True Blood – If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin’
(Warning: This isn’t very well-written, but then neither is the show so…)
Just in case the now cliche dichotomy of Vampires and Werewolves wasn’t shocking enough this show decided to throw in a few other twisted examples of classic mythology to liven things up, but what once seemed a bold move is now becoming laughably bad. The Ball’s that Alan is juggling in this episode alone include the expected Vampire and Werewolves but also Voodoo Witches, Inbred Were-panthers, generalised Shapeshifters, Skinwalkers, pretty Fairies, gremlin Fairies (perhaps one and the same?) and now … Dolls?
One would assume from this speedy, slap-dash treatment of far too many topics that this wasn’t actually the most successful of all HBO’s shows but was rather something closer to the brink of cancellation than a solid FX drama. There is certainly some merit to the balls to the wall approach that Alan has utilized in the past but there is no trace of technical execution here, no convergence of narratives or over-arching themes, there is nothing that would require you present these tales all at once and no benefit in doing so and yet there is still all the downside.
Within each of those groups is a stable of characters (quite literally in the case of the shapeshifters) and a cast that large without any singular direction is forced to simply flounder each week in four to five minute vignettes. There are some interesting beats being laid down in Jessica and Hoyt’s relationship but they’ll be lucky to get an episode of progress out of this season given how far down their rung rests on the ladder. Similarly Bill has gone from the show’s blandest to potentially it’s most interesting character with his appointment as King of Louisiana but he couldn’t possibly have a story of any import this year given how hectic the schedule already is in these opening episodes.
On the other hand this approach does have an up-side in that all the sub-par story-lines are also only delivered in two-minute bursts, so at worst you get yourself a drinks break when the hillbilly women begin gang-raping Jason in this week’s particularly icky storyline or when a Sookie/ Eric scene is sailing too close to shipdom for a straight male such as myself. Speaking of, I’ve been chanting for years with the crowd of critics who have been calling for the show to focus more on Jess, Eric and Pam but now that one of those wishes has been granted I’m forced to wonder whether it was a good idea in the first place.
While the idea of wiping Eric’s memory seemed a solid enough excuse for getting him in close enough with Sookie that he could share the spotlight we had all wanted for him; unfortunately though it also means that Eric, as we knew him, is gone. Which is fine enough for those simply seeking a shirtless Alexander Skaarsgard, but from a character perspective it actually seems a move away from what we were asking for, Damn you Monkey Paw!
Though it’s entirely unlikely that such a thing will happen I can’t help but beg that Alan Ball take some Ritalin so that he can slow the show down a little and allow these stories to breathe. It might seem antithetical in theory but his current approach actually works to slow the show’s pacing down, bogged as each episode is in the messy multitude of plot-lines; at two to four minutes a week these stories are being delivered at the rate of one single episode’s worth of content over a two and a half month period. This structure also means that no plot is ever going to get more than an episode’s worth of depth and the depths are where the stories get exciting, not the skimmed-over synopsis. This week’s episode is a prime example of this in that it gave us no real shocks revelations, just a slight inching forward in expected directions, free from impact and emotion.