True Blood, “Fresh Blood”

I wasn’t planning on writing about Sunday’s True Blood until my guilt took over. I can’t leave you loyal folks hanging!

But that doesn’t really change that “Fresh Blood” was more mediocre wheel-spinning from the series.

I’ll say this: This episode isn’t as boring or awful as last week’s effort. However, as a penultimate episode, “Fresh Blood” didn’t leave that good of a taste in my mouth. I see the attempts at ramping up towards a conclusion in a number of these stories, and that’s not the problem. Instead, the same things that have dogged the series all season hurt this episode: Most of the stories are frivolous at best. I understand the writers are trying to get to a point of some sort with Sam’s drinking rage, Jason’s were-panther lady-friend, the random high school QB junk or Arlene’s struggles with the new baby (Or at least I hope there’s a point). Either way, it’s not the effort, it’s the execution, I just cannot bring myself to care about more than half of the stuff going on right now.

And even in the “big” story, things have stalled a bit, or at least become repetitive. Yet again this week we see Eric pretend to be Russell’s buddy only to screw him, just as he does the same to Sookie. Been there, done that. Meanwhile, Sookie and Bill spend most of the episode driving in a car wishing that things could be better between them (it’s not happening). After the first 8-9 episodes built up King Russell as a bad-ass who is about to run wild on the entire United States, he’s been handcuffed and passive in the last few episodes, even giving him the benefit of doubt for grieving. It just seemed like that the story was going somewhere big with Russell’s actions on the national news and since then, the scope has shrunk and it feels like there’s absolutely no one else around in the world but these few characters. That’s so unfortunate.

So I’m worried again and not just about this season. Thinking back to the partially messy and deflating end to last season and combining that with the fumbling of so much this season, shouldn’t we be concerned with True Blood‘s ability to close the deal? Last season, it was more about running out of gas and dragging the cool stuff out until we were simply bored of it. This year, the writers have tried to avoid that by stuffing the series full of secondary and tertiary plots that are all closing in on something resembling resolution, but most of them don’t really matter, so the overall impact of the episodes isn’t any different. In short, last year featured a lot of stretching, this season is all about the stalling. Perhaps Alan Ball should ask HBO for 10 episodes instead of 12?

In any event, the finale’s up next. Let’s hope the season ends with a bang and not a whimper.

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