An assured moment of revelation for all this week, as several manhunts vie for attention with kindled affection, and the tearing apart of familial bonds. It is an episode of birth and death, of love and blood; with darkly hued misdeeds painted over honourable intent.
As multiple characters try to solve the puzzle surrounding the mysterious Warlow, they foolishly fail to pool their efforts. In doing so, they ensure that this is one of the most tightly scripted episodes so far; the story flitting hither and thither like a workplace gossip, as the series quickens apace.
Starting strong and impactful, with Jason Stackhouse draped on a couch historically reserved for the dying and the dead, Ben’s (Robert Kazinsky) surprising way of tending to the wounded threatens to be his unravelling.
When Niall (Rutger Hauer) brusquely rebukes Ben as to his priorities, triggering his leaving, the tender moment between Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Ben strikes the right note exactly; their innocuous conversation fraught with an unsettling new tension.
It’s not often that a man who has suffered a recent had injury feels moved to provide ‘torso porn’ by doing pull-ups on a doorframe. Queerer still, that they would number in the hundreds. As Sookie ponders Jason’s sudden recovery, the pieces begin to drop into place for her; followed not too far behind by her brethren.
In Shreveport, Alcide Herveaux’s (Joe Manganiello) pack are incensed; their kin ripped from under their noses, with one of the VUS missing to aggravate the wound.
With Martha’s (Dale Dickey) proclamation that she smells Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) in her trailer, the wolves waste no time in pursuing the hunt. Merlotte, always one to take on an extra burden, limps to the safety of Lafeyette’s (Nelsan Ellis) car with Emma (Chloe Noelle) and a bitten Nicole (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), as the somewhat staccato chase music ramps to an unnerving pitch.
As the Shreveport pack seem to be permanently on the cusp of a schism, Manganiello is invariably required to pull his best ‘really angry’ face at every opportunity.
It seems the life of a packmaster may be more work than it’s worth, a fact that Jackson Herveaux (played by the always fabulously measured Robert Patrick) is at pains to point out whenever possible, in a father/son relationship which brings new meaning to the word ‘volatile’.
Back in Bon Temps, Sookie decides to pay Ben a visit to apologise for Niall’s previous brusque behaviour, and in doing so, unleashes one of the best lines of the episode: “He’s not from The South, or this millenia, so he can be kinda blunt.” It would be a good line in any fashion. With the words in that order, it is a thing of beauty.
Much of the action this week features around the Bellefleur family, as Sheriff Andy’s (Chris Bauer) fae girls grow into teens in an instant, bringing with their transformation the fresh new perils of parenting children who are impulsive and willful, but also tall enough to reach the pedals in a car.
The actresses in question (Natalie Dreyfuss, Hannah Kasulka, Jordan Monaghan, and Bailey Noble) are forced to run the gamut of emotions here, in one of the least successful first jaunts into the big wide world it is possible to have.
The interplay between Jason and Ben, in a dream sequence displaying the involuntary eroticism experienced by a human after drinking vampire blood, is pitch perfect. Kwanten and Kazinsky fill the screen with wry glances and dimple-cheeked smiles; the sliver betwixt text and subtext crammed with humour.
This scene is expertly crafted, as True Blood dreams usually are; with a magnificent ‘pull back and reveal’ at the outset, and one of the best rude awakenings ever immortalised on film; all nicely set against some bed music which was chosen by a genius.
When Stackhouse discusses his homoerotic dream with Niall, it’s hard to fathom how so many other actors even get work, when you could always get Rutger Hauer instead. His face can twitch a thousand lines in an instant, startled to shrewd with dazzling grief and woeful joy.
Hauer’s nuanced performance lends itself fabulously to the character of one who is old beyond belief, yet sprightly and curious. Though the hair department probably also deserve a special mention: for lending him an air of the eccentric, through the sheer height of his mane.
The Bellefleur Mansion begins as a peaceful family home; save for Terry (Todd Lowe), whose horrific guilt about murdering his friend Patrick (Scott Foley) is considerably exacerbated by his nieces’ ability to read minds. As it turns into command central for their safe recovery, it provides a welcome chance to see Andy and his perfect foil, Deputy Kevin Ellis (John Rezig), dance once more.
Bauer and Rezig are hilarious together as some of the Deep South’s Finest, and it’s a shame that their relationship often becomes lost: jostled by the larger aspects of the yarn being spun. The scripting here is a fine piece of levity for a tense situation, as Kevin receives a distinctly broad description for the APB from a stricken Andy.
With action flicking between each thread so often and so quickly, there is barely a moment’s pause for breath until one scene of particular note. Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) and Willa Burrell (Amelia Rose Blaire) exchange words on a fairground ride (with nowhere near the hilarity of the image conjured by those words alone). Convinced of her motives, Eric makes a decision never taken on a whim, bestowing her with the gift of eternal life.
The ensuing turning scene is the closest True Blood had ever come to showing the traditional climax of vampire literature. In a scene certain to please all fans of gothic lore, it comes with all the classic imagery intact; a moonlit night, a freshly dug grave, the metaphor for sexual awakening stitched well with every strand.
A tender stroke on first beginning, with whispered words of calm; then the scene changes quick, to vivid blood thick, all gushing down virginal nightshirt; softly sucking moans the prevalent sound. A sense of a sexual dominance is clear, the parallel between the turning and deflowering perfectly judged, and all comes complete with the most hilarious orgasm face from Skarsgard.
Sookie has supper laced with silver and subterfuge in mind (to test Ben’s suspected vampiric nature is natural self-preservation, but to addle a man’s fried chicken seems unsporting), while Niall and Jason plan an attack which has the taste of demise shot through it. When Warlow’s power and coldness are visited plainly upon them both, it inevitably casts a dark cloud on our heroine’s planned romantic evening, though she goes to quite some lengths to ensure its success.
With raw, frayed ends twisting free, fugitives fled, and vampires vanished for certain ill throughout, the overwhelming sense is that of a stomach twisted with knots. The world is truly shadowed at the close; a frenzied bloodbath glimpsed.
An exquisite mix of the unknown and the revealed. The scripted wind picks up and carries quickly to the next episode; leaving those watching with a breath so heavily baited, it threatens itself.