True Blood Review: “F*** The Pain Away” (Season 6, Episode 5)

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OK, True Blood, I’ll play your game. We’re at the literal halfway point of the season, and now you decide to air the most exciting episode you can? Fair enough. For every plodding storyline and redundant “revelation,” F*** The Pain Away is full to bursting with actual developments, and it’s entertaining as sin. Plus, keeping last week’s trend going, the show is finally sexy again.

Let’s start with the small potatoes. Sam and Nicole are facing the consequences of hooking up, which include Nicole being salty and Sam being clueless. Alcide and his father are still on the hunt for them, but after a little tiff, he sends Papa Wolf packing. On his way home, he happens to stay at the same hotel that the two “lovers” are at. I guess we’ll find out next week whether he decides to rat them out or just leaves Alcide to his own devices.

In all honesty, these two storylines are the weakest simply because they get no attention. Between episodes, I almost forget about them, which is a shame since Sam was one of my favorite characters once upon a time. Oh, and Terry wants one of his army buddies to kill him so he can stop feeling so freakin’ sad all the time. Alright then.

But once we get into the meat of the season, the blood tastes much sweeter. After finding out that Pam has been captured by the anti-vampire forces patrolling through town, Eric and Tara turn themselves in to the governor’s camp in hopes of making an escape. Through Pam’s perspective, we get a glimpse into what the humans are “studying,” including copulation studies and discovering how fangers run so fast. Eric also gets forced into playing his own version of vampire hunger games, and it’s one of the single most awesome, creative moments of the season.

Pam is interviewed by human therapists who hope to extract information about vampires in exchange for fresh blood. While she divulges some news, it’s hardly anything game changing, although she does talk at length about Eric releasing her from his bond. How could that ever come back to bite her in the rump? Easily, because by the end of the episode, Eric and Pam are pitched into an arena, given stakes and told to fight to the death. Once again, True Blood insists on teasing me with a cliffhanger.

Meanwhile, Bill isn’t making much process with his new Tru Blood concoction, especially since Jess killed all of his donors. Well, almost all of them. Andy busts in and finds one of his girls alive, taking her home and finding out just what Bill was up to. Before he can storm out and get revenge, Holly reminds him that he can’t defeat a vampire alone, especially one as powerful as Bill. It’s surprising to see Andy care so much for his girls since he’s had them for about three days, but whatever. Chalk that up to True Blood logic.