TRUE BLOOD Recap: “At Last”

     July 7, 2013


True Blood, like the myth of the vampire, has always been about the confluence of sex and death.  Death is a punishment for sleeping with the wrong people, and sex can be a reward for survival.  Occasionally, that gets turned on its head, and “At Last,” while having plenty of other flaws, did stick closely to this theme.  In a world full of vampires and death versus “true death” (for some), lines are often blurred.  Take the case of Willa and Eric.  Eric uses her sexual attraction to him to control her, which could lead to her death.  But then there was a subversion of that idea that made for a more interesting story.  Hit the jump for why you need to go to bed, you’ve haven’t slept since you were three!

true-blood-season-6-posterSookie has often been on the losing end of the sexual power dynamic.  In her own words: she “takes long walks with handsome strangers, and it doesn’t end well.”  Finally, when it really matters who Sookie sleeps with and how she goes about doing it, she has actually found some sense.  I didn’t fully entertain the idea of Ben as Warlow last week because it seemed too soon, too sudden, and too predictable.  But, as Sookie is protected from an ancient vampire killer in all of the obvious ways, an intelligent vampire should approach things in a way that exploits the chink in Sookie’s armor.

What made Ben/Warlow so odd on his own though was that he possessed the twin powers of being fae and a vampire.  Niall skimmed over this quickly, because it was so absurd an idea, and there’s obviously plenty more to unpack with that.  But when it came down to Ben’s oddities, Warlow or not, Sookie for once got some sense.  She knew Ben was bad news from the start, even just from the principle of Handsome Stranger + Long Walks = Trouble, but once Ben/Warlow took the risk of outing himself by giving Jason blood, then Sookie — miraculously — was able to piece together that the truth, and lured him into her clutches by subverting the sexuality that she has always herself fallen prey to.

Of course, why, in the many times Ben and Sookie were alone together, did he not snatch her then?  The fact that the reveal also has taken place in the fourth episode of the season doesn’t necessarily bode well for the tension the show had been building about Warlow.  But having been a champion for the show this year (out of hope if not actuality), there could still be a good reason to drag this out now that he has been “outed.”

Eric using Willa for his own political reasons was another example of sexual politics and death being subverted.  Taking down Truman is obviously important enough for Eric to create another progeny, but death (and not sex) here was also a reward.  He sees something different in Willa, but her quick turning and then being sent back home happened too suddenly to get a real sense of her beyond the fact that Eric took her sexual desire as a way to “kill” her humanity (so far she just seems like a visual representation of the dreams of vampire fanatics on Tumblr).

true-blood-season-6-episode-4-at-lastBill also uses the fairy girls’ unbridled teenage lust to trick them into donating their blood for Takahashi to synthesize.  But Bill’s quasi-innocent sampling was undone totally by Jessica’s free for all on fairy blood, possibly killing them and Bill’s hopes of allowing vampires to walk in the daylight.  Here, we’re back to death as punishment for sexual desire.

Overall, “At Last” had a lot of laughs and some good mythology moments (like finding out how the crystals in the fae blood die off almost instantly when not connected to their host — which, speaking of, why did Ben spit out Niall’s blood?), though also engaged in its typical problems with pacing (the Willa and Warlow stories) and plot points over character development (can Tara and Pam ever do anything other than bicker?).  Still, the promos for next week did tease Sookie actually having some agency — turning from a damsel in distress into a warrior — and Andy confronting Bill about his daughters.  Like the fae and vampirism mixing together within Ben, the good fights with the bad.

Episode Rating: B+

Musings and Miscellanea:

— Jason’s sex dream about Ben brought up another lost vampire trait – take their blood, have a sex dream!  The last one I remember being so disconcerting to the dreamer was when Sam dreamt about Bill.

— Warlow already has this the answer to vampires walking the daylight, which further show’s Bill’s failure as a God-figure to figure anything out.

— Remember when Jason was hooked on V?  Also, hey shirtless Jason.

true-blood-season-6-episode-4-at-last-1— Terry needs more to do than just be sad about Patrick, who no one gives any kind of a shit about.

— I was happy to see Warlow bring Niall back from the dead (?) or almost dead, but sad he flung him into another dimension.  Hopefully that won’t be the last of him.  His interactions with Jason were fantastic.

— It looks like the vampire police have now rounded up Nora, Pam, and Willa.

— Sarah Newlin being Truman’s plaything … it actually makes a lot of sense given their interests.

— Zero interest though sin the pack stuff this week.  Alcide snarled at Riki, the world turns.  Sam and Nicole hooking up though … way too boring and weird and predictable.  She’d better watch out though, because Sam’s girlfriends do not live long.

— Finally, we got a Ginger scream that made up for last week’s lack of it.

— “We were all human once, and we do not deserve to be hunted”  – Eric

— I sincerely hope the fae girls are not dead.  Not only were they great comic relief, but the idea that Andy couldn’t keep them alive for more than a week is just too sad.  His APB descriptions for them were fantastic — Andy has been a stand out this year.