Tuesday, 8 July 2014

TRUE BLOOD, 7.3 – 'Fire in the Hole' - flashback en français

Tuesday, 8 July 2014
PAM: I am as big a fan of the French vagina as you are Eric, but come back to Earth. She's just a human.
Hopes this final season would jerk to life by episode 3 (now the 'settling in' period is over), were dashed by the tedious and time-wasting "Fire in the Hole". At this point in True Blood's lifespan, limping towards the finish, I only really keep reviews going because it's a way to vent my frustrations, and for completism. But there comes a point where even the fun of a 'hate-watch' begins to dim, and the act of writing about an episode becomes a slog.

For what it's worth, there were plenty of problems with "Fire in the Hole"—not least the fact it appeared to fill time with two flashbacks of debatable merit and relevance. A scene with Bill's (Stephen Moyer) 19th-century family felt the most extraneous; and a 1980s flashback with Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) defying The Authority's orders to stay hidden until "mainstreaming" becomes a reality, felt like it only existed to introduce a gang of katana-wielding Japanese 'Yakuza' working for the makers of the in-development TruBlood drink. I mean, there was zero drama in presenting Eric with a Sophie's Choice between a French lover and his progeny Pam, this being a flashback! That scene was almost comically bereft of tension.

Weirdly, Eric and Pam's pointless flashback was actually a highlight of a dismal hour. The problem is that nothing about the present-day storyline interests me, and it's full of characters who are relatively new to the series. This means it's harder to care about any of them, so apologies if the sight of preening Lafayette (Nelsa Ellis) getting high with hunky vamp James (Nathan Parsons) didn't enthral me. (It also doesn't help they've changed actor since season 6, so it always takes me awhile to recall who James is!) Anything involving vampire Willa (Amelia Rose Blaire) and the Reverend Daniels (Gregg Daniel) also sends me to sleep.

The big threat is still the Hep-V's, who continue to make no sense. Terminally ill and ravenous for human blood... they're nevertheless physically capable of running rings around all the healthy vampires? Sookie (Anna Paquin) decided to draw them out by putting herself in the open as Fae-bait, with Bill poised to attack any aggressors from a nearby tree. Uh, good plan. It led to a brawl in the woods, during which Bill was saved from being staked by Sam-dog (Sam Trammell) and werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello).

And this tee'd up a fantastic example of how bad True Blood has become: they actually KILLED Alcide, who's been a regular since season 3, went into the credits with emotive music as Sookie wpt over her dead lover's muscled body... and I honestly didn't give a DAMN. It just made the writers look dumb because they finally got Sookie and Alcide together (only by leap-frogging six months off-screen), but have ended that unconvincing relationship after only three measly episodes? It also felt too blunt and manipulative, because it's painfully obvious they're trying to get Sookie and Bill back together because that was the crux of the earlier, better, seasons of True Blood. The worrying thing is, maybe the writers have miscalculated audience's affection for Sookie/Bill, because they've actually now been apart longer than they were ever together? We'll see how things progress in that regard, but my guess is it's down to the real-life chemistry of Moyer and Paquin to make their character's probable reunion work.

Are the 'Trubies' enjoying this final season? Who knows. Maybe they're deluding themselves because they've invested so much time, or the promise of nudity and bodies exploding like giant blood bags is all fans want at this point. I just feel sad a show that was once very entertaining and capable of delivering such fantastic cliffhangers, with humour and panache, has devolved to this current state. Even in the poorer seasons involving were-panthers, witches, fire-demons, and a naked vampire goddess, it was at least enjoyably bad. Now it's just tediously so. Not even the return of toothy Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp) in yoga pants can change that.

written by Brian Buckner | directed by Lee Rose | 6 July 2014 | HBO