True Blood 6.02 "The Sun" TV REVIEW
Writer: Angela Robinson
Director: Daniel Attias
THE ONE WHERE Sookie and Jason’s fairy Grandpa helps track Warlow; Bill discovers he can see the future; Eric fails to glamour Governor Burrell so targets his daughter instead; and some vampire rights activists try to encourage Sam to come out as a shapeshifter. But – to be honest – what you’ll mostly remember is this bit…
VERDICT Okay, hands up. We were completely wrong-footed by Niall’s “I’m not Warlow,” revelation, and to some extent that may explain why Rutger Hauer’s bizarrely distracted performance in the previous episode. On the other hand, now we know he’s the King of the Fairies (or a clan of them at least) he still seems to be acting like he’s got the mother of all hangovers. There are little moments, though, when a sparkle comes into his eyes (during the spaghetti-massacre dinner scene primarily) so maybe he’s still keeping his true colours hidden from view at the moment, and the full force-de-Hauer is yet to be unleashed.
Niall does seem to be bring out the best (or the worst) out in Jason, though. He’s hilarious around his fairy grandpa: running into walls in a failed attempt to cross dimensions; looking hurt when he’s told he’s not a fairy prince; grumbling that, “If you know me so well, you know I hate tests.”
Bill spends most of the episode nattering to Lilith, who's learned everything she needs to know about exposition from the Big Book Of Fantasy Foreshadowing Clichés : “A tyrant is rising”; “It is the beginning of the end”; “You will know what to do”; “Trust what you see.” Bill’s left perplexed, until he realises he can see the future now; always another great fantasy fallback to generating some dramatic anticipation. Factor in the Vampire Bible as well as the show is a veritable Portent’R’Us at the moment.
Bill does find time for a snack, though, in the most visually arresting scene in the episode. He forces a take-away blood donor to do an agonising contortionist routine (the bone-crunching sound effects alone are enough to set your teeth on edge) before sucking her blood out through her mouth. Shame that the CG blood is distractingly fake, but aside from that it’s a top True Blood moment, and freaks poor Jessica out. This leads to a stunning performance from Deborah Ann Woll, when Jessica delivers an impassioned monologue that doubles as a kind of an insurance policy, really, but a very emotive one: she isn’t sure that she actually believes in God, but gets down on her hands and knees to confess her sins to Bill(ith) just in case, and then asks him to protect all her friends. The accompanying montage teeters just the right side of cheesiness, and is probably all the more effective because True Blood doesn’t use the montage card every week. It’s even sweet that Hoyt gets a mention (though no accompanying shot, presumably so they didn’t have to pay Jim Parrack).
Eric has a lot of fun too. Making your tough lead hunk look like a geek is always a winner, and Skarsgard looks like he’s loving the chance to nerd up. The entire conversation he has with Governor Burrell about Whooping Cranes (complete with naked hand puppet mimes from both of them) is a highlight. Then it turns nasty, as Burell reveals he’s wearing anti-glamour contact lenses. Burrell is shaping up to be the show’s most formidable human villain yet. His constant chuckling at his own smarts makes him especially (and enjoyably) odious, but he’s clearly a sharp tool. Those UV bullets are not only a genius invention; they’re needlessly cruel. He doesn’t just want to kill vampires; he wants them to suffer.
Good to see Eric make a quick recovery from his plan for Burrell going awry. The scene in which he glamours Burrell’s daughter instead looks like something out of an old Hammer film, complete with wide-eyed victim in virginal white night clothes standing at the open window with a vampire hovering outside. It must have been deliberate, surely?
Sookie meets a fairly halfling who obviously fancies her but she’s “not in the right space at the moment”. Can’t honestly say we’re glad to see yet more fairies (Niall as well!) but Ben seems affable enough. Presumably there’s a dark secret revelation on the way. For the moment, though, while there was nothing wrong with their scenes, they didn’t exactly add much to the episode, either.
The werewolves were back to their dull old, “We want our cub back” shenanigans. The sooner a supernatural rabies plotline wipes them all out the better.
We also get Nicole and her Vampire Unity Society cronies trying to get Sam to come out as a shapeshifter and become a rallying call for all supernatural beings. She delivers some very convincing arguments and draws some pertinent parallels to the American civil rights movement in the mid 20th century, all of which seems to promise a good, meaty, issues-led plotline. Later we see her and her mates secretly taking photos of the fight between Sam and the werewolves, grinning wildly, like they’ve hit the jackpot. Seems like Nicole may have a morally dubious side; is she planning on outing Sam against his will?
