True Blood Review: “Authority Always Wins” (Season 5, Episode 2)
As much as I love True Blood and the eclectic citizenship of Bon Temps, there are a few issues that need to be worked out in season 5 before the show can begin to actually have any focus. To its credit, there were a few signs in the latest episode that point toward a more cohesive season, but the scattershot approach of following various characters is becoming tiring for even the most diehard fans.
Perhaps the most worn out, rundown, thin and absolutely pointless story to be dug out of the grave this season is the turning of Tara (Rutina Wesley) into a vampire. Yes, we get it, she hates vampires. But as much as the writers like to hammer that into our heads, they don’t seem to understand that people stopped liking Tara about four seasons ago. Cut your losses and give Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) something more interesting to do. Watching Tara flounder around as a newly turned vamp was painful, and the staking she almost received was almost the best moment of the season.
Although the fangers we actually love are far, far away by now, Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) are still carrying the story along better than every other threadbare secondary line thus far. Captured by the Authority and taken in for questioning, a surprise performance from Chris Meloni steals the show in the last few minutes while also shedding new light on the history of vampires (hint: God is a fanger).
Tied in the lead for my favorite duo is Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) and Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten). Although Andy hasn’t been doing much aside from covering up speeding tickets and staying away from that V (good man, Andy), Jason has been quite busy. Wanting more than a casual relationship with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and hoping to avoid any type of relationship with the recently outed Gay Vampire American Rev. Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian), he’s also working on patching up a broken relationship with Hoyt (Jim Parrack). Drama all around, but still one of the more enjoyable side stories.
Although Rev. Newlin spent a whole season rallying against vampires and all of their sins, his new situation has led to a change of heart, leading to a hilarious TV appearance. His need for some Stackhouse in his life also causes a fantastic confrontation between him and Jessica, hinting at a ridiculously twisted love triangle forming.
Other stories to tie up include Terry’s (Todd Lowe) mysterious past with the military that has something to do with the house fire from season 4 and the wolf pack situation that stems from Alcide (Joe Manganiello) killing the previous leader. I found Martha (Dale Dickey) to be a deliciously malevolent addition to the already full cast, and I hope she gets much more screen time in the future.
Finally, we get to enjoy a few flashbacks to when Pam (Kristen Bauer) first meets Eric. Although it sets up an interesting plot thread, does this season really need anymore? So far, we’re juggling vampire buddy cops, an angry vampire who hates her own kind, a creepy love triangle, wolf pack politics, an escaped Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare), and fanger religion and politics. It’s getting to the point where I have to keep a pen and paper handy so that I can keep everything in line.
Despite this huge variation in disconnected storylines, I’m still helplessly immersed in True Blood. For every misstep the show makes (too many characters, too many disjointed cuts from here to there, letting Tara still exist), the devilish humor and charming characters keep bringing me back. Although these first two episodes have been a bit rough, here’s to hoping that this season will begin focusing on just a few loose ends to tie up before we’re left with nothing but strands and frustration.