True Blood delivered a fantastic episode last night, Death Is Not The End. By far the best episode this year, and one of my top 5 episodes of the show. Finally, thankfully, an episode I LOVED from beginning to end. Every scene, I cared about. I was literally leaning in towards the TV, trying to glean each word, every nuance, every set cue. This is the True Blood I fell in love with. The show that blew my mind that first night so many years ago when we were introduced to Sookie and Bill at Merlotte’s. This is how I hoped the last season would make me feel.
There was a lot going on in this episode, but it was focused, organized, and about the core characters. I think that’s been the fatal flaw of True Blood. Too many characters that aren’t needed with storylines that don’t add anything to the story. But not tonight.
We open this week’s episode with Sookie on the telephone breaking the news to Alcide’s father that his son is gone. How do you tell someone their child is dead? Sookie does the best she can.
Next we have a beautiful shot of Anchorage, Alaska. The sun is glittering off the water and in the background is a snowcapped mountain. The oilrig immediately lets us know that Hoyt will soon be in the camera shot. I’ve missed him, and can’t say how happy I am that the writers brought him back for the last season. Since Jessica glamoured all his memories regarding Jason and Jessica from his mind, Hoyt doesn’t know that Jason is his oldest friend. As you can imagine, Jason wants to comfort his friend, and tries to, but is rebuffed by Hoyt asking if they know each other.
Alcide’s father has major flaws, but he steps up to the plate in amazing fashion to reassure Sookie that Alcide, ‘loved the fuck out of her’. On any other show this would seem like odd wording, but here it makes sense. Unfortunately, we know that Sookie wasn’t as sure of her love as Alcide was. I’d think that would be a hard burden to carry. Knowing he had wanted to leave Bon Temps, and because of her he’d stayed, and died trying to protect her. Of course, he made his choice, but I’m sure it weighs on Sookie
A private jet is streaking through the sky. Eric is feeding from the femoral artery of a lovely flight attendant. He interrupts his feeding to redirect the place to Shreveport. Pam – gloriously wonderful Pam – informs us that she hates Shreveport. Eric explains that he wants Willa and mollifies her with ‘it will be a trip down memory lane’.
Thus, finally, we learn the reasons and origins of Fangtasia. The flashback scene opens in a grimy parking lot with a title card flashed across the screen, Shreveport, Louisiana, 1986. The Magister gets out of a limo with guards in tow. He informs them that this is their new business, their punishment for disobeying the Authority. “Look around, breathe it in. This place smells like sperm and piss and bad hair dye.” It’s a rundown video store in a strip mall. What could be worse for Pam and Eric?
The Magister takes them down to the basement, which we all know and love as the dungeon, but in the 80s it was the adult section of the video store. As Eric says, “leave it to humans to make sex this depressing.” There is some redemption in the dungeon, a tunnel dating back to the Civil War was used by the Underground Railroad. Tuck that little interesting tidbit in your hat for later. It gets better, or worse, for Eric depending on how you look at it. He’s informed that he is now Sheriff of Area 5. Eric asks why the Authority would appoint him sheriff. The answer is ominous. That he isn’t trust and that they want to keep him close, and that he and Pam are being watched.
Spring forward to the present and Sookie is at the Bellefleur’s home. She speaks with Colby and Lisa, Arlene’s children. They’ve grown so much since Eric coined them the ‘teacup humans’. Sookie promises that she will bring their mother home. I’m sure it brought back memories of her own parents being killed. How she must have felt, and how she is determined that these children will have a mother.
Holly can’t remember anything from her time in captivity, but with Sookie’s help, she does remember the horrific events and Sookie recognizes Fangtasia. Viola, now they know where the Hep-V vamps are holed up.
Jessica isn’t feeding, which is why she isn’t healing. James confronts here and pulls the old parent card. I had my doubts when the actor who played last year’s James left, but this new actor has stepped in and has made me forget there was every a change. Bill – how could he not know? – orders her to eat. Sookie storms into Bill’s home and Jessica invites her up to join the ‘interfuckingvention’. Sookie ejects the menfolk and has a talking to with Jessica. A major part is this episode is Sookie talking sense into people. She tells Jessica she doesn’t care that she killed three of Andy’s girls. That considering what is going on, that it isn’t significant, and she needs to stop wallowing in self pity and get on with things so they can defeat the Hep-V vamps.
