Monday, September 12, 2011

Sookie's single, Marnie's gone, and someone amazing has returned!

Alice (Joe Manganiello) comes to an unfortunate realization in "And When I Die," the fourth season finale of True Blood. Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com.

(There are going to be all sorts of SPOILERS here, so for the love of God, if you haven't yet watched "And When I Die," stop reading.)

Russell Motherfucking Edgington is BACK!

I realize that lots and lots of other stuff happened in the fourth season finale of True Blood, but the single most exciting development (and the only real reason I have to tune in next summer) is the return of Denis O'Hare's batshit, psychotic, blood-crazed villain. Russell's on-air rant in season three was the high point of the show so far, and O'Hare's delightfully insane performance is sure to add a welcome dose of balls-out crazy to season five. The only thing that would have been better would have been Russell's actual, physical presence in the episode, but I guess you can't have everything, and in the case of the wildly uneven finale, it's best to just take what you can get.

As promising as Russell's return is, it doesn't make up for the boredom that pervaded much of the season finale. For every really good scene there were two or three snoozers that provided only the most predictable, perfunctory resolution without bothering to inject any suspense into the proceedings. With the exception of the fantastically tense scene between Lafayette-as-Marnie and Jesus in Lafayette's kitchen, the final resolution to the witch storyline was every kind of dull; even the kitchen scene was only really interesting because of the great performances by Nelsan Ellis and Kevin Alejandro. The final resolution was mostly about various other spirits, including Adele Stackhouse and Antonia, convincing Marnie that it was her time to move on. This is not The Ghost Whisperer, people! This is a show about vampires having sex and killing people, not about ghosts convincing other ghosts to "go gentle into that good night." True Blood is not cut out for subtlety.

The follow-up to that scene was even worse. The scene - in which Sookie breaks up with both Bill and Eric because she has finally realized that, just maybe, it's okay to be single for five seconds - seems interminably long, and does no favors to Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skarsgard. Both vampires have spent inordinate amounts of time this season (and in other seasons) mooning over Sookie, and it is not flattering for either man. Here's hoping this break-up reminds them that they are strong, sexy, dangerous vampires, not lovesick teenagers. In the words of the fantastic Pam, "I am so over Sookie and her precious fairy vagina and her unbelievably stupid name. Fuck Sookie!" I have never agreed more with a character on this show than I did with Pam at that moment.

On the bright side, the episode's final act provided viewers with some excellent Bill and Eric action. When Nan Flanagan showed up in order to convince them to side with her in a mutiny against the AVL and the Authority, they responded to her taunts by removing her bodyguards' heads (Eric) and staking Nan herself (Bill). The scene was even topped off by some classic Eric snark, as he looks at the heap of gore that was formerly Nan and smirks, "What a bitch." This is the Bill and Eric I want to see next season. It would be even more awesome if they teamed up with Russell to take down the Authority.

Another promising development - Tara is dead! It's not that I necessarily dislike the character, it's that the writers have turned her into such a victimized, pathetic, angry, and completely one-dimensional basket case over the course of the series that her absence will be welcome. It reflects badly on the writing staff that the death of a character is less offensive than her continued existence. Let's hope Rutina Wesley can find herself a better job in the future. And if she could get one for Britt Morgan, whose trashy Debbie Pelt died after shooting Tara, so much the better.

In other news, Jessica and Jason are now sex buddies, which is great because... sorry, I got distracted for a second thinking about naked Jason and Jessica in her slutty Little Red Riding Hood costume. I'm just assuming there will be more of this hotness forthcoming next season, and I think I can live with that.

In other cliffhanger news: ghost Rene turns up to warn Arlene that Terry is dangerous, which is presumably related to the appearance of his old army buddy Scott Foley (Scrubs' Sean and Felicity's Noel); Sam is being menaced by a werewolf; Holly and Andy are maybe going to hook up; and Steve Newlin is back! As a vampire! That last one is actually pretty cool, and I can really see it going somewhere. If Bill and Eric don't team up with Russell, maybe Steve will.

Stray thoughts:

  • I'm not usually a big fan of subplots that go nowhere, but I will be really happy if we never see Hotshot again. Same goes for the fairies.
  • Arlene's line about zombies being the new vampires would have been a funny meta joke if it wasn't so obvious the writers were trying to make it a funny meta joke.
  • Bill and Eric's matching bathrobes were adorable!
  • I didn't get to this in the recap proper, but I am very sad about Jesus' death. Kevin Alejandro, you will be missed.
  • I really don't understand why everyone wants to get involved with Sookie. Alcide is the latest addition to the I-love-Sookie bandwagon, and it keeps getting more baffling.
  • "I'm Janelle from Teen Mom 2"
  • The Vampire Diaries comes back on Thursdays! Who's ready for a show with consistent characters, writers who understand suspense, and excellent pacing?

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