True Blood, “Everything is Broken”

True Blood has been damn good since episode five this season, and “Everything is Broken” is yet another exceptional episode that has me again re-analyzing my thoughts on the series as a whole.

Let me just preface all this: True Blood is not a “good” television series. I think Alan Ball, his team and the performers all know this. After the great starting run to last season that fell apart near the end that was then followed up by more mediocrity at the beginning of S3, I resigned myself to the fact that I could never evaluate it with the same set of critical tools that I do other HBO dramas or “good” dramas in general. But after the last few episodes and especially “Everything is Broken,” I now remember why I was so high on the series in the middle of S2 — and now expect to be slapped in the face with a wet fish of lame just like I was last season.

I had praised the last few episodes for narrowing the scope and focusing only on the primary characters (and that awful stuff with Sam) with just an occasional dip into secondary and tertiary territory, but although this episode gave nearly everyone something to do, it didn’t feel cramped, twisted or scattered. On one hand, I have to give it up to this episode’s writer, Alexander Woo, who penned a calmer script than those produced in the first four episodes, and the performers for doing a really swell job. However, on the other, I think the approach of the last handful of episodes allowed for the secondary and tertiary stories to build up a little slower but also get their own time in the sun. Thus, now the series is able to pull them all in to one episode when the audience might care just a little more and then the stakes can be raised without seeming ridiculous (though, there were still some ridic moments here). Maybe I’m drinking the True Blood blood-stained Kool-Aid again, but I’m much more excited for the final three episodes than I was for the next three after episode four.

Anyway, this recap is already kind of late anyway, so here’s a hail of bullets for your quick-reading enjoyment:

  • Now that the Emmys are more accepting to True Blood, I have to think Denis O’Hare is in the running for Best Supporting Actor next year — and he deserves it. King Russell is completely unhinged and O’Hare’s performance in the final five episodes of this episode helped it become one of my favorite moments in the series’ history. Whether he’s ripping out the spine of an anchor on live television or crying to a vase of blood and skin that used to be Talbot, Russell is the best part of this series and he hopefully won’t die.
  • Unfortunately, I think he’s going to meet his end by the hands of Mr. Northman by season’s end. The series (and the fans) have been waiting for a big heroic Eric moment, and though it might not involve Sookie, killing the evil vampire king will still be that moment.
  • Skipping back to Russell’s live TV diatribe: Not only was the performance awesome, but it really widens the scope of the series. I know I praised narrowing the character focus, but this move could have major implications for the whole United States or world and I hope that the series is smart enough to play with that development even after Russell is dead. His decision to come out so-to-speak should create even more hostility towards vampires and perhaps next season, the writers can pursue some of those more subtle allusions to race relations that they should have in season one.
  • Though the series is trying to have him hold on to his bad-assery, sending Bill to the dream world of light didn’t really do it, and unfortunately, his proximity to Sookie is sucking the life out of him. Of course, now Bill knows what Sookie is and we also know that the powers definitely skip a generation, but honestly, who cares? Of the important parts of this series, Sookie’s powers and identity are low on the list.
  • Other kind of lame stuff in this one: Sam letting his little brother turn on his wild side, Franklin randomly coming back to life just to be killed again so the series can re-visit the Tara-Jason relationship (unless coming back to life is Franklin’s thing? IS HE A ZOMBIE VAMPIRE?), anything with Jason’s lady friend and her family and a lack of Alcide.

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