Welp, for a show that usually shoves ten pounds of plot in a five pound bag, this episode of True Blood was pretty short on story. That doesn’t matter as much in episodes where the show’s other strengths (humor, gore, chemistry) are allowed to shine (like during Alcide’s death party), but those qualities were also in short supply this week. It feels like the betrayal of a sacred woman writers’ covenant to even say this, but there is a major talent disparity between this show’s best and worst writers, and this particular lady’s episodes have been mostly duds.
Last episode ended thrillingly with Sarah Newlin holed up in the Fellowship of the Sun and Eric, Pam, and the Yakonomo Corporation closing in. Rather than capitalizing on that tension, Sarah runs out, suddenly convinced that death is her destiny and she will be reborn as the messiah. I swear, Lilith’s blood has nothing on the speedball of world religions Sarah is on. Eric is sorely tempted to kill her just to make her stop talking, but Pam says that if he kills Sarah, she will kill herself.
I am sick to death of Pam’s need to martyr herself for Eric. It makes her weak and even worse: boring. Anyway, Eric lets Sarah live and merely guzzles enough of her blood to cure himself of Hep-V. To me, the worst thing this episode does is complete the redemption arc of two unredeemable characters: Bill and Lettie Mae. That’s not even this writers’ fault. JK Rowling couldn’t make these characters redeemable. We catch up to Bill and Sookie in the middle of post-coital cuddles.
For once, we agree.
But this revamping (pun so intended) of Bill’s character is harmless compared to what is going on with Lettie Mae. We return to she and Lafayette digging holes in the front yard, in search of whatever artifact Tara’s spirit wants them to find. Reverend Daniels shows up and begs them to put down the shovels and sober up, to which Lettie Mae almost directly quotes one of my favorite Sarah Silverman lines: “The drugs made me see it’s not about the drugs.”
She somehow convinces Reverend Daniels to take more V with her and Lafayette, and it’s back off to dreamworld for them. In their trip, Tara leads them all back in time to one of her childhood birthday parties. (The only good part of this entire scene is when Lafayette looks at his eight-year-old self like “Damn, I was fly as hell even then.”) In the flashback, Lettie Mae is a great mom until Tara’s alcoholic dad shows up and starts beating her for buying Tara a birthday cake. Panicked, young Tara grabs her father’s gun and thinks seriously about pulling the trigger before burying it in the yard. Right at that minute, Tara’s dad walks out on them forever. When the flashback is over, Tara’s spirit tells Lettie Mae that she was a good mother and Tara is only sorry she couldn’t save her. She urges her mother to forgive herself and with that, Tara vanishes with a puff of smoke out of the show forever.
I just don’t even know where to start with this storyline. First of all, from a purely narrative perspective, I can’t believe the show dragged us through this entire cross/snake/vampire blood thing, not for the purpose of giving Tara some closure, but so her mother, arguably the most consistently unlikeable character on the show, could forgive herself. NO ONE FUCKING CARES ABOUT LETTIE MAE’S FEELINGS. WE CARED ABOUT TARA.
And second of all, Lettie Mae was not a good mother. We know that because WE WATCH THIS SHOW. Also, trauma does not make people into alcoholics, trauma is not an excuse for years of physical and emotional abuse inflicted on your child, and forgiving yourself is only a good idea if you’ve done the work to earn your own forgiveness. Last I checked, Lettie Mae stabbed Willa like five minutes ago, so I don’t think she really deserves an easy conscience. Mostly, I’m upset because I really thought the show had something more meaningful for us in terms of saying goodbye to Tara, and I am deeply disappointed in how wrong I was.
The Violet plot also flops to an end this week, thank god. Jason is trapped in the middle of an argument between Hoyt and Brigitte when he gets a picture text from Violet showing Adilyn and Jessica trussed up like hogs (Wade’s picture is not included, because no one cares). Jason rushes to her house to rescue them, and for some bizarro reason, Brigitte insists upon tagging along. (Quick sidebar: Jason KNEW Violet had a mansion and they still lived in his shithole?) Jason sneaks into the house, is immediately captured and tied up (duh) and Violet launches into a lengthy seminar on the slow and creative ways she plans to murder them all.
But before she can tighten a single thumbscrew, Hoyt bursts in and shoots her dead.
Of course, when Jessica sees Hoyt again, she falls right back in love with him. Those two, really do have an undeniable chemistry, and Hoyt feels it too.
Brigitte also seems to be falling for Jason at a typically rapid Bon Tempian pace, but it’s all subtext for now. I was mostly joking last week when I said they just should all trade partners, but that seems to be what’s actually happen. I just hope the writers manage to pull it off with some grace. Because I’ll be really pissed if we devoted this much time to Lettie Mae digging up a pistol and none at all to the fates of characters I actually care about. We do get a lovely scene of Jessica and Jason struggling to define their relationship and deciding on “beautiful friendship.” But then they end it by kissing, and I don’t kiss my friends. Not even the beautiful ones.
Meanwhile, we return, as we always must, to Fangtasia. Cowboy Gus explains to Pam and Eric that it’ll take some time to synthesize Sarah’s blood and make it less effective. You read that right: LESS effective. Because the goal of the Yakonomo Corporation isn’t to manufacture a cure for Hep-V, but a treatment on which vampires will stay dependent for the whole of their eternal lives. It’s the first truly subversive thing True Blood has done with its AIDS metaphor, and I respect that. Eric and Pam aren’t really in a position to have moral qualms with this decision, but Eric can’t wait to go show off his miraculously cured self to Sookie.
Of course, when Sookie sees Eric, she demands he get the cure to Bill. What follows is a ludicrously drawn-out sequence in which Sookie drives to Fangtasia, gets kicked out, gets Bill, and drives back. But when Bill is standing there in the dungeon, with Sarah’ neck all exposed and his cure only a bite away, he says no. He doesn’t want to live with his past anymore; he wants to pay for it. Of course, making yourself a martyr doesn’t actually scrub away any of your sins, but no one tell Bill that.
On a more positive note, this episode has seen the resolution of two of this season’s most frustrating storylines, so I do have high hopes that True Blood can go out with a bite.