Wednesday, 7 August 2013

TRUE BLOOD, 6.8 – 'Dead Meat'

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

written by Robin Veith | directed by Michael Lehman

The Vamp Camp idea's been intermittent fun this year, but it's starting to really drag now. Maybe the writers were too quick to catch most of the vampire characters, because imprisonment has wasted Tara (Rutina Wesley), Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) and Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) in particular, and hasn't been the best means to introduce sexy newcomers Willa (Amelia Rose Blair) and James (Luke Grimes) to the True Blood family. It feels like the show's been teasing us with the imminent eradication of the Vamp Camp inhabitants for far too long, so I've just grown inured to the dramatic potential.

  • It was good to see the rivalry between Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) hot up once again, in the wake of Eric's sister Nora dying, even if that means 'Bilith' gets less menacing as the weeks pass by. The scene where Eric mocked Bill's "divine powers" of telekinesis certainly crackled, but this slow emasculation of Bill is a shame considering he started the season as a very frightening new enemy. Just eight episodes later, he's being ridiculed by both Eric and his ex-girlfriend Sookie (Anna Paquin), who have enough confidence in Bill's good nature to feel he wouldn't kill them for being impudent.
  • Bill and Eric's antagonism has been a cornerstone of True Blood from the start (when they were squabbling over Sookie), so I liked how this episode saw Eric becoming a clearer opposing force—by drinking fairy blood (Sheriff Andy's daughters really are wandering 'power ups') and accessing the Fae realm to drain Warlow (Robert Kazinsky) of his blood and thus gain the ability to day-walk. Hopefully a showdown is planned for the finale.

  • Sookie's storyline this week revolved around her acceptance of Warlow's marriage proposal, mostly because she knows it would upset her parents. Anna Paquin had a surprisingly good scene where Sookie went to visit her parent's graves and told them some home truths, too, which was good to see. Lord knows the actress gets precious little opportunity to appear in a scene that even attempts to get inside Sookie's head—so, despite the fact she's still opining her past and propensity to get into trouble, for perhaps the hundredth time, it was a decent enough scene. Ditto the moment she made it clear to Sam (Sam Trammell) that she realises life would be much less complicated if they were together.

  • Sam himself had a woeful storyline, but that's really no surprise. I actually really hate this character now, because he's supposed to be Bon Temp's one decent guy... and yet he's a man in his mid-forties who's fallen in love with girl half his age, mere weeks after his previous girlfriend was killed. Nothing about the story or the chemistry between Trammell and Jurnee Smollet-Bell has sold any of this to me, so it's hard to care and easy to simply see Sam as a libidinous dolt going through a mid-life crisis. It actually feels like Nicole's a cynical replacement for Luna because Janina Gavankar wanted to leave the show, but they had plans to get her pregnant so introduced Nicole to take that role. I'm not sure how accurate that theory is, but that's how it feels to me.

  • What's really dragging season 6 down is the continuing story with Arlene (Carrie Preston) grieving husband Terry's death. The unfortunate thing is the writers are right to have the characters react plausibly to Terry's passing, as they'd otherwise be accused of sweeping matters under a carpet, but I don't know anyone who actually cares about any of the Bellefleur family. Preston's a fine comic actress and I appreciate her conviction in this thankless role, but it doesn't alter the fact nobody cares she knows Terry arranged his own murder. Who cares if they perhaps avenge Terry's death, knowing his army friend was just doing him a favour? It's just time-filler. But at least it's kept Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) mostly confined this year.

  • The most enjoyable part of this episode was watching Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp) takeover from her dead boyfriend Governor Burrell; dressing in a pure white power-suit and trying to project a confident vibe no matter what problems occur. This culminated in a crazy-silly moment when Tru Blood spokeswoman Suzuki (Tamlyn Tomita) arrived on the premises and discovered the artificial blood was being spiked illegally—leading to a very weird and amusing scene with Sarah trying to bluff her way out of trouble, before throwing caution to the wind and having a cat fight to the death. Sarah is getting many of the year's most memorable moments, and squishing Suzuki's face through a floor grate, for it to be chomped on by starving vampires, while she caves her opponent's skull in with the heel of her shoe, isn't far below kissing your decapitated boyfriend's head. "Thank you, Jesus" indeed.

  • The rest of this week's sub-plots didn't hold much appeal. Jason (Ryan Kwanten) has become the 'boy toy' of alpha female Violet (Karolina Wydra) who's keeping him to herself; Pam's sleeping with her tubby therapist; Jessica's fallen for hunky James; and Alcide (Joe Manganiello) buried the hatcher with Sam and realised he hates being a pack-master. Big yawns all round, but at least Sookie's suddenly noticed her fairy grandpa's missing and remembered that affable fairy-vampire Warlow first visited her as a snarling bathroom ghost not too long ago. I'm so confused by this discrepancy between seasons, aren't you?

4 August 2013 | HBO