Could True Blood be turning a corner in what’s been an overwhelmingly disappointing final season? Hopefully, because “Death is Not the End” has us thinking that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for Sookie and Company, even if Tara and Alcide won’t be stepping out of the shadows.
After Alcide’s been brought to the coroner, it’s time to make some phone calls, with Sookie delivering the sad news to Alcide’s father and Jason calling up Hoyt to tell him Mrs. Fortenberry passed away. (To refresh, Mrs. Fortenberry—the overbearing mama who kept Hoyt tethered to Bon Temps, who drove a wedge between him and Jessica—died in the scuffle that ultimately slayed Alcide.) Hoyt’s still been glamoured within an inch of his life and has no recollection of his lifelong friendship with Jason, but that doesn’t keep them both from losing it throughout the emotional call. Sookie tells Jason to man up, that she’s too numb to cry even though that’s all she wants to do, but hey: they need to get Arlene back from the converted dungeon in the basement of Fangtasia. And she needs everyone in top shape, tears aside.
Eric and Pam are making their way back stateside when Eric demands they take a detour to Shreveport to check on Willa. We get a glimpse into Fangtasia’s beginnings: it’s revealed that the vampire bar was originally a video store with a colorful porn section in the basement, and that Ginger, that batty human bartender strung out on V, was a Tulane film student with a thing for vampire flicks way back in the day. It turns out that Ginger’s the one who came up with the idea for the bar in the first place, right down to Eric’s throne, and Pam took all the credit once she glamoured her and convinced Eric she thought up the video-store-gone-vamp-bar scheme herself.
A seemingly random flashback in the grand scheme of things, but it divulges important details: when we’re shown the origins of Fangtasia, the Magister mentions that Eric will be under the close watch of the Yakimoto Corporation—aka the manufacturers of TruBlood and the henchmen that killed both Sylvie and Sarah Newman’s yogi boyfriend in the last episode that their close friends, the Yakuza, will be keeping an eye on his and Pam’s whereabouts as well.
Back to the present day: Eric and Pam make their way home, Sookie succeeds in getting some details of the Hep V captors out of Holly, and they make plans to descend upon Fangtasia for Arlene and Nicole’s rescue mission. Jessica still hasn’t healed from her bullet wound, and Sookie basically tells her to cut the shit and feed in order to get her up to her bloodsucking fighting weight. Same goes for Bill, despite the emotional distance between them. Eric and Pam swing through Bill’s upon their arrival, where Sookie and Eric have an emotional reunion. (“Unfortunately, I triggered an avalanche that killed an entire ski village” may be the best explanation of someone’s absence the show has ever seen.) With Willa, Eric and Pam, it’s looking like the rescue mission’s got a veritable team behind it, and the group sets out to finally fetch their friends from the lair of the infected vamps.
The plan: send Sam ahead, Sam tells Arlene and Nicole that help is on the way, the rest of the crew sneaks into Fangtasia once he’s established a way into the venue and the group spirits Nicole and Arlene out without letting the vamps know the wiser. Unfortunately, her captors have plucked Arlene from her chains and are feeding on her when Bill, Pam and the rest make their way to the basement, but the infected vamps are interrupted when Eric knocks on the door claiming to be looking for shelter. He uses Sookie as bait—hey, that faerie blood’s a fantastic distraction!—but their plan is further derailed when Reverend Skinner, Kenya and what’s left of the Bon Temps vigilantes show up at the club ready to kill the vampires inside. A Battle Royale ensues, with vampires, infected vampires and Molotov Cocktail-wielding crazies all in the mix, and Arlene is barely hanging on by the time Sookie and Eric get to her. As Arlene’s about to let go and join the specter of Terry, a random (and healthy) vamp named Keith shows up and splits his vein to heal her. “Death is Not the End” wraps with Sookie embracing Arlene and sharing an imploring, thankful look with Eric, and a hefty dose of hope is delivered to these spared characters.
The floodgates of possibility have opened up for Bon Temps, and True Blood could easily right itself with episodes as engaging and action-packed as this one from here on out. Given the frequency of Yakimoto cameos and the Fangtasia/Yakimoto connection that revealed itself in “Death is Not the End,” impending conflict and potential doom are merely a few hours away. The longing glance Sookie threw Eric’s way before the credits rolled was imbued with meaning, too, and it’s clear that Bill’s hellbent on making things right between he and his former beloved. Now that the plague of infected vampires and idiots has relieved itself of Bon Temps, things are back to normal for Sookie and her loved ones. Potential love triangles, plenty of violence and a looming villain with a mob connection? Yeah. That’s about as normal as things get around these parts, and it’s a welcome reprieve from the senseless, brutal dismissal of our favorite characters.