Tuesday, 3 July 2012

TRUE BLOOD, 5.4 – "We'll Meet Again"

Tuesday, 3 July 2012
* (out of four)

A bad episode for so many reasons, and one which struggled to make much of a parental theme—if you can call it a theme, given how it's probably coincidence the writers had reason to echo Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) and Pam's (Kristin Bauer van Straten) relationship in the nascent one between Pam and Tara (Rutina Wesley) and, to a lesser extent, Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll). The show even invented a brand new piece of lore, with vampire "makers" suddenly able to compel their progeny into doing whatever they command. It's basically a more direct version of the "glamoring" that frequently occurs between vampires and humans, whenever the show's written itself into a corner—see how Jessica gives Andy (Chris Bauer) amnesia about Debbie Pelt's murder, which thus joins the growing pile of other unsolved cases.

Remember, don't buy cheap facial scrubs
The one thing I liked about "We'll Meet Again" were the scenes between Pam and Eric, leading up to the moment Eric effectively released her from unspoken captivity—which neatly coincided with Pam herself becoming a "mother" to Tara. Skarsgård and van Staten are good, their characters are amongst the more entertaining on True Blood, and their relationship has some credibility and nuance. So, it works. I also enjoyed seeing Sookie (Anna Paquin) drown her sorrows after a car smash, leading to a smooch with Alcide (Joseph Manganiello), mainly because Sookie felt more human and vulnerable in that context… but she's still stuck with nothing to do this season, beyond feel guilty about what she's done in previous seasons. A terrible waste of a great actress (see Margaret) who could be winning awards in feature films, were it not for her commitments to this show.

The rest of the episode was another unholy mess. Jason (Ryan Kwanten) and Andy were taken to a Fairy Nighclub, for pity's sake! We learned that Terry's (Todd Lowe) problem is his memories of a soldier buddy going crazy and killing civilians in Iraq, as if anyone cares. Sam's (Sam Trammell) shape-shifting friends were shot in the head, by someone. Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) bewitched Sookie's car in his demon-form, endangering her life when the brakes failed. Tara was irritable about her indoctrination as a vampire. Alcide told a (wolf) pack of lies to his ex-girlfriend's parents, to protect Sookie. Eric and Bill were released to try and recapture Russell Edgington by the Authority, but didn't get very far in their investigation. And Roman (Chris Meloni) discovered a "Sanguinista" traitor in his midst, who doesn't believe in vampire mainstreaming with human society. (It wasn't Southern Osbourne, modern-Onomaus, or budget-Christophe Waltz, it was The Kid.)

As usual with this show, it threw more wood onto the fire, in the hope the bigger flames will beguile viewers, when all it really needs to do is stoke the existing fire with a poker. I don't want more stuff, I just want effective storytelling that isn't clogged up with so much ephemera and distractions. There's a moment here when Andy is reunited with a middle-aged fairy he recognized, but it took me awhile to remember that—oh, yes—she was that nympho fairy who had sex with him at the end of season 4, but who hasn't been mentioned since. Who but the most devoted of Trubies will have remembered that idea was still in play? And now Jason knows his parents were killed by vampires, thanks to a chance meeting with fairy cousin Hadley at the camp Fairy Club, so I guess he's going to revert to being anti-vampire again like in season 2?

It's another dud, making this four in a row (to varying degrees), and it's hard to see what could rescue this season. I mean, even the fun idea of Bill and Eric hunting Russell Edgington feels like the writers are taking another run at a storyline they rushed a few years ago. All season 5 has to call its own is the vampire Authority mumbo jumbo, which is sometimes enjoyable because of how enthusiastically it spews pulp nonsense, but in essence is still a load of tired clichés knitted together.


  • No surprise here, but HBO have officially renewed True Blood for a sixth season. This will be the first without showrunner Alan Ball, who has left the show to pursue new projects. Ball's exit is good news, frankly, but I'm not getting my hopes up about what the future might bring. Unless the new showrunner specifically says he/she are ditching True Blood's soap-style plotting and will axe 60% of the cast. But we'll likely get Irish bar staff who are secretly leprechauns, or the introduction of some ghost cops...
written by Alexander Woo / directed by Romeo Tribune / 1 July 2012 / HBO