By John Keegan
Despite all the promises by the producers and writers that this season would get things back on track, the series continues to be hobbled by a lack of focus and a crippling number of unrelated, mind-numbing subplots. The best thing that could happen to this show is a massive killing spree, and not the kind that gets resolved with characters being turned at the last possible minute.
For much of the episode, it felt like the impending confrontation with Russell was going to be the climax of the hour. Instead, the writers chose to string it out, to the point where everything interesting about the anticipation of the moment was held in suspense for the next installment. In the meantime, far too much time was spent on subplots that simply need to go away. (Once again, isn't this quintessential Alan Ball? Losing focus to the nth degree as a series wears on?)
As nice as it is to see Sookie recognizing that normality is never going to be her lot in life, it doesn't matter if this mini-epiphany doesn't lead to some measure of change in her actions and decisions. At this point, I have little confidence that she's going to switch out of her typical reactive mode. The result will be more of the same, even as the writers try to inject more life into the Bill/Eric plot arcs.
Meanwhile, back at the Authority, the characters are running out of patience, even as they continue to stumble along with the whole vampiric civil war concept. If Nora really is a hot little Sanguinista, then I can understand her digging up Russell as a potent symbol of the anti-human movement. On the other hand, all the signals are currently pointing to Salome as the true mole within the Authority. It would certainly explain why she would put so much effort into manipulating Eric and Bill a couple episodes ago.
The sloppy treatment of the theme this season (fundamentalism in all its various brands) is reflected in the vague elements of the Jessica/Tara dynamic. At first, it seems like they're on the same page, but somewhat predictably, Tara seems headed for a Sanguinista recruitment office. Jessica is, of course, the poster girl for all things wonderful about mainstreaming; she could single-handedly convince humanity how awesome it would be.
If Tara was simply too feral, thanks to the circumstances of her "creation", and therefore inclined to find some degree of solace in the Sanguinista faith, it would make plenty of sense. Just as Jessica would logically try to stop Tara, since she's been brought up by Bill to respect humans. Tossing Hoyt into the middle of it was unnecessary, and made it more about not sharing an ex than a growing philosophical gap.
Too much of the episode strays from these central plot threads. The closest might be the emerging threat of a bunch of killers taking out shifters and other paranormals in the area. (Why are they suddenly called "supers", by the way? I don't remember that being a big thing before.) One might assume that these humans are killing "supers" out of some fundamentalist belief of their own, but quite honestly, if they can use this to kill off the extraneous characters on the show, I'll all for it. Even some of the regulars could use pruning at this point.
Far less effective is the mess with Lafayette. As popular as the character is, maybe he should have died earlier in the run, because the writers just don't know what to do with him. Similarly, while it's nice that Terry's plot thread has a supernatural link now, it's still not that interesting. Frankly, it strikes me as all too similar to the cutscenes for a terrible first-person-shooter video game. All of these characters and plot threads could die a quick death, and I wouldn't shed a tear.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision.