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Published on July 21st, 2014 | by Bean

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True Blood Review – Season 7 Episode 3 – “Fire In The Hole”

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The cull continues! Perhaps True Blood will pick off it’s characters one at a time until only Sookie and Bill are left, alternately scowling and pouting at one another. I shouldn’t be glib. Character death is a loaded issue, but I was raised by wolves (Whedon) and am inured to anything at this point. However, I am therefore used to impact, and all of these losses are so far falling short of the mark. I would have felt Tara’s death strongly if I’d witnessed it, but until Pam confirmed that she really did meet the true death, I was still assuming we were being taken for a ride. Ok, she really is gone then – huh.

“Fire in the Hole” brings us back under the smouldering gaze of Eric Northman, thanks to his progeny’s faithful search, but rather than the mercury-blooded badass that we’ve come to know and love, alack, Eric has gone all Byron on us. Gaaaahh. This might be less ponderous, but for a problem that reared it’s head last week – the introduction of new, apparently pivotal characters we have literally no investment in. The last two episodes asked us to take seriously the machinations of Sam’s Mayoral running mate (who?), and buy him being a pack leader. This week Eric has lost the will to un-live because of a French strumpet he couldn’t remove his tongue from in the 80’s. What now?!

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This one-note so-called soul-mate has entranced our bouffant-ridden 1000 yr old vampire has she? Sylvie looks like a cross between the actresses that play Lilith and Violet, but lacks the character development of either, making her a flawless yet totally unmemorable presence. She is the cookie-cutter love-of-your-life, a cipher, and like Pam, I felt the infatuation faintly ridiculous and were it not for the excellent wigs and a pair of hysterical khakis, a bit boring. It takes more than one episode of moon eyes for audiences to care about a love affair, and this late in the day, it’s all just too trite. Nora’s murder at the hands of Sarah Newlin isn’t enough to roil Eric? Bring in a hitherto unmentioned true love, that’ll do it. It’s all so laaaazy.

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The conflict does give us a little context for why everyone used to take the Authority so damn seriously, and the katana-wielding dudes from Yakinoma Corps appear again at the episode’s close, searching for that royal pain in the ass, Sarah Newlin. What purpose the newly-Buddhist, Guru-banging Newlin will serve is not yet clear, but we have another antagonist to throw into the pot.

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As yet though, no Big Bad I can get behind. Previous villains on the series have included serial killers, a minad, Russell Edgington, a possessed witch, Salome (yeah, I didn’t remember her either, and that was only last year!), Russell Edgington again, the Authority, and a fairy-vamp. It’s a rich catalogue of nasties, with many a masterclass in scenery-chewing. Is Season 7’s arch nemesis intolerance?
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The Bill and Sookie Show allows for a little development this week, and they enter tentatively the new ground of frenemies? Writers seem to be attempting to earn back viewer trust on the Bill front, with more flashback scenes showing the bond with his family helping to re-humanise a character who’s more than a little lost. The thoughtful, dutiful, moral Mr Compton seems a long way off after all the betrayal, and I’m interested to see where it’s going, in regards to Sookie or not. Bill sitting up a tree gives their woods scene a whimsy long missed in their interactions, whilst she confides her awareness of the imbalance between Alcide and her love; another bitter layer of her fey curse.
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Some light relief is granted us in the company of our tripping philosophers. I assume by now the internet is alight with a thousand gifs of Lafayette’s dancing delights. He and James share a retro-trip and get cosy, hear drugs in their tunes and generally chill out. Their attraction is a natural, unforced evolution, as it might be as they enjoy the wonders of Tuinal and their own mellow company. I wonder whether these developments, and the ill-advised conversation with Violet are leading to a Jess/Jason reunion. The latter’s sudden desire to propagate doesn’t ring true, as he literally quotes Andy’s opinions word-for-word. It’s more fruitful as an avenue to discuss Jason’s masculinity, one of his favourite topics, though he’s met his match in Violet.

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What works best about this episode are any scenes featuring Reverend Daniels, a character showing real depth and fortitude in coping with the struggles that face his family. His backstory, simply told, is a poignant reminder to look deeper in difficult situations. He offers Willa compassion and banishment in the same breath and has a kind of sad grace about him that lends each encounter a much-needed gravity. With any luck he’ll stick about long enough to pass on some of his wisdom to his strayin’ flock.

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Talking of, the mob is out for blood in “Fire In The Hole”. Sam’s secret is out, and Mayor Gibson’s trigger-finger gets itchy, a dodgy example he sets to his fellow heat-packing Americans. The face off between the angry villagers and our heroes goes expectedly south, but gets further tangled by the involvement of the Hep V Vamps. Maxine Fortenbury accuses Jessica of tearing Hoyt’s heart out, then experiences that fate for real. Subtle. Another rich and entertaining character (albeit an utterly bigoted one) bites the dust then.True-Blood-703-Wild

The denouement, and Alcide’s murder lacks punch, again. It’s not the character’s fault – Alcide’s early-seasons bland goodness got more complex in recent years, and he more interesting for it. Unfortunately, his and Sookie’s relationship has been too short a feature to mean very much, and given her recent admission of essentially not requiting his love, well, it just doesn’t land. Even the editing, and the way the dialogue is chosen feels hurried; Sookie rejecting Jess’ offer to sire Alcide really could have waited ’til next episode. They don’t let the weight of it sink in at all, fade to black or not; with the very best death scenes, time stands still for a moment. With Alcide, they didn’t let it rest…

alcideReview by Nina Clark

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Bean

Director at Nina Clark Music / The Musical Walkabout at Nina Clark Music
Bean is the family nickname of Nina Clark, singer, songwriter and professional musician. Nina's many nerdly passions, aside from music, include Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and all things Whedon. (re. GoT, she has NOT read the books, so please be cool - no spoilers!)
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