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"True Blood" — "In the Beginning": You Light Up My Life

By Sarah Carlson | TV | July 24, 2012 |

By Sarah Carlson | TV | July 24, 2012 |

At least once every “True Blood” season, we hit a point at which viewers are proved wrong for thinking the show couldn’t get any weirder, or grosser. Sunday’s “In the Beginning,” the seventh episode of Season Five, was such an experience. Throughout the series viewers have seen a mass orgy, and a vampire’s head being turned 180 degrees during sex, and countless slayings of humans and vamps alike. Now, we can add the vision of Lilith, here depicted as the first vampire, emerging from a pool of blood to that list. Even considering the vampires who were seeing her were high on (reportedly) her blood, the scene felt silly. But there she was, emerging from a pool of blood. Has she always emitted puffs of blood-smoke? Has she always sounded like a baby pterodactyl? Is she an extra from “Game of Thrones” who got lost on the way to Littlefinger’s? The shared vision of her probably won’t last, but the havoc her minions have wrecked in New Orleans won’t help the mainstreaming movement. The hate group Hoyt is hanging with may be filled with idiots, but in a small way its members have a point: vampires are not to be trusted. Our Lilith visit reminded us of that — and that “True Blood” can in no way be taken seriously.

“In the Beginning” is so far the weakest entry of the season, which for the most part has been an improvement on Season Four. While the pace has been mostly praiseworthy, here we were reminded there are too many storylines moving. So little time can be given to certain plots that they seem pointless altogether. Perhaps the most confounding part of this season is the misuse of guest stars. Although some readers held out hope Roman wasn’t extinguished by Russell, he was indeed turned to a pile of goo, thus ending Christopher Meloni’s brief run. Why only half a season? Michelle Forbes and Fiona Shaw were given plenty of screen time, unleashing their own brands of crazy throughout a season arc. If Roman is truly gone for good, it is a waste. Also out is Dieter Braun, our torture-loving Authority member played by Christopher Heyerdahl, who is sufficiently creepy on “Hell on Wheels” and in the Twilight movies. Here, his beheaded was more memorable than anything else. As Patrick, Scott Foley hasn’t been given much to work with, either, save for his efforts to take seriously the task of looking afraid of a ridiculous fire monster. That really is what sets “True Blood” apart from other camp shows — the actors give it the silliness their all. Denis O’Hare has chewed enough scenery to last Russell’s lifetime.

Moving the vampire bits along, Salome confessed to releasing Russell from his cement tomb, Nora told Eric that her plan had been to save him and Bill from the unpredictable Russell and both women revealed themselves to be Sanguinistas — Lilith freaks who view all humans as food, not friends. Fundamentalism has been a recurring theme for the series, but now vampires are the ones doing the Bible-thumping. Yes, atrocities can be committed in the name of religion, and so much can be written away with a little self-forgiveness. As Russell, who was just likening the belief in Lilith to the belief in unicorns, said, “I universally disavow myself of my statements. I love Lilith.” That’s all Salome and Nora needed to hear. The karaoke massacre at least brought us the spirit of Godric, who encouraged Eric to flee from the ways of the Sanguinistas and to remind Nora that such viciousness is wrong. The situation did seem to shock Eric — not just the vision of Lilith but his own behavior. It played nicely into the discussion of one’s nature and how hard, if at all, one should work to fight it or at least rein it in. Jessica won’t apologize to Jason for her dietary needs after he tasted another man’s blood on her lips. Tara won’t apologize to her mother for being a vampire. Sam won’t apologize for his shifter abilities as he used them to track his friend’s murderers. And the murderers won’t apologize for being murderers and drinking Milwaukee’s Best.

Sookie, on the other hand, is ready to be normal, but trying to release all her fairy powers at once may not give her the result she desires. Claude confirmed that yes, once her magic ran out she would no longer be part fae, but whether she will be 100 percent human is unclear and doubtful. No one gets to get off that easy. Lafayette certainly didn’t as he faced Don Bartolo, who tried to take back the magic Jesus gave his lover. Don Bartolo was thwarted by his wife, Maria, who stabbed him repeatedly before turning her knife on Lafayette to cut his stiched-up lips apart. His magic is intact. Too bad he and others can’t use microwave fingers a la Sookie to be rid of their powers, or even their natures. But that’s the ultimate message hidden amidst the bizarre: Nature, along with one’s parentage, is something that can’t be changed. You are what you are — human, monster or somewhere in between.

Scattered thoughts/Favorite lines:

  • It was nice seeing Lettie Mae again, if only briefly. Adina Porter, who you can now see on “The Newsroom,” has delivered one of the better performances of the series as Tara’s alcoholic mother.

  • It was also nice seeing Terry and Arlene’s Merlotte’s wedding. They know how to keep it classy.

  • Has Jason’s Hotshot/panther storyline officially vanished? It wasn’t very pleasant to begin with, but was that really all there was to it?

  • Godric’s visit, combined with the previous scenes this season of Eric and Pam in 1910 San Francisco, only makes me wish I were watching a spin-off set in the past as Eric roamed the globe.

  • Eric: “The view from up here is spectacular.”

  • Eric: “You slaughtered my entire family.” Russell” “Bygones! It’s olive branch time!”

  • Alcide: “Respectfully, Martha, your son doesn’t have a grave because y’all ate him.” Martha: “Don’t get literal on me, Rambo!”

  • Steve: “I’m like a tree in the wind, I’m just so happy to be included.”

  • Steve: “I have to say, I’m jealous of your disguise.” Russell: “Sorry, kiddo. You’re gonna have to earn your stripes. You kill your first newscaster on live TV, you can pick out anything you want.”

  • Terry: “The deal was it was supposed to kill us. I did not agree to be f***ed with!”

Sarah Carlson is a TV Critic for Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio.