Humans aren’t the only beings with a penchant toward fundamentalism. Vampires, in the “True Blood” world at least, have plenty of hard-liners in their midst who think the only way forward is to go backward — to the beginning, when vampires were created by God because, yep, God is a vampire. But no matter if a vampire believes in mainstreaming with humans or is a member of the Sanguinista movement, the fact that he is a vampire doesn’t change. His own creation story doesn’t change; in whose image he was created in always matters. “True Blood” is at its best when it is delving into the world of the vampires and other supernaturals, examining their traditions and laws and how - or even if - these beings can find a way to coexist with humans. “Authority Always Wins,” the second episode of Season Five, continued this theme and took us deeper into vampire politics and mythology than most of what we have seen in previous seasons, and it already feels like the series has taken a step in a better direction.
Pam isn’t the least bit interested in sticking around to care for her progeny Tara. Turning her was the only deal Pam made with Sookie; raising her will have to be someone else’s problem. Tara, now with a whole head again, is wild, crashing about Sookie’s house and rotating between being threatened and threatening. The human Tara is in that body somewhere, Sookie tells Lafayette — he needs to have faith. What he knows for sure, though, is that having Tara turned was in his own interest, not hers. “I ain’t got nobody without her,” he says. “But that’s my problem, not hers.” Sookie stops him from staking his cousin and by the next nightfall, they learn they were both right. Tara does know who she is and who they are, and she isn’t happy with the choice they made for her: “I will never forgive either of you,” she says before bolting.
What Tara needs is her maker, but Pam is too busy worrying about her own. Eric’s absence only further her concerns that he is still angry with her for putting Sookie in danger as they fought Marnie at the coven headquarters. She can’t stand the thought of their bond loosening or even breaking, especially if Sookie is partly to blame, and in her distress she recalls how she and Eric first met. Working as a madam in 1905 San Francisco was no easy occupation, what with your whores being murdered by customers and you yourself being ripe for an attack as you headed home in the middle of the night. Pam didn’t cower as a dapper Eric swept in and saved her life, licking her attacker’s blood from his fingers with relish. But no matter what she had already seen in her hard life, she surely had never seen anyone like him. That meeting would change everything for her, just as Eric’s silence now means everything.
Alcide isn’t interested in finishing what he started when he killed Marcus. The former packmaster’s subjects can chow down on his remains all they want — Alcide isn’t joining, nor is he interested in taking over the top spot. “What you are interested in is irrelevant to our laws,” Martha, Marcus’ mother, says. Alcide may be able to skirt his wolf duties for now, but Luna won’t have as much luck with Emma. Martha correctly sensed that her granddaughter is a wolf, not a shifter, and even as Luna says she doesn’t want Martha or the pack anywhere near Emma, she may not have a choice. Emma will need a werewolf in her life to help her with the transition, show her the ropes and teach her about awesome rules such as eating dead pack members. It’s who she is; it’s how she was made.
Imprisoned by the Authority, Bill and Eric are tortured with liquid silver and suspected of sympathizing with the Sanguinista movement — those who follow the “original testament” and see humans purely as nourishment for vampires. The show’s version of Bible school is a bit dizzying, especially as the historical character Salome (daughter of Herodias, stepdaughter of Herod Antipas, asked for and got John the Baptist’s head on a platter) is presented as a vampire, right along with Lilith, Adam’s first wife according to Jewish mythology. Vampires believe they are the ultimate beings, but considering humans outnumber them 1,000 to 1, it makes sense many vamps would want to keep the peace with their breathing brethren to avoid annihilation. Their continued existence is no joke, and watching Roman present fellow Authority members with the communion of his own blood as sacred-sounding music played was a nice touch. Also nice was seeing neither Bill nor Eric turn on the other when interrogated. They have had plenty of screw ups lately, to be sure, but why they are suspected of being anti-mainstreaming is unclear. The only thing that saves them from the true death is their admission that Russell is still alive and their promise to track him down.
An interesting slant on the theme comes with Terry, who thanks to Patrick’s return is flashing back to his Iraq days and lashing out at Arlene. His PTSD has probably never been so bad, and in a way the terror of war remade him into a different person. He can never really go back to being pre-combat Terry; he can only hope to get a handle on his post-combat self. Now that he has told Patrick their comrade, Eller, isn’t dead but off the map, and with the two of them likely to track him down, Terry’s health is sure to get worse. Elsewhere, Jason questioned his own nature as he was confronted with sins of the past when his friendship again was rejected by Hoyt as well as when a kid stops by the sheriff’s station to blame Jason’s sleeping with his mother for his parents’ divorce. Andy battled his temptation for V and won, for the moment, and Jessica rebuffed Newlin and his offer to pay her for Jason. She probably didn’t do Jason any favors; her admitting that Jason is a “friend” and not actually “hers” (the vampire term for a type of ownership over a human) means Jason is not actually off limits. Still, Newlin and his newfound gay Christian American vampire celebrity is delightful.
We still don’t know who made Newlin and why, but the way this season is being laid out, that reveal is bound to happen. It matters who your maker is.
Sarah Carlson is a TV Critic for Pajiba. She lives in Texas.