True Blood Review: "Authority Always Wins" (Episode 5.02)
True Blood has only just begun again, but if the first two episodes are any indication, Season 5 is going to crawl by. “Authority Always Wins” feels like episode one déjà vu, so prepare yourself for the familiar.
Picking up directly where the last left off, the episode opens with Tara’s violent revival. Now a vampire, she launches into berserker mode, chewing on Lafayette and Sookie at will and ripping Sookie’s house to shreds. Lafayette reconsiders their decision to turn her into a creature she hates more than anything else, while Sookie has faith that the old Tara will make a reappearance—and hopefully stop throwing her breakables into walls.
Bill, Eric and his “sister” Nora are still in Authority possession, and for the first time in the series, we get a small look at the ominous vampire superpower. The vampire duo faces fairly creative torture methods while viewers learn a little about vampire history and its religious-based background. Yes, religious-based; Season 5 is carefully laying the groundwork for a battle between vampire fundamentalists and those who push “mainstreaming,” coexistence with humans. If successful, this story arc has great potential to flesh out the True Blood universe and make its content relatable on a more realistic level, as it did with parallels to civil rights and the LGBTQ movement. No matter what the outcome, it’s been a treat to get a look at the Authority council—especially with the introduction of leader Roman, played by Law and Order alum Christopher Meloni.
While the episode continues to set up what seems to be the overarching story of the season, several smaller stories continue their web as well. A brief scene with Alcide tells us that as much as he’d like it, his involvement with the pack is far from over. Steve Newlin is still lusting after Jason, even going as far as to offer Jessica money for him. And Terry Bellefleur’s subplot continues, as he begins having strange nightmares and war flashbacks.
The Terry plotline strikes me as particularly worrisome, as so far it’s neither drawing from anything new or surprising. Most interesting is that it hasn’t yet shown a supernatural twist, but that will surely change with time. After all, nothing “normal” ever happens in Bon Temps. In the meantime, however, audiences might find themselves bored with it. I know I certainly am.
“Authority Always Wins” isn’t a complete loss, however, as we finally begin to see flashes of Pam’s past. Once the head of a San Francisco brothel in the early 1900s, we watch as Pam first encounters her future maker, Eric. These scenes are by far the most interesting of the episode. They finally give a much-desired background to Pam, the smart-assed spewer of golden one-liners since Season 1.
But beyond Pam’s past, viewers might feel like they’re watching an extended version of the first episode. Many of the show’s characters are still in similar, if not the same situations. Sookie and Lafayette are still dealing with Tara; Bill and Eric are still captured; Jason and Hoyt are still on bad terms, and Jessica is still partying. Small instances, like the discovery of Debbie’s car or the true nature of Luna’s daughter, do little to satisfy the pace fans have come to expect. The most exciting part of the show still promises to be the return of Russell Edgington, but so far the results have been underwhelming. Sure, he’s been in the ground for about a year desiccating, but the lack of action has been surprising. The most threatening thing about Edgington so far is his creepy theme, since he’s still a gooey pile of vampire with a skin condition.
Ultimately, the season so far is still a mess of moving parts that have yet to fully establish themselves into a cohesive story. And though that seems like a lot to ask for in only the second episode, there’s a noticeable lack of flow to the show. True Blood has cemented itself as a series fully capable of throwing several stories into one, but Season 5 is sorely lacking that skill. Better luck next week.
Fun Fact: True Blood officially coined the term “fang boner” in this episode. An apt description, to say the least.
Quote of the Night:
“Jesus, Stackhouse, have you slept with every woman in this town?”
“I don’t know. I’m close, I guess. “