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Thursday, July 4, 2013

"You're No Good" TRUE BLOOD Not True

Article first published as "You're No Good" TRUE BLOOD Not True on TheTVKing.

HBO's True Blood is only three episodes into the sixth season, and already so much has happened that the series bears another review. With the numerous characters and plotlines, not everything that happens in this week's installment, "You're No Good," will be covered in the following article, but most of the important points will be touched on.


Niall Brigant (Rutger Hauer), King of the Fairies, stresses to Sookie (Anna Paquin) that she should be more worried about Warlow than she is. Sookie's retort, telling her grandfather that she has to cope with a lot of dangerous situations, and so tries very hard not to overreact and keep a level head until the truly dire circumstances come along, is funny, self-referential, and perfect. Then Niall tells her Warlow does rate that most dire category, and one's blood runs cold.

Normally, if a character in a story has to tell another character (and the viewers) that a villain is really, really scary, it's a weak job on the script that's to blame. After all, we should already know how scary the baddie is by what's shown. However, there is an exception to this rule, and that occurs here. There is a lot of dangerous stuff on True Blood, and because of who Niall is, his words mean something. As happens very rarely on television, words end up being more powerful than the visuals.

Unfortunately, it's awfully hard to worry about Warlow, despite how he slaughters everyone in the fairy club, when Jason (Ryan Kwanten) is collapsed on the floor. I don't know what is going on with him, but he is not well. And, of course, his symptoms pick the worst possible time to manifest. The trouble level at the Stackhouse homestead has never been higher.

Into this turmoil, Bill (Stephen Moyer) shows up. He couldn't possibly know everything that Sookie is dealing with, and so can be forgiven for seeking her assistance now. He cannot be forgiven, though, for being demanding and rude. It's clear he no longer cares for Sookie in any romantic way, if he ever did. It's sad to see the show's central couple completely done with one another, but "You're No Good" reveals exactly that in a heart-wrenching scene.

Bill is no longer recognizable as Bill. He is ruthless and arrogant and a bit evil. His ability to see the future is as onerous as it is helpful. Perhaps Bill is the only hope for the vampire species, considering all of the humans turning against them, and the weapons being brought to bear. This Bill, more than the old Bill, is equipped to be the right vamp for the job, even if he is still allergic to the sun. But it's still sad to see a beloved character replaced by someone who looks the same, but is drastically different. If he harms the fairy kids, he will completely nonredeemable.

Eric (Alexander Skarsgard), too, is acting strangely. Kidnapping the governor's daughter, Willa (Amelia Rose Blaire), and treating humans with little regard is something pre-Sookie Eric would do. Without Sookie by his side, has he reverted back to his old, bad self? Or is this just what happens when you trap a deadly creature in a corner? Have we seen the last of Ginger (Tara Buck)? Eric's anger is completely justified, but his willingness to hurt the innocent is not.

Yet, Eric's tenderness towards his prisoner is a sign that he hasn't completely changed, as Bill has. Much of his dialogue can be chalked up to posturing. Eric is cunning, and has a plan that he doesn't always share with his friends. Yes, Eric almost kills Willa, but after that, he seems to take a step back from the edge. We'll see if desperation or a noble spirit wins out.

Alcide (Joe Manganiello) is finding it harder than expected to stop his pack from going after people who don't deserve it. When peaceful young men and women show up at their door, the pack wants to tear them to shreds, and mostly does, save Nicole (Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Friday Night Lights). Alcide himself even shows some angry, violent tendencies, though he stops short of hurting anyone. Does the pack make wolves mean, a group egging one another one? Can Alcide control it and his people, as we know he's good at heart?

It's this general darkness that makes season six better than the past couple of years. True Blood is a humorous horror show, and those laughter-inducing bits and lines are still there, such as when Holly (Lauren Bowles) takes up Andy's (Chris Bauer) system of calling his children by number. But there's also real peril and tension when the stakes get high, and unlike past seasons, this year turns up that knob right away.

Take, for instance, Sam's (Sam Trammell) plot of trying to stay hidden in a world where supes are increasingly exposed. He seeks to avoid death, but cannot. He tries to do right by Emma (Chloe Noelle), but is blocked at every turn. No matter how much Sam fights, he just can't do what he wants to do or live the way he wants to live. It seems rather hopeless.

Then Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), who isn't known for his generosity, offers Sam help. In fact, Lafayette insists on it. Sticking together is the only way to get through the tough stuff, and "You're No Good" lets Sam find help where he doesn't expect it. The fact that Lafayette feels compelled to provide assistance shows us how bad things have gotten, but it also provides that ray of hope that just might get Sam through. We'll see, though, since the body count on True Blood is usually pretty high.

The last thing that must be mentioned about "You're No Good" is the triumphant return of Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp). Now in a position of authority and influence, she rubs it in her ex-husband, Steve's (Michael McMillian), face. Since they are both despicable characters, one can just enjoy the juicy verbal sparring between the two, and the wonderful performances of Camp and McMillian, without worrying whether the characters will be hurt or not. It may be a small thing, or it could grow into something, but having Sarah back is welcome, indeed.

So much going on, so much of it keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. True Blood season six is off to a great start! New episodes air Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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