We’re not even halfway through “True Blood’s” fifth season and already Sookie Stackhouse’s allies are dwindling. It’s lonely being stuck in the corner she has backed herself into, and for once, the number of friends and lovers willing to come running to her aid is far outmatched by those ready to let go of the rope and let the telepath drown. Sookie may not be the Angel of Death, as Lafayette declared her, but she sure isn’t innocent either. Just get a few drinks in her and she’ll inadvertently admit as much. Her treatment in Episode Four, “We’ll Meet Again,” as well as other developments continued the series’ strong showing this year. The consequences of reckless behavior are catching up with everyone, and that always makes for good television.
Jessica, Jason and Alcide are Sookie’s main supporters in the wake of Tara’s turning, as well as Lafayette to the degree that he’s remorseful for nearly killing her by way of channeling the brujo demon. Tara is leading the F*** Sookie charge, but aside from the judgements coming from average Bon Temps residents who have now learned of Tara’s fate, the anger directed toward Sookie is complex. People aren’t fighting back against her specifically; they’re fighting against themselves and their desire to protect her. To care for Sookie is to invite danger, even death, to your doorstep. Sookie isn’t forcing anyone to love her, but those who do are learning that that love ultimately has a price.
Tara’s reaction to her new state is curious considering she’s the one who stepped in front of the bullet Debbie intended for Sookie. If that wasn’t an act of love then at least it was a death wish. Is she drawing the line at being undead? As predicted, Pam put a stop to Tara’s death-by-tanning-bed scheme and asserted her command ability as a maker to keep her progeny from offing herself. Having a child marks a new era for Pam, one that Eric sends her off on alone. Neither he nor Bill is optimistic about their fates; whether Russell kills them or the Authority does, the result is the same. Eric lets Pam go in a manner that recalled the way his own maker, Godric, pleaded with him to do the same back in Season Two. Pam and Eric’s bond isn’t broken, and Pam ditching her maker in his time of Authority-besting need is doubtful. But ultimately, she is free to face the centuries as her own master. It will be interesting to see how Tara fits into and embraces that world. She already is getting a hang of sucking blood.
For his part, Alcide may have saved Sookie’s neck by pinning Debbie’s murder on Marcus, a smart call considering Marcus also is dead and his body is still being digested by his fellow pack members. Sookie is glad to hear the news but is equally pleased with the alcohol coursing through her, numbing her guilt. Toying with Alcide to get him to drink one of her concoctions, however, she voices the claims many have been making against her: that he will do anything for her because he loves her, and she knows it. Is Sookie really that manipulative? Jessica was right when she alerted Bill to Sookie’s distress, and her remorse for the destruction surrounding Debbie’s death and Tara’s rebirth appears genuine. But perhaps everyone is right — she operates on the assumption that she will (almost) always get what she wants. It may be more subconscious than malicious, but lately, the facts are against her. Her decision for Tara was selfish, which Lafayette recognized. Sookie must have assumed Tara would thank her for (sort of) saving her life. Tara’s love for her friend is different from the love Alcide feels, not to mention the love Bill still feels. (His witnessing Sookie and Alcide kissing was too predictable and easy and is not worth examining.) It may just be easier for Tara to drop the friend who turned her into the one thing she hated most.
Jason, bless him, doesn’t hesitate to cover for Sookie when she confesses her crime, and sure enough the issue leaves his mind just as easily as Jessica glamoured it from Andy’s. Soon, he’s busy partying with fairies alongside Andy and Judge Clements. The patch of grass where Jessica chased Claude in the last episode hides a portal to, presumably, Faery, where numerous and scantily clad fae gyrate against humans for reasons unclear. Hadley, Sookie and Jason’s cousin, is there and refers to the circus tent as a sort of safe house for humans with fairy blood. She assumed Sookie dead and Jason a refugee. Just what are the fairies up to? You don’t make it a point to try to win over humans unless you plan to manipulate them into helping your cause. With Sookie refusing to stay in Faery at the beginning of Season Three — not to mention Eric’s killing of Claudine later on — the fairies are bound to have bigger reasons to set up house in Bon Temps than a desire to protect their supernatural kin.
Even more confusing is the ongoing struggle within the Authority to weed out followers of the Sanguinista movement and promote mainstreaming. Is Nora actually an insurgent, just like the kid vampire was proven to be? We at least know her actions to protect Eric (and with him, Bill) out of love, but is that all? The vampire storylines have been entertaining thus far, but as a viewer it is hard to share the sense of urgency the characters feel toward self-preservation. Perhaps if these struggles were playing out immediately in the wake of, say, Russell’s spine-ripping TV announcement we would have a better understanding of why Roman is a devout mainstreamer. The biggest question of the night, however — well, aside from why Sam’s shifter friends were murdered after seeking him out — came from Terry and Patrick’s venture to South Dakota to find Eller. Through flashback we learned what happened to the men in Iraq — as his comrades partied, Eller killed a civilian, which led to a firefight with insurgents and ultimately many dead civilians. It wasn’t the alcohol that was clouding Terry’s eyes during the clash; it looked as if a light was wafting over his pupils. Is this some sort of possession, or a curse? Whatever came over the men overseas, it hasn’t let them go. It’s not over — none of the drama surrounding the Bon Temps citizens is. It’s only just getting started.
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Sarah Carlson is a TV Critic for Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio.