True Blood 6.03 "You’re No Good" TV REVIEW
Writer: Mark Hudis
Director: Howard Deutch
THE ONE WHERE Bill learns his new powers don’t extend to day walking, Grandpa Niall enlists faerie Ben in the hunt for Warlow and Eric kidnaps the Governor’s daughter, who turns out to be a vampire sympathiser.
VERDICT This is new (temporary) showrunner Mark Hudis’s first script under his own regime, and he doesn’t seem to have snapped up a pivotal, game-changing or particularly memorable episode for himself. In fact, it’s typical of the show so far this season: some great character moments, intriguing plot developments and witty dialogue offset by pointless werewolf scenes, a little too much over-the-top bitching and a love of campy characters.
There was a time when (the ex reverend) 60s Batman-style Newlin’s gosh-wow delivery was the broadest, panto performance on the show, but now he’s fighting for attention alongside Rutger Hauer’s faerie king Niall (think Prof Emmett Brown meets Grandpa Munster) and a doctor at The Camp who seems to have inspired by Steve Martin’s dentist in Little Shop Of Horrors . By the time Sarah Newlin arrives, stating that she’s a politician now, but acting like the love child of Cruella De Vil and Elton John, it’s difficult to believe this is the same show that once made Sookie eating her gran’s final pie so achingly poignant. It’s fun to watch, sure, but let’s hope this is the extreme level to which these kind of circus sideshow elements of the series are going to reach.
Of course, the show still has its share of great dramatic moments, and there are plenty to savour here. All the Eric and Willa scenes are fantastically sexually charged (though more from Willa’s point of view for the moment, at least) and their conversation in the coffin proves that the show still has the guts to do long, dialogue-driven scenes that showcase the acting. The twist that Willa is a vampire sympathiser is a pleasant surprise and opens up all sorts of dramatic opportunities.
If there’s any drawback to her arrival, it’s that she’s fuelled the already-tedious continual bickering between Eric, Pam and Tara. It’s a shame that after making such an impression as a newly-sired vampire last season, Tara has been reduced to the role of non-stop whinger this season. It’s interesting to note the grin on Eric’s face when he asks Ginger, “Will you please escort Pam and Tara to your shitty little underground cubby.” Is he enjoying stirring things up? And if so, why? Is he merely being petty?
Bill’s sunburn scene is a great visual, and it’s good to see there are limitations to his powers. Billith remains a difficult character to get a grasp on, but luckily we have Jessica around to tell him, “You’re a difficult character to get a grasp on,” which makes you think the writers know what they’re up to. And, despite going all power crazy, he still has a genuine devotion to Jessica which stops you from wanting someone to trap him on a sunbed.
Plus, his scene with Sookie is a cracker, and we’re not just talking about the telekinetic plate smashing. However, he may have helped himself in his quest for her faerie blood if he hadn’t come across quite so… bonkers. But the confrontation neatly underlinedsthat the Sookie/Bill relationship has reached a terminus. “You’re not God, Bill, you’re just an asshole,” says Sookie. “You’re dead to me now Sookie Stackhouse,” replies Bill. And for once it seems they mean it. The relationship isn’t on hold. It’s not waiting for one of them to wave the white flag. A mix tape ain’t gonna fix it.
It’s a shame we don’t get to see a little more of what’s going on in The Camp (and that the only vampire we’ve seen interred there so far is one whom Burrell can experiment on all he likes) but Willa’s descriptions of what goes on there keep the place a viable threat.
The only other major drawback of the episode is that continuing bug bear: the werewolves. There are two major scenes with them and neither are great shakes, for very different reasons. In the first, the police question Alcide and co about the whereabouts of Emma. It goes on for what seems like forever and adds barely anything to any ongoing plot. Joe Manganiellio doesn’t even take his shirt off, making the whole scene especially pointless. It could have been cut from the episode with no effect whatsoever.
Then there’s the shoddy, badly-staged fight scene, with its politely trotting wolves, low-rent gore and particularly cursory transformation effects. What should be an action highlight instead looks a bit amateurish, especially the shot when Nicole is bitten, which probably would have been passed by the Hays Code in the 1930s.
So once again, its Vampire 1, Werewolves 0 with the faeries providing the cheerleading.
THIS MEANS WAR(LOW) In case you haven’t worked it out yet we won’t name names, but the signposting of the true identity of Warlow is now becoming so unsubtle, you kinda hope it’s all an elaborate double bluff.
BOYS! Loved the withering glance Nicole gave Justin when he said, “I’m her boyfriend.” In fact, this was a great episode for looks saying more than words, especially in the Andy/Holly shooting scene and Bill’s lightbulb-going-on expression at the cliffhanger. Good to see some US TV writers still credit us with the intelligence to join the dots.
THE EX-FACTOR Rev Newlin’s ex, Sarah, pops up and looks like she’s about to burst into some showstopping chorus. “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” perhaps?
GINGER INVITE US Love the fact that Ginger’s house is crammed with vampire memorabilia, including a coffin made for… well, it looks like there’s room for three comfortably. Is that a sexual neckadillo?
FAERIE OH-MY-GOD FATHER Loving the fact that the fairy girls plot isn’t the car crash it could have been. In fact, the pesky, laser-handed quartet and their put upon dad provide some genuinely sweet comedy scenes. “Do they have names?” asks Holly. “Right now I’m just using numbers. It seems to work,” replies Andy. And any worries that this might be another superfluous, lightweight Ifrit storyline are laid to rest by that final scene – seems the girls will become vital to the central plot.
COSPLAY CORNER Okay, the professor Jessica was sent to ensnare was Japanese, but did she really have to look like something out of Tokyo Schoolgirl Erruption (or somesuch anime)? Not that some of us are complaining. It makes a change from Alcide’s pecs. True Blood is an equal opportunities sexual objectifier.
LAFAYETTE IN SMALL DOSES Once again, we don’t get much in the way of Lafayette, but he makes up for it with some quality bitching. Shortly after his explanation to Justin about the difference between a threat and a warning (with a handy glass bottle prop) he comes up with the gem, “Sammy, before you turn into a snake or a bear or some shit that I can’t have a conversation with…”
Eric: “It’s just a bar, Pam.”
Pam: “Not even you believe that.”
• Read our previous True Blood reviews
• True Blood season six will air in the UK later in the year on FOX