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True Blood – Authority Always Wins

Two episodes into the new season and True Blood is already back to leaving me conflicted about what I’ve just seen. “Authority Always Wins” didn’t progress the central plot threads quite as much as I would have liked but, comparative to last year, we are flying to the finish line. Additionally, some of the sub-plots that we’re moving through right now are as close to pointless as they can get in the grand scheme of things, but I find myself fairly interested in where they are going. To what will it all culminate? I’m not entirely sure—it might just be good television.

To keep things fresh, I’ll begin with the minor stories this week, of which Terry’s secret was somehow the best. As I said last week, there are certainly problems with where this plot is headed. If, as has now been semi-confirmed, a solider from Terry’s unit is responsible for a series of fires involving his comrades, then a major plot thread from last season is completely invalidated. We spent several episodes last year dealing with an evil baby hypothesis that ultimately bled into a ghost-mother revelation, all of which we were lead to believe was causal to the fire. If that’s no longer the case, then I question why exactly we went through everything that we did. Now, that entire arc was essentially just backstory for a character that we’d never even met. Preamble to something, or bad writing? You decide. 

Either way, given that we are where we are with this story, I can’t help but be interested in it. Terry has had some issues before and so his minor metal break throughout the episode was pretty much par for the course. However, by the time the closing credits rolled, we were geared up for a bit of macho “why are you trying to kill me,” and I’m genuinely intrigued as to where it’s headed, against my better judgement. More than likely, all of this is just a very convenient way to allow us to explore Terry’s past whilst keeping it relevant to current events, and whilst I’m not holding a torch for the character, I can certainly live with it for a few more episodes (there’s a fair chance that my being a fan of Scott Foley has something to do with it).

Whilst Tara’s turning remained one of the two key elements of episode, Pam had her own sub-story this week that also worked out pretty well. Having turned Tara and still being in the dark as to Eric’s predicament, everybody’s favorite club owner took some time to reflect on her own beginnings as a vampire, or at very least, the first time that she met her maker. In 1905 San Francisco, we meet madam Pam as she deals with her own special brand of mothering. Yes, whilst running whores is not quite the same as caring for vampires, it seemed like a fairly obvious parallel to her current situation. Though she spends the majority of her time as a dismissive and all-around badass vampire, Pam might just have a spark of maternal instinct in her that could take the Tara thread somewhere we might want to go. 

That aside, the short scene in which Pam met Eric after he brutalized a man intent on doing her harm was what we were really there to see. I couldn’t help but think back to some of the flashbacks that we’ve seen from both Bill and Eric and wonder quite how much detail we’re in for regarding Pam’s past. If Eric stays gone for a fair while, she’s going to have some time to sit around and think (or become a vamp-mother) and it could be fairly interesting. Conversely, if this is all we’re going to see of Pam’s past, it will very quickly fade out of memory and just be a couple of minutes of screen time that may have been better served elsewhere. I’m inclined to think that the former will be the case, or that we will at least see some more of this story, and it might just work. 


Moving into a couple of B-stories that I wasn’t such a fan of, we come to all things Jason and Jessica. Though the two never crossed paths in the hour, both of their stories were inextricable. Jason spent some time dealing with both his and Andy’s women problems before trying to patch things up with Hoyt once again. Though I can see the value of Jason trying to mend fences with Hoyt, I don’t know that I’d really care if we never see Hoyt again. It is not unheard of for shows to drop characters that no longer serve a purpose absent an on-screen explanation and I can’t help but think that this is a prime example of when it should be done. With Jason and Hoyt no longer working together and Hoyt and Jessica no longer being together, anything involving the man seems like an unnecessary time suck (much like Jason having slept with some random kid’s mom).

Jessica’s screen time was also a bit of a waste of ours but not in the same way. What we got was several minutes of dialogue that ultimately led us to nowhere new. As Steve Newlin tried to buy Jason from her, Jessica toyed with him and basically revealed that she likes him too much to sell him, which we know. Jessica and Jason love each other but apparently no one is allowed to have a relationship that doesn’t involve at least a season of nonsense on this show. If the two don’t end up together, I’d be amazed, but we are seemingly in for a long, dull ride before we get there. 

