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‘True Blood’ 5.02 Review: ‘The Authority Always Wins,’ Bill and Eric, Not So Much

With Bill and Eric in the hands of the Authority, we get our first real look at the vampires’ paranoid governing body; meanwhile, Sookie and Lafayette deal with a ticked-off vampire Tara, while Alcide, Sam, and Luna deal with the fallout from the death of werewolf pack leader/comb over enthusiast Marcus. Oh, and Terry might have done something horrible in Iraq that’s followed him home to Bon Temps.

*****Caution: spoilers to follow*****

This week’s episode of True Blood saw only incremental plot development over last week, most of the action centered on Bill and Eric being interrogated by the authority inside their super-secret compound.

At issue: whether the duo are members of the “Sanguinistas” movement, vampire fundamentalists who believe in a hardline interpretation of the vampire bible (which apparently predates the Judeo-Christian one by millenia). That means that instead of going along with the current mainstream movemement advocated by the Authority, the Sanguinistas would prefer to see humans treated like bipedal cattle. Also, remember how Russell Edgington is now the poster boy for vampire mass murderers after his simply hilarious rampage in season three? Well, maybe that’s lead the Sanguanistas to free him from his concrete burial and start pumping him up with fresh blood.

Maybe. We don’t know.

The whole interrogation sequence is interesting for a couple of reasons: one, it continues to play off the idea that Bill and Eric are selflessly loyal to one another (this developed throughout last season, but I’m not sure when it pushed completely into “die for you, bro” territory). Christopher Meloni’s character Roman, who heads the Authority, puts Eric and Bill’s relationship into context, somewhat, blaming their series of screwup and outright violations of Authority rule on acting out of emotion instead of the best interests of their species.

The other is that in spite of their rejection of the Sanguanistas, the Authority proper still has some strong religious ties, beginning their meeting with a prayer to the first vampire, Lilith. This conflict will conceivably play a major part in the rest of the season and Bill and Eric have vowed to find Russell (or let him find them) with the expectation that this will mean the true death for all three. Not really sure what the end game is here for Bill, but we’ll see.

Back at Sookie’s place, feral Tara tears through the house at night while during the day Lafayette contemplates staking his cousin and putting her out of her misery. It’s only now that he’s considered that turning her may have been the absolute worst idea, particularly given the abuse she’s suffered at their hands, fangs, and so on in the past, but Sookie, for whatever dumb reason seems to think it’ll be okay. When Tara finally gains some measure of composure (just before making the least dramatic exit in recent memory) tells them both that she’ll never forgive them for this.

It looked like she kind of meant it.

This whole subplot speaks to Sookie either not knowing her professed best friend at all (the one who spent part of last season preparing to go to war with the undead as part of a hippie witch coven, mind you), so I’m not really sure that I buy this storyline.

One plot with some incremental movement involving actual, plausible human action and motivation is Arlene trying to find out what it is that’s made Terry start to go off the deep end in this and last episode with the return of his Iraq war buddy Patrick (Scott Foley). It’s a simple but well-executed thing between this and the first episode where Arlene simply tells Terry she’s not going to put up with him being crazy and pushes doesn’t spend more than an episode wondering what’s going on before trying to help her man.

Theirs is one of the sweetest (if quirkier) relationships in the show, and I appreciate that the writers didn’t simply drag Terry’s torment out any longer than absolutely necessary.

Another abrupt resolution came with Sam and Luna’s pretty harsh break-up when Sam attempted to convince the shapeshifter that her half-werewolf daughter might be better off with the wolf pack in her life. I liked the content of this argument, although it felt a little clunky in its execution (possibly owing to the fact that it occurs what, minutes after Sam has just returned from a night of being tortured). What happens with Luna’s daughter at the end of the episode guarantees that neither of them is necessarily done with the pack, while Alcide has decided to walk away and do his cool smoldering thing.

Finally, we get the first of a too-brief glimpse of Pam’s past as she worries about Eric whom she hasn’t heard from since the attack on the witches’ HQ last season. Heading back to 1905 San Francisco, we see that Pam was a madame who’s saved by Eric from a knife-wielding serial killer. My instinct is to say that Pam is such an interesting character in the present, exposing any additional vulnerability or anything from her past almost seems excessive.

On the whole, the focus was pretty tight this episode, maybe even a little constricted as “The Authority Always Wins” ended up feeling like a bridge between the premiere and whatever else is supposed to happen in the rest of the season. Still, the Authority stuff leaves us with a bit to chew on this week as well as a mythology within the vampires’ mythology that will likely be guiding the rest of the season.

True Blood airs Sunday nights at 9 ET on HBO.

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