True Blood may have officially jumped the shark on the season. Everything has become so mechanistic – creating chaos for the sake of chaos – that the characters themselves now resemble walking plot complications rather than real people. A few bright spots notwithstanding (most of them involving Fiona Shaw’s marvelous possessed witch), “Let’s Get Out of Here” constitutes a palpable low point for the summer.
Where to begin? Let’s start with Sookie’s (Anna Paquin) hallucinations following her consumption of Bill’s (Stephen Moyer) blood. They’ve played the concept to death long before now, and Sookie’s felt-but-only-imagined declaration that she can love both Bill and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) carries zero emotional depth. Considering that both of her would-be beaus are in harm’s way this season, it seems more prudent to focus on whether they’ll survive long enough for her to pick one. (If one of them doesn’t, it will solve the whole silly question pretty quickly, won’t it?)
So too does Lafayette’s subplot embrace too much awkward goofiness as it attempts to resolve itself permanently. It ties a number of disparate story threads together – Andy’s (Chris Bauer) V addiction, Arlene’s (Carrie Preston) supposedly infernal baby, Lafayette’s own burgeoning psychic powers – though more for expediency’s sake than any real dramatic impetus. The ghost possessing Lafayette is sad, but a very recent addition to the game, and thus lacks any real depth of character. Whether or not she finds peace holds very little interest and her presence throws a wet blanket on the much more fascinating question of whether an infant can truly be evil or not. Like so much of True Blood these days, it exists mainly to keep various cast members occupied while the real juice takes place elsewhere.
They even throw Jason (Ryan Kwanten) into the mix, to distract him from the tempestuous sight of a now boyfriend-free Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll). Jess remains a viable spark on the show, and an early moment where she gushes her woes to an unsympathetic Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck) is extremely funny. But the chemistry she feels with Jason comes from standard soap-opera stock, while further demonstrating how utterly lost the writers are with his character. (Though I’ll bet real money he turns into a panther at some dramatically appropriate point in the season finale.)
So much of the episode is taken up with similar drek – including more Sam/werewolves nonsense, which follows the same pattern as Sookie and Lafayette’s threads – that the better elements barely have time to breathe. After the nonsensical graveyard battle last week, the witches’ war kicks into higher gear with a Manchurian Candidate-style attack at vampiric tolerance rally. It’s a good notion, though a little reminiscent of the Russell Edgington incident last season, and naturally True Blood uses it as a cliffhanger to guide us into next week. The possibilities prove more enticing than the payoff, but Shaw continues to shine as Antonia… and the scope of her threat becomes much more clear here.
Less clear is how the remaining witches will respond. Most are being held hostage in Antonia’s shop, a intriguing development that nonetheless weakens the coven’s interest levels by singling out a lone “bad guy” in Antonia. It allows for one of the episode’s other cool moments, as Tara (Rutina Wesley) uses her knowledge of Sookie’s power to send her a warning. The execution doesn’t quite measure up to the concept, but it still provides flashes of what this show can do when it’s at its best.
Sadly, it hasn’t been at its best for the last few weeks, and “Let’s Get Out of Here” slips a little further down the slide. For the first time, the entire arc seems entirely at sea, and the prospect of improving in future weeks looks bleaker than it ever has. The show has shown the capacity to rebound on the drop of a hat, but with only three episodes left and a ton of plot still to resolve, its chances of doing so just became a little smaller.