True Blood: F*** the Pain Away Review (Mania.com)

By:Joel Rickenbach
Review Date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Source: Mania.com

Despite its brashness, the title for this episode is rather fitting. The Bon Temps crew are not a bunch of happy campers at the moment- whether the cause is related to the capture and incarceration of vampires, thanks to a new set of militarized laws, or a new man in your life turning out to be what you hate the most, or the simple realization that your uncontrollable urges lead to the death of four innocent faerie girls. There’s not a lot of happy in the world of fangers and faeries, maybe they should all take a page out of Sarah Newlin’s book and literally try to F*** the pain away.

Speaking of Sarah Newlin, she doesn’t even bother to hide her desire to be the power behind the throne. She tries to use black lace lingerie to help Governor Burrell forget his daughter is now a vampire, and when that doesn’t work, she tries to lure Jason back with the same tactics. Maybe she can mold him into the anti-vampire Captain America?  She gives it a go, using the power of her vagina (how’s god feelin’ now?), but her human supremacy dreams are dashed when she finds out Jason has had some prior relations with Jessica. It’s an interesting dynamic- Sarah is conquering all in the name of the lord, and Jessica shows up distraught and full of god-fearing guilt, yet is an abomination in Sarah’s eyes. Their scripture stand-off is a great moment, and Jessica trying to figure out who she’s serving- god or the devil, is an interesting idea, even if it feels like a writer rekindling the flames after they’ve been cold for a few seasons. It also should be noted that Governor Burrell’s heartfelt reasons for not abandoning his daughter make him a much more likable villain than I previously gave him credit for. Although, by episode’s end he is getting a bit gleeful at the prospect of violence and revenge.

So, revelation of the week- Warlow didn’t just kill Sookie and Jason’s parents out of pure vampire/faerie evilness, he killed them to save Sookie, from her parent’s plot to kill her, because, you know, that’s what you do when you find out your child is actually a faerie princesses. We’re not given much more at first, as Bill saunters in and commands Warlow to obey him. It seems odd at first, since it’s easy to forget Bill is part Lillith, but we get a wonky flashback to explain the blood/time line. Lillith encounters Warlow millennia ago, definitely pre-mirror, because nobody would walk around with Warlow’s bird’s nest of a hairstyle if they had the convenience of reflection. Her immediate reaction to his faerie scent is to get a leg up and take a ride… in the middle of the pre-historic salt flats. Of course, she bites him, vamps him, and leaves him to terrorize his former people. Flash forward to now, and Billeth locks him in his basement for further study. Interesting that Bill, Vampire king of Louisiana, and Governor Burrell are both locking up vamps for "research". Sookie clearly needs to get to the bottom of this, so she enlists Lafayette to use his powers as a medium to communicate with her parents. Given the history of this idea, you can pretty much guess how it turns out- Sookie’s dad gains control of Lafayette, and tries to finish what he started 20 years ago. As I said- it’s been done (on this very show and multiple times), yet it’s still kinda cool, and it gives Nelsan Ellis something to work with. He gets some creepy bits of dialogue such as “I put Nyquil in your juice...” that punctuate the horror at hand.

The pain continues for the Bellefleur's. Andy finds one of his girls alive, and uses some confiscated vampire blood to heal her. The show's comic relief storyline suddenly has become it's most tragic and heartbreaking. Darker still is Terry's death wish. His matter-of-fact logic about his punishment rightfully being death is a sad state for one of the show's most likable characters.

The star of this week’s offering is most definitely Pam. She’s been incarcerated by the vamp police, and forced to be analyzed by a state-appointed shrink. As we all are too well aware- Pam is not exactly a fan of talking about her feelings. However, once she warms to the game that’s afoot (she gets to feed on a blood pet if she cooperates), her sharing becomes dynamite. Her treatise on the idea of emotional pain is one of the shows best bit of writing in its entire run. 

 

You humans love your pain, don't you? You just love bein' in it. You even consider it a virtue. Cry the most at a funeral, you must be the best person. You promise to never forget each other. You promise to feel the sting of loss forever. Because for y'all, "forever" is just the blink of an eye. Your lives are pathetically brief. When we say "forever," we have to mean it. So we move past our pain. We heal. We move on. Because pain, is a worthless emotion.” 


What ends up being so brilliant about making Pam the core of this episode is the ending twist. Not just because it shows that for all of Pam’s playing along she was never really the one in control, but also because it takes Eric’s smugness and literally sucker punches him with it. Eric and Pam have been at odds all season, and now they have to face a sobering reality, and each other. Let the gladiatorial games begin. 

Side note: True Blood has just been renewed for a seventh season, will you be sticking with it? Please leave your "Good, Bad and Ugly" in the comments below.

The Good: Pam.

The Bad: Vampire racquet ball.

The Ugly: Stone Age Warlow.

Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him onTwitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.


Mania Grade: B+
Episode: F*** the Pain Away (Season 6, Episode 5)
Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten
Written By: Angela Robinson, Alan Ball (creator), Charlaine Harris ("Sookie Stackhouse" novels by)
Directed By: Michael Ruscio
Network: HBO
Studio: Your Face Goes Here Entertainment, Home Box Office (HBO)
Series: