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‘True Blood’ 6.01 Recap: “Kill and Ask Questions Later”

Now that ‘Game of Thrones’ has finished its season for the year, HBO fills that programming void on Sunday nights with its next biggest original series. ‘True Blood’ has returned for its sixth season. Traditionally, premiere and finale episodes have not been among this show’s strengths. Does this one change that trend?

No, not especially. However, it’s certainly a hell of a lot better than that godawful fairy war episode that started Season 4. Remember that one? That’s a low that this show will (hopefully) never be able to sink to again.

That said, I remain disappointed at the way episodes of ‘True Blood’ have evolved away from being about interesting characters in a colorful setting, and now focus almost entirely on delivering exposition, exposition and more exposition. Everything the characters say or do serves only to move the story from plot-point to plot-point, with little concern for individual personalities or character development. Frankly, characters no longer even have distinct personalities. They’re all just ciphers in the service of the plot. They never have time to breathe or simply be themselves, because they’re always in a rush to rattle off the next important piece of plot information. The quirky humor this show used to be known for is largely absent, in favor of setting up one dire predicament after the next.

The show’s dialogue has also grown progressively lazier and worse over the years. Hardly a single line spoken by any character in any episode will fail to include a gratuitous f-bomb. Everything is “Fuck this” or “Who the fuck are you?” or “No fucking way” or “Get the fuck away from me.” Now, I’m hardly a prude when it comes to foul language, but there’s just no craft to the writing here. All of the characters sound exactly the same as one another. Any line of dialogue could be mix-and-matched to another character with no substantive difference. Compare this to, for example, HBO’s own ‘Veep’ (which aired a new episode immediately afterwards). Now that’s a show with some truly artful profanity.

Anyway, episode ‘Who Are You, Really?’ picks up immediately from last season’s finale, after Bill had been staked and then resurrected seemingly in the image of Lilith. (Pam later dubs him “Billith.”) The episode starts off on a lame note as Bill goes on a rampage through the Vampire Authority headquarters. Much of the scene is shot in a cheesy monster-vision point-of-view. All of the other characters run away, and he eventually just flies off.

Everyone seems to be in agreement that whatever came back from the dead is no longer Bill. Jessica is especially heartbroken by this. Suddenly, she feels Bill summoning her and vomits blood when she tries to refuse. Eventually, Sookie agrees to bring her to him. No one else seems overly concerned about letting them go.

They find Bill at his mansion, cleaned up and dressed and acting quite like himself. He says that he just wants to talk. From out of nowhere, Eric and Nora (who were apparently concerned about Sookie after all) fly in and try to attack Bill. He swats them away easily. Sookie runs up from behind and stakes him to protect Eric, but it has no effect. He can’t be killed by staking. Bill then defuses the situation. He says that he’s not a monster, but “something more,” and promises not to hurt them. Sookie, Eric and Nora are all skeptical, but Jessica decides to stay with her maker.

Later, Bill discovers that he now also has telekinetic powers. He tells Jessica that he doesn’t know what he is, but wants her to be his confidante and to tell him the truth when he needs to hear it. If anything, Bill seems to be a much nicer person now than the raging dick he’d grown into over the last couple seasons.

However, after tucking Jessica in for the night, Bill sees a vision of multiple bloody naked women who look like Lilith, who then appear to swoop in and possess his body. Cut to cliffhanger.

This would suggest that Lilith was not the one and only Vampire God. Whatever she was, it’s an unknown race or species and there are more of them, and now Bill has become one.

I kind of like the set-up for Bill’s identity crisis, and think that this could lead to something interesting – or at least more interesting than anything the character has had to do in a long time. We’ll just have to see how the show handles it.

Other Stuff That Happens
  • Sam’s girlfriend Luna dies and leaves her daughter Emma in Sam’s care.
  • We’re introduced to the Governor of Louisiana (Arliss Howard) giving a grandstanding speech about the state’s vampire problem. (Since the Tru Blood factories were bombed, vampires have begun attacking humans again to feed.) He declares a vampire curfew, and issues an executive order to close all vampire businesses. Then he urges all humans to stock up on guns and wooden bullets. Later, he secretly meets with the CEO of Tru Blood and offers a government bailout in the form of a new bottling facility that had been escheated to the state after a tea company went bankrupt. He claims that he will be a silent partner, and is only interested in quieting down the vampire tensions for the good of the populace. He says, “I am not the new Big Bad,” which pretty much means that he is the new Big Bad, or at least one of them.
  • Alcide has to eat the old werewolf packmaster he killed in order to become the new packmaster. A werewolf hottie named Danielle begins shamelessly flirting with Alcide right in front of Alcide’s girlfriend Rikki. Not to worry, Rikki proposes that they have a threesome, but asserts that she is his “Number One Bitch.”
  • Cops shut down Fangtasia and shoot Tara, presumably not fatally.
  • Andy is left to raise the four fairy babies that Maurella dumped on him last season. He worries about being a bad dad until Arlene gives him a pep talk. The next morning, the four kids have apparently already aged a few years.
  • Eric signs the house back over to Sookie. To prove that she’s trying to move on, she rescinds his invitation. In case we’ve forgotten, Sookie’s kind of a bitch.
  • With tensions running high among the group, Jason continues to rant about vampires and act like a dick. He eventually runs off from the others and tries to hitchhike back to Bon Temps. He’s picked up by a mysterious stranger (Rutger Hauer), who asks him a lot of questions, to which Jason pretty much tells his whole life story. He’s oblivious to what we in the audience can guess pretty early on – that the stranger is the evil vampire Warlow who has cursed the Stackhouse family for generations. (Other characters learn that Warlow is also mentioned in the Book of Lilith as being one of the very first vampires.) Upon his revelation, Jason stupidly tries to shoot Warlow while he’s driving the car, but Warlow has the power of teleportation and simply vanishes, leaving Jason in an out-of-control car.

As I said, the episode is very heavy on exposition, but the Bill storyline has potential, and Rutger Hauer will make a good villain. The scenes from upcoming episodes also look promising. I’m interested to see where this goes, and I suppose that’s a good sign.

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