True Blood 6.10 “Radioactive” TV REVIEW
Writer: Kate Barnow
Director: Scott Winant
THE ONE WHERE Warlow shows his true colours before being killed by Jason and Niall; the vampires who drank off Bill lose their power to walk in daylight, including Bill; Eric burns up after losing his power while sunbathing naked on an icy mountain in Sweden (...yeah, we know); and then the action skips three months into the future. Here, Sookie and Alcide are dating, Sam is Mayor of Bon Temps (...yeah, we know), Jason is definitely Violet's bitch, and hordes of vampires infected with Hep V roam the countryside like zombies.
VERDICT There are two ways of looking at “Radioactive”. First, you can admire it for its balls, as it chooses to not only kill off Eric (apparently) in a semi-jokey scene, but also for jumping the action three months into the future without giving a damn for storytelling conventions. That took some guts, and was a gigantic gamble.
And then there's the second way of looking at it: it's a mess. Really. This feels like an episode tacked on to the end of the season, with episode nine the real finale. The only unresolved plot thread here is what's going to happen with Warlow and Sookie, and by now we're a little tired of seeing them dance around each other. It is a shock when he suddenly goes from starry-eyed lover boy to monster and slaps her (although the vision of him that Sookie had in her bathroom seems to have heralded that he's a bad guy underneath his puppy eyes), but once he sets about tying her up and biting her, a sense of weariness sets in. Sookie as the damsel in distress again? Really?
As for the time jump: yes, it's brave, but there's the sense we've missed out on too much in the meantime. Sookie and Alcide finally getting together, for example. Now there's a love scene that's been teased for nearly two seasons now, but we're robbed of it – and it's even more galling when you think that we were treated to Sam and Nicole having sex but we never got to see the first bonk by two characters who really do have chemistry, and who fans were rooting for to, uh, root. Grrr.
Also, while a jump forward is a great idea when it comes to advancing a story, particularly on a show where the action happens so slowly that only three or four days can pass during an entire season, having it happen halfway through an episode is incredibly jarring. Wouldn't it have made sense to pick up at the start of next season? Eric burning up would have made a wonderful cliffhanger, rather than a bunch of zombie vamps advancing on Bon Temps. And oh yes, is next season going to be the “Bon Temps Under Siege From Zombies” season? That sounds cool, but a slower build up might have worked better. Launching straight into a zombie-vamp attack seems rather foolish.
Still, all this complaining aside, there are some good things about this episode. Jessica trying to apologise to Andy, for one. As always, Deborah Ann Woll is beautifully emotional as she weeps for her actions, although he's having none of it. The way she stands outside his house, protecting the family despite them not wanting her to, is touching. Elsewhere, seeing vampires running around playing volleyball in daylight is pleasingly bizarre, and Violet's obsession with Jason is borderline hilarious. Violet also gets one of the episode's best scenes when she decides to scare Adilyn into opening up a portal to faerie world. She growls at her so menacingly that hell, we'd have opened a portal, too, out of sheer terror!
Possibly the episode's worst duff note, however, is the reunion between Tara and her guilt-ridden mother. It's gorgeously acted by both women and heart-rendingly sad, but it feels horrendously out of place jammed into the final few scenes of season six, particularly when Tara hasn't mentioned her mother once all season. What a stupid place to put such an incredibly striking and moving scene.
LOOKING BACK So what of season six in general, then? The consensus seems to be that it was a better effort than season five with its dull werewolf-pack politics and Vampire Authority stories. And thankfully the second half of this year did seem to realise that the werewolf storylines were galling and they were written out, much to many people's relief ( yeah, trust me to hand over the reviewing duties just as that happens – Dave G ). Governor Burrell and Sarah Newlin were a great combo as bad guys, although the Billith storyline seemed to peter out with no real resolution: he started the year as a terrifying god and then, one fabulous head-ripping scene aside, he didn't do very much except sit around his mansion and mope.
Sookie being pursued by a supernatural creature who's madly in love with her is starting to grow very, very old (a fact she herself comments on, so at least the writers are aware of this) so hopefully next year she'll have something to do that doesn't involve the opposite sex lusting after her. In a similar vein, as amusing as Violet and Jason's affair seems to be, it would be nice if he got a storyline that didn't involve a woman, too. Do these people have lives outside of relationships?
And finally... RIP Terry. But rest assured that you had the longest funeral in the history of television.
DAMMIT, SOOKIE! Jason and Sookie are reunited at last. You know what she doesn't do? She doesn't tell him that his friend Terry has died. So heaven only knows when Jason finds out that rather important fact. Sheesh!
SOUNDEY-LIKEY At one point, while fighting, Warlow spits out the word “Sookeh!” And dammit if he doesn't sound just like Bill! Guess Sookie attracts a certain type...
DID YOU SPOT? Merlotte's Bar And Grill is now the Bellefleur Bar And Grill. Does this mean that Arlene received Terry's life insurance after all, and bought Sam out? She seems to have money now, as she also provided the food and drink for the party. If this is the case, then shame on that insurance company for stupidly paying out to a man who intended to fleece them by committing suicide! …But good for Arlene, naturally.
LITTLE AND LARGE My God, look at the size difference between these two! Is Joe Manganiello nine feet tall?
HANGING OUT Eric's final scene caused a bit of a stir because Alexander Skarsgard went full-frontal naked for it, meaning that Little Eric was defiantly on display for the first time on the show. The Hollywood Reporter asked executive producer Brian Buckner about the todger in question and whether Skarsgard objected to the scene:
“ First of all, he's Swedish. He doesn't feel about this the way we all do. When we usually shoot scenes with that level of nudity, the men are wearing socks. Alex is not fond of the socks. So I wasn't entirely sure whether he was comfortable with it. When we were going to lock picture on the cut, I sent him an email. He was already off in real Sweden somewhere, and I said, 'Are you comfortable with this?' and he said, 'No problemo!' That was the level of the talk. That thing about Eric Northman, the too-cool-for-school, it comes from Alex. He is really a cool cucumber. ”
Good choice of the word “cucumber” there, Brian.
Jason explains away Violet's weirdness: “Sook, meet Violet. She's European.”
Warlow: “Sookie, Sookie, Sookie. In a thousand, two thousand years, you'll learn to love me.”
• Read our previous True Blood season six reviews
• True Blood season six will start airing in the UK on 30 September on Fox