As HBO’s advertising won’t let us forget, the end is nigh for True Blood. So it’s kind of a shame that so close to the finale, the characters have branched off into so many subplots, some of which are just out-and-out clunkers. (Into this category I would lump any story revolving around a new character, as well as the interminable ballad of Sookie and Bill.) However, there are indications that several storylines are about to coalesce, so hopefully this is the last recap I have to do subplot by subplot.
Starting from the bottom (now the whole team here) let’s talk about Arlene. Of course, I would never put Arlene at the bottom in terms of my affection for her, but her new love affair does feel like a tying up of loose ends. Now usually, a True Blood veteran can spot a V-induced dream sequence a mile away, solely by the way that improbable characters start sucking each other’s faces. But when vampire Keith shows up at Bellefleur’s and starts his Southern Gentleman routine for Arlene, it feels very real, partly because Arlene is just as flustered as she is in real life. They go from tender kisses to full-on boning on the pool table (which at this point carries the DNA of half of Bon Temps until Arlene wakes up in a cold sweat, looking almost as freaked out as I did when I realized I liked girls. Arlene spends most of the rest of the episode trying to help folks with their problems, ready to comfort all comers with a plate of fried catfish and a stiff drink (the greatest balms to a weary soul) until Sam finally has the good manners to ask if Arlene is happy. And Arlene, bless her, is like, “Happy? Why don’t you hit rewind on the last six seasons and answer that question for yourself. But I put on my happy face every morning and I pretend in the hopes that one day I can stop pretending.”
That night, when she’s finally alone, she lets the façade drop and finally allows herself to be really and truly sad. But then Keith swoops in, having sensed her melancholy, and dances with her like the corny romance novel to which every straight woman is rightfully entitled. It’s just like in Arlene’s dream, except in real life, Arlene breaks the news that she’s Hep-V positive, so she and Keith can’t bone on the pool table. To which Keith replies: that’s OK; they can just dance. Y’all, up until this moment I haven’t really given a shit about the Hep-V antidote because Eric has lived a long, good life and Bill has lived a long, bad one. But lord, please let Arlene be cured so she can engage in the crazy vampire sex she deserves. Amen.
Now for a storyline that took up a lot more of the episode but a lot less of my heart: teenagers in love. I don’t know who in the True Blood writers’ room believed that watching two adolescents, both of whom are new, minor characters, engage in intercourse in service of the revenge plot of ANOTHER new, minor character was a good use of what little time we have left, but they were wrong. So anyway, Violet leads Wade and Adilyn to her giant fuck-mansion, begging the question, why the hell has she been living in Jason’s basement for months when she could have been chilling in her own private dildo museum? Anyway, she allows the kids unrestricted access to her sex den, including a bunch of toys that no mere boning acolyte would have the slightest clue how to use. She also kisses Adilyn on the mouth, which does nothing for me, although it does remind me that we never got the V-induced Jessica/Adilyn sex dream we deserved. At any rate, Violet leaves them alone to have tepid teenage sex all night, which is predictably lame. When Violet wakes up that night, she’s like, “HAHA IT WAS ALL A TRICK TO LURE JESSICA HERE, ALTHOUGH WHY I LET YOU HAVE SEX FOR A WHOLE DAY BEFORE PULLING THE TRIGGER, I REALLY COULDN’T SAY.”
Jessica senses Adilyn’s danger and rushes over there to finally spring Violet’s trap. While they’re holed up in the fuck-mansion, their terrified parents drive all the way to Oklahoma to track them down. I’m not real sure how Andy and Holly think the kids got to Oklahoma, since Wade left his truck at Fort Bellefleur, but whatever. Their whole storyline: They drive all the way out to Oklahoma and then drive back.
In a sense, that’s exactly the same as Sookie and Bill’s journey. Bill mostly sleeps through the episode and dreams of his mortal life, specifically they way he met his wife. It’s almost hilariously identical to how he was recruited to fight for the Confederacy, whining “But faaaather, I want to marry for love and go to California and see the world and fight for the rights of black people.” When he finally meets Caroline, though, it’s love at first sight, and they are betrothed on the spot, to the delight of their families. I’m not sure why the show thinks we need to know all this about Bill’s past, unless they plan to kill Bill and reunite him with his mortal family. That’s my dream, anyway.
