True Blood review – 5×02: ‘Authority Always Wins’

Courtesy of HBO

After last week’s “set-up” premiere episode, I was interested to see whether True Blood could manage to keep all of its balls in the air considering that they have more in play than ever before. And now, having seen the second episode, it’s clear that certain stories are coming along well, while others…could use a little TLC.

Let’s bitch it out…

The “Good”

  • The Authority are quite the motley bunch, including Stabler from Law & Order: SVU (Chris Meloni), Doctore from Spartacus (Peter Mensah), and Barb from Cougar Town (Carolyn Hennesy – recovering nicely from her contemptible Swiffer Wet-Jet ads). The rest is comprised of a bratty kid (echos of Interview With The Vampire), Salome (Valentina Cervi) and Dieter Braun (Christopher Heyerdahl), both of the latter playing suitably creepy/intriguing characters. Heyerdahl especially leaves an impression in his quietly confidential interrogation scenes. All are welcome additions to the show…except the kid, who – with only a few lines – is both petulant and whiny (and don’t we already have plenty of that going around?)
  • At this point the Authority remains a mystery. We still don’t really know why or how far their integration plans go, or if there’s something more nefarious. One cool element: their fascinating mix of religion (embodied in their worship of the Lilith Bible, which suggests vampires pre-date humans) and their state of the art technology such as bloody fingerprint readers, UV lights and silver dispensing injectors. It’s a bit reminiscent of Blade, which in my book is a very good thing. Steven Dorff call your agent!
  • I also really like the suggestion that there are factions within the vampire league, Sanguinistas (individuals who do not support the mainstreaming and integration of humans and vampires). This is being neatly mirrored on a small scale in Alcide’s (Joe Manganiello) refusal to abide by the werewolf “Pack” laws that he eat the body of the former leader and take his place. It’s surprising how little we know about either of these two societies despite spending five (vampire) and three (werewolf) seasons with them. Sure, we know the buzz words from each culture, but our appreciation of how they operate remains fairly limited. Let’s hope season five delves further into the structure of both.

The “Bad”

  • Anything Sam (Sam Trammell). As I said last week, Sam is the most prominent main character who is most frequently done a disservice by the True Blood storytelling gods. This season seems to be another non-starter: his fight with Luna (Janina Gavankar) is one of those “only on TV” situations (sample dialogue: “F*ck you!” “No, f*ck you!”). Just when it seems like perhaps we’ll be finished with Luna, thereby freeing Sam up to pursue other storylines, daughter Emma turns out to be a werewolf (admittedly a freaking adorable one). This will either a) drag Sam back in or b) put Luna, Emma and Alcide together. Either way, I simply don’t see a lot of interesting stories coming from this development
  • Anything Jason (Ryan Kwantlen). I’ve always loved Jason Stackhouse, but he’s only slightly better used than Sam. After last season’s werepanther debacle, I had hopes for an exploration of his relationship with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll – last season’s secret weapon). Instead it seems that he’s going on a journey of self-discovery in the wake of realizing how much he’s ruined people’s lives. PS. The Jason Stackhouse I know and love would have been offended that Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) said he was in love with a girl. Jason is waaay too vain not to take that as a slight against him, even though he’s not remotely attracted to Newlin

Courtesy of HBO

The “Somewhere in Between”

  • I was bored last week with Terry’s (Todd Lowe) story about his Iraq flashbacks, and I still mostly am, but I’m interested enough to tag along on a road trip with him and Patrick (Scott Foley). Caveat: this only applies if this is all resolved within the next few episodes, though. This Iraq flashback storyline is remains the storyline that is most disconnected from all of the other supernatural ones and I have doubts that the payoff will be worth it. For now, however, I’m tentatively on board for the ride
  • As interesting as the Authority is, the deal that Eric (Alexander Skargard) and Bill (Stephen Moyer) make for their lives – ie: tracking down escaped madman Russell Edgington (Dennis O’Hare, briefly glimpsed at the coda) – is both boring and predictable. We knew that this moment was coming because it was the only reason the call about Edgington’s escape was included in last week’s premiere. Therefore, the bargain, their brush with death and Edgington’s eyes opening in the final moment are all forecast, presumed and completely without suspense. You’ll need to do better than that, True Blood
  • There’s little more to the development of Tara (Rutina Wesley) as a vampire. Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) convince Pam (Kristin Bauer) to help them contain her and they manage to save Tara from becoming a sunrise biscuit thanks to Eric’s cellar coffin. Unfortunately Tara’s single line of dialogue about never forgiving either of them is unlikely to bring around any previously dismissive fans. In my ideal world Tara lets go of her anti-vampire rhetoric and embraces all of her awesome new powers. This would be a nice change of pace for a character who is traditionally so broody and moody
  • Pam’s flashbacks to her time as a Madam in 1905 San Fran is thus far interesting, but not particularly informative. I expected that we would get further along than we did since there is clearly more to the story to come over multiple remaining episodes. Whether that’s beneficial to the story or not, remains to be seen
  • Finally, I’m of two minds when it comes to the show’s use of Newlin. I’m not overly enthused with the depiction of a pathetic, tennis-court cardigan sporting vampire desperately lusting after a hot, straight man (to the tune of $20 grand). This seems wildly out of tune for a show that has previously used vampires as a metaphor for homosexuality. On the flip side, the suggestion that Newlin has taken over Nan Flaningan’s role as the media spokesperson for vampire amalgamation is interesting. Perhaps it’s simply because I have no idea where this story with Jason can go (other than a Tara/Franklin place), whereas the latter just seems more fruitful

Lingering Questions (Episodes 1-2)

  1. Who helped Edgington escape from his cement grave?
  2. Who sired Steve Newlin?
  3. Who is the current King or Queen of Louisiana?

And that’s my take on this week’s episode. Which stories are most interesting to you? Do you think Nora (Lucy Griffiths) will survive to help in the hunt for Edgington? Any thoughts on the lingering questions? And finally, would you pay $20 grand to chip a fang on Jason Stackhouse’s rock hard butt? Sound off below.

True Blood airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

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