The eighth episode of “True Blood’s” fifth season has one of the more apt titles of the series in “Somebody That I Used to Know.” That’s how it feels watching most of characters, whose motivations and alliances change on a whim. Remember: all the action is taking place over the course of a few days, and at this point, most viewers are excused for giving up trying to understand just what is taking place — we’d need to be high on the blood of Lilith to have a clue. As if on cue, however, the writers threw a lengthy sex scene to keep us distracted from the ridiculousness. Now that’s the “True Blood” we used to know. The first half of the season was solid; these past two episodes, though, don’t bode well for the conclusion.
With Roman out, the blasphemy game has been given a 180 — now, to not want to treat all humans as blood bags is considered a sin against Lilith herself. Mainstreaming is for heretics. Eric and Bill have been playing it safe, toeing whichever line needed toeing to help them stay undead. But just as a visit from Godric reminded Eric of the craziness around him, a little peer pressure from Salome and a painful memory of his own daughter begging for immortality has Bill rethinking his stance against the Sanguinistas. That, or he’s playing them. He didn’t get to be king of Louisiana for nothing. Still, why Bill and Eric haven’t headed home — their original mission to recapture Russell having been thwarted and then twisted around — is unclear. So is the desire of the writers to dwell on religious fanaticism — it’s getting in the way of Russell and Steve’s flirting.
Also troubling is the transformation of Hoyt. He may want Jessica to issue a press release apologizing for sleeping with Jason, but she’s not going to, buddy. Back away from the hate group. Unfortunately for Hoyt, the writers have never given him much of a story or a purpose outside of his relationship with Jessica, so now that the two are apart, he’s lost. He’s turning to anything and everything — from fang-banging to fang-hating — to find a sense of belonging, and it’s sad to see. The character deserves better.
At least Tara is having a better time in her new role, finding a mother figure in Pam and now a plaything of sorts in the boutique owner, Tracy. (For non-book readers: Tara, who is completely different, is the one who owns the shop in the novels.) But glamouring an innocent person into being her slave only sends Tara further away from what she was and more in line with what Tara, as a human, abhorred. Her cousin Lafayette, at least, found a bit of closure over the loss of Jesus. Real or not, the two of them holding hands was the sweetest moment of the episode, with the tender and surreal interaction between Sam and Luna skinwalking as Sam coming in second. And Alcide’s acrobatic romp with Rikki? Nothing short of impressive. Now that’s the “True Blood” many of you have been clamoring for.
The episode was thankfully short of an appearance from the fire monster, but plenty of entities were being channeled. Lafayette did his best Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost impression at the request of Arlene and Holly and soon called up the spirit of the Iraqi woman Terry killed on Patrick’s orders. She’ll only call off the Ifrit if Terry kills Patrick, an ultimatum that sent Patrick fleeing. Sookie, meanwhile, inadvertently psychically bonded to the vampire, Warlo, that killed her parents, a vampire that came back in a weird energy form to threaten her. Claude seemed genuinely freaked out at Sookie bonding with the vampire. Just what has she gotten herself into now? Whatever it is, she’s back to being on her own, aside from Jason. Bill is busy playing along with the Lilith Freaks and Alcide is back to not being in a pack (and has Rikki to distract him). And Eric? He’s the only one looking around and wondering just what the hell is going on. I know how he feels.
Sarah Carlson is a TV Critic at Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio.