The weirdest contradiction that True Blood's always embodied is that it's TOO MUCH show yet at the same time it's never enough. For a series that employs upwards of eight separate plotlines in any given episode, too often it feels like nothing is actually happening. Or, more likely, certain plotlines tread water for several episodes at a time while others race forward into narrative overdrive. It can can be jarring and unsatisfying, but at least the scene changes every few minutes so it's hard to be too bored. Last week's episode, "Let's Boot and Rally" was an episode in which the weaker plotlines played catch-up, but except for a shocking conclusion, "Hopeless" felt A LOT like your typical midseason stalling tactic. On the upside it was written by series mastermind Alan Ball, so even the inconsequential scenes were better-written than usual. So yeah, credit where credit's due!
Anyway, let's assess these storylines!
SQUARE DANCE (Bill, Eric, Sookie, and Alcide)
Last week's episode concluded with the discovery of a nearly healthy Russell Edgington and a growling Alcide getting violently pulled out of frame, so that's where "Hopeless" began. Apparently in his short post-burial existence, Russell had ALREADY recruited a bunch of werewolves to be his new minions, so it wasn't long before Alcide, Eric, and Bill were murdering werewolves right and left, thereby littering the floor with dead, naked dudes. Meanwhile Russell approached Sookie looking for a quick sip, but she pushed him away with her patented faerie fireball. (It honestly reminds me of Street Fighter II every time.)
And JUST when Eric was poised to end Russell once and for all, Bill intervened, urging Eric to turn Russell over to the Authority. Fortunately the representatives of the Authority arrived just in time to make Eric's decision easier.
Specifically this guy arrived. He is scary!
This probably won't surprise you, but Best Entrance Award went to Alcide:
Anyway, scary Authority dude forced Bill and Eric to wipe the humans' memories, so in a rather poignant scene Bill "erased" Sookie's memory of the night's events and also made her forget about Bill entirely, just for good measure.
I wasn't aware that Sookie was even capable of being glamored (had that ever happened before?), so it was unclear if she was pretending to be glamored or not, and also whether Bill believed he was glamoring her or if they were both just role-playing for the benefit of the Authority.
Anyway, I loved when Eric glamored Alcide:
That look on his face! Because Eric is sort of a jerk, he glamored Alcide into being slightly repulsed by Sookie so as to fully and completely cockblock the two. Typical Eric.
Later, after Doug the construction worker and the surviving members of Russell's pantry were rounded up and put on a bus, the scary Authority dude assured them he would glamor them all to make them forget their horrors. But then he just went and massacred them! What did that mean? Was he a secret Sanguinista (who do not believe in co-existence), or was he just too lazy to glamor them all? It was unclear! But yeah, this plotline was great.
FAERIE DANGEROUS (Jason and Sookie)
Meanwhile in a suspiciously dreamlike scene, Jason "awoke" to find his dead father sitting on the couch staring at him benevolently. After Jason gave a sincere speech pledging to find whatever vampire killed his father and mother, Mr. Stackhouse ominously replied, "The only thing you have to fear is—" And then nothing! He got cut off when Jason woke up for real. Uh-oh, what was that last part, Mr. Stackhouse? We may never find out.
Anyway, the next time we saw Jason he was in Merlotte's trying to convince Sookie to go with him to that secret faerie nightclub in the enchanted meadow or wherever. He failed to mention to her that the club is THE WORST, because seriously it is the worst. Ugh, who designed that place? What were those dancers even DOING on that stage?
Anyway, Sookie only went because she'd heard Hadley was there and Sookie was NOT a fan of the faeries so she felt Hadley was in danger. But it wasn't long before Hadley and some guy claiming to be Claudine's brother informed Sookie that they weren't evil faeries, they were just a chill splinter group that liked to hang out in nightclubs designed by the world's tackiest child.
But then we got another piece of the dead-parent puzzle. In a flashback we saw Sookie's parents get stopped on a bridge by a mysterious figure who then sniffed out an old Band-Aid of Sookie's in the back seat. Had they been murdered because the vampire was a fan of faerie blood? Again, so far 100% of the evidence that the Stackhouses were murdered by vampires has been planted and/or implanted by vampire-hating faeries, so this whole thing was still not the most convincing story. And Sookie didn't seem to believe it either! That's why she hilariously responded to Claude's story by immediately throwing a faerie-ball in his face. It kind of sputtered out before it landed though, and then the entire club did THIS to Sookie:
You know, I appreciate the mystery of this plotline as well as the increasingly complicated conflicts between the different "supes." But I just don't give a dang about faeries. They seem awful in almost every way. Sorry!
