True Blood 5.11 "Sunset" REVIEW

TV REVIEW Russell believes in faeries… he does… he does…

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True Blood 5.11 “Sunset" REVIEW

Episode 5.11
Writer: Angela Robinson
Director: Lesli Linka Glatter

THE ONE WHERE Lillith promises various members of the Authority that they are "The Chosen One”, Sookie consults a dancing elder, Russell finds the faeries and something dull happens concerning werewolves.

VERDICT As showrunner Alan Ball’s reign on the show draws to a close (this is his penultimate episode) he seems determined to leave his mark on TV history – by creating a phrase to replace “jumping the shark” or “nuking the fridge.” So a big hand please for, “Ask the dancing faerie,” forthwith the go-to lingo for “most desperately embarrassing way to dress up an exposition scene”.

Don’t get me wrong. I like quirky. I applaud kooky. But this is True Blood . Quirky and kooky wither into insignificance next to its five-year avalanche of bizarre and twisted. A dancing faerie wibbling on about the relative merits of John Cougar Mellencamp and Ke$ha might have worked in Warehouse 13 , but in True Blood she comes across more like the next street entertainer down from that prat who paints himself grey and pretends to be statue. It’s real amateur dramatics stuff, and a thinly-disguised, hamfisted way of making sure Sookie doesn’t get all the info needs about the identity of Warlo.

And there we were thinking the faeries weren’t so bad this season.

Dancing faerie aside, the episode is real mixed bag. There are a lot of other irritations, but on the other hand, there are two great, great scenes. It’s made this a difficult episode to score, and three-and-half may be a little generous, but to put that in context: a whole star is for the General Cavanaugh scene alone. This was classic True Blood , and Cavanaugh is one of the best guest stars of the seasons. Not bad for a man who’s in one scene .

It’s classic True Blood because it’s a very long scene in which the mood and dynamics of power shift a number of times. When Cavanaugh arrives the vampires seem in control. “I would advise you to be careful about words you choose next,” purrs Salome, and you’re sure things are going to end badly for the guy. But his response is wonderfully unexpected: “You psychotic bloodsuckers.” At first you assume he must just have a death wish, but then he enters into his magnificent bluster about “we are prepared!”, “We have lots of weapons,” and, “Oh, by the way, we have video of Russell and Steve disemboweling frat boys that we’re ready to release to the public.” If the US military was run by guys like this, you get the feeling the whole world would be reeling from shock and awe.

Sadly, Cavanaugh is sacrificed in the name of Eric’s escape, which is all a bit suspiciously easy after how difficult it’s been for him to get out of there for the past eight weeks. We’ll let the Authority off. They were a bit disorientated at the time. They might have temporarily forgotten concepts like “lying” and “guards with no lines are easily killed”.

The other great scene is Russell’s ecstasy at discovering the faeries: “Oh, sweet merciful f*ck, that was delicious,” he says after feasting on the dancing faerie – pause for round of applause – “Heaven, thy name is faerie!" It’s great seeing Russell defeat the prancing elder with such ease. It almost makes up for the fact that we never get to see that video of him and Steve Newlin feasting on the frat boys. In fact, you suddenly realise how the episode has had a serious Russell deficit.

Certainly, a few more scenes of Russell carnage would have been preferable to the dull sex scene between Eric and Nora, or Andy finding that he’s put a bun in a faerie’s oven, or Alcide showing off his latest chest wax. True Blood has a way of setting up the next season at the end of the previous one, but so far Andy and Alcide’s latest plotlines aren’t exactly making the future of the show look very exciting.

The episode also has a lower hit rate when it comes to cracking dialogue as well. Even Pam seems less creative in her bile than usual. A more bitchy showdown between Pam and Sharon Osborne would have been welcome, but Pam was clearly more interested in getting arrested by the Authority so she could catch up with Eric… who, ironically, has just escaped. C’est le mort.

KILL BILL So, this episode seals the deal, it seems – Bill is under the thrall of Lilith, he is now evil, and he doesn’t have a masterplan to bring down the Authority. This is a brave, brave move, with Bill always having been the moral backbone of the series previously. But can he ever be redeemed?

LILITH What is she up to? By telling each member of the Authority that they are "The Chosen One” she seems to be encouraging them to kill each other? Is she trying to whittle them down to an “alpha vampire”? Or is she just fed up waiting and just wants someone – anyone – to step up to the plate.

Jason: “Jesus.”
Russell: “I actually met him. He was a boring hippie who stank of patchouli.”

True Blood season 5 will air in the UK on FX, starting in September.

Read more True Blood season 5 reviews

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.