True Blood: The One Where Sookie is a Murderer, and the Writers Lose the Thread
Sitting down to watch last night’s season opener of the HBO run-away hit True Blood, I was struck by a jarring thought: I Have No Idea What Happened Last Season. I knew this was an existential sense of dread, and not a practical one – after all, nothing is more common at the start of a season than a “Previously On” to catch you back up to speed. Still, I was inexplicably nervous, and the only comparison that comes close to making this particular set of sensations clear, is conjuring up the idea of the High School Nightmare – you’re there, you’re you as you are now, but you’ve got tests, a report due, a project to present. The dreams themselves are a testimony to a feeling of powerlessness, to losing a grip on your own life, to feeling out of control. It’s a fitting way to start this, True Blood‘s fifth season. With Sookie’s banishment of Bill and Eric, not to mention her murder of Debbie and the near-death of her childhood friend Tara to cap off season four, it’s no small wonder that we return to a protagonist who is completely unmoored. It’s just a shame that the writers seem to feel just as much at sea.
The season picks up exactly where it left off. In fact, if you want to be particular, it starts off roughly ten seconds earlier – with Debbie’s shot at Sookie taking off half of Tara’s brain, and Sookie finally nutting up and getting her murder on – in the shape of Miss Debbie The Worst. It’s a bold beginning, but in no way a promising one. As the episode slowly, painfully, rolled out, insisting on checking in with each and every character in Bon Temps ridiculously expansive universe, it became apparent that watching Sookie clean up dead bodies and admit to having decided to kill Debbie is far, far, far less interesting than it would have been to say, check back in a year or two later, to see how her decisions change her character. Yeah, what I’m saying is they presented Sookie with an opportunity to be dynamic, and instead of letting that happen, we got her crying in the dirt. Again. And nearly being killed. Again.
Thank God for Pam, even if I still can’t quite figure out why she was all up at Sookie’s demanding to know where Eric was as he was tortured by the authority and shoved into a trunk. If her curse was ended and Eric is back to his normal ol’ self, wouldn’t their sire bond be restored? I call phooey on this one. Plot holes aside, Pam’s presence definitely lightened the mood when a panic stricken Lafayette demanded that Pam change Tara to save some vestiges of her life. This was shocking. More shocking? Sookie’s decision to jump on this Living Dead Best Friend Scheme. Somewhere in Salem Falls, Virginia Bonnie the Witch is all, “Elena, if you EVER bring me back as a Vampire the first thing I will do is KILL YOU FUCKING FACE.” to which Elena nods and says, “Fair enough. Also, I am a vampire now! Ha ha, remember?” Then they high-five. Back in Bon Temps, Pam barters her way into an agreement and after donning presumably one of Gram’s old track suits, is buried alive with Tara. While they wait for her to finish baking into a well-done vampire, the writers decide this is a good time to tell us that Jesus’s body is missing, news Lafayette handles so well that we are led to believe he is going to kill himself. Instead he shaves his head and drives Alcide from the house. Sookie was about to tell him that she murdered Debbie, because she is borderline retarded, and also Alcide wanted to be sure Sookie knew that Russell Edgington was back. THIS ALL HAPPEN IN FIVE MINUTES AND IS RIDICULOUS. They do not discuss where Jesus could be, Sookie proves to be excellent at cleaning up dead bodies, though she did miss one of Debbie back molars, and finally, Tara comes back as a mentally compromised vampire. I wish this were a joke.
What else happened? Well Sam walked around naked a lot – when he wasn’t a hawk, fleeing the pack of the guy who done got murdered last season. To protect the woman he is banging and her child he turns himself into the pack and after walking around naked for a while, they torture him into revealing the location of their leader’s body. The lady Sam is banging must enjoy being banged by him, because she tattles to Alcide who shows up and is all “ROOAOAIFAJAJJ” and then the pack leader’s mother eats her own sons rotting remains. It was arguably the nastiest thing I have seen on television weirdly, and I have seen so much. So much. Too much, really. So there is going to some sort of pack drama and I COULD NOT GIVE TWO FUCKS.
Meanwhile over in the Bellefleur manse, it turns out that the guy from Felicity comes bearing evils tidings of other fellow Marines getting their houses burned down. This only needed to be one scene, and also it was dumb, and Terry is entertaining, but oh my god there is too much plot. It was at this point where I turned to my friend Nora and said, “I don’t think I could live this sort of life,” in an earnest way, because of my god can you even imagine HOW exhausting it would be? When do they poop? When do they poop you guys? In terms of basic hygiene we only ever see them shower for reasons of destroying evidence or sexiness.
Speaking of sexiness, I was surprised that Andy Bellefleur’s ass was not the worst. Still, again, this scene of him banging the waitress and her boys catching them was superfluous, episode two material, we didn’t need it here! Especially if the intention was to set up he and Jason and besties, alone in their huurt-butt feeling-time. Because that shit could have been established next week! We don’t need to know that Jason is walking around having a hard time reconciling his love of sex with his SUPER SLOWLY BURGEONING desire to be a full and complete human. Also, that is boring! So boring! Give me more Jessica singing to Rock Band over Jason still having the same ass crisis as always only this time with more recently-vampired latently gay evangelists! That was so dumb! Yes, we get it writers – everyone wants to fuck Jason, HOW HARD THAT MUST BE FOR HIM. Jason has always been underwritten, and used as filler, which is a damn shame as he is FULL OF POTENTIAL (also abs – BUT WE KNOW ABOUT THAT ALREADY.)
It is very telling that the above paragraph was almost my last. I could have easily walked away without writing about Bill and Eric. Because they are boring, and unless they begin to sex each other, their boringness will continue. The writer’s are truly being dicks about the fans ‘shipping of Bill and Eric (…Beric?), all making them spoon in a trunk of a car, and later on in the series where matching bondage-wear. All I have to say about these two is that while initially saved from the clutches of Chris Meloni by Eric’s sister cum (ha!) fuck buddy, and then sleeping it out in the container where Dexter was found with his dead mother, is that they were caught again. It was boring. They are boring. This story line is supposed to be central, but instead, like every other thread that makes up the show, it falls short of the mark. This makes for a slow, disjointed, narrative of constant competition but nothing up to the level of muster needed to support the weight of the television show. The only thing interesting about watching the show is the mental strain you’ll enjoy trying to figure out how a show can have so much happening and so little happening all at the same time.