So, episode two and new elements are still being introduced. There are a lot of intriguing storylines brewing here, but with the shorter season this year, the main nagging worry is there might be too much going on. There aren’t enough episodes to carry another fifth wheel Ifrit-demon plot like last year.
TITLE TATTLE Ostensibly, the name of the episode seems to be referring to Sookie’s ability to create a vampire-killing supernova ball of fairy energy, explicitly described by Niall as being more powerful than the sun. But there are a couple of other significant references to the sun in the episode. The passage that Nora is reads from the vampire diary goes as follows:
“And so it was that the people lead Lilith to the sun . And so it shall be again. As the blood ascends two will become one, when light and dark collide he salvation is at hand.”
Earlier in the episode, during one of Bill’s dream chats with Lilith, there’s the shot below, with the sun completely obliterating Lilith’s head; it’s such an unusual image, it’s unlikely to be just accidental lens flare. So, it seems the Lilith – or maybe Bill(ith) – is on a crash course with Sookie’s supernova power later in the season.
DREAM MEANINGS And while we’re on the subject of making predictions, presumably the “tyrant” that Lilith mentions to Bill is Warlow. Though we’ve been wrong about Warlow before… Maybe it’s Burrell.
CARRY ON CAMPING We’re also presuming that Bill’s vision at the end of the episode of a bunch of vampires burning in some high tech pit will turn out to be the “camp” mentioned by Governor Burrell.
A LITTLE BIT OF POLITICS Nicole’s heartfelt speech to Sam mentions the “Freedom Riders” of 1961. The Freedom Rides followed the successful Montgomery bus boycott in the mid ’50s, which saw thousands of black Americans refuse to travel by bus for 13 months. The loss of revenue and a Supreme Court ruling eventually forced the Montgomery Bus Company to desegregate. But many southern states refused to comply and segregation continued to operate there.
The Freedom Riders protested by traveling on buses from Washington, DC to the Southern States, where their tour was met with violent protests from whites. They were allowed to continue their journey through the deep south, escorted by the Alabama National Guard and Highway patrol officers. But on arrival in Jackson, they were arrested and jailed for 60 days. More Freedom Riders travelled south to keep up the pressure and by the end of the summer about 300 had been arrested. On 1 November 1961 the Interstate Commerce Commission, at the request of Robert Kennedy, issued rules prohibiting segregated travel on the buses. Martin Luther King Jr publicly supported the riders, but did not participate in the campaign, and the Freedom Rides fueled existing tensions between student activists and King.
TABLE MANNERS Would you like some spaghetti with your salt, sir? Although Niall says that the fairy genes “skipped” Jason, the messy table manners genes certainly didn’t. Both grandpa and grandson slop pasta sauce all over the table.
ZINGER-LONGA-ARLENE It used to be Pam who got all the best one-liners, but her sharp tongue has been severely rationed this season so far; she spends more time just whinging and being stroppy. If giving her a bigger role means sacrificing the wit for shouty arguments and see-sawing heart-to-hearts with Tara, we’d rather she went back to being a support character. On the other hand, Arlene has been on fine form: “Sugar, this Bon Temps. Down here organic means you play the fancy piano at church.”
POTTY MOUTH It’s difficult to tell for sure, but after Andy says, “I don’t know shit about baby fairies,” in front of his daughters, it sound like one of them says, “He said a nasty word!” We’d like to think that wasn’t scripted…
THAT ’70s SHOW There’s an ad for “Wade’s Wintergreen” on the back of the ancient-looking magazine that Eric’s reading while waiting for his appointment with Governor Burrell. Fake ads for Wade’s Wintergreen have been turning up in newspapers and magazines on US TV since the ’70s, usually in sit-coms (including Malcolm In The Middle and Married With Children ).
COVER VERSION Anyone think that Bill was about to re-enact Robert Palmer’s infamous “Addicted To Love” video at this point?
IMPROV There have been plenty of emergency, in-the-field kitchen-knife-and-biro-trachiotomies on Casualty over the years, but they’ve never attempted an operation using a broken bottle.
DRESSING UP Lafayette sadly hasn’t had much to do so far this season, but what he lacks in quantity he makes up for in… pinkness. This brief scene was indescribably adorable.
Niall: “I’m king of our tribe.”
Jason: “Woah! Woah! You’re king? That make’s you…” [points at Sookie] “…a fairy princess. And that makes me a fairy prince!”
Niall: “The genes skipped you.”
• Read our previous True Blood reviews
• True Blood season six will air in the UK later in the year on FOX