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True Blood S06E04: "At Last"


True Blood busted out the advanced math on us this week. I don’t mean factoring the ages of Andy’s nameless (and possibly now-lifeless) daughters and dividing the age jump of 10 to 17 years by ten seconds in a dark room, or taking the square root of the corresponding number of inches grown to determine the clothing flexibility needed to cover those new and nubile measurements. Although feel free to do that math if you need to.


What I mean is, the classic vampire set-up is very simple emotional math. Dangerous seducer + breathless innocent + sex + death = primal urge overload. A vampire seducing an innocent heroine is essentially allowing the audience to relive (or in Twilight’s case, anticipate) the loss of virginity. The mysterious and vague process of turning a person into a vampire mirrors the unknowable-ness of what sex is from a virgin’s point of view. The unutterable O-faces of Willa and Eric sexualized it but kept the process veiled in the way PG-13 movies shield inexperienced teens from the ins and outs of intercourse. I get why people find the vampire-human seduction thing sexy, it plays on very deeply ingrained messages about gender and control. 

But Sookie seducing a vampire, that is the advanced math. What does it mean? Is it maybe an analogy for the fulfilled and fully formed, sexually empowered person setting out to get their needs met? Is it the revenge of a woman who realizes her partner fetishized her for her inexperience, and she's getting what she wants from someone who fit the pattern of the seducer who dehumanized her? Or did Sookie just need an excuse to wear her club dress?


Peach bra, white dress, colloidal silver on the chicken and “At Last” on the phonograph. Sookie laid it on thick, from her Adobe makeup to her squirts of apparently ineffectual silver. It seemed a bit much since she can presumably read his mind, and she let things get to a pretty heated point before she called his bluff and pulled out her little sparkle grenade in a particularly flat cliffhanger. Sookie, as usual, decided to put herself in an almost indefensible position by eating alone with an immortal Big Bad who she knows wants to destroy her, and then confronting him as bitchily as possible. Although, considering Sookie apparently eats hairspray and her Mama’s platitudes for dinner, her attitude could just have been low blood sugar. Ben is Warlo: Sure, I was surprised. Being surprised and giving a shit are two very different things. But yes, it’s surprising that with almost a cinematic sense of misdirection, Warlo decided to clip his beard, buy some hip new clothes at Beyond the Beach, and get close to his prey by flopping into a ravine and directly into Sookie’s life. I'm assuming his goal is not just to kill Sookie; he could have done that already. Clearly he doesn’t heal especially fast, since Sookie had plenty of time to bind up his wounds. And perhaps most intriguingly, he also doesn’t seem to be a raging psychopath, as he left Jason better off than he found him, thanks to a few drops of blood and a little glamour-therapy. Is Warlo possibly not such a bad guy?


Is he perhaps the one who will save all the vampires, as Lucy hinted before getting shot up by the glow stick police? Will all the vamps drink his blood and walk in the day? More and more, fairy blood transfusions for vampires is coming into play. Warlo’s day-walking shows that Bill is on the right track with his Mad Science/abduction plot. The idea that the special crystals in fairies' blood can only last 20 minutes so Takahashi needs a continuous supply of fairy blood to synthesize it does raise a slew of technical questions—like, if it can’t live outside a host fairy, why would it live inside a vampire? However I don’t know if I can even begin to muster the strength to want to detangle the nest of supernatural mythologies at play... including the inter-dimensional travel (where is Niall now?), immortality vs. rapid aging, and what kind of crunches Ryan Kwanten is doing to get those abs. 


Oh Lord, I don’t even want to think about the kind of positions he must have to put himself in to define his midsection like that. Man can barely keep his clothes on as it is, I bet that belt is on the very last hole and it’s still wobbling around his hips like a hula hoop. I’m worried and concerned for Ryan Kwanten and the child-sized police uniform the show had to have made to his measurements. Although thank you, True Blood, for this little throwback:


It really has been too long since the writers did a vampire-blood-induced sex fantasy dream. Thank you.

The reveal that Sarah Newlin is now ride-or-die for Governor Burrell? Great, nice way to connect two points. Willa Burrell being very confused that Eric wanted her to go home: No. Just no. Girl, are you high? What did you think he changed you for?! When you said you wanted to help stop your dad and he said, “You know how you can help me” and then he changed you… you didn’t connect the dots there?


