Lord, if every episode of True Blood were as good as the last one, I would be a lot sadder that this show is ending. It played to all its strengths, cut extraneous plot, and made me laugh long and loud.
We left off last time with Alcide dead at the hands of rednecks, Maxine dead at the hands of Violet, and both Arlene and Nicole still in the clutches of the Hep-Vamps. This week begins both Stackhouses being the bearers of bad news. Jason calls up Hoyt (HOYT I MISSED YOU SO MUCH) to inform him of the death of his mother. It is heartbreaking a) because of Hoyt’s precious face and b) because Hoyt was glamoured out of remembering that he and Jason were once best friends. He promises to come home lay and lay his poor, dear (mean, wretched) momma to rest just as soon as he can. Sookie also has to tell Alcide’s father about the untimely demise of his son and his son’s muscles, and Papa Herveaux likewise agrees to come to Bon Temps. After their phone calls, Jason wants nothing more than to sit down and cry, but Sookie tells him to stand tall and be the leader everyone needs. And as much I am frustrated by Sookie’s total lack of development over seven goddamn seasons, I think Jason has grown organically into a good, thinking and feeling, modern man.
We next journey to a private jet flying high above Louisiana, with Pam and Eric on board. This whole Eric’s-vendetta-against-Sarah-Newlin thing doesn’t really track for me, and apparently he’s not too interested either because he suggests they go to Shreveport so he can say goodbye to Willa. At this point, the flight attendant he’s been feeding on is like “Goodbye? You’re dying?” And Eric is like “Oops, I forgot to tell you I just infected you with my problematic AIDS metaphor.” Pam (who, it bears mentioning, is grieving Tara and terrified that Tara died hating her) really doesn’t want to go to Shreveport, partly because it’s podunk as hell and partly because it dredges up a lot of painful memories. She can fucking cope though, because the memories are some of my favorite scenes ever.
We flashback to 1986, right after the demise of Sylvie (Sylvie, we hardly knew ye). The Authority drags Eric and Pam to Shreveport, name Eric as Sheriff, and force the pair of them to run Fangtasia, which was at that point a video store. (The way they both act like pouty fallen angels exiled to darkest hell about this is the height of comedy.) They even bring back the magister from season one to break the bad news to them, because season seven is like a final bow for every character I ever loved and assumed the show forgot about. He mentions that there is a tunnel dating back to the Underground Railroad in the basement, which is going to be a plot point in 3..2..1.
Back in the present day, Sookie promises Arlene’s keeids that she will rescue their mother, so she’s really not trying to hear that Holly can’t remember anything about her captivity. So over Andy’s wishes, she dredges up her awful memories and discover that Arlene, Nicole, and Jane are still alive in the Fangtasia basement, but Kevin is dead.
Sam, of course, tries to go all
lone wolf lone collie to rescue his pregnant fiancé, but Jason talks him out of what would surely be a suicide mission, at least until they can enlist the aid of some friendly vampires. Sam sulks about it like someone asked him to run a video store or something.
Okay so remember how last week Jessica didn’t heal after Maxine shot her? Well it turns out that’s because she developed a vampire eating disorder after killing the fairies, and hasn’t fed in months. Sookie tells her, straight-up, that she doesn’t give a shit about her guilt trip, because there’s people to save and they need Jessica in fightin’ form. The tough love snaps her out of her stupor and she agrees to feed on Lafayette.
I truly believed that the hair and makeup situation couldn’t be improved upon from 1986, but I was wrong. I was so wrong. The next stop on memory lane is 1996, when Pam was rocking crushed velvet, Eric was hilariously doing his best David Boreanaz, and Ginger (she of the screams) was a GRADUATE STUDENT. She walks into the video store to check out some classics of vampire cinema and express her fascination for the portrayal of vampires as “the other,” and was nearly struck dumb with pure love for Eric. Uuuugh but then she asks if Pam and Eric are a couple and Pam is like “on and off.” I see what you are doing here, True Blood, and if you take the sole surviving queer lady on your show and pair her with a guy in the eleventh hour, I will be so pissed. Not because I have a problem with bisexuality, but because I think that would be a huge backwards step in a show that consistently fails to define its female characters except in relation to men. I love Eric and Pam’s bond, and I have always loved the fact that it was based on respect, not sex. Anyway, Ginger picks up an application and her life changes forever.
