True Blood 5.02 "Authority Always Wins”
Writer Mark Hudis
Director Michael Lehmann
THE ONE WHERE Bill and Eric make a bargain with the Authority to deal with Russell Edgington, while Lafayette and Sookie deal with psycho vampire Tara.
VERDICT Oh dear. After the entertaining season opener, this second episode, “Authority Always Wins”, misfires on a number of levels. Which is a shame because there are some great moments too, not least the introduction of the concept of a vampire bible. You have to love a show with the balls to come up with the concept that God is a vampire, he made vampires in his image, and he created Adam and Eve for them to feed on. Do you get the feeling that this new bloodsucker mythology, and the “first vampire” Lilith (who’s actually a demon – and Adam’s first wife – in Jewish mythology) are going to feature heavily in upcoming episodes?
Other highlights include lots of Pam (great to see some flashbacks to her origin story), Eric in a tux and psycho-Tara having a hissyfit in Sookie’s house and wrecking the place. You have to love the way Pam just dumps her on Sookie and Lafayette. Has Tara ever been this much fun to watch? On the other hand, the scene in which Lafayette threatens to stake vampire Tara falls flat. There’s no tension and very little emotion behind the threat, and it’s symptomatic of an episode that trades heavily in shock tactics, but fails to engage on an emotional level. The scenes with Eric and Bill being interrogated by the Authority suffer a similar fate; the silver-infused drip feed and ultraviolet lights come across as mere gimmick, and you never truly fear for the show’s two leading vampires.
Consequently, the interrogation scenes (the introduction of the vampire bible aside) feel overlong and mostly pointless. They come across as filler in an episode that feels full of filler material. There are lots of scenes that only inch the plot on marginally, serving instead just to emphasise things we’d already learnt in episode one. Steve offers Jessica £10,000 for Jason (is he hers to sell? Didn’t quite get this), and she refuses. So, yeah, what new did we learn there? Werewolf Marcus’s crazy mother pays Luna a visit saying that she wants her granddaughter – a bland scene, the main point of which could have been delivered much more dramatically in one line at the end of the werewolf “funeral” last week. Terry has more bad dreams and doesn’t want to talk to Arlene about his past. Hoyt is still pissed off with Jason…
Sure, we’re exaggerating to make a point, but the overall feeling is that there’s a lot of treading water going on.
There are other problems. The Authority itself feels a little bit of a letdown. In a show that likes twisting conventions as much as True Blood does, the members of the Authority feel like they could have stepped out of similar vampire boardroom scenes in Blade , Daybreakers or Being Human . Michael McMillin’s performance of Steve Newlin is now so broad he’s one step away from a pantomime dame. Terry’s war flashbacks are worryingly tame. And the less said about the werewolf puppy the better… that’s an idea that surely didn’t even look good on paper.
But hey, at the end we finally get to see Russell Edgington in the (crumbly) flesh again. And that’s got to get you excited for next week, surely?
PRODUCTION NOTES Denis O’Hare (Edgington) is added to the opening credits.
TERRIBLE PUN OF THE WEEK Vampires who interpret the vampire bible literally are known as “sanguinistas”, which is clearly supposed to sound like Sandinistas (though they were Nicaraguan rebels not religious fundamentalists). Oh, an in case your knowledge of classical languages is a bit rusty, sanguis is Latin for blood.
WORST MOMENT Sorry, this just looked so stupid…
DID YOU SPOT? Russell Edgington actually made a brief appearance in the episode way before the cliffhanger…
We were also amused by a sign in the same shop that seemed to have been guest written by Cole Porter…
Lafayette: “Do something.”
Pam: “I am. I’m laughing.”
Sam: “Easy. She just lost her son.”
Luna: “She just ate her son.”
• True Blood is season 5 is currently airing on HBO in the States
• True Blood is season 5 will air on FX in the UK some time in the future