Tuesday, 15 July 2014

TRUE BLOOD, 7.4 – 'Death is Not the End' - be kind, rewind

Tuesday, 15 July 2014
GINGER: Eric Northman is nothing if he is not pure fucking sex on a throne.
It wasn't as tedious as the previous three episodes, so "Death is Not the End" at least has that distinction, but this was still a below-average episode, only enlivened by a dumb action sequence and fun-but-superfluous flashbacks. If you've ever wanted to know how Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Pam (Kirstin Bauer van Straten) started Fangtasia, this was the episode for you. Turns out they were actually put in charge of a seedy video rental shop by The Magister (Zeljko Ivanek), until Pam stole employee Ginger's idea to transform the place into a nightclub. So, that was fun. Especially the part where Ginger had bought a "shitty chair" we know will become Eric's throne. I just have no idea why these scenes existed, beyond retroactively planting knowledge that Fangtasia has a secret tunnel entrance. And can someone explain why Ginger screamed when she first saw Eric? He wasn't covered in blood or exhibiting any sense of being a vampire. Was it his mid-'90s coiffured hairstyle?

Sookie (Anna Paquin) also had a hilariously pompous handful of scenes, as she became a no-nonsense counsellor for Arlene's (Carrie Preston) two kids, and a hunger-striking Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll). The issue of Alcide being murdered got largely brushed under the carpet (beyond a token scene with Sookie letting his father know over the phone), and there were more weird contortions to get some old cast members back on the show. The stupidest was Arlene imagining late husband Terry (Todd Lowe) willing her to fight for life, as she lay drained of blood after a Hep-V attack, but the one with Jason (Ryan Kwanten) calling old friend Hoyt (Jim Parack) about his mother's death wasn't much better. I've become so disengaged with True Blood that it took me awhile to remember Hoyt's memories of Jason were erased before he left town, which is why Jason started off being very formal in their conversation.

Sam (Sam Trammell) appears to have given up trying to maintain any kind of secrecy about being a shape-shifter now, as he transforms into a rat to locate Arlene and her fellow captives (gotta envy his body confidence in being naked around strangers so often); nobody has a clue what to do with Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and James (Nathan Parsons) on the show; and there's suddenly a helpful new vampire called, um, Keith, who decides to assist Bill (Stephen Moyer) in raiding Fangtasia to rescue the women in the basement. It's all very small-scale this season, considering almost the exact same characters were busting into the headquarters of the vampire Authority a few seasons ago. That's like going from Fort Knox to your local convenience store.
SAM: You all ready?
JASON: No, but let's do this anyhow.
Still, at least the situation with the Hep-V kidnappers appears to be over with. This final season can perhaps find something more interesting to do for the remaining six episodes. Or is that too much to ask? Eric's return to Louisiana appears to have drawn his progeny Willa (Amelia Rose Blaire) closer to the narrative's epicentre, which is better than having her as Lettie Mae's tenant, but there was no sign of Sarah Newlin in her yoga pants this week. Damn. Just a lot of fight sequences where 70% of everything is blurred because vampires all run at high-speed, so you're not sure who's killing who. All I know is that Vince, the self-appointed head of Bon Temp's anti-vampire mob, got stabbed in the head. So long Vince, you allegedly prominent citizen nobody had heard of, or seen, before this season began.

Overall, another poor episode, but slightly more entertaining because of the silly '80s and '90s-set flashbacks. I still don't get the logic of the Hep-V's (Eric's only had the disease a month and can barely punch a concrete wall down, but the latter-stage Hep-V's are all super-strong? WHAT?!), and the episode once again asked audiences to care and feel a bond with characters you barely know or care about. Sorry, Coby and Lisa (Arlene's kds), or... um, Rosie, the girlfriend of Deputy Kevin? These are characters who've actually been on the show since the very beginning (trust me, I Googled), and I have precisely zero interest and memory of them.

written by Daniel Kenneth | directed by Gregg Fienberg | 13 July 2014 | HBO