It’s 1996 inside the video store of Pam and Eric. And who walks in wearing flannel and glasses and asking for specific vampire movies. GINGER!!! She’s driven all the way from Tulane because one of her professors recommended she visit for the store for source material for a paper she’s writing. The course is called Monsters in our Mist. So, we learn that Ginger was a very intelligent woman. Perhaps she still is, but with all the glamouring she’s taken over her years with Pam and Eric, it’s hard to know now. Ginger, perhaps afraid Pam thinks she’s a nut, expresses her interest in the vampire genre even though she knows they are not real. Pam’s delivery of the line, “course their not”, is classic.
Enter Eric, with 90s hair and clothes, walking slowly towards a stunned Ginger. One of my favorite scenes accompanied by the perfect lyrics. “I would pray for you, I would sell my soul for something pure and true, someone like you.” Ginger is so enamored, so stunned by Eric, that she can only stare at him like he isn’t real. Eric, being Eric, toys with her like a cat with a mouse, and kisses her hand. Ginger sees a sign that they are looking for help. The day shift, Eric explains. And thus, the story of how Ginger met Eric and Pam is explained.
Back to the present Sookie and Bill are having a private conversation. She’s telling him her plan to raid Fangtasia and he’s explaining that most the vampires are gone, either killed or fled because they’re afraid. She asks why Bill is still around and he explains that he owes Sookie everything. For once, I truly believe him when he says this. It feels good to see them together again and not fighting, to be working for a common good without their being lies between them. She feeds Bill, explaining that ‘it’s just lunch’, but I don’t believe she means that, nor does Bill. Do I think they’ll get back together. No, not at all. I do think they will have a mutually beneficial friendship though. Which makes me happy. True Blood began with Bill walking into Fangtasia. It’s fitting the two of them should care for each other long after the last credits role on True Blood.
Lafayette comes to the rescue of Jessica, or Red Bone, as he calls her. What would this show be without Lafayette? He convinces Jessica to eat by explaining that everyone has regrets. That she isn’t alone in her remorse. It’s easy to forget how young Jessica is, both in human years and vampire years.
It’s 2006 now and Ginger, in full vampire loving attire, arrives at the video shop parking lot. She is lugging a large chair out of her vehicle, an old hearse. We all instantly recognize this iconic piece of furniture – Eric’s throne. The vampires are ‘out of the coffin’ now as Pam is restocking the TruBlood refrigerator. Ginger explains her ingenious idea to turn the video shop into Fangtasia. That Eric can sit on the throne and exude SEX, while the patrons pine for him and drown their lonely hearts in booze.
Pam loves the idea so much, she glamours the memory from Ginger that it was initially her idea. Oh Pam. If given the opportunity, and they were clean, I might just kiss the feet of the writer who came up with this. It’s perfect, just perfect.
Back at Bill’s, the troops are assembled to devise a plan to invade Fangtasia. Bill answers a knock at his door. Eric and Pam have arrived, looking for Willa. The fangirl in me squealed to have all the characters I care about together again. Sookie runs into Eric’s embrace and only when she pulls back from him does she realize he’s infected. Pam, never a fan of Sookie, reminds Eric that they have a Christian to kill, Sarah Newlin. And when that doesn’t draw Eric’s attention away from Sookie, that they came for Willa. Who Eric immediately summons to him.
Eric and Sookie are given some privacy to talk. Sookie informs him that he can’t die on her. These words mean so much given how many people Sookie has lost. I love seeing them together with their guard down. You can feel the care they have for each other. Sookie perhaps realizing that Eric will not always be there. And Eric, that Sookie might not be his first love, but could very well be his last.
“Were you just a rat?” Arlene asks. Brings us to Fangtasia. Sam transforms himself into a rat and uses the underground tunnel to enter the dungeon. He tells Jane Bodehouse, Arlene, and Sam’s Baby Mamma to hold on, that the Calvary is on the way, only some of them are vamps. Before Pam – Eric is too weak – and Bill get there, Arlene is taking upstairs to feed the remaining Hep-V vamps. Eric and Sookie devise a plan to infiltrate by enticing the vamps with Sookie’s blood. Arlene is splayed out on the table, just moments away from death. Sookie utters the line, “I’m his”. But this time it’s Eric and not Bill she is referring to. A vampire on vampire fight ensues, with the vigilante crew from Bon Temps almost ruining everything, but Sookie and crew are victorious.
It’s good to have True Blood back. Now instead of cringing when the episode beings, I’ll be on the edge of my seat.
Thank you, True Blood.
Preview of next week’s episode, Lost Cause, HERE