Television

Published on August 26th, 2014 | by Bean

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True Blood Review – Season 7 Episode 8 – “Almost Home”

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The themes this final season of True Blood deals with most directly – retribution, resurrection and remorse – are all front and centre this week. Each character expresses or endures at least one of the aforementioned experiences, with the exception perhaps of Arlene, who after last week’s heartache has shaken and shimmied it off. There appears to be an element of determinism in these outcomes, as the different choices of Bill and Eric attest.
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We begin by watching Eric bound back from the gaping maw of his doom; he chooses to be saved, possibly more to prevent Pam’s suicide than of his own volition, where Bill later will not. Eric’s past acts of terrorism and psychopathy upon the human race do not appear to weigh heavy on him as they do Bill; he is more primal than that. Would a wolf feel sorrow for killing the lamb? Perhaps it is his advanced years; at 1084, it is quite possible that Eric dealt with these issues when he was Bill’s age. Or maybe it is his brutal viking origin that spares him the torments of regret for his violence; they are but tea-cup humans after all. Whatever the reasons, Eric’s outrageous glee as he regains his potency is delicious to behold, while Bill literally decays before our eyes, like the rotting fox in the title sequence I always close my eyes for.
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The first narrative thread to properly draw to a close packs the biggest emotional punch; the resolution of Tara and Lettie Mae’s struggle to reconcile their long-fractured relationship. It’s a kindness that Lafayette and Reverend Daniels are there to share in and witness the miraculous hallucination and support Lettie Mae through the hardest decision of her life; to let her daughter go. The flashback also gives us the charming sight of adult Lafayette giving his ten-year old self an approving look of love, and the opportunity to remember more innocent times. Not that they stay innocent for long, with the arrival of Mr Thornton. Tara’s father is the archetype of the brutal terror an abusive parent brings, but that makes him no less frightening or repulsive.

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Seeing Tara the child, who is required to have the foresight to hide her father’s gun, was heart-rending, and her final passing is shot and acted beautifully. I concede, what I thought of as the show’s failure to give one of it’s central characters a proper send-off in the season opener has in fact made way for something more meaningful. Irrespective of the floaty angelic attire and spectral score, seeing Tara’s story come to a peaceful conclusion was undoubtedly moving. There is stirling work by Rutina Wesley and Adina Porter, who give beautifully entwined performances, a controlled release of emotion reminiscent of a long-held breath.

It seems Hoyt and Jess are imminently to be reconciled too, after meeting once again in the torture porn house of hell Violet has everybody chained up in. There were some real horror contained within the course of events in “Almost Home”. Over seven seasons heads have been twisted right around or ripped clean off, still-beating hearts snatched from bodies, jaw’s torn asunder, and more messy exploding vampire deaths than you can shake a stake at. But Violet’s promise of the torturous violation she held in store for Jess was genuinely horrific. It stands as a testament to the gruesome mettle of this show that after all these years it can still shock. The arrival of Heroic Hoyt was just the reprieve needed, proving True Blood still has some lines in the sand and in this instance chose narrative above carnage. Or perhaps it’s just that there are, and should be, some things that you simply cannot show, even on HBO.
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With the latest resident psychopath neatly dispatched, the idiot-teens happily reunited with their respective grateful parents, and Hoyt and Jason looking to potentially swap lovers (too neat by half), there is a real sense of impending conclusion. Some of these resolutions may seem contrived or crow-barred, but by and large, I’m happy for the chips to fall (or be flipped) where they may; for all the crazy-ass silliness and frustrating nonsense seasons 5 and 6 might have thrown our way, these last few episodes have restored my faith in the gravity True Blood is able to deliver when it counts.

Which leaves only one mug-shot left on the board; Sarah Newlin, showboating lunatic extraordinaire and supposed messiah. What her final retribution will be remains to be seen. I cannot imagine a way for the show to redeem her character at this late stage, since she  permanently resides in a state of utter delusion. She’s stuck on her hamster wheel of re-invention, each new iteration of her ‘self’ just so many masks, pulled from her ass to save it, rather than from a need to evolve or make reparation for the bloody havoc she has wreaked on a global scale. Still, there may be more surprises in store…

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And so to the crux; the uneasy heart of True Blood. It has been tricky for the show to balance out the romantic affections of Sookie Stackhouse since her relationship with Bill ended. Eric was a real contender, and their lasting connection is testament to this, but Alcide and the psycho fey-vamp Ben paled in comparison, as their comparative brevity showed. But Bill and Sookie’s reunion is not forward-looking; it’s about forgiveness and closure, truth and reconciliation. While attempting to explain Queen Sophie-Anne’s motivations, Bill gives away his own; “We all want want we can’t have, and if we are denied it for long enough, we lose our way”; a neat description of Bill’s path back to sin since he and Sookie split. He believes he cannot atone for the decades of debauchery and murder, that he must once and for all pay the balance of his debt and die the true death. We can see glimpses of this acceptance in the early scene with Sookie. It isn’t that she still harbours hopes for their future, since at this point, he hasn’t one. But he can sense the idealism with which she still views their original love affair, since it is tinged with that holy trinity of rose-tinted glasses; first love, nostalgia and forgiveness. The dream of their imagined progeny, or even more vaguely, their love is chilling; a darkness nurtured and doted upon by Sookie, the fever dream clarifies for Bill that his final act must be one of selflessness; he must let her go.

Review 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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