By John Keegan
The second half of the season is clearly meant to kick off with a huge shift in the fortunes of many characters, especially in light of the coup within the Authority. Unfortunately, the same old refrain holds sway: the stronger elements are watered down by far too many subplots that hold little to no interest, even to devoted fans.
The victory of the Sanguinistas is a bit of a letdown. After building up the notion of a vampiric civil war, it falls remarkably flat; Roman's death is all but off-screen! It's also plain as day that Russell is using the Sanguinistas to advance his own mad agenda, and it's only the apparent appearance of Lilith that might stave that off for a time. And I still don't understand why Eric and Bill would consent to being at the ceremony with Lilith's blood, when they were so adamantly against the takeover.
The "drunken" crawl through the French Quarter, capped off by the slaughter at the bar, was a lot of fun. I'm not sure what the deal is with Lilith, as it didn't make a great deal of sense, but I gather that it was a kind of mass hallucination brought on by the blood. And if the Sanguinistas took over the Authority a bit too quickly, I suppose Eric's vision of Godric is meant to suggest that he will be taking up the banner of the Mainstreamers, especially if Russell takes the reins of power.
Sadly, that was the extent of the really interesting material. There was a bit of life with the Tara/Pam subplot, particularly the exploration of Tara's inner conflict. If Tara is going to step away from the brink, seeing Pam as a surrogate mother figure will facilitate it. Never mind the irony that Tara's most interesting work on the show in quite some time was her pole dancing, which says a lot about how poorly the character has been written since roughly Season 2!
Sookie's plot thread is mired in the faerie nonsense, a subplot that not even burlesque attire can salvage. Let's just say that I don't believe for a moment that Sookie is going to become a normal human being, nor do I think that the faerie were being honest with her. It's just too simple and straightforward, and frankly, it's the only remaining plot direction for Sookie at this point. For a central character, she's remarkably sidelined of late.
Hoyt's misadventures with the "super" hunters is bringing together a lot of the remaining subplots, including Sam and Luna's situation, Alcide's issues with the werewolf pack, and Jason's troubled relationship with Jessica. I imagine even Sheriff Andy's meandering will eventually factor into the equation, given the incident at the weapons dealer. Unfortunately, Hoyt's embrace of the hunting party and its philosophy is so ham-fisted and forced that it just doesn't work. Sure, Hoyt is troubled and confused, but the writers didn't take him far enough to lay the foundation for this turnabout.
The biggest problem with the episode, however, was the ridiculous amount of time wasted with Arlene's viewing of her marriage video, Terry's low moment in the field, and Lafayette's encounter with the brujo. Arlene's scene brought the episode to a grinding halt. I understand what the writers are trying to accomplish, but as the all-too-familiar refrain goes, the past three season have been littered with subplots that just waste time.
"True Blood" continues to flounder in the classic Alan Ball manner: giving at its own navel in fascination as the plot goes nowhere and the characters spin into ultra-repetitive downward spirals. The show needs fresh blood, and since they've deviated so far from the source material (or so I'm told), why not kill off some of the dead weight and really stretch the storytelling muscles? At this point, we're past the halfway mark for the season, and I still don't have a sense of where all of this is going.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision.