What a snorefest this episode was, right? I could barely keep my eyes open for the whole hour, whoever thought I’d MISS the intermittent broad humor of Old Navy commercials? HAHAHA J/K JUST PLAYING, "Dead Meat" was a suspenseful and insanely fantastic episode, standing out in a season that's largely being hailed as True Blood at its best. Seriously, this is what good programming looks like, you turn on the TV and relatable emotion combined with fantastical imagery and suspense just comes pouring into your living room like blood out of that elevator in The Shining.
Let’s sort through this episode’s scenes in order of sheer brilliance, meaning we necessarily have to start with Sarah Newlin savagely fighting, chasing, and killing heroic businesswoman Ms. Suzuki (Tamlyn Naomi Tomita).
Never has a short-term character managed to wordlessly endear herself so much with me in True Blood’s history: She came, she saw what was going on at Vamp Camp, she sprang into action to set things right (by kneeing Sarah Newlin in the crotch). It was impossible not to root for her from the moment she attacked the white-suited zealot, which made her ensuing fight for her life almost uncomfortably high-stakes.
Sarah herself went from diabolical bitch to the biggest monster on this show in this scene. The effortlessness with which vampires can kill humans makes their ruthlessness almost excusable (in the same way we forgive ourselves for inadvertently stomping on ants). Petite Sarah, as we saw from the failed attempt at a neck-snap, is physically ineffectual. Hence, she had plenty of time to re-consider homicide. Her only weapon was remorseless cruelty, and she was grotesquely relentless and self-righteous in destroying her victim; that now qualifies her as the biggest “motherf-cking monster” on this show.
The Bellefleurs' fight while planning Terry’s funeral was the narrative antithesis of the fight between Sarah and Suzuki: conflict at its most muffled, the opposite of a fight for survival... and yet the way it was handled made it just as affecting. Death on TV is usually depicted as the moment of impact, the arterial spray, the last words. Alan Ball made a meal out of the infinite awkwardness and drama and prosaic nightmare of funerals on Six Feet Under; perhaps that’s why he shied away from “real” death on True Blood—where, despite the high body count, characters generally expire in a puff of dust or a puddle of goo. Terry’s funeral arrangements were touchingly grounded, from the display-case of coffin prototypes to the feud over the 21-gun salute, and provided better character moments for Andy and Arlene than they’ve enjoyed in the last six years. I actually cared about Andy’s choices and was silently proud when he hugged Arlene (and I ached as her one little frantic hand gesticulated from the embrace “I want carnations, dammit!”). It was devastatingly human.
Bill and Eric are at last opposite one another once again and Bill’s goddess powers have done jack to change their dynamic. Eric is still the bad boy who will go there and taunt Bill almost to tears about Sookie, and even when Bill picked him up and “gave him a ride with [his] mind” (one of my new favorite lines) Eric was just like:
Unlike in the last two seasons, where the two settled into a buddy-cop dynamic while partnering up to solve whatever, Eric and Bill are definitely back to being at odds and pressing each other’s emotional buttons with the expertise of sorority sisters. It’s wonderful because these are our two favorite characters, and they are at their best when they're sparring over a situation that feels real and urgent and NOT taking turns giving Sookie foot rubs during fantasy sequences. (Ugh, season 4, remember that shit?! What the hell was that all about?)
Another brilliant moment (okay, two moments) was Sookie getting her usual drama shut down hard—by both of her back-up beaux. As hilariously perfect as it was when Bill said he didn’t really care if Sookie became a vampire-fairy bride or not (and really, how rude of Sookie to lay her “But me?! A vampire?!” drama on him—that's like asking someone who’s had a tattoo done if it will make you “look trashy” if you get ink)...
...Sam's dismissal of her was somehow even sweeter (maybe because he asked her to put her fairly-sparkle-light away like she was waving a sex toy in his office).
Asking Sam if he would basically agree to be the last one picked for her soccer team of f-ck buddies was so incredibly insulting. And as much as we all love Sookie, the comparison between a shrill, housebound drama-hound who constantly bickers with vampires and doesn’t show up to work vs. an outrageously hot coed activist with stars in her eyes (however temporarily) over Sam—Sookie really positioned herself for the most unflattering of comparisons. I only wish Sam had written her off even quicker, really, but the utter don't-give-a-damn of both Sam and Bill toward Sookie’s usual, self-centered existential meltdowns was so refreshing. Sookie was left to eulogize to two gravestones, and I imagine all the frogs in the vicinity started hopping away about twenty seconds into her speech.
