon I guess. So after Terry finally remembered this bit of information, he suddenly agreed with his crazy friend and agreed to help him deal with the monster. Except Patrick took the opportunity to turn the tables, tie up the crazy guy, and leave him alone in the bunker while they escaped. Pretty soon we got to see for ourselves what the Ifrit looked like.
Basically, it looked like if the Smoke Monster from Lost had a gym membership. In other words, the Ifrit is kind of a badass.
Aaand suddenly I cared about this plotline again! Sorry, I'm just a sucker for fire ghouls who burn people alive. R.I.P. crazy army buddy!
While all the subplots of "Let's Boot and Rally" were as mixed in quality as they ever were, this episode represented a big step up from earlier ones. The best trend I noticed was that certain time-wasting storylines were given interesting—even compelling—twists. The Ifrit. Luna's murder. I mean, I'm not saying I wouldn't rather see what Pam or Jason were up to at any given moment, but credit where credit's due: Even the boring plotlines seem to be turning around! And now that we're nearing the midpoint of Season 5, it's about dang time.
Overall Grade: B
... Did you think this episode was a step up or a step down from last week?
... Should Sookie and Alcide get wasted more often?
... Will Tara and Jessica make up?
... Should Terry figure out how to make the Ifrit kill his cousin PLEASE?
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