True Blood 6.06 "Don’t You Feel Me" TV REVIEW
Writer: Daniel Kenneth
Director: Howard Deutch
THE ONE WHERE Terry is shot dead after achieving vampire-aided true happiness; Bill kills Burrell; Eric escapes his vamp camp cage and discovers the Burrell has poisoned the new shipment of Tru Blood with Hepatitis V; Jason gets a new job that pisses off Sarah; Sookie and Warlow have fairy sex.
VERDICT There’s a news caption on a TV that Bill’s watching at one point that reads, “Tru Blood’s back.” That pretty much sums up the episode too. This is one of the most consistently satisfying episodes of the show in a long time, oozing brash confidence, delivering shocks with a ghoulish swagger and disorientating you with sudden, audacious shifts from black humour to high emotion and tenderness. Few scenes are wasted; each works hard to be entertaining and memorable in and of it itself – be it funny, or touching, or perverse or visually striking – rather than just coming across a plot building block.
Hell, even the werewolf stuff has a little bit more energy to it than usual. On the other hand, when Jasckson tells his son, “You were either going to make the worst or best decision of your life. Either way I wasn’t going to miss it,” you can’t help thinking he’s one of the few. The rest of us were far more interested in fairy sex, vampire torture porn and gods going crazy. Which may say something about True Blood viewers in general…
Right from the start the episode is trying just that little bit harder. After the slightly comedic cliffhanger last week with Sookie struggling unconvincingly to avoid being drowned, the continuation of the scene here is far more fraught and edgy. The decision to shoot Sookie’s rescue from underwater is particularly effective.
This opening is rapidly followed by the cracking conclusion to last week’s other cliffhanger, with the Vamp Camp big wigs trying to get Eric and Pam to fight to the death. At first… nothing. “You assured me this would be violent,” grumbles Sarah Newlin. It’s the first in a frankly disturbing number of moments this week which suggest that Sarah’s main reason for her anti-vampire crusade is that she’s turned on by watching them being tortured and having sex (we can pretty much guess what a psychiatrist would make of that).
After a brief (and slightly dodgy-looking) bit of Crouching Tiger Hidden Wires fight action, Pam and Eric turn the table on their captors on spectacularly grisly fashion, staking a guard to the one-way window. Striking new grisly images are well to the fore in this episode.
Next we have Jason’s hilarious job interview at the LAVTF (see below) then Bill going bonkers when he realises that Sookie has teleported Warlow to Fairie-ville, thus beyond his sire bond control. The pieces of Lilith’s prophecy are coming together thick and fast… much faster than we might have expected. Some of events here you’d have sworn blind would be saved for the finale, or the penultimate episode at least, but no. Matters are coming to a head surprisingly and enjoyably fast.
Bill’s response is to put himself into a coma and pay Lilith a visit. They have a right old barney, and it’s highly amusing to hear Lilith tick off Bill by telling him, “Don’t you take that tone with me,” like some fusty old school teacher. Then they bitch about each other bit (“You started it!” “No, you started it”) before Lilith says something along the lines of, “I like talking in riddles, I’ve been doing it for millennia and I’m not changing now,” and send Bill off with a flea in his ear and a command to stop whinging, and get on and do something. Which he does. Big time. He rips Burrell’s head off after going all Magneto on the guards and getting them to shoot each other. If that’s not a classic piece of jawdropping, bat’s-arse True Blood -ness, we don’t know what is.
Though we are left wondering who or what this “other head” that will grow to take Burrell’s place might be? Was he talking about a person – Sarah perhaps – or something more abstract – his poisoned Tru Blood? Eric’s discovery of that little bombshell (“Fu… uck me!” indeed) is yet another one of the episode’s highlights.
But it’s not all grand gestures and gore that mark this episode out as one of the best. There are some truly tender and heartbreaking moments too. There’s an incredibly sweet scene with Andy giving his only remaining daughter a name at last. It’s a stupidly cheesy name – Adilyn-Braelyn-Charlaine-Danika – partly inspired by Andy’s lack of imagination (Holly suggests he start with A and takes it from there) but somehow becomes all the more touching because of that.
