True Blood Review: Home Sweet Fangtasia

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The latest episode is a history lesson, following the story of Fangtasia from conception to current events.

Here’s what you missed last week on True Blood:

  • The Bon Temps Angry Mob comes to blows with Jessica, Violet, Jason and Andy, resulting in the death of Maxine Fortenberry.
  • Pam convinces Eric to get off his ass and get moving, if only to get revenge on the newly-discovered Sarah Newlin.
  • Sookie and our main gang launch a plan to destroy the Hep-V vampires, which results in the destruction of a group of infected vamps and a fan favorite, Alcide.

This week, more Pam and Eric flashbacks give us insight on the birth of the Fangtasia we know and love. Sookie rallies the troops to save Arlene, Nicole, and Jane Bodehouse which, let’s just say escalates quickly.

Watch the final season of True Blood Sundays at 9 PM ET on HBO or catch episodes on demand on HBO Go.

And now, episode four: Death Is Not the End.

Notifying Next of Kin
Episode four opens up on a dual scene of Sookie and Jason notifying Jackson Herveaux and Hoyt Fortenberry, respectively, of the losses in their families. The stoic phone call between Sookie and Jackson juxtaposes with Jason and Hoyt’s gut-wrenching scene. Hoyt, who was glamoured to forget everything about Jason and Jessica, has no recollection of his best friend, which only makes it more heartbreaking when Jason tries to comfort Hoyt, who only knows him as a stranger.

Jason seeks out his sister for some comfort and understanding about the tough phone call he just had to make, but Sookie immediately shoots him down. This is the first instance we see of Sookie’s emotional shutdown since Alcide’s death. She basically tells Jason to “man up,” which furthers the central dilemma for Jason as he continues to slide on his manliness scale.

Blast from the Past
More flashbacks ensue for Eric and Pam as they trek back to Louisiana. This one picks up where the last one left off, in 1986, but Pam and Eric have been transported to Shreveport from France. There they meet the Magister, who hands down the punishment for Eric’s insolence: Eric (now Sheriff of Area 5) and Pam are now proprietors of a small video rental store (family-friendly up top, adult in the basement) in the building we know as Fangtasia. Fast forward to 1996 and we get our first glimpse of Ginger, a wide-eyed vampire fan who just happens to walk into Eric and Pam’s store in search of vampire cult classics. The resulting scene is a shining moment for this season, as it pays homage to and pokes fun at the plethora of 90’s vampire media through Ginger’s eyes. With how disappointing the rest of the season has been, these flashbacks and their tongue-in-cheek levity are quickly becoming the best scenes of the season.

Skip again to 2006, where Ginger has a plan to change the video store into a vampire club named Fangtasia. It’s also a nice little feather in poor Ginger’s cap that she was the brains behind the club all along, but that boon doesn’t last. Pam glamours Ginger to forget her Fangtasia business model and instead takes credit for it herself, just one in the long line of glamourings Ginger has suffered through at the hands of Eric and Pam.

Sookie Takes a Stand
Throughout the episode, Sookie has not outwardly grieved for Alcide’s death. She’s instead made the choice to create a plan of action and stick to it at any cost, which includes a lot of tough love and a lack of empathy for the troubles of those around her. That being said, it’s important to realize that these types of issues typically stem from having a female protagonist. We’re essentially conditioned to expect Sookie to break down and cry over the loss of Alcide, the death of her friend Tara, and the pure hell that she’s lived through this season. We’re expecting to watch her become a nurturer; to coddle others in their times of need and the fact that she is acting against those societal expectations instead helps paint Sookie as a cold, unfeeling monster.

But ask yourself, would you even care about this if Sookie was a man? These questions of whether Sookie is grieving appropriately wouldn’t even arise if she was male instead of female, as we aren’t conditioned to expect the same reactions from a male heroes as we are of our female ones. Sookie is a character of action. It makes perfect sense for her, in times of crisis, to create a game plan and then see it through. I, for one, am happy to see her stand her ground and react in a manner that makes sense for her character instead of watching her confirm to the expectations of how a woman in her situation should react.

