True Blood 5.08 "Somebody That I Used To Know" REVIEW

TV REVIEW The mincing machine

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True Blood 5.08 "Somebody That I Used To Know" REVIEW

Episode 5.08
Writer: Mark Hudis
Director: Stephen Moyer

THE ONE WHERE Sam’s lover shapeshifts into Sam, Eric throws his lot in with the Sanguinistas, Lafayette contacts the cause of Terry’s curse and Sookie discovers a little about her parents’ vampiric murderer.

VERDICT In case you never read the credits, this episode was directed by Stephen Moyer – vampire Bill himself. Because True Blood has such a strong house style when it comes to way it’s put together, it’s difficult to know how much input he had, but the one thing that does stand out about this episode – which may have been his influence – is how broad the comedy is at times (which may explain the musical moment highlighted below).

Sam Trammell’s performance of Luna-as-Sam is hardly what you’d call subtle; he minces around like a novice drag queen. Then there’s Terry and Sarge – whose plot so far has been tense and edgy and unnerving – dashing into their first scene of the episode waving their arms and boggling their eyes like they’re in a Marx Brothers film. And Moyer seems obsessed with ramping up the bromance between Eric and Bill, especially in the scene where Eric flounces out on the authority and turns to Bill to say, “You coming?” Even Bill's flashback – which is clearly meant to be harrowing for the gentleman vampire – comes across like somebody parodying a 19th century melodrama. And the less said about Lafayette’s Whoopi Goldberg-in- Ghost moment, the better. (I now regret moaning last week about what a no-fun zone Lafayette has been this season.)

Comedy has always been an important part of True Blood ’s DNA, but it’s not usually quite so in your face. It feels a bit like Moyer’s indulging his cast mates (and himself) at times, rather than reining them in.

To be fair, none of this ruins the episode; it just gives it a slightly uneven tone, and also makes the show feel a little lightweight after the gobsmacking trauma of the past two weeks. It’s still a strong episode in many ways, and once again – as so often this season – Pam steals the show. You can’t help but cheer at the moment she gives Tara her new “slave”. These two are becoming the best double act on the show.

Hoyt’s new mates capturing Jessica for him to kill is a gutwrenching moment too. Shame, though, that as soon as the bad guys lock Hoyt and Jessica in the room together – “We’re not letting you out until we hear the gunshot” or words to that effect – you know Hoyt’s going to free her. It's one of those TV clichés, handy for the plot. You can’t help thinking this lot are so bloodthirsty, they’d want to watch. Having said that, the ensuing heart-to-heart between Hoyt and Jessica is a lovely bit of writing. As is the earlier scene in which Jason talks Sookie out of using up her faerie power.

The werewolves are back to being monumentally dull again, sadly. Alcide shags. Alcide gets beaten up. Even the twist about the “human prey” during the hunt feels predictable.

The Sanguinista plot line trundles along nicely, with Bill’s sudden transformation into a true believer giving it a new, intriguing edge, and his idea of bombing the Tru-Blood factories to force lily-livered vampires into feasting on humans is evil genius. You have to assume he’s faking his allegiance, and has some bigger plan, but to be honest, in this show, it’s no safe bet. And that makes it all the more watchable. Well, that and Russell Edgington’s eloquent rants.

NAME THAT TUNE There’s a bizarre little musical sting at the end of scene in which Sookie sees the ghostly image of her parents’ vampiric killer. We’ve never heard anything like it before. It sounds more like something you'd hear in The Addams Family .

[VAMS id="I2m2J4V3ZikwK"]

DISTURBING Okay, we know that at one point during the flashback to her parents’ death, Sookie is experiencing it from the point of view of the killer vampire. But it’s still a bit icky seeing her come over all orgasmic at the smell of her own blood.

TRIVIA There are only five Tru-Blood factories in the world.

TRIVIA 2 According to the show, Albert Einstein was half faerie, which helped him form some of his theories.

Russell Edgington: “God has the most beautiful tits I have ever seen!”

True Blood season 5 airs in the UK on FX, Mondays at 10pm

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Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.