True Blood Mania TV Review -

Mania Grade: B-

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  • TV Series: True Blood
  • Episode: Burning Down the House
  • Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Alexander Skarsgård, Kevin Alejandro, Marshall Allman and Fiona Shaw
  • Written by: Nancy Oliver
  • Directed by: Lesli Linka Glatter
  • Network: HBO
  • Series:

True Blood Mania TV Review

Three cheers for Aunt Petunia!

By Rob Vaux     August 29, 2011

True Blood
© HBO/Robert Trate

 Let’s talk about Marnie (Fiona Shaw) for a minute. Like a lot of True Blood’s villains, she’s been the straw that stirs the drink this season. Last night’s biggest revelation focused solely on her, and the episode was all the better for it. Specifically, she and Antonia (Paola Turbay) had a heart to heart, and it turns out Marnie is the one demanding death to all vampires. Their exchange echoes with real character and drama – not just the big revelation about their true relationship – and subsequently powers the escalating conflict between the witches and the bloodsuckers.

That pays dividends on the other side of the battle as well. Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Nan (Jessica Tuck) continue their “mom and dad are fighting” line in the wake of the attack on the tolerance festival. The interplay holds juice because of the underlying fear driving both of them… not only for the witches, but for the consequences of failure. We get a strong sense of the Byzantine politics in the undead world, and the number of factions waiting to pounce if Bill makes a wrong move. True Blood tends to shy away from that aspect of bloodsucking life, which I think is a mistake. Here, it bolsters Bill’s otherwise middling plot thread, while making him look bold and decisive instead of just a wet noodle. (It doesn’t hurt that Jessica returns to his side, ready to spill copious bloodshed just because she’s a vamp and that’s what they do. About time she got comfy with the more monstrous side of her soul.)

As usual, whenever the episode departs from the central conflict, it falls flat on its face. Various flavors of Bellefleur head out to their childhood tree fort to deal with Andy’s (Chris Bauer) V addiction… resolved with some tough talk and a little casual gun play, just like addiction in the real world. It basically serves as a pretense to get these characters out of the way, while “Burning Down the House” consolidates the others in easily manageable groups. Group A consists of the Stackhouses, Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) making a run at the witches’ coven in an effort to rescue their friends. Group B consists of the assembled werewolves and Sam (Sam Trammell) – once again shunted away from the main story and seemingly occupying his own series. Let’s handle the second one first.

The good news is that Sam presides over the moderately moving passing of Tommy (Marshall Allman): a weak kid dealt a bad hand who at least got to die hearing that someone cared about him. Less moving is the way Sam goes all-out after the werewolf pack responsible, seemingly with Alcide’s (Joe Manganiello) eager help. We get that Alcide is a nice guy, but the fervor with which he turns on his own kind beggars belief, and his loyalty to Sam smacks more of screenwriter convenience than real characterization.

As for Sookie (Anna Paquin) and the gang, their dilemma exists primarily to give the upcoming finale a proper sense of weight. They arrive at the witches’ coven, Jesus talks his way in, everyone else waits outside and… oh wait, the show doesn’t really have anything for them to do, so we’ll just make them all hostages! Deus ex machine strikes again, simplifying the playing field into order to keep the season from getting out of hand. Sookie’s connections to this side of things don’t ring true, and while Lafayette has a little more going for him in that department, they’re strictly going through the motions at this stage.

Fortunately, Shaw keeps things together: holding the episode up through her sheer presence and delivering the sort of dramatic wrinkles that True Blood is supposed to be very good at. Sookie’s mooning about her various beaus has run out of gas and the other subplots have resolved themselves solely for the sake of eliminating clutter (though I’m still betting that Jason turns into a panther before the end of all this). Somebody needs to keep this diminished season rolling towards a conclusion, and with no one else stepping up to the plate, everything hangs on Aunt Petunia. Thank God she seems up to the challenge. has has


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Chopsaki 8/29/2011 9:52:39 PM

Hey Tommy, I guess it really was Time to Die! Pretty good episode I liked it, nice rebound from last week. I think your point about Alcide turning on the pack is that the writers knew it was headed that way and they jumped the gun. With Marcus & Debbie possibly hooking up it won't be long before Alcide takes over the pack either by his own hand or by Sams gun. I wonder where Sookie and the gang got ported off too...

wish 8/29/2011 10:41:49 PM

I definitely agree Chopsaki, this was a good rebound from last week and I really liked this episode.......except the part about Alcide turning on his pack so quick....... for Tommy?  It just doesn't seem to make sense that he would get that involved so quickly!!  If this revenge thing he's following Sam on isn't a power play move then he's only proving that he's nothing more than dumb muscle.  The Terry and Andy stuff was kinda funny, but  a total waste of time in an episode like this, this is nearing the end of the season and we don't need to give a shit about tertiary characters.  I still liked it, Fiona Shaw is awesome, no better word for it.  Jason is likely to sprout fur before the end, at least I hope so, he kinda finds a way to be an unlikely hero sometimes.  Props to him for nailing Jessica.  That girl is the hottest girl in the world in my opinon.  If this season ends the way it should, then it's gonna be great, no doot aboot it.

thefakejaredk83 8/30/2011 9:19:32 AM

the whole reason for Terry sub plot is that they're setting something up for him next season w/Scott Foley as a member of his old platoon.  Thank god(dess) that Tommy is dead. I'm sorry that sub plot was worthless...the whole I hate/love/hate/love you got old quick. There was nothing for him to do this season and you wanna talk about snap loyalty judgements this was quicker than Alcide's. Although I can see where Alcide would have a problem w/the pack beating the crap outta somethng close to death, he's been screwed over by his previous pack and it seems as though this one isn't any different .  Poor guy but I'm pretty sure he'll be pack leader by the end of the season and Debbie will be dead.  It's kind of tragic to see Eric return and still have feelings for Sookie like he did when he was mind wiped, was a little confused because he was still talking timid, but the moment he said "oh so loveable" I knew that old Eric is back. I know Pam isn't fully cured and I'm sure we don't wanna see her always getting the shots but jeeze fix her already, but it was sweet to see her cry and reunite w/her maker.

One thing: How stupid is Nan and the fact that she doesn't realize Sookie is part Fairie? If she knows all about the lore/history of vamps she's gotta know something about what Fairies are and their powers.. 2 episodes left and we get the bad ass vamps ready to blow up Moon Goddes Emporium up to smithereens..Bring it on!

rogue188 8/31/2011 11:13:19 AM

They should have had Alcide turn on the pack when he finds Marcus hooking up with Debbie. Also, did anyone get overly cheesed out with four vampires getting out of a van with a freaking rocket launcher? Ummmmm....

Also, hey thefakejared83, Eric Northman is 1,000 years old, and he didn't know anything of Fey, so why would Nan?



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