Tuesday 23 August 2011

TRUE BLOOD, 4.9 - "Let's Get Out Of Here"

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Oh dear, this was a full-blooded stinker. As I've said more times than I care to count, True Blood lives or dies on the entertainment-value of its storylines, pure and simple, and "Let's Get Out Of Here" revolved around every useless and irritating subplot in season 4's arsenal. This was actually painful to sit through at times, with only a few witch-related moments taking the sting out of the hour.

Where to begin? There was a ridiculous extended dream sequence where Sookie (Anna Paquin) fantasized about having sex with Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgård), which didn't tell us anything we didn't know already (she loves them both), and just existed to titillate all the 'shippers watching. I can appreciate seeing Paquin in rose red lingerie, of course I can, but there was very little reason for this scene to exist. And is it true women fantasize about having a threesome where they're the only one stripping down to their underwear? Or was this episode channeling its male writer's fantasy? Stupid question. This may also explain why Jason (Ryan Kwanten) and Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) decided to have sex in the back of a pickup truck (parked a short distance away), despite having the house all to themselves.

Then we suffered the dross of Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), now possessed by the ghost of a bereaved mother, forcing Hoyt (Jim Parrack) out of his home at gunpoint after snatching Arlene's (Carrie Preston) baby. A weak and unnecessary story at the best of times, this plumbed new depths with a bizarre stand-off involving Jason and a drugged-up Andy (Chris Bauer), ending with a stupid sequence where Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) reunited Lafayette/Mavis with the buried remains of her dead child. I don't know what was worse: Lafayette swishing around acting like a woman (doing his best Pepe Le Pew impression, "beh-bee"), or the fact characters like Arlene and Terry (Todd Lowe) didn't react credibly to their friend apparently suffering a mental breakdown and kidnapping their child. I mean, from their perspective, they have no idea Lafayette's a spiritual medium, so what was going through their minds when all this was happening? Seeing Terry offhandedly forgive Lafayette, seconds after getting his son back, asking for no explanation about behaviour, beggared belief.

And while it's all very sad that a young woman lost her baby and was murdered by her master over a century ago, who really cares? We didn't know who Mavis was, and she didn't even appear on-screen until a few episodes ago. It's hard enough to summon enthusiasm for Arlene and Terry, characters who've been on the show for years, let alone a Creole ghost mommy who's had less than ten-minutes total screentime. (That creepy doll had no deeper significance to the story, either.)

Elsewhere, Sam (Sam Trammell) took Luna (Janina Gavankar) camping to forget about her jealous ex Marcus (Dan Buran), while a shape-shifted Tommy (Marshall Allman) tried to build bridges with Sam by taking a beating on his behalf from Marcus and his biker gang. Yawn. A little better was seeing Debbie (Britt Morgan) help Sookie try and rescue the spellbound Eric from Marnie's (Fiona Shaw) coven (who are beginning to mutiny), which fed into the climax where witches gatecrashed a human-vampire "Festival Of Tolerance" event and enchanted the vamps into homicidal behaviour to frighten the crowd. Anything to do with the witches has been this season's saving grace (much like Russell Edgington's character in season 3), so these were the only scenes that raised "Let's Get Out Of Here" to an acceptable quality.

And, yeah, that's about all I can write about without depressing myself even further.

After a mid-season boom that was starting to turn things around, this was a violent slam back down to earth. True Blood could bounce back because it's see-sawing between good and bad storylines, but it's so irritating how the show's been built this way. They really need to ditch half the cast and focus on fewer, stronger stories that can sustain a dozen episodes without carrying any dead weight. I know I keep saying it, but someone has to. If only someone who could affect change was reading.

written by Brian Buckner / directed by Romeo Tirone / 21 August 2011 / HBO