WARNING: This article is chock-full of spoilers!
Well, last night was the premier episode of True Blood season six. Awaited with as much dread as anticipation by some of us, my first over-all reaction was pleasant surprise!
Let’s start with the obvious: Billith. I am one of the many Trubies out there who thought that the idea of turning Bill into some crazed blood god ala Blade was ridiculous and a disservice to the character. Tonight’s episode, thankfully, dispensed quickly with blood-covered naked Bill in favor of a genuine-seeming character. My reaction to his reunion with Sookie, Eric, and Jessica was relief! A Bill who still believes himself to be Bill and doesn’t quite understand what has happened to him is a vast improvement over the lame one-note engine of destruction I was dreading. His later scene with Jessica was almost touching, though there was something just a little off in Moyer’s performance, I thought. I can’t be sure if that was deliberate or perhaps a side-effect of his directorial duties. As for the last scene…well, it seems we haven’t seen the last of Bloody Mary, after all. We’ll see where this leads.
On the subject of Moyer’s direction, I can’t criticize anything too heavily. The episode flowed well at a brisk pace, but still didn’t neglect any of the major plot threads. I wasn’t sure we really needed the Bill-O-Vision in the opening teaser—I don’t feel it added much to either characterization or tension. But, again, perhaps it was a time-saving measure to allow Moyer to spend more time behind the camera rather than in make-up.
I found Luna’s death to be somewhat anti-climactic and a little cheap. Sure, it makes sense in light of Tommy’s earlier death, but let’s remember that he took a savage beat-down while transformed. I don’t know if I quite understand why the show felt compelled to kill her off in such a lame and clichéd fashion. “Please…cough, cough…take care of my daughter…cough, cough…promise me…” (dies) Seriously? Why not just show her die at the end of last season? Why not come up with something a little more original? And what is it with single parent drama on this show?
Which brings us to Andy’s fairy-baby drama. Kudos to Chris Bauer for taking some fairly wooden, on-the-nose dialogue and making it play. The man really is a fantastic actor and a master of understatement! His reactions to Arlene’s pep talk was one of the finest performances I’ve seen on the show and a reminder that it’s really the human drama that makes this show work. Look at those babies grow! Another staple of television soap operas that provided a rather nice comedic moment in an otherwise grim episode. For my money, that one moment of genuine weirdness was the most effective thing this show has done with the Fairy plot thus far!
Now, I know that I’m going to catch hell for this given the amount of drooling internet memes that cross my newsfeed every day, but Eric is starting to bore me. And, sorry ladies, no Eric nude scenes in this first episode! As consolation, though, you got Alcide and the guys got some hot werewolf-on-werewolf action. “I’m your number one bitch!” That’s one of those wonderfully campy lines that are so awful they become somehow delightful.
But, anyway, back to Eric. Eric loves Sookie, Eric loves Sookie! This would have been a great revelation except…yeah, we know. No surprises here. I’ve long heard complaints that Bill is boring, but what’s Eric’s excuse? Isn’t Eric supposed to be the ruthless bastard that can’t be trusted? Hell, in the books, Eric casually uses and manipulates Sookie even when they’re dating! In the show, the writers have transformed Eric from a magnificent bastard of a vampire into a one-note action hero. News flash: Eric isn’t supposed to be the hero of this story! Sookie is supposed to be our sympathetic interest and, frankly, Sookie and Eric have both become so bland lately that I find myself yearning for the Terry/Arlene scenes! Last night’s episode wasn’t terrible for either of them, but it wasn’t great, either. How about showing Pam some love, Eric?
Pam, Pam, Pam…why did they take the coolest bitch on the show and turn her into an insecure, whiny high-schooler? WHY?? In the novels, Pam and Sookie are best friends and Pam feels absolutely zero threat from Sookie and Eric’s relationship. I like that, it breaks that lame catty women stereotype and strengthens both characters. This show should give some serious thought to going back to the books for inspiration rather than just making it up as they go. I like the Pam and Tara relationship and I think it could be great for both characters, but since they’re dealing with hundred-plus year-old characters, why can’t they let them act their age? Why does it fall to Tara to give Pam relationship wisdom? Look, I loved Pam’s “magic fairy vagina” speech as much as anyone, but this jealousy thing is so two seasons ago!
To end on a positive note, however, let me just say how awesome it was seeing veteran character actors like Rutger Hauer and Arliss Howard on the show. Having finally cleared up the “who is Rutger playing?” mini-mystery, we can now sit back and enjoy what promises to be a great antagonist for this season. An even more pleasant surprise is the nuanced realism that Arliss Howard seems to be bringing to the governor (not be confused with The Governor of Walking Dead fame). We know from the previews and HBO press releases that he’s going to prove something of an antagonist, but at least we’re being presented with a realistic antagonist with understandable motives instead of a Southern stereotype.
All in all, this first episode has raised my hopes a bit for this season after the sorry train-wreck of Season Five. With new show-runners replacing the departed Alan Ball, let’s hope that this season is a transition into some smaller-scale, character-based drama that the show has been missing for the last few years. In the end, True Blood is supposed to be about a small-town Southern waitress dealing with weird stuff. As I said in my earlier article WTF True Blood?: this isn’t Buffy and this isn’t Angel, the world doesn’t have to be ending every season and Sookie doesn’t need to save it. Here’s hoping we get the character’s we love back and the stories that focus on them!