It made a lot of sense for Eric to reinforce the humanity of vampires and try to win the governor’s empathy by turning Willa into a vampire. Once again, Eric is using wits, wisdom, and social sciences to save the day. Bill has gone the scientific research and development route. Both are meeting with a dearth of success, but what a brilliant way to crystallize the differences between these two heroes: Eric understands people and emotions on an intuitive level, Bill is cold and calculating and sort of a weirdo. 

Aside from applauding Eric on turning Willa, I have to applaud the actress Amelia Rose Blaire for the scene when she returned home bedraggled and strange. It was fantastically acted all around, by Amelia and Arliss Howard; I was totally lost in that moment. Howard’s acceptance and relief, Willa’s conviction coming through a mire of trauma, and then her moment of weakness when Burrell’s bloodied hand came near her face—it was really lovely work. Too bad Sarah was in the room, murdering my life and soul as usual, every hour of her day, every day of her life.


Looks like Willa is headed straight for Louisiana’s Vampire Camp, which is where they are putting their overflowing state budget I guess? I was under the impression that Louisiana was trying just to keep school books in classes and little barefoot boys out of one-strapped overalls, so I don’t know how a governor has funded a state of the art Vampire Camp to be constructed in one term, but hey, what do I know. It’s been a while since I dealt with a state other than confusion.

I am especially confused about Pam and Tara. Last time I checked, they were main characters who had a sort of crazy new relationship happening. Has ever a romantic pairing been so aggressively sidelined ? Dear God, they have not so much as spent ten lines working out their suddenly incredibly changed character dynamic. I was really looking forward to these characters spending quality scenes together. We got about three seconds of them bickering this episode before Pam was attacked by the Glowstick Police and swept off to the camps. Rude.


Instead of delving into two main characters' sudden new relationship dynamic, we saw Tig Bitties Merlotte getting rewarded with yet another hottie romantic interest who he's barely bothered to get to know. Jurnee Smollett is a gorgeous and amazing actress, and it makes me sort of furious that she's going to be Sam’s romantic interest now, because Sam’s romantic interests get trapped in Sam’s dumb storylines. Just the dumbest damn storylines. He has the worst damn scenes! I’m sorry, but if I have to see Sam’s buttcrack one more time before he Peter Pans into a freeze frame, I'm going to yawn myself to death. And how dare he yell at Lafayette, how dare he. Even Jurnee seemed shocked and horrified that Sam was sending Lafayette off screen, like "You FOOL, he's our only chance of linking up with the main characters and the good plotlines!"


I actually really loved the troop of fairy sisters this episode. I loved that they raided Aunt Arlene’s closet and took a joy ride to the liquor store for a short-lived shot-for-shot remake of Spring Breakers.  I loved how they all cussed like sailors at Jessica. I’m hoping there’s still some way they’re alive, as it would be seriously depressing to think Andy’s daughters ended up slain before they even had names or enough lines for SAG credits. 


Still, this was the first episode of the season that ended with me thinking “Eh, that was okay.” Instead of "Wow. Exceeded my expectations." There were… great things about it? (Collodial silver, the turning of Willa, the fairy sisters' joyride.) I almost blame last week's "next on..." promo—it signaled so much of what might have been surprising about this episode. But to be fair, "At Last" suffered in comparison to the run of really great episodes since the premiere, which is not a bad problem for a series to have. And I am intrigued and actually curious about Warlo, which up until now I wasn’t, and sort of genuinely ill at ease about the fairy girls. So as usual, I’ll be smiling at the thought of sunset next Sunday.


QUESTIONS:

... Would you form a romantic attachment to Sam Merlotte?

... Camp Truman: This season’s Vampire Authority? (a.k.a., one location in which to centralize all the main characters for the big finale?)

... Warlo: Possibly more complicated than just a Big Bad or a Big Bad who is unnecessarily complicated?

... Did Sookie really need to go to all those lengths to pull out her little fairy-ball trick, or is she just bored as hell?

... What is the symbolism of a human seducing a vampire?

... Fairy girls: Goners? Do you miss them already?

... What is the best way to get ripped, defined abs? Does it involve pull-ups on a door jamb?

... What did you think of this episode?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 8/18/2013

Season 6 : Episode 10

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