FIRED (Terry, Patrick, and Arlene)
This plotline improved a lot last week when we finally learned about how Terry and Patrick came to be cursed by an Ifrit and how awesome the spirit looks while burning a dude alive. And this episode began promisingly with a truly impressive bit of CGI work (and I'm still LOLing at Terry's running). Unfortunately not much else happened after that, except that Patrick saw the Ifrit for himself and Terry's PTSD seemed to return in full force.
It's not often that we get to see the mountains of Louisiana, so that was pretty cool. The Louisiana mountains definitely don't appear on TV on a regular basis.
This plotline ended on a major sad note: Terry decided that so long as the Ifrit was after him, Arlene and the kids wouldn't be safe. So he left her! Total Edward Cullen move. Man, it was tough to see Arlene get so torn up about it, but honestly she's probably better off. Back to the maniac-dating pool, lady.
MOMS SAY THE DARNEDEST THINGS (Lafayette and Ruby Jean)
In a quick but terrific scene between Lafayette and his mother Ruby Jean (played by the always awesome Alfre Woodard), we learned that she possessed some important knowledge of what was happening with Jesus' severed head: Apparently that desert brujo Jesus and Lafayette had visited during Season 4 was actually a total villain and had somehow trapped Jesus' soul in the afterlife. Or something? I don't know, I'm still waiting for some kind of acknowledgment that Marnie flew into Lafayette's mouth at the end of Season 4. That happened, right? Or did I dream that up? Either way, this scene was great because it demonstrated that Ruby Jean might be in the full throes of schizophrenia, but she was still hilarious and narratively valuable. I truly hope we'll get to see more of her.
BFFs NO MORE (Tara, Jessica, Pam, and Hoyt)
Over at Fangtasia (where Pam had taken to sitting in Eric's abandoned throne), Jessica and Tara's vampire-throwdown spilled out of the bathroom and into the bar. After some supersonic catfight tussling, Pam eventually intervened and dragged Tara out of there by the hair!
Pam seemed pretty upset with her protege for messing up the bar's good-time atmosphere. But in a slightly touching twist, Pam admitted that Tara's fighting skills had made her proud out there. Aw!
Hoyt decided to rub it in Jessica's face that she'd essentially fought with Tara due to jealousy and therefore Jessica still liked Hoyt. In response, Jessica stated as plainly as possible that getting back together would never be an option. We could tell by Jessica's uncertainty that she was confused by the whole mess, but by the time she stormed out it was pretty clear that Hoyt had no chance with her.
The next time we saw Hoyt, he was casually letting a (male!) vampire drain him nearly to death in some back alley. That's when a van full of supe-murderers pulled up in their Obama masks and murdered the vampire! Not only that, but they recognized Hoyt and dragged him into the van for supposed protection. Whoops, plotlines were starting to cross!
Really any plotline involving Pam, Tara, and Jessica gets a B at minimum, but I just wish more had happened here. Maybe next week?
JOB APPLICATION (Alcide)
After having his memory erased in a slightly homoerotic moment with Eric, Alcide woke up in Sookie's bed unclear on what exactly had happened the night before.
Sookie assured him they had not slept together, but when she attempted to touch him he recoiled in disgust. Haha, good one, Eric! Anyway, we then confirmed that Sookie had not been glamored after all, and also she had the ability to undo others' glamoring as well. So she used that particular power to restore Alcide's memories, which caused him to become infuriated with vampires and the werewolves who assist them.
Next thing we knew Alcide stormed into the barn where his former pack had been hanging out and challenged the leader to his claim as pack master. When informed that somebody had to second Alcide's claim, none of the other wolves offered a second. That is, until the foxy woman from the first episode stood up and made eyes at Alcide before seconding him. Uh-oh, looked like a a major werewolf brawl was a-brewin'!