Back at Bill’s Sookie and Bill make a game plan for the rescue at Fangtasia. Unfortunately, few vampires will be assisting them, since they don’t want to risk their lives for a bunch of humans they can’t even feed from. Sookie offers Bill her blood so he’ll be at full strength tonight, but when he gives her a “so we’re back together now?” look, she’s like “It’s just lunch.” Man, the one-liners in this episode are beautiful.
Also getting a much-needed snack is Jessica. Lafayette comes over and drops some truly excellent wisdom on her and mentionin—for the first time in a long time—how terribly much he still misses Jesus. He also tells her that self-forgiveness, or at least self-acceptance, is something everybody has to learn to stay alive. Jessica feeds and James listens to all this and falls a little bit more in love with Lala.
Speaking of love, let’s hop back on the flashback train to 2006. It’s easy to forget that’s almost a decade ago until you see Ginger with black hair extensions and remember that that once felt normal.
It’s right after the advent of Tru Blood and vampires coming out of the coffin, so one night Ginger strolls into work the suggestion that they shut down the video (now DVD) store and reopen as a nightclub called Fangtasia. Pam thinks this is such a grand idea that she glamours Ginger and pretends she thought the whole thing up herself. Nothing could make me love Pam any less, but that is real cold. She finally comes clean about it to Eric, who finds her bitchiness endearing.
Back in Bon Temps, the team (Jason, Sookie, Bill, Jess, James, and a couple random vamps) is assembled to take back Fangtasia. Jason is like “This is gonna be our Normandy!” And everyone is like “…so most of us are going to die before we even get inside?” Before he can come up with a somewhat more triumphant battle, there is a knock on the door and Pam and Eric arrive. Eric calls Willa to his side from miles away, and then he and Sookie share a private moment. Eric manages to be jealous of the DEAD Alcide, but otherwise it’s a very sweet moment. I always like Sookie and Eric better together than any of their other couplings. Owing to all the Feelings flying around, he volunteers himself, Pam, and Willa to help with the rescue effort, and even tells them about the Underground Railroad tunnel.
In the dungeon, Sam appears to the captives as a rat—finally outing himself as a shifter to his last few friends—and promises to be right back with vampire reinforcements. Unfortunately, before they can come, the Hep-Vamps drag Arlene upstairs and start chowing down on her. Hearing her screams, Eric and Sookie come around from the front. Eric pretends that Sookie is his prized heifer (even though, for the thousandth time, she is the wielder of a vampire-killing ball of light and could be useful as more than just bait) and the Hep-Vamps let them inside.
It buys enough time for the rest of the vamps to come to the rescue, but unfortunately, the idiot redneck militia is coming to their OWN rescue, and throws in a bunch of Molotov cocktails into the bar. In the ensuing chaos and slow-motion fight scene, Vince the alt-mayor is killed (thank god, because he was a shitty villain) and most of the Hep-Vamps are likewise massacred. While they fight, a heavily drained Arlene starts to slip away from life, and Sookie begs for a healthy vampire to feed her.
Sookie cries over her while Arlene has a vision of Terry (TERRY I LOVED YOU WHY DID YOU HIRE THAT GUY TO KILL YOU) come to take her to heaven. But at the last second, she gets the desperately needed blood and Terry tells her she has to stay alive. For the keeids. But it was touch and go there for a second, and I realized just how desperately sad I would be if we lost Arlene.
After the fight, Sookie and Eric exchange eye contact and he actually tears up, perhaps with the bittersweet knowledge that he had something left to live for after all.
I’m sure there will be some dud episodes yet to come and I fully expect to be shaking my fist at the series finale, but for now I’m happy to savor one that reminded me why I fell in love with True Blood in the first place.