True Blood’s 10-episode-long final season/“Fan Christmas” continued this week with “I Found You”’s cold open. Get out your nicest "Thank You" cards and let’s all write a heartfelt statement of gratitude to showrunner Brian Buckner for that steamy love scene between two of the hottest actors on the show. Honey and sexual vanilla all over the screen, and so well-lit you wanted to just lick it off.
This delightful slash-fiction detour ended up being a dream sequence of Jason’s, but Blondie told me that “Dreaming is real” and True Blood has set a precedent of using such dream sequences as way-stations in its characters’ development tracks. The other best part of the episode also happened somewhere between the worlds of consciousness and oblivion, and yes, I’m talking about Tara’s glamorous Britney Spears-esque crucifixion:
True Blood has always been especially generous to the photo-recapping format. Visuals like these are gifts to reviewers like myself and they come positively haloed in potential clicks. The show's use of shocking imagery, of context-free and stunning visual one-liners, has been much imitated but never duplicated, and I will miss moments like this so much.
I also love the ambiguity of Lettie Mae using the drugs as a means to cope with losing Tara, and also getting just straight-up addicted to a substance, as she’s prone to do.
In addition to this “classic” True Blood imagery, "I Found You" continued the thoughtful, cinematic pace of last week's season premiere. We spent a full day exploring a horrifically abandoned town, a bizarro Bon Temps emblazoned with graffiti scrawls signaling hope or despair, the detritus of a last human stand on the edge of a mass grave full of dead residents. Saint Alice’s obvious parallel to Bon Temps was underscored by how Sookie and the gang found the place, by tracking the license of a blonde 25-year-old body that Sookie had literally stumbled upon in the woods.
Already a clear physical doppleganger for our heroine, the Saint Alice blonde had more than a few things in common with Sookie, as we learned when she found the girl’s diary and started reading its spicier passages out loud. This young woman had also loved a vampire (though she lost him to Hep-V), and had also stayed in her hometown even as it was targeted, willing to fight for the best outcome until the very worst transpired. It was one of those moments where we’re made to care about someone other than a very manicured vampire who keeps death meaningful on True Blood, and it worked.
The discovery would ultimately shake enough nostalgia loose in Sookie that she’d cross the graveyard in the middle of a vampire apocalypse to ask Bill if he could still protect her. Was Sookie's behavior an instance of emotional reawakening or cold practicality? It did occur to me that this might be why the writers dispensed with Tara so early on (though I refuse to believe she’s actually dead): to push Sookie into relying on Bill. Which, ugh. Don’t do me any favors. Bill and Sookie, at this point, are beyond a dead horse. They are a lithograph of an anatomy drawing of a dead horse, stop trying to make it trot.
Meanwhile in Bon Temps, what should have been a clean-up crew turned into an angry mob. While Andy, Sookie, and Jason investigated alongside Mayor Merlotte and Alcide, Bon Temps rose up and seized all the weapons from the police station. Andy’s daughter was locked up when she tried to intervene. While there’s very little the mob can actually do to defend themselves, as a viewer it’s hard not to root for a rollicking “breakdown of society” B-story.
This week's other big storyline that focused on painting a portrait of a character’s offscreen life was that of dying vampire Mrs. Harris, an excellent teacher who had been turned and was now spending her last days in Fangtasia with a nest of sick, bickering vampires. When Arlene recognized her, our captives formed a plan to appeal to her for mercy, and Arlene gave a series of show-stopping speeches that were A) her best work to date on the show, and B) worth memorizing in case a serial killer ever pens you up in his basement, Buffalo Bill-style, because they seemed quite effective.
The memories that Holly and Arlene shared of what Mrs. Harris did for their kids helped to endear the dying vampire to us quite quickly, and then she collapsed, sobbing, into Arlene’s lap over her own distaste for her current circumstances and completely won us over. Life had given this woman a great deal of lemons, but she was willing to help Arlene and Holly and Pregnant escape despite the risk to herself, if she could first have a little sip of Arlene’s groin arteries.
What happened next was a triumphant return to form for True Blood, a nightmare scenario painted awkwardly with undercurrents of coerced sex and shattered social taboos (your kid’s teacher sucking your crotch) that evoked the glory days of the show's relevancy. The vampire teacher dying mid-suck was almost tragic until it was just simply disgusting, the vampire teacher’s attempted rescue ended up as merely a lap full of blueberry cobbler for poor Arlene. It was one of the more hideous moments of the series, because the vampire by this time was relatable and sympathetic and truly heroic, yet there she was, melting into a rotten mess right up on top of Arlene’s underpants and all we could think was “Get it off, get it away.”
Disease is dehumanizing, obviously, and unfortunately in this world it’s spreading. Like why was Jessica’s bite not healed? And of course, the heartbreaking reveal of Eric, at last, Hep-V veins through his chest and his highlights woefully untended.
The look on Pam’s face when she saw him was like getting a shot of a vitamin I didn’t realize I was deficient in. I’d search all over the world for him too girl.
... What’s up with Jessica’s arm?
... Is Sookie secretly back in love with Bill or just frightened? But if she was frightened then why did she cross a graveyard on her lonesome?
... Lettie Mae: addicted to drugs or addicting to communing with her daughter?
... Will Eric’s highlights be reinstated next episode now that he’s reunited with Pam?
... Will Hep-V be cured and will that cure have something to do with synthesizing fairy blood?