“True Blood” Season 7, Episode 4: Death is Not the End

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The first half of Sunday’s episode felt like a LOT of filler. It was all character work that, arguably, needed to happen, but it felt obligatory rather than revelatory. But the second half of the episode really took off, featuring some great moments with Eric, Sookie, LaFayette, Bill, Jessica, and Arlene. And then it all climaxed with a thoroughly entertaining battle that featured so much glorious, blood-spattered death. For all my kvetching about this season, the assault on Fangtasia was one of the most satisfying sequences in “True Blood” history.

The episode opened very slowly, with Sookie and Jason informing the next of kin about the deaths of Alcide and Maxine Foytenberry. That meant brief appearances by Hoyt, all grubby and adorable on his oil rig (and still fully mindwiped), and Robert Patrick and his succulent man breasts. I can’t imagine we’ll see them again before the end of the show, but it continued this season’s apparent mandate of bringing back every character who ever uttered a line of dialogue. I look forward to seeing S2’s manservant Karl bringing in towels when nobody wants them.

After Sookie basically told Jason to sack up and be a man (Jason has truly become useless on this show, hasn’t he?), she got to work telepathically forcing a still-in-shock Holly to remember her captivity at the hands of the Hep V vamps. Andy Bellefleur was none too pleased with her methods, but it worked: the Keystone Kops of Bon Temps finally knew that the remaining damsels in distress were stuck in the basement of the most obvious hiding place ever, Fangtasia. Holly may now be a mental and emotional wreck, but that’s what she gets for working at Merlotte’s in the first place.

Before we got to the inevitable siege of Fangtasia we got several interesting character moments. In the quickest possible fashion:

-The Jessica situation was finally addressed, as James, Bill, and Sookie held an intervention after discovering that Jess has basically not eaten in months, since she ate those fairy kids. She cannot forgive herself for what she did, nor could she again drink from an innocent person. Sookie gave her one of the most brutal tough-love speeches I’ve ever heard, but it was actually LaFayette who brought Jess around by confessing that he murdered the love of his life, Jesus, and still has not forgiven himself for it. (Throughout it all James looked on like a sad vampiric puppy -- albeit one with great pecs). Another point toward Season 7: LaFayette has been a mess on this show since the season of unfortunate possessions, and I’m so glad that he’s awesome again.

-A good chunk of the episode was devoted to flashbacks showing how Pam and Eric started Fangtasia. While this wasn’t the most interesting use of time, it did give us Pam and Eric through the decades, including Pam in more fabulous 80’s jumpsuits and, amazingly, 90’s Eric in Color Me Badd drag. It also gave us their first meeting with Ginger, a college film student whose style icon was clearly Lisa Loeb. I totally want a spinoff with our favorite vampires appearing in various decades, wearing hilariously bad fashions and rolling their eyes at stupid humans. Make this happen, HBO! I am dying to see Bill Compton as Disco Stu (because you KNOW he was that guy).

-Eric and Pam arrived in Bon Temps intending on picking up Willa, who is justifiably pissed at Eric for being abandoned essentially right after being sired. But, predictably, they got drawn into the big-picture drama and joined the crusade against the Hep V vamps. Prior to that Eric and Sookie had a little chat that reignited the Eric-Sookie relationship I had thought totally extinguished at this point. But never count out the power of a smoldering Eric Northman.

The actual Fangtasia battle scene brought together virtually every major plotline this season. The Hep V vamps had just started draining Arlene dry when the healthy vamps started their rescue attempt. Just as that situation blew up the Roaming Vigilante Idiots showed up in an SUV and started throwing Molotov cocktails. So you had essentially three armies converging on one place, and it was a literal bloodbath, with apparently all the Hep V vamps wiped out and all of the major players in the Vigilante Idiot group killed off (poor Kenya got battering rammed to death!). I will admit to cackling like an idiot at the sprays of blood going off every five seconds, like some kind of Kool-Aid-sponsored water park ride.

And then, something unexpected: genuine emotion. Arlene was in a very bad way after the Hep V vamps had turned her into Louisiana’s largest juicebox. When Sookie found her she was fading fast, and calling it out for Terry Bellefleur. Sookie begged Arlene to hold on, but via her telepathy saw that Arlene was actually seeing and hearing Terry speak to her from the other side. For a few seconds I wondered where this whole thing was going, and I found the whole sequence riveting. It was like Whoopi Goldberg in “Ghost.” I mean that as a compliment. (Autumn Sunrise! You like it?) Eventually some random musician vampire -- a friend of James -- gave Arlene some of his blood, and she opted to stay alive. Terry told her to be happy. Maybe I’m a sap, but I liked that whole scene. It took me back to a place where I still liked Arlene and Terry, before that Ifrit business essentially ruined both characters. (And BTW: Arlene is totally going to start banging that vampire now.)

So four episodes in we’ve wrapped up the major threat introduced at the beginning of the season and rearranged the pieces on the chessboard for the final push. I’m not entirely sure what comes next. Obviously Eric’s disease has to be addressed. We have the lingering Sara Newlin plotline. The emerging love triangle between Jessica, James, and LaFayette. Those are all very character-based narratives, and I suspect that is where they’re going to take us: the big mega-arc is mostly done, and now the show is just figuring out where to leave these characters. I find that refreshing. Mind you, it could all go to shit next episode. But the preview has Ginger riding another bucking coffin, so it really can’t be all that bad.

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