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- TV Series: True Blood
- Episode: Everything Is Broken
- Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Nelsan Ellis, Chris Bauer, Alexander Skarsgård, Deborah Ann Woll, Carrie Preston and William Sanderson
- Written By: Alexander Woo
- Directed By: Scott Winant
- Network: HBO
- Series: True Blood
True Blood: Everything Is Broken Review
By Rob Vaux
August 17, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that True Blood wasn’t exploring its larger world often enough: eschewing the whole “what if everyone knew about vampires” notion for standard-issue Anne Rice skullduggery. “Everything Is Broken” gloriously redresses that shortcoming with a shocking, hysterical finale that stands as one of the series’ all-time highlights.
Granted, the previous fifty minutes set it up nicely, landing Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) in hot water with The Authority and threatening both he and Pam (Kristen Bauer Van Straten) with the final death. Nan Flanigan (Jessica Tuck)--the public advocate for vampire rights--shows up with a bevy of SWAT team members in tow, asking scary questions about Russell (Denis O’Hare) and the deceased Magister. Director Scott Winant allows for some touching moments between Pam and Eric in the process, and the site of the unflappable Sheriff having to talk his way out of a sticky situation is too delicious to miss.
The remainder of the episode focuses on typically soapy developments. Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Bill (Stephen Moyer) continue their reconciliation, complicated by more revelations about Sookie’s lineage and a return to that freaky dreamland where everyone flounces around in white dresses. Jason (Ryan Kwanten) proves once again that he makes bad choices with women, while Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) seems to be doing much better in the romance department. Sam’s (Sam Trammell) relatives are still white trash, the Bon Temps police department is still a mess, and those weird crystal meth dealers are still causing trouble for various regular cast members.
As is standard for True Blood, all of the balls stay in the air with a reasonable about of grace, though none of them constitute a game changer. The best of the lot concerns Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll)--again--as she haltingly mends fences with sort-of-ex-boyfriend Hoyt (Jim Parrack).
The actress retains her blend of sweetness and vulnerability, which stands in sharp contrast to the burgeoning predator which appeared last episode. Even more rewarding is Tara’s (Rutina Wesley’s) thread, which covers the fall-out from her abduction and the (brief) return of her vampire stalker Franklin (James Frain). Like Moll, Wesley has a chance to reveal her vulnerable side, as well as the wounds which remain open and bleeding for all to see. It also balances her fears with her ferocity, topped off by a glorious comeuppance courtesy of an unexpected savior.
The subplot holds a sense of puckishness without diminishing the character’s pain, a trick the show had seemingly lost track up until recently.
But at the end of the day, the episode belongs to Russell. He has just two short scenes, but they catapult “Everything Is Broken” into the ranks of True Blood’s very best. The first drips with a campiness the show needs a little more of, as he purrs consolingly to a giant goblet holding the remains of his former lover. The second… well, it’s simply a work of genius. While last season struggled with the larger political issues of vampirism--concerned mostly with crude swipes at the Christian right and more of Jason’s foolishness--this season has completely ignored them until now. But with Russell gearing up to take on The Authority and his outspoken contempt for making vampires public knowledge, an outburst was only a matter of time. “Everything Is Broken” elegantly brings Nan back into the equation in order to facilitate that. Ostensibly, she’s here to deal with Eric, and with her early presence masked by the pretense, we accept her unquestioningly. The big revelation takes place from her perspective, gliding through a limousine on the way to another political hot-spot. On a different show, she might be a standard-issue political lobbyist. But then Russell drops his bombshell and we’re reminded once again that this is a very different universe. Winant takes such glee in the delivery--and the overall effect combines the ghoulish and the satirical so artfully--that its perfection feels utterly effortless. We’ve waited most of the season for True Blood to hit its stride. Consider it hit, yanked out and mounted above the fireplace as a trophy.