Final sub-plot before we get to the meat of the episode: the whole Sam, Luna, Alcide and the wolf pack-thing. To keep it brief, Alcide doesn’t like other wolves that much and intends to go it alone—fine by me. Sam is off the hook for Marcus’ death and so he and Luna head home only for Luna to freak out when Sam offers some advice. In the end, she shuns perhaps the only person that has her back and is now in a tough spot considering that her daughter is a werewolf. For now, it’s difficult to guess where this is going. Soap opera-style family drama between Sam and Luna would be far less than desirable, but something more substantial that addresses inter-species relationships might work (can Emma become the pack leader with Alcide refusing the title?). 


In the first of the big-picture stories, Bill and Eric’s run-in with The Authority went down just about as expected, with some minor adjustments to the details. I had hoped for some vampire politics to arise and they have done just that, but much like the human world, vampire politics and religion slam into each other to create one big mess. It turns out that The Authority is less concerned with Bill’s murder of Nan Flanagan than they are with a splinter group known as the Sanguinista Movement, a group of vampires who believe in the literal truth of the vampire bible, which states that the human race was created by God for the purpose of feeding vampires. Convinced that Bill and Eric have allegiances to the group, The Authority got their torture on.

Though thoroughly interested in the story as a whole, I found myself underwhelmed by the entire torture aspect of the King and his Sheriff’s captivity. I find it difficult to believe that The Authority would think that torture would be effective against two people as notoriously stubborn as Bill and Eric. Even if they thought that their methods might work, the cliched “the other person is telling us everything we want to hear” approach was a little silly, not to mention that the UV shower they gave to the prisoners could have been subverted by just rolling under the bed. Regardless, we finally met the The Authority’s leadership after some pain acting by our leading men and it was worth waiting through the screams. 

We now have ourselves an alliance. To avoid the true death that the council deemed necessary for Bill and Eric, the two revealed the falsehood of Russell Edgington’s demise and his desire to seek vengeance upon them for what they had done to him. In exchange for a chance at life, the two agree to work on behalf of The Authority to find Russell and end him once and for all. Whether it will be a simple case of baiting the hook, or if we’re in for lofty debate or double crosses remains unclear, but it’s very likely going to be good. With Nora and Eric’s relationship still a mystery to the council, there may be need for Bill and Eric to screw them over to save her, but at the same time they really need Russell to die. Like I said, good!


Big deal number two came in the form of Tara’s return from the dead. As I suspected last week, we got a decent portion of feral newborn from Ms. Thornton, but it didn’t turn out quite as bad as I’d feared. Though I had hoped that we’d see Tara experience a self-loathing at what she’d become—and it does appear that we might be headed in that direction—we saw a conflict in Lafayette that I really want to see more of. Jesus’ death was barely addressed in the premiere, but now that we’ve had a little more time to settle, we see that Lafayette is angry at himself for being selfish enough to keep Tara around at the cost of turning her into something that she hates. 

As long as it’s not overdone, this could work. As Tara heads off to find herself as a newborn vampire, we see Lafayette fall apart back at home. Whether Pam might step into a motherly role or not, you’d imagine that, over time, Tara is going to come around to the perks of being a vampire and may eventually alleviate Lafayette of his guilt surrounding his selfishness. The Tara-Sookie relationship, however, has a murkier course to follow. As of right now, there’s no indication that the two even need to cross paths again. Whilst the two have essentially been sisters for a big part of their lives, it’d be difficult to see a reality in which Tara doesn’t blame Sookie for everything that’s happened to her. It could be a slow mend or an unfixable break and, for now, we’re just waiting to see. 

As I said, “Authority Always Wins” left me a little conflicted. The good definitely outweighed the bad and even some of the irrelevant storylines are still working, but the show suffers from trying to remain a large ensemble piece instead of containing itself around a few characters. I can’t help but think that True Blood would be a much better show if the plot was less muddled and it developed richer stories for the interesting characters. That being said, it is what it is and for now there remains a lot of potential for season five.

Rating
8.0

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