Although I was bummed to see the Alcide-Sookie relationship fizzle, I do like Alcide in general and it'll be rad to see him finally take the reins of his pack in a meaningful way. Let's be real, the wolves in this world are as weaksauce as possible. At least in The Vampire Diaries their bites can kill a vampire, but in True Blood the wolves just run around and become drug addicts and occasionally turn into naked dead dudes. Whip these puppies into shape, Alcide!
SHIFTIN' INTO GEAR (Sam, Luna, Andy, and Martha)
After the shooting in Luna's front yard, Emma turned into a werewolf puppy and apparently ran all the way to her biological grandma's house. She even ran through a bad part of town and everything! Honestly, I liked Emma's thinking because if I was ever in trouble I would immediately enlist Martha for protection also. Lady seems SERIOUS.
Bad news: Luna and Sam both survived the shooting and seemed to be pretty okay almost immediately. Ugh, very disappointing. But when Martha brought Emma to the hospital, some awkward words were spoken and Luna eventually decided that Martha could be a part of Emma's life so long as she and her pack protected Emma from the band of murderers targeting shifters.
Later, Sam got Andy to agree to help them find whoever shot at them. This led them both back to the ammunition store where a shifty-eyed sales clerk made the mistake of reaching for his shotgun just as Sam was holding a fully-equipped crossbow. Whoops! One supe-murderer down, several more to go. That is, if we were to believe they were simply a pack of murderous hicks and not pawns of a larger werewolf or faerie agenda.
This plotline was not my favorite. I'm still intrigued by the anti-supernatural klan aspect of things, but I am not and probably never will be interested in Sam and Luna. I mean come on, True Blood, don't make me think a lame character has been killed off only to have her be very alive in the next episode. Not cool.
RESPECT MAH... (Authority and Russell)
Here's where the Authority plotline really started getting great. In exchange for helping track down Russell Edgington, Roman allowed Bill and Eric to remove their heart-piercing jewelry and even toasted the whole gang with some centuries-old blood. Which was too disgusting to even think about, really. But still, everyone was in a great mood! Except maybe for Salome who hilariously kept trying to edge her way out the door so she could "interrogate" Russell again. Cool it, lady. But it's worth noting that she wasn't the only one who had an interest in Russell: Bill had seemed overly eager to keep him alive also, don't you think?
Anywho, it should go without saying that just before Roman executed Russell Edgington, the tables were turned in a ludicrously easy way and suddenly Roman's ornamental stake of doom was pointing at HIS OWN heart. "Peace is for pussies," Russell eloquently explained before murdering one of the oldest vampires in history.
I mean, I THINK he murdered Roman. Roman didn't explode or anything. His face just started morphing like some bad .GIF:
But in a chilling coda, we saw Nora writhing in ecstatic joy in her cell. Apparently Roman's death at the hands of Russell was all part of some kind of prophecy that would somehow precede the return of Lillith? At least I think that's what she was yammering about. Whatever the case, Nora seemed pretty stoked about everything:
Not gonna lie, I am STILL confused about the differences between the Authority and the Sanguinistas. Both of them believe in Lillith as their god? One of them wants to enslave humans while the other wants to cohabitate while occasionally mass murdering them? I don't know. I just think that maybe the Authority is not the best-defined faction this show has presented so far. I kind of wish they operated more like an atheistic corporation and not like a tiny, select membership of religious fundamentalists. And how does the monarchy stuff factor in? Someone make me a flowchart of how the vampire government is organized because I do NOT get it.
All that being said, this was a terrific storyline. Roman's death was pretty shocking and even better was Russell's full-strength return to form. He is the best!
It's easy to say that this episode didn't feel particularly compelling because it's only episode 6; we all know that a certain amount of setup needs to happen before a season really gets underway. But that's not necessarily true for other shows. I never really feel like Breaking Bad bides its time before tipping the first domino. Similar shows like Teen Wolf or The Vampire Diaries manage to make midseason episodes feel important. "Hopeless" was a bit of a letdown in that regard. However, the presence of Alan Ball's dialogue certainly helped the overall entertainment value, and I'm still captivated by many of the plotlines. Here's hoping that next week's episode represents a larger step forward than this episode was.
Overall Grade: B-
... Will Lillith be showing up soon? Or have we met her already?
... Do you care about what happened to the Stackhouse parents?
... Who's really behind the anti-supe violence?
... Would you want Eric to gingerly rub his blood into YOUR wounds?