True Blood – Almost Home Review
"A Dull Episode"
Here's the strange thing about True Blood
: While it often pushes its storylines beyond the point of believability, it occasionally forgets that it's a show about the supernatural and fails to highlight how spectacularly strange its stories are. "Almost Home" suffers from this fate, projecting an almost jaded view toward the strange supernatural elements within the episode, and, ins doing so, dragging the entire tone of the piece down into a malaise of ennui.
To begin, the ghost Tara storyline petered out with a ridiculously lame reveal that Tara was trying to get Lettie Mae and company to discover her violent deadbeat dad's gun that she had buried in the front yard of their old home. Talk about a letdown. If only the show had focused this much on Tara's whims when she was alive. Then I might have actually cared what her ghost was trying to tell everyone.
But wasting a good chunk of time trying to flesh out Lettie Mae (and, really, redeem a character we spent so much time hating) in the eleventh hour is really a waste. I can understand the show spending the last several episodes working on Bill's redemption (more on that later), as he is one of the series's central characters, but building up a character who barely qualifies as a secondary character? That's a complete waste. And- sticking Lafayette into this storyline may make sense from a character aspect, but this has once again forced poor Lafayette into the background after several promising weeks. A lost opportunity from all sides.
Off in the Eric storyline, it turns out our Japanese business men are not to be trusted, which has to be the most obvious "twist" the show has had in years. But, as we all know, Eric isn't exactly a good guy, so I'm anticipating this partnership ending in a bloody mess (with Eric victorious and the New Blood formula changed to cure all vampires). Even some excellent zingers from Pam (whose meta comments on Sookie are still funny, but seeing as Sookie is still making as many stupid choices as possible after seven seasons, now hit with a bit of desperation on the part of the writers- snarky Pam comments do not make up for your poor character development, guys) can't really bring this story out of the depths of dullness.
And, as expected, Bill's new found sense of nobility (or, quite possibly, stupidity) has turned him into the walking, talking block of wood he was in the early years of the show. Bill, as a character, seems to have two settings: morose or manic. I'm not sure if it's on account of Stephen Moyer's limited acting ability or the writer's inability to decide who they want Bill to be (mysterious romantic lead? psychotic killer?), but Bill was an absolute mess this week. There is never any rhyme or reason to his actions. I'm just glad we were saved another sepia flashback to the human days of Bill.
Finally, completing the episode's lifeless churn, crazy Violet has met the true death. We've known for awhile that Violet was crazy- she's hinted at her infamous past enough, and her sexual torture chamber pretty much confirmed things last week. But I have to say the neat and tidy way the storyline was wrapped up really bugs me. I certainly didn't want to see any of the characters tortured- that would have been too much even for True Blood
. But the stakes never really were raised in the situation. I have an extremely hard time believing that Violet didn't hear Hoyt approaching, even in the midst of her "villain speech." And, I don't think she would start her soliloquy without at least hurting/maiming one of the people in her control. The whole set-up was pretty contrived and poorly executed.
One of the things that made True Blood
fun was that it played fast, loose, and fun with supernatural tropes, but never forgot that there were dangerous stakes when messing with powerful beings. Vampires are mysterious but also deadly. And lately, we've been getting the mystery with no hint of the deadly. There need to be consequences for actions- both on the part of the vampires as well as the humans. Without that, the show crumbles.
-- So, even if the cure does get released in its full form, how are they going to cure the carrier humans? I can't imagine drinking New Blood is high on their list. Vaccines?
-- An episode without Sam, and I'm not even sad.
-- I will give the show some credit. I thought for sure they were looking to reunite Jessica and Jason. But I'm not as much of a fan of them reuniting Hoyt and Jessica. Yes, they were great together, but it seems a bit disingenuous to have Hoyt falling for Jessica unaware of their history and how much she hurt him before. And, then there's poor (stupid) Brigette.