Wednesday, 31 July 2013

TRUE BLOOD, 6.7 – 'In the Evening'

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

written by Kate Barnow | directed by Scott Winant

We're now in the second half of True Blood's truncated sixth season and "In the Evening" was an unfortunate drop in quality, for the usual reason: too much emphasis on the weaker plots, and not enough forward movement with the ones we genuinely care about. I've made peace with this vampire drama and now just accept I'm going to momentarily lose interest every five minutes, much as you do when watching a soap. Not everything about True Blood works and results in a fun time, but at least this year's core 'vampires vs human' storyline continues to have merit.

  • Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) managed to escape Vamp Camp with ailing sister Nora (Lucy Griffiths), who's infected with the deadly 'Hepatitis V' the late Governor Burrell's injected into bottles of Tru Blood to poison vampires en masse. The prison break was pretty exciting, and watching Eric swallow his pride to ask rival Bill (Stephen Moyer) for help saving Nora created some interest, because we know just how difficult that was for Eric. I also liked how Nora refused to be cured using Bill's 'super-blood' (as it comes from Lilith), which reminded me of a similar real-world moral dilemma when Jehova's Witnesses refuse life-saving blood transfusions. More could have been made of that parallel, perhaps..?
  • Also, despite Skarsgård doing his utmost to make us care about his character's emotional turmoil when faces with a loss in the family (a rare occurrence for vampires), I have very little investment in both Nora as a character and her relationship with Eric as "siblings" of Godric. This episode even threw in an ill-timed flashback to reveal how Eric first met Nora (ironically a victim of plague spared death by becoming a vampire), but it wasn't enough. Nora's dull and this was the kind of character-deepening that should have happened last season for her. Still, the episode's final image of Eric embracing Nora as she literally melted into a gooey mess in his arms was memorably icky.

  • In Vamp Camp, Jason (Ryan Kwanten) finally managed to get some alone time with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), but rather than be heralded as her potential rescuer... Jess instead manipulated her ex's good nature and used him to bring James (Luke Grimes) to her; the chivalrous vampire who refused to have sex with her as part of a sick human "experiment". Needless to say, they had sex in order to please both Grimes and Woll's fans... but it was so horribly contrived it didn't work for me.
  • Regardless, James appears to be Jessica's new love, but we'll have to see how interesting he'll become once the novelty of an honourable young vampire is exhausted. Jess's love story with Hoyt infamously turned from compelling and adorable to ugly and exasperating, but maybe the show's writers will avoid repeating history. Jessica's in such a bad place at the moment (believing Vamp Camp is a suitably punishment for killing three fairy teens) that she needs something to lift her spirits and make her want to escape and live her life. Mind you, are we happy the show will most likely find a way make us forget sweet fan-favourite Jessica killed three innocent children?

  • Now that Governor Burrell has been decapitated by Bill (who hasn't yet bothered to free his kind from Vamp Camp using his super-vampire powers?), it looks like the governor's girlfriend Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp) has succeeded him and will continue his work—by covering up the fact he's dead. I quite like Sarah as a character, but I'm not sure how effective she is a villain to be taken seriously. What worked about her in season 2 was the quirky humour she brought to proceedings; which was returned to here in the scene where she communed with her boyfriend's bodiless head. The fact she wasn't disgusted about going anywhere near it, even kissing it at one point, made me laugh out loud, and the ripe dialogue Camp was asked to speak was wonderfully OTT.

  • Elsewhere, the dregs of season 6 shuffled along as usual: Sam (Sam Trammell) had sex with Nicole (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) in a shower before she left with her mother, while being made aware of his friend Terry's (Todd Lowe) murder and deciding to return to Bon Temps; Alcide (Joe Manganielllo) dropped his dad off home (so exciting); and Arlene (Carrie Preston) grieved the passing of her husband, which somehow dragged Sookie (Anna Paquin) into her storyline to meet Sheriff Andy's (Chris Bauer) last surviving fairy daughter. Maybe this will result in Sookie become a surrogate mother to her? Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and Sookie also discovered Terry had arranged to be murdered after realising he'd taken out life insurance recently, meaning Arlene's getting a big pay-out soon, but I'm not sure if that will lead anywhere enjoyable. Oh, and Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) has decided to use her sex appeal to escape Vamp Camp, by turning her therapist into a drooling imbecile.

Overall, "In the Evening" wasn't a good continuation of last week's events, and as a whole this season can be summarised as an improvement over season 3-5 but still a rocky ride. There are always too many bad elements spoiling the good stuff, because deep down you know True Blood only has thirty-minutes of worthwhile material each week and fills time with whatever nonsense crosses its insane mind. Sometimes its brand of craziness can be entertaining if done right, of course, but too often it feels desperate, hacky, and lame-brained.

28 July 2013 | HBO