Following the slight uptick in quality last week, it's back down with a soft bump for "Gone, Gone, Gone". True Blood recognises it can't drag everything out over a whole season these days, which is good, but it also means that we have this awkward latter period where the show tries to cope with narrative losses by getting more characters involved in remaining plots. To that end, Sam (Sam Trammell) and Luna (Janina Gavankar) again played shape-shifting detectives in order to find Luna's missing daughter Emma, who's become the coddled pet of Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) at Authority HQ; Tara (Rutina Wesley) mutinied against Fangtasia's new owner, decapitating him to regain control over their lives and business; Jason (Ryan Kwanten) and Sookie (Anna Paquin) discovered a scroll of Fairy code under their gran's bed, later decrypted to reveal a Stackhouse ancestor promised a vampire ownership of Sookie (as his first Fae-born descendant); Bill's (Stephen Moyer) blind faith in Lilith grew stronger, as Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) and Nora (Lucy Griffiths) shared a blood-vision of the vampire goddess slaughtering their own maker Godric (Allan Hyde); and, finally, Hoyt (Jim Parrack) left Bon Temps for Alaska, but not before making his first love Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) "glamour" him into forgetting about her and his best-friend Jason.
That last storyline was easily the best, perhaps of the entire season. It's rare for True Blood to slow down and spend quality time with its characters on a simple emotional level, but the scene where Jessica erased her ex-boyfriend's memories of their time together was beautifully done by Woll. It had a real weight to it, perhaps because memories of season 2's Hoyt/Jessica pairing remains strong enough for me to still care about that failed relationship. It was a pity the show didn't have a clue what to do with Hoyt and Jessica once they moved in together, as their domestic issues were just too ugly and annoying to be enjoyably dramatic. And the show pretty much turned Hoyt into a detestable jerk by season 5. However, Woll was fantastic and the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-esque resolution of their four-year storyline showed real heart. A follow-up moment, with Jason trying to persuade Hoyt to stay in Bon Temps, despite the fact Hoyt has lost his memories of the close friendship they once had, was almost as good. Who knew Kwanten had it in him to be so touching, during the moment when he broke down in his car and was comforted by Paquin? I just wish True Blood found time for more scenes like this, because I find it more engaging than watching a naked woman covered in blood rip a man's throat out. Yeah, I can't believe I said that either.
The rest of the episode was okay, in the sense that it wasn't aggressively awful or especially boring. Most of the worst storylines finished last week and the ones that are left as we approach the final don't aggravate me as much. I just wish I cared more about the Lilith nonsense, as the show is guilty of swimming in circles where this storyline's concerned. Eric's life must have been threatened four or fives times this season, yet he always manages to somehow convince people he's worth keeping around. I suspect he's now convinced Nora that Lilith is a false God, but I have no real explanation for why drinking Lilith's blood would result in a visitation from Godric. And if the working theory is that Lilith isn't real, just a blood-induced hallucination, why is Eric paying any heed to Godric in this situation anyway? He's just another phantasm. I'm confused. Maybe there are explanations, but I'm past caring enough to try and reason things out. Feel free to elucidate in the comments below.
"Gone Gone Gone" was a convoluted episode, but there were enough perks to keep you on the hook: Russell and Steve dancing to Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream", the 3,000-year-old Russell reverting to a full-on Count Dracula accent when angered (a nice touch by O'Hare), Steve's unreasonable hatred of his pet pooch when she's in human form, and the poignant events between Jessica, Hoyt and Jason. Having a whole subplot to enjoy with no caveats is too much of a rarity these days. "Gone, Gone, Gone" didn't really capitalise on last week's improvements, but I didn't chew want to chew my first off at any point, and there were a few moments when it actually felt like a grown-up drama that just so happens to feature exploding vampires. Fleeting highlights in an hour of muddled tosh, but do you really expect better at this point?
written by Alexander Woo / directed by Scott Winant / 12 August 2012 / HBO