Mania Grade: B+
16 Comments | Add
Rate & Share:
- TV Series: True Blood
- Episode: Night on the Sun
- Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Nelsan Ellis, Chris Bauer, Alexander Skarsgård, Deborah Ann Woll and Carrie Preston
- Written By: Raelle Tucker
- Directed By: Lesli Linka Glatter
- Network: HBO
- Series: True Blood
True Blood: Night on the Sun Review
They Killed My Cooter
By Rob Vaux
August 09, 2010
True Blood Review
© HBO/Bob Trate
It wasn’t that True Blood was MIA this season; it just took itself a little too seriously. That dampened its unique spin on vampirism and curdled its freshness ever-so-slightly. In the past couple of episodes, however, it has rebounded nicely: restoring the tongue-in-cheek humor with which it made its name and bringing a sense of energy and surprise to the proceedings.
“Night on the Sun” consolidates the revelations of last week’s episode while clarifying the conflicts for the final third of the season. The survivors from Russell’s (Denis O’Hare) mansion need to consolidate against a counterattack, with Sookie (Anna Paquin) holing up in her house and Bill (Stephen Moyer) grappling with his horrifying betrayal in the van where they made their escape. Meanwhile, Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) plots his revenge from within the confines of Russell’s inner circle, waiting for the right moment to strike.
The last thread is surprisingly the weakest, with Eric’s would-be scheming a little too transparent to be believed. Sure, it entails some scorching hot gay sex (Premium cable? You’re soaking in it!), but considering Russell’s supposedly keen political instincts, one wonders why he lowered his guard so completely… especially after expressing serious reservations about Eric’s loyalty in the first place.
The remainder of the thread fires on all cylinders, however, with Sookie enduring a werewolf siege from her house and Bill torn between staying away from her and keeping her safe. Paquin sinks her teeth into a juicy bit of soap—notably a catfight with skanktastic werewolf chippie Debbie (Brit Morgan)—and her tearful confrontations with Bill never lose their sincerity despite the overheated nature of the material.
More notably, however, “Night on the Sun” gives Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) a chance to revel in her vampiric nature. The “baby bloodsucker” has spent most of the season percolating under the surface, always welcome, but limited to just a couple of scenes per week. With Bill hard-pressed to defend his beloved against Russell’s attacks, he quickly mends fences with his progeny and teaches her some fun new tricks before taking her over to Sookie’s. Woll really comes into her own this episode, with Jessica shedding her choir-girl humanity and embracing her new self for the first time. It retains the right air of grand guignol violence, sprinkled with an infectious sense of discovery and at least one brilliant moment where she waves shyly at an attacking werewolf before going for his jugular.
The remainder of the episode benefits from the increased creativity on display, as Sam (Sam Trammell) deals with Tommy (Marshall Allman), Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) receives an unexpected visit from his mother (Alfre Woodard) and Jason (Ryan Kwanten)… well Jason finds plenty of new ways to get into trouble. Barring a few moments of inspiration, these subplots have largely served as space filler this season. With “Night on the Sun,” they pick up steam, feeling more connected with the remainder of the series and promising some good things in the future. (Keep an eye on those crystal meth dealers tangling with Jason; they have “third act revelation” written all over them.)
Even as it delivers a second consecutive hour of top-notch entertainment, the episode continues circling delicately around this season’s most pertinent question: how much do we really know about Bill, and what are his true intentions towards Sookie? We learn nothing new this week, but director Lesli Linka Glatter takes great pleasure in enticing us further, casting dark assumptions on Bill’s motives even as he struggles to reconcile with the love of his life. She also hints delicately at Sookie’s background: devoid of the freaky-deaky dream sequence from last week, but still retaining traces of otherworldly influence on Sookie’s paranormal abilities. It dovetails nicely into the remainder of episode: a fine return to form that suggests the second half of the season will be markedly better than the first.