While Bill reminisces, Sookie races to slow his infection. Her first idea is to call Dr. Ludwig, which may actually be the first good thing Sookie has contributed his entire season. Dr. Ludwig, you may recall, is a dwarf who specializes in the treatment of supernatural diseases and the stealing of every scene she’s in.
She rolls up in a massive black hummer blasting metal and announcing that she fears nothing. That turns out not be strictly true, though, since when Sookie mentions that her grandfather is Niall Brigant, Dr. Ludwig hobbles off as fast as her cane will allow. Sookie next seeks the help of her aforementioned forefather, who shows up, eats all her spaghetti, and offers the following advice.
In spite of all the trite words of comfort, the gist of all this is that Niall isn’t going to help Bill because he doesn’t like him, making it the first time that I have ever been Team Niall.
Out of options, Sookie finally resorts to her last, big move. She runs across the graveyard in her white dress, like she has a hundred times before. She runs straight into Bill’s arms and they have passionate sex, forgiving the hundred betrayals that have passed between them since the last time they did this. And here is how I feel about that:
Sookie Stackhouse is like a broken record. Specifically, she’s like a broken record of “Landslide,” constantly repeating “I climbed a mountain and I turned around and I climbed a mountain and I turned around and I…” After so many seasons of one chorus, you want to do what you’d do to any broken record: turn it the fuck off.
In much better news, Hoyt is back! I loved Hoyt to absolute death when he was Jessica’s infinitely patient boyfriend, so he certainly is a sight for sore eyes. Unfortunately, even Hoyt’s storyline isn’t really about Hoyt, despite the fact that he’s in town to mourn his dead mother. What should be a tender homecoming is turned around when Jason falls in insta-love with Hoyt’s girlfriend, Brigette, who looks like she just stepped off whatever assembly line made January Jones. It’s hard to feel anything but outrage that Jason would fall for Hoyt’s girlfriend AGAIN, especially when Hoyt doesn’t even remember it happening the first time. But Ryan Kwanten does do an excellent job of playing that queasy intensity that comes when you find yourself terribly attracted to someone. Like you can just see his thought process of “I don’t want you to brush against my arm, but I REALLY want you to brush against my arm, and I want to stuff my fingers in my ears when you talk, because everything you say makes me fall more in forbidden love with you.” I wonder if they’ll all play musical chairs and Jason will end up with Brigette and Hoyt will end up back with Jessica. They were goddamn precious together.
OK, but the actual best thing going on this week is Sarah Newlin: Fugitive From Justice. We are treated to parallel stories of Eric, Pam, and Gus the Japanese-American cowboy hunting her, while she flees from them and the demons in her head. It begins with the three pursuers interrogating Sarah’s sister about her whereabouts. The sister lets slip that Sarah is the cure, but refuses to give away her location. She starts talking more and more like her dear sister, to the point that Eric imagines that it IS Sarah there on the table, and drives a stake through her heart. (Did anyone else think that sort of turning into Sarah was just a side-effect of drinking her blood, and anyone who wants the antidote has to be a proto-Sarah?)
For reasons I don’t understand (because they make no sense) Gus forgives Eric for killing their only clue as to Sarah’s location, and even offers to make him a partner in the Yakonomo corporation if he’ll be their official spokesvampire for New Blood. (New Blood: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Anna Camp.) Eric, being a diva, initially scoffs at this offer, but Pam nudges him, whispering “Imagine how fabulous we could be with billions of dollars at our disposal. Our spinoff would be AMAZING.” Using Yakonomo’s private spy satellites(?) Gus tracks down Sarah to the very place she started: The Fellowship of the Sun.
That abandoned compound is where we join Sarah/Noomi for what are, surprisingly, the most compelling scenes of the episode. Sarah is visited by the ghosts of the men who have drifted through her life: Jason, who warns her that Eric is coming to kill her and drag her soul to hell. Steve, who advises her to re-convert to Christianity before it’s too late. The Guru, who is like, “How come you said your name was Noomi?” And Governor Burell, who, as a disembodied head, cannot offer any advice of his own. The crazy thing is that, despite the fact that Sarah is an unsympathetic caricature of evangelical hypocrisy, these scenes are so well shot and acted that you are afraid with and for her. And when the last scene of the episode rolls around, and Eric, Pam, Gus, and company roar up to the Fellowship, it’s the most heart-pounding cliffhanger True Blood has been able to muster in a long time.
See you next week.