In Sookie’s quest for answers, she leads Sam and Jason to Arlene’s house. There she promises Coby and Lisa that she’ll save their mother from the vampires, which is basically like saying “It can’t get any worse” in a horror movie. Eager to make good on her promise, Sookie finds Holly and walks her back through the events of her capture. As soon as Sookie realizes that Fangtasia has been the holding cell all along, she leaves Andy to console Holly and heads straight to Bill’s house to move on the next step of her plan.

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Jessica Wars with Forgiveness
Jessica’s bullet wound is getting worse. James explains that she’s not healing because she’s not eating, and that she actually hasn’t eaten for about 10 weeks. It’s obvious Jessica is still feeling incredible guilt over the murder of Adilyn’s sisters, which is why she’s gone cold turkey. Both James and Bill fail at getting Jessica to eat, but Sookie doesn’t have time for Jessica’s crap. She lays down the law by swiftly informing Jessica that she doesn’t give a shit about the baby vamp’s problems and instead points out that people are dying all around them and the death of three fairy girls is nothing to get so worked up about.

Sookie calls in Lafayette, as James’ human donor, for Jessica’s first meal of the season. Lala is able to connect with a still resistant Jessica by connecting with her on the common ground of murdering someone. (Remember Jesus? Yeah, bringing that up again definitely stung.) It’s always a beautiful scene when Lafayette can impart some wisdom, and he does so with Jessica here. By explaining that everyone is deeply flawed, he’s able to convince Jessica that she needs to find a way to live with herself instead of war with herself, which is actually a pretty good life lesson for everyone.

The Battle at Fangtasia
Thanks to Sookie’s plan, Bill calls in recruits to create a small faction to fight the infected vampires. The group includes the regular players (Bill, Violet, Jessica, and James, Sookie, Sam, and Jason) as well as newcomers Michael and Keith, the drummer in James’ band. Just as Jason is attempting a pep talk, Eric and Pam arrive, but sadly the resulting reunion of Eric and Sookie feels awkward at best. Luckily we can trust in Willa to spark some fireworks back into this scene thanks to her hatred of Eric, the maker who abandoned her.

With Eric, Pam, and Willa along for the ride, the team descends on Fangtasia through a convenient tunnel leading to the basement. What they find is no longer three healthy victims, but instead only Jane Bodehouse and Nicole. As the two woman are assisted to safety, Arlene is quickly becoming lunch for a nest of Hep-V vamps.

As our core team prepares for a stealth attack on the infected vampires, Fangtasia is hit head-on by Vince’s band of angry followers. The mob launches an all-out attack on Fangtasia, complete with Molotov cocktails and heavy-duty weaponry. All vampires, healthy and infected alike, escape to the parking lot where they wage war with each other.

Meanwhile, Arlene is delirious from blood loss. On the edge of her life, she sees Terry bathed in a white light which, although cliché, is a sweet image. While Sookie does actually sob for Arlene’s impending doom, she also calls out for help from healthy vampire Keith, who gives his blood to Arlene just in time. As she heals, Arlene’s representation of Terry shifts script and instead of calling her to join him, suggests that she stay Bon Temps to raise their kids and “be happy.” Arlene zaps back to the world of the living and shares a quick, sweet moment with Keith, which alludes that Arlene may have a new boyfriend in the mix. While I will always miss Terry and Arlene’s relationship, it would be nice for the original redhead to have some happiness to round out all the crap she’s suffered through.

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The dust clears to show that the healthy vampires have managed to stamp out all infected vamps from the area, effectively winning season seven’s first boss fight.

And that wraps up episode four. All in all, this episode still felt pretty unremarkable. The return of Eric Northman to Shreveport should have been epic, but instead Eric played second fiddle to a jumbled list of plot points. The only one who even truly seems to care about Eric’s illness in Pam and his reunions were squashed thanks to the attack on infected vampires. Episode four again tried to jam a lot of content into the last few minutes of screen time and overall the episode just fell flat. This along with the similarly unremarkable previous episodes are diminishing my hopes for a strong final season of True Blood. At this point we might as well just be watching 80’s flashbacks for the rest of the season.

Death Toll:

  • Vince – killed brutally by Bill with a bar-tap handle to the back of the head.
  • Rosie – drained of all her blood by Eric during the battle of infected vampires.
  • All remaining Hep-V vampires in Shreveport.

As to who’s going to be added to the death list next, we’ll have to tune in next week to find out.

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