Which: For someone whose friends are 99 percent vampires—hot, powerful, exciting, big-personality vampires, no less—Sookie has a rather narrow understanding of what a privilege it is to be turned. Walking the world as a corpse? That’s how Sookie sees being a vampire? Much like fellow danger-whores Bella and Elena, I wish Sookie would just get her dang fangs already so we could cauterize any potential plot involving her being imperiled by minor bad guys/put a stop to her romanticizing a certain future of wrinkling up like a prune and passing away. Sookie, you can walk around in dumb shirts with wet hair just as much when you’re a Fairy Princess Fantasy Bride or whatever. No one can STOP you from being average, no matter what kind of creature you are.
In terms of annoying me, this goes hand-in-hand with Sookie’s repeated neglect of her fae side. Her greatest character weakness is that she’s still chomping at the bit to get rid of her fae-ness, her special-ness, her other-ness, which tells us that despite six years of advising her friends to let their freak flag fly, she herself has achieved zero growth in self-acceptance and self-empowerment. And maybe if she hadn’t spent all evening putting together her Yandy’s Tango costume and mooning over her side-part, she could have gotten to the cemetery in time to save Warlow what appears to have been one hell of an ass-whupping.
So, back to brilliance: When shadows rolled through the cemetery in the fairy plane as Eric stalked across the graveyard, that was just a fantastic visual effect. Very romantic and sinister. When Warlow gave Sookie his “I have loved you for 6,000 years speech,” my panties fluttered to the floor like confetti on New Year’s Eve. So when she and Bill beamed into fairy world and Warlow lay comatose, yes, that seriously upset me. I feel an incredible amount of frustration with Sookie fumbling a sure eternity of hot sex and romantic love in her quest to be a frumpy middle-aged woman mopping tables with Sam at Merlotte’s in another 15 years.
Really, why did Sookie tie him up in the first place before she left? Why leave him defenseless if she was going to step out into the real world for the next eight hours anyway? Didn’t it even occur to her that he might want to like, go #1? I would have left him untied AND brought him back a book and an iPod, but that’s just me: a classy lady.
But again, back to that brilliance:
Brilliant: Every time Nicole’s mom called Sam a silver fox.
Brilliant: Jason’s relationship with his medieval catholic vampire prison wife, Violet. Jason’s so used to a "love ‘em and leave ‘em" lifestyle that it’s a true fish-out-of-water situation for him. Not to mention how comforting it is that Violet has no intentions of raping him, as has happened all too often before.
Brilliant: That Sam could tell Nicole was pregnant that fast. He just blew First Response the hell out of the water.
Brilliant: Alcide drop-kicking his werebitch challenger girlfriend could be the source of many a hilarious GIF, if I had the time and energy to make the goofiest GIFs about women getting hurt, which I pretty much don’t.
I do appreciate that the editors kept in so much of my time on-camera:
Like every week, the werewolves were the weakest part of the episode, although it occurred to me that, if they had one last, final battle where they all killed each other off, that would be a nice way to conclude this endless arc of lowlights and wasted Joe Mangianello dance skills.
And finally, the fact that everyone we’re emotionally invested in is getting gathered up into the “Meet the Sun” room points to next week being a very climactic episode, as second-to-last TB episodes tend to be. Will Eric fly down and tongue-kiss Warlow’s blood all up in everybody’s mouths? (Backwash city!) Will Bill reach deep inside, pull out his inner goddess power, and unleash a Diva Cup of Lillith blood-rage? What fraught unforgettable scenes remain for our favorites, as they confess, "I Don’t Wanna Die"?
... What is Eric going to do?
... Would Adeline really be up for more partying, considering that the last time she snuck out, three of her sisters died?
... Sookie hitting up Sam for a safety-net relationship guarantee, how does it make you feel?
... Sarah Newlin and Ms. Suzuki's fight scene: Are you still traumatized?
... Deducing from the promo for next week's episode, Warlow's still hanging on. Will he survive the finale? Will Niall come back with a suckerpunch?
... How do you feel about Sookie these days? Sympathetic or frustrated?