Governor Burrell also has a poignant moment with daughter Willa, and a crucial one. She begs to be moved out of solitary confinement. He reasons that the accommodation is better here. She retorts that she needs to be with her own kind now, and if he has any love left for her, he would let her. He agrees to her request, but is that because he does still have some love for her? Or the complete opposite? He may have agreed to move her because he’s lost all love for her now; she’s not his little girl any more so she may as well be with the other vampires. His later rant to Bill (see below) would seem to back this up.
The most heartbreaking moment, though, is, of course, Terry’s death, which is a ticking time bomb from the moment the gay vampire compels him to forget about his army sins. This makes the few brief scenes of Arlene and Terry in utter wedded bliss achingly painful to watch. Ironically, Arlene makes sure he dies happy, but it’s the bitterest tragedy for her, and Carrie Preston is a pure acting tour de force as Arlene cradles Terry’s head as he slips away. When the picture fades to white and we heard scripture being read, for a second you wonder if we’ve jumped ahead to Terry’s funeral. But no, it’s just Burrell being sanctimoniously pious, and his jarring invasion into such a raw and emotional scene seems almost cruel and heartless. A very clever way of getting us back into the plot without undermining what just happened.
In amongst all that lot, Sookie and Warlow journey towards a fairie-light-aided cliffhanger shag almost gets lost in the wash. It was clearly on the cards, though, from the moment Sookie teleported Warlow to the land of soft focus, then tied him up. Yep, this is True Blood . If someone has their hands tied, then someone else will use it as an excuse for some bondage sex before long.
Warlow’s explanation for why he wants Sookie (and why he want to vampirise her) so badly does make sense on one level (“We would only need one another’s blood to survive”) but if he is as self-loathing as he says he is, why didn’t he just kill himself a long time ago? You have to wonder if he is still going to turn out to be the big bad after all.
A lot of plotlines come to a head this episode (Emma’s back with gran, Sookie’s dad is sent away “forever”, Burrell is dead, Alcide has given Sam a get-out clause, Sookie has shagged Warlow, Terry has been killed) all of which have happened unexpectedly soon. Which makes the final four episodes of the season very difficult to predict indeed.
OVERQUALIFIED So there is one job interview that even the normally clueless Jason Stackhouse can ace… even if it’s a job he doesn’t really want. The whole LATVF recruitment scene is hilarious, and coins our favourite new word of the year: “beheadingism”.
LAVTF Officer: “Vampires. What basic knowledge do you have of their various characteristics, abilities, weaknesses, etc?”
Jason: “All of them. Next question.”
LAVTF Officer: “Mr Stackhouse, that wasn’t really an answer.”
Jason: “Yes it was. All of them. One – characteristics: pale, cold, no breath, come in all shapes and sizes. Two – abilities: strong, sonic hearing, fast, some of them can even fly. Three – weaknesses: silver, UV light, fire, wood to the heart – stake or bullet, it don’t matter. Oh… and beheadingism. Just cutting their head right off by the throat.”
LAVTF Officer: “Well, I’ll be.”
Jason: “Yeah, just slicing that motherfucker across his or her neck is a pretty strong weakness, I think.”
LAVTF Officer: “Have you killed many vampires?”
Jason: “Of course.”
LAVTF Officer: “And how many would you say you’ve killed?”
Jason: “This week?”
LAVTF Officer: “You know, I think I’m just gonna go get my supervisor right now…”
DOCTOR DOCTOR GIVE ME THE NEWS This guy is going to have a song and dance routine before the end of the season, right? He’s the man who put the camp in Vamp Camp.
DOUBLESPEAK When Eric spies Steve Newlin through the stake-hole in the one-way glass, Newlin blubs, “I had nothing to do with this… they made me.” Which is probably exactly the same excuse he’s used about vampires when the interrogators at the vamp camp got to him, too.
LOSER! When we cut to Tara and Willa playing Connect 4, Tara (with the yellow pieces) has just made a move. However, Willa already has a wining line!
Burrell: “Fuck you.”
Bill: “Fuck me?”
Burrell: “My daughter’s gone too. One of yours took her from me. And Willa, she’s my reason to live so… fuck it. I figure I’ll be a martyr for the cause.”
Bill: “And what cause would that be, exactly?”
Burrell: “The extinction of your race.”
Bill: “Now, that ain’t ever going to happen.”
Burrell: “Cut off their head, and another one will grow in its place.”
Bill: “And I’ll rip that fucking head off too.”
• Read our previous True Blood reviews
• True Blood season six will air in the UK later in the year on FOX