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TV Review: True Blood – “And When I Die”

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There’s a lot going on in the True Blood season finale, “And When I Die.” Most importantly, Marnie (Fiona Shaw) takes over Lafayette’s (Nelsan Ellis) body, kills Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) to steal his dark magic powers, and captures Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgård), intending to kill them as well. Sookie (Anna Paquin), Tara (Rutina Wesley), and Holly (Lauren Bowles) go to the rescue, and with the help of some ghosts, including Sookie’s grandmother (Lois Smith), drive Marnie away again. Sookie heals Bill and Eric, who are partially burned, but unable to choose which one to give her heart to, rejects them both.

Where to begin dissecting that bit of plot? Marnie taking over Lafayette seems like a surprise twist, yet, in retrospect, it is perfectly set up throughout the season. We see Lafayette’s abilities, and how he can be taken over by a dead person. We see Marnie’s fascination with bringing things to life, and she gets a taste of possession when she is taken over by Antonia (Paola Turbay, Royal Pains). As such, it’s completely predictable that this will happen. But it cannot be complained about when it feels so spontaneous, and gives both Shaw one last chance to show her skills, as well as highlighting Ellis’s immense, sometimes underused, talent.

Sookie goes home, and is attacked by Debbie (Brit Morgan), who blames Sookie for taking away Alcide (Joe Manganiello) from her. Even though Alcide does come on to Sookie in “And When I Die,” Sookie rejects him, too, so it’s really not her fault. Plus, Alcide dumps Debbie because she is with another man, which has nothing to do with Sookie. Also, Sookie and Debbie are just beginning to build a friendship, prior to the dumping. But all the same, Debbie shoots at Sookie, and only Tara jumping in front to take the bullet saves Sookie’s life. Sookie, shocked at seeing her best friend shot, blows Debbie’s head off. It’s almost out of character, but grief is an acceptable excuse.

Jesus’s death in “And When I Die” is not all that surprising, nor is Debbie’s, as she dies in the fourth book (from the Sookie Stackhouse series, on which True Blood is loosely based) in a somewhat similar manner. But Tara being shot seems to come out of nowhere. Could she possibly be dead? She’s an important main character, but at the same time, her plot seems to have run its course. After all, Tara tries to escape town earlier in this season of True Blood, and is tired of the supernatural. Nothing that happens after that would make her want to stay any more. If Tara doesn’t die, would she even be willing to stick around? Which is why this might be the perfect time to kill her off.

If Tara dies, coming right on the heels of Jesus, we can expect a much more somber Lafayette in season five. This removes his only close family member and his lover from his life. Considering how Ellis shines in “And When I Die,” given something complex to play, it will not be unwelcome to allow him some bigger range to work with. He can certainly handle the heavy acting. It will be very interesting to see in what direction the writers take him from here.

Sookie cannot be with Bill or Eric because she loves them both. This conundrum haunts her throughout the latter part of this season of True Blood, and instead of choosing one, forever wondering if she made the right decision, she picks neither. Does this make sense? Two guys that she is in love with, and she won’t be with either one of them? You’d think Sookie would want happiness, too, and surely either vampire could give her that, no matter what her choice. Instead, might she spend next season with Alcide (Joe Manganiello), or will her weretiger boyfriend from the books, Quinn, soon be cast? It’s hard to know, because True Blood, while staying loyal to the spirit of several characters, doesn’t exactly go for strict adaptation, and there are already so many men vying for Sookie’s attention. As well as so many characters in general.

Even without Sookie to compete over, though that likely won’t ever go away completely, Bill and Eric have plenty else to worry about. Nan (Jessica Tuck) asks them for an alliance against the American Vampire League, but (surprise!) they kill her instead. While Nan is not trustworthy, if the AVL comes after Bill and Eric, they are going to need all the help they can get. Taking her out removes an important ally, and makes them all that more vulnerable, and thus, is a dumb idea. Considering Nan is ordered to kill the pair, it is unlikely that murdering her, traitor though she is to the AVL, will do much to appease the group. As such, Bill and Eric are in some pretty deep crapola.

Add to that, it appears Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) has escaped his concrete prison and he has a vendetta against Eric and Bill, who put him there, and True Blood‘s fifth season will be mighty exciting on the vampire front!

Russell isn’t the only past enemy who will be turning up in season five. Jason’s (Ryan Kwanten) story in “And When I Die” ends with Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) showing up on his doorstep, now a vampire. Steve is an anti-vampire religious nut who Jason once trains under, and who is missing these past six months. Guess this at least partially explains why he disappears. Is Steve there to kill Jason, or recruit him? The former seems more likely, considering how they end things the last time they are together. Sure, Steve can’t enter Jason’s house without permission, but that doesn’t mean Jason isn’t in serious danger.

Jason’s only hope of survival seems to be the return of his new vampire lover, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll). If Jessica comes back to the house, for any number of possible reasons, she can defend Jason. And she likely will, considering he so recently saves her life, and they are enjoying fantastic sex together.

Their relationship still seems wrong, given how Jessica is most recently with Jason’s best friend, Hoyt (Jim Parrack). But Hoyt fits the old, meek Jessica, while Jason is a better match for the new, bolder Jessica. At least for now.

Speaking of True Blood characters being left in danger, Sam (Sam Trammell) is attacked by a wolf in the woods. Who is it, and why are they coming after him? Is it in revenge for Sam killing pack leader Marcus (Daniel Buran)? Because, if so, Sam only goes after Marcus because Marcus kills Sam’s brother, Tommy (Marshall Allman). And Alcide is the one who actually takes Marcus’s life, not Sam. Because of this, either the werewolf about to attack Sam is misinformed, or is there for an entirely other, yet unexplained, reason.

Something else unexplained is why Terry’s (Todd Lowe) former commanding officer (Scott Foley, Grey’s Anatomy) comes to town in “And When I Die.” He seems friendly enough, telling Arlene (Carrie Preston) that Terry saved his life in the war, twice. And Foley is usually a friendly face, who will be a welcome addition to season five of True Blood. However, he must have some dark secret, because Arlene’s serial killer ex, Rene (Michael Raymond-James), comes back from the grave just to warn her about him. So there’s that.

There’s also Andy (Chris Bauer), who in last week’s episode has fairy sex in the woods. Given that the fairy population needs to reproduce, and that they are not happy about Sookie rejecting them, this could very well be part of a larger plan. Surely it’s not a coincidence that another fairy baby could be conceived in the same town? Not to mention, time moves must faster in fairyland, so it is likely Andy may soon meet an older child, possibly even a young adult, that he is the father of. The kid will probably show up, of course, right after Andy and Holly find happiness together. This plot is completely out of left field, so there’s no telling where it’s going, but it’s intriguing.

Last, but certainly not least, Pam (Kristin Bauer) is upset that Eric chooses Sookie over her. Not necessarily as a romantic partner, as Pam generally prefers the company of women. But Eric sired Pam, so they share a special bond. Plus, in Pam’s eyes, Sookie is “just” a human, who stirs up trouble wherever she goes. Pam sees Eric’s choice as a severe betrayal, and there is no telling how that will change their relationship come next season on True Blood.

All in all, an exciting, death heavy finale for a great series! True Blood will return to HBO next summer.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com