Is True Blood Killing Itself Off?
How many great characters have to die before the season is over?
I don't buy it, not for one second. No way Eric is dead.
Please don't tell me about what's in the books or about your conspiracy theory involving the conspicuous absence of Alexander Skarsgård from the nuptials of Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer. I don't care if the teaser for the next and last episode of the season, airing in two weeks, makes it seem like Eric has been pronounced dead. Pay close attention and you will notice that after a woman's voice says "Russell is no more," Bill chimes in "Eric as well," which, for all we know, could have been the response to someone pointing out that Sookie and Bill attended the Emmys.
The final scene did give us a great cliffhanger: After luring Russell outside with the promise that drinking Sookie's fairy blood will make vampires immune to daylight, Eric handcuffs Russell to him and says, "Be brave, let's die together." Russell on all fours roars in anger. Put aside the fact that it makes little sense for Eric to kill himself, too. Yes, he's angry about the murder of his parents, and his maker died in a similar fashion, but he also seems to have had an escape plan in mind when talking to Pam. The bottom line is the writers on this show are not crazy enough to kill Russell and Eric at the same time—I am less sure Russell will survive, but I hope he does. This double death would constitute the most troubling metaphor yet on True Blood: A popular series commits suicide.
Think about it: If Russell and Eric succumb to the true death just like the magister, Franklin, Talbot, and Lorena before them, it would be the biggest loss of talent to befall a television show since Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, and Al Franken left Saturday Night Live in the same season. Then we will have to make do with a bunch of werewolves and fairies. As Sookie would say, how fucking lame! I suppose we would also have boring Bill, who's so in love that his idea of an idyllic new beginning involves teaching third grade and fishing with Jason Stackhouse. Reach for the stars, my man. Pam had the best insult of the night when she called Bill "an infatuated tween." Alan Ball really hates Twilight, doesn't he?
The scene with Eric and Russell burning up in the sun does make me wonder: How can vampires be so all-powerful and enduring if they have such a serious vulnerability? How did Russell live 3,000 years without once falling asleep in the park and waking up with the sun coming up? Didn't he ever forget his keys at a bar and find himself stuck outside on a summer day? Being unable to survive a few minutes of daylight seems much more worrisome than, for instance, dodging the occasional chunk of kryptonite.
Speaking of Clark Kent's alter ego, did the drunk and angry Sam not remind you of Christopher Reeve acting drunk in Superman III? That's not a good thing. I know the writers are packing a lot into a few episodes, but these sudden shifts in behavior are getting preposterous (see Jesus, scold turned drug addict).
True Blood has been going easy on the gore the last few episodes and I for one am missing the odd severed head or bouncing ear. Outside of some sizzling faces and crunching bites, it was a relatively peaceful episode. Making up for the violence is an increased helping of sex, however, with a few reunion hook-ups, including the perpetually crying Tara and the frequently bottomless Sam jumping back into bed and a more self-assured Hoyt and Jessica getting kinky with some blood-sucking sex. Jessica's gradual maturation from angst-ridden bull in a china shop into proud, self-aware blood-drinker is one of the believable evolutions on the show. Deborah Ann Woll is fast becoming one of my favorite regulars, and her starring role in next year's Mother's Day, the 1980 cult classic, should cement her horror credentials.
The common thread this episode is humans hooked on vampire blood. Jesus is itching for another hit. After a drink from Jessica, Hoyt looks like a new man. And, finally, the football subplot returns, and wouldn't you know that after draining dog-fighting for all it's worth (not much), True Blood picks up and exploits the steroid scandals. Jason sees the new quarterback throwing the ball with the velocity and distance of, well, a young Clark Kent in the first Superman, and he knows instantly why his old passing records are threatened. The new guy is juicing.
Jason tells his rival quarterback, named, amazingly, Kitch, that he will go to his parents, the principal, and his coach with news that he cheats, to which the young, fearless field general informs him that they all know and don't care. "No dope, no glory," he says.
I don't know what a certain Eagles offensive lineman thinks about this, but True Blood has moved on from sexual and violent fantasies to the ultimate dream for the modern athlete willing to do anything to get ahead. Forget steroids. Vampire blood makes you powerful on the field, helps your sex life, and here's the best part: It cannot be detected by drug tests. If Mark McGwire had played in Bon Temps, he would be a lock for the Hall of Fame. Only problem is that Kitch has become so strong that he's throwing the ball way past the outstretched arms of his receivers and even the goal line. That may look cool, but it won't help win games.
Jason Zinoman writes about theater for the New York Times. He is the author of Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.