Previously on True Blood, the Hep-Vamps descended on Bon Temps, kidnapping several of the town’s women and imprisoning them in Fangtasia. Sam’s rival for mayor caught him turning into a dog. Adilyn and Jessica had face-melting sexual chemistry, and Tara died, to minimal fanfare.
This week’s episode begins with Jason Stackhouse journeying to the same villa where Uma Thurman killed Bill. And whom should he find there but noted brooder and my girlfriend’s favorite character, Eric Northman. It’s pretty obvious from the get-go that we’re seeing a dream sequence. Eric and Jason play up a romantic backstory and sip frou frou cocktails while eyeing each other’s rock-hard pectorals.
We’ve seen it all before from True Blood; sexual scenes between two straightish characters that one always wakes up from. It’s entertaining, sure, but it does nothing to forward the story. Those men never awaken to a sudden, startling knowledge of their own gay feelings; it’s merely an aberration brought on by vampire blood. So when Jason jumps on Eric’s back and kisses his neck, I feel entertained, but also thoroughly, insultingly, pandered to.
Here is my problem with that: True Blood is the gayest show on television that is not actually gay. When it premiered seven years ago (before I was even gay!), the fact that it used homosexuality as its operative metaphor still felt transgressive and exciting. The coming out of the coffin/closet thing opened up the story like all great fantastic fiction does; by using the language of dreams to discuss reality. But times have changed. You don’t need to relegate your gayness to played-for-laughs dream sequences. Cam and Mitch conquered Middle America on Modern Family. Emily Fields dated more girls before graduating high school than many lesbians date in their entire lives. Prop 8 came and went. But True Blood still plays coyly with gayness, still feeds its queer characters the scraps of stories, and grants—in its own words—“an epic fucking love story” to every demographic but lesbians. (Lafayette and Jesus had a good thing going before that story was, no pun intended, cut off.) As a purely escapist fan, thus far I am enjoying its final season a great deal. But as a critical viewer and lesbian recapper, I am disappointed.
So, once Jason wakes up from his sex dream and talks his boner down, we resume the actual action. The search for Arlene, Holly, and Nicole has gone cold, since the vampires who kidnapped them could be hiding anywhere. Sookie pipes up that the dead girl she stumbled over in the woods last night might offer a clue about where the vamps came from, and everyone, for some reason, bows to her procedural knowledge. So Sookie, Sam, Alcide, Jason, and Andy all go off to investigate, leaving the town to take care of itself. Sam suggests that the townsfolk get together to fix up Bellefleur’s (RIP Merlotte’s). Lettie Mae volunteers to go check on Lafayette and no one remembers that she never does a nice thing without an ulterior motive. Adilyn volunteers to check on Wade, because she forgot that in no universe could someone prefer a teenage boy to Jessica and her fangs. I don’t care how straight you are; that is just basic math.
At Fangtasia, the Hep-Vamps are bickering over how best to share their remaining humans. It seems that, despite being a gang of superhumans fueled by bloodlust, they find actually hunting to be tedious and exhausting. They are also none too pleased with one of their number for draining an entire human all by himself, so they put snack patrol in the hands of a middle-aged vamp who was a teacher in her human life. OK, is anyone else really confused about the Hep-Vamps? I mean, initially they were portrayed as barely articulate zombies whose appetites were totally out of control, but here they seem like regular vampires who merely know they are going to die and are determined to cause as much mayhem as possible in the meantime. Whatever their deal is, when the former teacher goes down to the basement for a new victim, Arlene recognizes her as her kids’ fourth grade teacher. She also apparently educated Holly’s children, so Arlene decides to play upon her sense of decency to get them all out of the dungeon. She gives a moving speech and I am reminded again of how much I love Arlene; she’s the only character I was really glad was given an expanded role in the last couple of seasons.
While they plot an escape plan, Sookie and the gang search for them. They find the dead girl’s body and discover that she hailed from St. Alice (one of those tricky Louisiana words, pronounced Uh-Lease and designed to confuse outsiders). One of the main things in this episode is Sookie Making Useless and Rambling Speeches, and she proceeds to hold forth on the random indifference of life. Everyone else is like “Yeah, whatever Sook. Let’s head on over to St. Alice.”
When Lettie Mae shows up at Lafayette’s, she makes a case that Tara is trapped between purgatory and only Lettie Mae can save her and only by Doing More Drugs. Lafayette is like “That sounds like some pretty solid junkie logic, but why don’t you try honoring Tara’s memory by staying clean.” Lettie Mae screams that Lafayette is going to hell, which is her typical move when she doesn’t get what she wants, and Lafayette goes back to being fabulously depressed in peace.
Over at Bellefleur’s the townsfolk are mopping up viscera peaceably enough when would-be Mayor Vince shows up and starts right in to whipping them into a frenzy. First he accuses Sam of being a dog and everyone is like “well yeah sure he has doglike qualities but that’s kind of a low blow.” He then clarifies that he means a LITERAL DOG and Maxine Fortenberry eagerly chimes in that she saw him transform into a bear once, too. Apparently this is enough to make them shed their last shred of rationality and they all just start breaking tables and pool cues and generally destroying Arlene’s restaurant to make vampire stakes. Adilyn overhears one of them thinking longingly of all the guns sitting in the police station, so she and Wade race there to try and save the townsfolk from their own second amendment rights.
Back at Fangtasia, Arlene successfully tugs on the heartstrings of the ex-teacher vamp. You’d think more vampires would realize that since they are terminally ill, there might be better ways to spend their last days than decimating humanity, but at least this lady is hip to it. She promises to help them, and everyone else promises to elect Arlene mayor just as soon as they get out of there.