Tuesday, 26 July 2011

TRUE BLOOD, 4.5 - "Me And The Devil"

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

After a run of episodes I wasn't very impressed with, things smoothed out with "Me And The Devil". Almost every subplot was enjoyable, and even the weaker ones were easier to watch because writer Daniel Minahan found a way to make them less awkward and tedious. In fact, I was rather astonished by how much better Sam (Sam Trammell) and Tommy (Marshall Allman) were this week, simply by putting them together without much antagonism. The actors work quite well as brothers, so I hope this marks the end of their feud, because they make a fun double-act.

"I had a bad dream."

As usual, True Blood is awash with stories, so to recap this week's events: Jason (Ryan Kwanten) recovered from his ordeal at Hot Shot back at Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Hoyt's (Jim Parrack) home; Tommy accidentally killed his parents in self-defense and solicited Sam's help in disposing of their bodies; Pam (Kristin Bauer) went to Bill (Stephen Moyer) demanding they retaliate on the witches coven, seeing as Marnie (Fiona Shaw) cast a spell that's rotted half her face; Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) began to have dreams of his dead maker Godric, tempting him to feed on Sookie (Anna Paquin); Sookie herself went to Marnie's shop to investigate the coven that erased Eric's memory and received a warning from her gran to avoid Marnie during a fortune telling; Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) took Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) to see his enchanted uncle, so they can get protection from Eric and Pam for what they've done; Tara (Rutina Wesley) came clean about her sexuality to Sookie and discovered her girlfriend in New Orleans knows she's been lying about her identity; Portia (Courteney Ford) tried to rekindle her romance with Bill, despite knowing he's an ancestor of hers, only for Bill to glamour her otherwise; and Arlene (Carrie Preston) and Terry (Todd Lowe) invited the Reverend Daniels and his wife Lettie Mae (Adina Porter) into their home to get rid of a spirit they believe is haunting their baby.

"Oh good, the world needs more beekeepers."

There was lots going on, but it didn't feel quite so busy and random. Maybe that's partly because we're now almost halfway through the season and have a better handle on season 4's direction, but things also just seemed to flow. The sense of fun and humour came back, too: Jason theorizing that sex is to blame for all his problems, before dreaming of having sex with Jessica with his best-friend Hoyt present; the moment when Andy (Chris Bauer) nearly had his head bitten off by an alligator in the back of Sam's truck (which was actually Tommy preventing him from seeing two dead bodies back there); the simmering anger of Pam now she's been forced to wear a black veil to hide her disfigurement; and even the sight of Lettie Mae and her husband trying to banish spirits through song-and-incense raised a smile. It's been awhile since my abiding thought about True Blood was one of having had fun, instead of feeling exasperated and annoyed by how unruly everything has become. This episode felt more ordered and structured, although it still had its moments that feel like the script's being improvised—such as Jesus's goat-killing uncle.

"You fuck with my face, it's time to die."

Plus it was just nice to see the episode avoiding a few storytelling dead-ends, with Tommy actually escaping from Joe Lee and killing his parents (meaning he's now become a "skin walker" if Luna's campfire story's to be believed, right?), and I'm enjoying the general direction the story's taking with Marnie. Bill can't sanction the death of a witch because they're human and therefore under the protection of the Authority in the post-Russell Edgington world, and Marnie is merely a conduit for the Spanish witch who's responsible for Eric and Pam's situations. I was worried the witches would be incredibly silly additions to the world of True Blood, but they're actually an interesting enemy for vampires to have, and I'm enjoying Fiona Shaw's performance this year. The scene where Sookie read her mind during a reading, effectively able to hear through Marnie to her grandmother in the afterlife was also a really effective moment.

"There's a light in you. It's beautiful. I couldn't bear it if I snuffed it out."

In some ways this episode was spinning its wheels (nothing much actually developed in the majority of storylines, and it's now very unclear what Portia's role's going to be if she's glamoured to find Bill terrifying), but I actually appreciated the calmer mood and a chance to take stock of where we are. True Blood's been guilty of moving so quickly and rampantly that you can find the show exhausting and difficult to care about, but "Me And The Devil" reminded me of episodes from season 1—when it felt like more care and attention was being employed on the show. The show still has its problems, but "Me And The Devil" was a step in the right direction and, provided it doesn't go off the rails, I'm actually quite excited to see where the story's going regarding Marnie and the vampire's fear that necromancy will compel them all out into the daylight again.

What did you make of this fifth episode? The possible turning point of the season? Or weren't you very impressed?


  • Is Jason about to become kind of super-creature, considering the fact he's from a family that bred with fairies, recently had sex with dozens of were-panther girls, and now has Jessica's vampire blood pumping through his veins?
  • Deborah Ann Woll in her underwear. Let's just take a minute to remember that...
  • Great fun to hear gran's voice from beyond the grave, although I was expecting Earl Stackhouse to make his presence known. I still think it's a terrible shame if True Blood cast Gary Cole for such a small role in the premiere, and the show would be helped if Sookie and Jason had a parental figure around.
written by Daniel Minahan / directed by Mark Hudis / 24 July 2011 / HBO