True Blood Mania TV Review - Mania.com



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  • TV Series: True Blood
  • Episode: Soul of Fire
  • Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Ryan Kwanten, Sam Trammell, Nelsan Ellis and Fiona Shaw
  • Written by: Mark Hudis
  • Directed by: Michael Lehmann
  • Network: HBO
  • Series:

True Blood Mania TV Review

Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize...

By Rob Vaux     September 05, 2011

 Oh True Blood! I just can’t stay mad at you… especially when you deliver a penultimate episode that redeems a whole lot of the season’s dead weight. I’m sure they’ve got something to top it all for the finale next week, but after “Soul of Fire,” that almost doesn’t matter. We have everything we need right here.

Case in point: Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), who suddenly discovered that he’s a medium this season and basically limped along with the notion with little purpose or direction. He helped the ghost of a bereaved mother find peace, tooled around with Jesus  (Kevin Alejandro) in Mexico and basically wasted precious time that could be spent on more developed character arcs. But behold! Apparently, that was all prep work for one truly awesome moment: the one that closes out tonight’s episode and leaves us salivating for the finale. In a single fell stroke, it resurrects Lafayette as a character and helps us better understand what all that futzing around was about earlier in the season.

It helps, of course, to have Fiona Shaw’s Marnie involved. Shaw has held the show together through sheer force of will thus far, and her presence here keeps the central plot thread on track. The vampires attack her shop – with hostages inside and an impenetrable barrier outside – and her gleeful confidence lends a delicious urgency to what could have been another bit of potboiling. Certainly, the basics don’t contribute much, as Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) offer to kill themselves to keep Sookie (Anna Paquin) safe, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) makes moony eyes at Jason (Ryan Kwanten) and oh my God this is boring me to… hang on, here comes Marnie to kick it all up a notch!

With her in the lead, the big showdown never becomes a drag: keeping its contrivances in check and even managing to surprise us a bit as well. Alejandro kicks in substantial supporting aid as well, with Jesus delivering the sneak attack that resolves the conflict in an interesting manner and paying a heavy price for it. The actor doesn’t overplay the cost to his character’s soul and infuses what could have been a ridiculous climax with something genuinely meaningful.

Luckily, the bulk of the episode focuses solely on the big showdown… leaving comparatively little time for anything to go wrong with other subplots. The Sam (Sam Trammell)/Alcide (Joe Manganiello) thread tidies itself up without a lot of fuss: competent, dull and serving as yet more space filler instead of anything genuinely dramatic. At least it carries some basic entertainment value… unlike the incident with Andy (Chris Bauer) in the forest, which constitutes the single biggest head-scratcher of the entire season. Ostensibly, it keeps the whole faerie notion alive, and the notion of a midnight seduction in the deep woods is in keeping with the Fae’s modus operandi. But Andy? Seriously, Andy?! Whatever they have in mind for it, it can’t be good. And I don’t mean that in a “grim times for Bon Temps” kind of way; I mean it in a “this has the potential to send the whole series careening off the rails and into a schoolbus full of orphaned children” kind of way.

At least they pull away from it quickly enough, which is a blessed relief. The remainder of the episode represents a significant return to form – a reminder of True Blood at its best – as well as a terrific set-up for the season finale. Ninth inning save? “Soul of Fire” comes damn close… and for those of us who suffered through the largely sub-par run this summer, that constitutes a most welcome relief.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 8 of 8
1 
fatpantz 9/5/2011 11:25:51 PM

Now this was the payoff we have been waiting for.  I havent hated this season, but why havent they had more episodes that left me feeling like a giddy child that just found his dad's Playboy collection.  I dont usually watch the promos, but I did peak at the one for the finale and damn it looks awesome.

2 favorite moments this episode:

1. Pam being Pam and taking the Cartier necklace from the other vampire's neck

2. Eric sucking on the ventricle of the heart like it was a 7-11 slurpee

This episode is the reason we fell in love with True Blood to begin with and makes me actually agree with all of Rob's reviews.  I was watching through rose colored glasses, but thankfully all of the buildup had a big payoff!!

Chopsaki 9/6/2011 3:15:47 AM

Another good one, and Marnie had my favorite line of the episode.

Marnie [to Pam]: "Don't laugh too much. Wouldn't want your lips to fall off."

lusiphur 9/6/2011 8:18:53 AM

 This was the payoff, as fatpantz said, we've been waiting for.  I've enjoyed this season and have been entertained by every episode.  

Unlike some, I've been patient, knowing something like this episode was coming.  As all of the pieces start to fall together, I look back at seeminly meaningless drivel from early on and see where they were going with it.  I've learned not to bitch about individual episodes of a series like True Blood.  I'd rather reserve that judgement for the season as a whole.  

I'm thinking the Sam/Alcide storyline has been a set-up for next season. With Debbie out of Alcide's life, he can move on to Sookie (doesn't everyone eventually?).  Since he killed the leader of the pack, does that automatically make him top dog (or wolf)?

fatpantz & Chopsaki - all those moments were great.

Looking forward the the finale this weekend.  Should be good.

thefakejaredk83 9/6/2011 9:04:18 AM

all I have to say is this: here's hoping we don't have a weak ending like we have had for all 3 seasons, and it better not wrap up within the first 1/2 hour like season 2 did. I'm still fuming over that

 

krakken 9/6/2011 10:19:25 AM

 This season needed more gratuitous sex scenes...oh, and I think the Andy thing is a setup for next season.

TheMovieGuy28 9/6/2011 11:46:43 AM

it's no surprise to anyone here that I've been the biggest complainer about this season and how it was completely all over the place, with good reason too. But last night's episode finally had me feeling like it was the 1st/2nd season, giddy inside like fatpantz....

BUT WE HAD TO WAIT UNTIL THE SECOND-TO-LAST EPISODE!

Seriously, why? I don't hate you True Blood, but why did you make us wait until the end of the damn season before you got good?

As the review states, Andy?!?! Wtf??? The fae showing up had me doing the 'huh' dance up and down. And speaking of, we spent almost a full episode in the very beginning laying them out and then this whole season they're an afterthought.

I think this season's 2 saving points have been Marnie, who Shaw has played brilliantly, and Jesus.
 
I rememeber being completely high as a kite last season on some type of entheogen and caught the episode where Lafayette and Jesus freak out on their v-trip. That episode scared the sh*t out of me b/c of what Jesus looked like near the end when his face goes all demon.

But his acting in the last episode, and everything he's gone through as a character, he's become one of the reasons I still enjoy the show.

At least the finale is here....too bad it couldn't be an hour 15 or 90 minutes. That would have been great.

InnerSanctum 9/10/2011 7:22:55 AM

 The one thing I can say about this series...they lead you to think SOMETHING is going to happen and then suddenly wrap it up neatly in the opening credits.  I wouldn't put too much into the Andy subplot.  It can just be written off as a fever dream in two minutes.  Maybe they need to make another fairy baby.  

norseman72 9/12/2011 4:54:25 PM

dont mean to nitpick, maybe i missed it but, Pam was cursed by a decomposing spell, i know she was getting shots in her face (i assume colligen or something) but was the spell ever taken off? we know Eriks was thanks to sooki. so will Pam keep having to fly to beverly hills for touch ups or was the spell revoked and i missed it.

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