There was a time when True Blood was about the supernatural slowly seeping into a quiet, boggy Louisiana town. It was full of interesting denizens and their gossip, it was the type of town where everybody knew everybody, and secrets didn't stay that way for long. Through the seasons, the show has expanded to other towns and cities, and brought in bigger ideas like the vampire authority and government programs to eradicate all vampires, not to mention tossing in every supernatural creature the Monster Manual can bare. This episode does a wonderful job of juxtaposing what once was and what currently is, and could possibly signify a shift back to the simpler times of Bon Temps.
The framing device of the episode is a split of two concordant events- Terry's funeral and Eric's siege of the government vampire concentration camp. Let's start with the funeral- in a show with so much death, it's interesting to see how one loss of life can have so much meaning and weight. Terry's funeral is literally a reunion of the Bon Temps characters from season's past. We see Maxine Fortenberry, Jane Bodehouse and even Lettie Mae Thornton shows up with Reverend Daniels. It really brought back the vibe the show had in its early seasons. True Blood loves to go for the humorous, the odd or the outrageous when presenting the regular events of life through its twisted kaleidoscope, but on the whole, Terry's funeral is played straight and somber, and it was the right move (although Arlene does tell Big John his song was "the s**t.") The Eulogies delivered by some of our favorite characters are phenomenally written and acted, and each one is a piece of the larger story about how Terry turned his life around after the war, and became part of the Bon Temps community. It was touching to see the flashbacks of Terry with Andy, Sam and Lafayette etc. just being regular people, before Bon Temps became a mystical menagerie, and to see Sookie in a Merlotte's uniform, well that's as rare as it gets these days. Sookie admitting her telepathy to the entire town was a big step, and one that was a long time coming. The fact that she used her powers to help comfort Arlene was one of the few times we've seen her "curse" act like a "gift", who knows- maybe Sookie will truly come to terms with who she is.
The other side of the coin is Eric's assault on Sarah Newlin's vampire prison, and Bill perhaps fulfilling his Lillith-like destiny. It's not a pretty sight- there are castrations by hand and splattery head stomps (to the same person!), and the freed vamps are torturing their captors in all sorts of sadistic ways. Eric is a driven liberator, and judging by his actions at the end of the episode, he may have had enough of the regular world. Sarah Newlin is also driven, hiding amongst the dead, waiting for her chance to run to the top of the silo and open the sun roof. I have to say- I really liked how they solved the captured vamps meeting the sun- feeding off Bill like a blood pet. I'm not sure if all the Lillith-ness is out of him, but he seems to have been granted a reprieve from moving on to the vampire pearly gates. We'll see if the gore-covered fashion models show up in the finale. After all they've been through, the vampires deserve a few minutes of slow-mo Trublood smashing. It's catharsis with fangs.
Possibly the best thread of this episode belongs to Jason Stackhouse. First he drinks Eric's blood, which should lead to all sorts of future homo-erotic dreams. Then comes the revelation from Steve Newlin- as he looks up to the sun and sees his ex-wife Sarah, his final words before immolating are "I love you, Jason Stackhouse!", and it's priceless. Despite that bit of fun, things almost go pitch black for a few moments. Jason putting a gun to Sarah's head while Big John's funeral hymn plays over the desperation is a really strong scene, but in the end it conforms to the theme of the episode, just like the catfish Terry caught- life matters.
This episode felt like a season finale, so what next week's actual finale will bring should be interesting. Like I mentioned at the outset- whatever the set-up is for season 7, I hope it' an even more scaled down story than this season, which I have to say has been wonderfully compact in its telling. I hope they bring back the Bon Temps to True Blood.
The Good: Lafayette's eulogy (and suit!)
The Bad: Has Warlow become useless?
The Ugly: The memory of Jane Bodehouse during season 2's orgies.
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.