True Blood Mania TV Review - Mania.com



Mania Grade: B-

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  • TV Series: True Blood
  • Episode: If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin'?
  • Starring: Anna Paquin, Ryan Kwanten, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Deborah Ann Woll and Sam Trammell
  • Written by: Alan Ball
  • Directed by: David Petrarca
  • Network: HBO
  • Series:

True Blood Mania TV Review

Shaky steps

By Rob Vaux     July 11, 2011


True Blood
© HBO/Robert Trate

 True Blood’s central problem is an inability to keep a handle on its large cast of characters. Many figures who began as central components to the show have long since run out of gas. Yet True Blood insists on keeping them around, even as more interesting new characters vie for attention onscreen.  The dead weight often compromises otherwise reliable episodes… such as this week, when the cool stuff struggles for traction amid plot threads slowly going nowhere.

At the top of the list? Jason (Ryan Kwanten) and his gaggle of surrogate were-panthers. They’ve tied him to the bed and want to make him one of them, but the supposed horror of his dilemma falls flat on its face, while the sexual tension between he and his lover/captor Crystal (LindsayPulsipher) fails to ignite. Do we honestly care if he dies or not? Will he be any more interesting if he can sprout black fur and drink milk from a saucer? Jason became a superfluous element on the show somewhere in season two, and his predicament here more or less raises the flag of surrender on finding anything legitimately interesting in his character.

Sam (Sam Trammell) and his brother Tommy (Marshall Allman) are slowly going nowhere too. After squandering the terrific cliffhanger last year – in which Sam may or may not have shot Tommy dead – the writers have resorted to a shockingly clichéd twist in an effort to jump-start their arc. Tommy attempts to swindle Old Lady Fortenberry (Dale Raoul) out of the gas rights on her land, while Sam wants to stop him. The desperation of such a ploy is compounded by the fact that they intend to keep it going in future episodes… presumably in anticipation of the great climax where Tommy ties her to the railroad tracks.

These hollow points stand in contrast to the episode’s better elements, which (not surprisingly) involve comparatively newer characters. Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) has reverted to a child-like state following his run-in with the local witches. He seeks protection with Sookie (Anna Paquin) while the vamps and Wiccans battle it out. Not only does it provide a delicious new wrinkle to Eric’s character (as the former bad-ass skulks shamefully in the corners like a boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar), but it highlights how this season’s supernatural showdown differs from those of previous seasons. Aunt Petunia’s still rocking the house as well, and the burgeoning showdown between her and Pam (Kristin Bauer) promises to be one of the high points to the season.

So too does the slowly toppling romance between Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Hoyt (Jim Parrack) justify tuning in all on its own. Having cheated (sort of) with her true love, Jessica sets out to make things right… then steps onto an extremely slippery slope in hopes of finding a shortcut. The underlying tragedy of their romance – with high hopes curdling into compromise and betrayal – finds new ways to explore the basic “it sucks to be a vampire” equation. Jessica means well, but she’s still very young in both human and vampiric terms, and her mistakes may cost her her soul before too long.

Between those two elements and Bill’s (Stephen Moyer) ongoing evolution into a smooth power monger, the latest episode manages to cross the finish line. But the seams are showing again, mostly from plot threads that don’t really need to be there and can’t hold up their end. We can take the good with the bad for now, but it remains a glaring Achilles’ heel for the series… one that may doom it if they don’t find a way to improve. 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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1 
timrandles 7/11/2011 5:10:53 PM

Ok...I am sorry but what was this article really about? Want to talk about shaky steps! I watched the episode and I was happy with what I saw. Yes I agree that some plot points are just dead! Like the Jason storyline, is just too over the top, but think about it Jason is an over the top character, and that is how they look at him and will write his storyline! I love this season so far! I want to see more of this Eric thing! That is just insane! Oh well! You guys need to write somewhat better articles about this show! Because we expect better!

Skroin 7/12/2011 6:02:00 AM

Ya I'm not too impressed with this review.

It seems whoever wrote the article spent too much time griping about where the show is going, and yet it still got a B- rating if it was that bad? Weird.

I was impressed with this episode and actually find myself disagreeing with everyone's thought of Jason's storyline. He becomes a panther in the books, although it happens a bit differently I believe, I actually like the twist of the thread.
My guess is Crystal and her man are killed off, and Jason escapes......probably making Jason's storyline for next season focus on him coming to terms with this new power. But I could be wrong.

O well. I've been enjoying this season so far and look forward to next week's episode.

bennyhill 7/12/2011 8:23:23 AM

Hey Skroin, this is an episode review not book series review so if you're going to discuss things that happen later in the book series how about a spoiler tag?

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 7/12/2011 10:04:17 AM

He didn't mention anything that happened in the books. All he said was that it happened differently. And the rest was him guessing.

TheMovieGuy28 7/12/2011 1:27:33 PM

the good-

the last two episodes were better than the premiere

eric being a manchild. He had some priceless expressions on his face, and when I watch him in this episode, it's as if it's a completely different person playing Eric. Dude was legit in Generation:Kill, and he's equally legit here.

looks like I was semi-right about the spirit/appiration(sp?) being some woman from what looks to be the inquisition....which would again explain why Eric seemingly knows her or recognized the spirit. Perhaps he was a conquestador at some point and helped the burn

the bad

sam, tommy, and mrs. hoyt. The whole arc sucks bawlz, and I too hate how they took what could have been a great cliffhanger and have made tommy the lil sweet boy to mama hoyt (who I've always hated)

tara. she has a new hairstyle, probably the one that makes her look the best in any season, but i'm so bored and beyond her

the ugly

jason. I echo everything the review just said. I actually ffwd'd through parts of his scenes because there's really nothing going on with him.

terri and lean/luan/arlene w/e her name is. So the baby is a demon baby. and now has a demon doll. whoop

the stank

anyone notice how sookie doesn't even really seem to have any part to the show anymore, other than being the last fairy, except we know she's not last as evidenced by the whole gaggle of them? And when's the last time she read anyone's thoughts?

 

I honestly don't know why I'm watching this on Sunday nights. Wait, scratch that, I know why. It's because as bad as this is, Falling Skies is atrocious and has taken all the fun out of invasion/aftermath flicks, and The Walking Dead isn't on tv right now.

 

True Blood really isn't that fun anymore, and that's what I miss. Its campy fang in cheek feel it had during seasons 1 and 2

Skroin 7/12/2011 1:34:06 PM

Sorry if my saying that Jason does indeed become a panther put you off, bennyhill, but that's all I stated about the books.

As MrJBE pointed out, the rest is my guessing. The show is only loosely related to the books so I usually don't bring them up.

SarcasticCaveman 7/12/2011 2:04:50 PM

 Love the show, love Eric, but whenever I see him I just can't help but think to myself, "ORANGE MOCHA FRAPACHINOS!!!"

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