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True Blood "Whatever I Am, You Made Me" REVIEW

TV REVIEW Dissipating sex drives and wonder bras

True Blood 5.03 “Whatever I Am, You Made Me”

Episode 5.03
Writer Raelle Tucker
Director David Petrarca

THE ONE WHERE Jason goes off sex, Tara goes for a suntan, Terry goes AWOL, Alcide goes nuts after learning that Sookie killed Debbie and Bill and Eric have sex with Salome (but not at the same time).

VERDICT While there’s nothing quite as naff as a puppy in PJs this week, and a few great scenes, in many ways “Whatever I Am, You Made Me” feels like “Authority Always Wins, Part Two”. Thankfully, there is more of a sense of the plot moving forward this time round, but you can’t help feeling that this episode and the previous one could easily have been cobbled together and pruned into something much tighter, especially as a lot of the twists and revelations in “Whatever” feel like punchlines to set-ups in “Authority”.

The most obvious example is Pam’s flashbacks; did they really need to be stretched over two episodes? The final moment – when she slashes her wrists to force Eric to sire her – is pretty standard shock tactics for True Blood , but may have made more impact if the whole story had unfolded over the course of a single episode.

Similarly, although the opening scenes with Tara experiencing her heightened vampire sense are wonderfully evocative, yet another episode of her running around and ranting before attempting seppuku with a sunbed feels a little tiresome. (And considering Pam’s flashbacks seem to be triggered by her siring Tara, the two plots could have pruned in synchronisation).

Eric and Bill’s continuing incarceration by the Authority, as the Vampire elite decide whether they can trust them, is a mixed bag. The “remote control staking wonderbra” scene is fun, and there are some more amusing bromance moments. On the other hand Salome’s back-to-back seductions of Bill and then Eric (which presumably are supposed to sizzle with erotic frisson) fall rather flat, and her backstory seems to go on forever without being particularly interesting.

Roman (Christopher Meloni) on the other hand, is magnificent this week, now that’s he’s not just going through the motions of delivering a sentence. With decisions to be made and options to be weighed up, he comes across as a far more intriguing character. And you have to love his dismissive attitude towards “the new Nan Flanagan” – Steve Newlin – whom he clearly regards as a necessary irritant. It makes more sense of Michael McMillian’s subtle-as-a-’60s-Batman-villain performance when the characters around him seem to feel the same annoyance with him as you do.

The sweetest moments of the week involve Jason, who has seriously lost his mojo. Once again it’s Jessica to the rescue, and their scene together – as she tries to make him realise they don’t have to have to have sex, they can be just friends – is downright adorable. We demand a Jason and Jessica spin-off.

Coming a close second in the sweet scale, though, was Andy asking Holly to “go steady”. Good grief, Andy is becoming not just likeable but loveable.

Alcide’s discovery that Sookie killed Debbie is a bit wasted, though. It just kinda happens and then he storms off in a grump. Not that Sookie need care – she’s clearly back on Sam’s radar; he seems willing to forgive her anything. And her him. “Can I give you a hug without you thinking about my boobs?” she asks. “Probably not,” he replies. “Oh what the hell, go ahead,” she grins. It’s a lovely little season one-esque moment that makes you feel all nostalgic.

But what’s this? Uh oh! The fairies are back. And we’re not just talking about Sookie’s Pam-flattening glowing hands moment (how dare she?). Jessica smells fairy blood and it makes her all peculiar and loved up. It’s unclear at the moment if this is a throwaway moment; we can but hope, but probably not.

So, a mixed bag of an episode. The Authority is shaping us well as an interesting addition to the show – Salome’s verbal diarrhoea aside – and there are some great double acts (Bill and Eric, Jessica and Jason) and the usual smattering of cheeky one-liners (“Don't believe everything you read – the human Bible is little better than US Weekly ”). But the plotting feels a bit flaccid, the revelations are a little by-the-numbers (for this show) and there are some awkward moments when the humour gets in the way of the drama (especially when Lafayette goes to comfort Arlene and interrogates her about Tara instead). It’s an increasing trend this show needs to be wary of: it doesn’t have to be silly all the time.

CRINGE OF THE WEEK Hoyt in guyliner and tight T-shirt, looking for trouble at Fangtasia. It’s impossible to work out if you’re supposed to find this scene shocking or hilarious, but it’s not really either. And totally out of character for Hoyt. Okay, he might be on a downwards spiral, but this feels more like a downwards plummet.

UNSUBTLE RELIGIOUS IMAGERY OF THE WEEK

BEST LINE
Changing room attendant (talking about Jason): “God gave that boy a penis and a brain, but only enough blood to run one at a time.”

True Blood airs on FX in the UK. Season four is currently airing.

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