True Blood Season 7.03 Review: Fire in the Hole
July 6, 2014 – HBO
Did anything really happen in “Fire in the Hole”? A few things. Most notably, we had the very quick death of two pretty major characters: one, a recurring character from the beginning, and the other, a central character who became quite a favorite from first appearance. Beyond this, however, this episode was just as quiet as last week’s. There was a lot of talking about things and reminiscing rather than current action. What changed was the increase in vampire and human interaction, and that made all the difference. It certainly doesn’t hurt that we not only had more Eric but also flashback Eric, which is always a sexy surprise for the hairstyles if nothing else.
The Will to Live
An angry Pam confronts a bed-ridden Eric about his disease. It appears that Eric played fast and loose for too long and lost his fighting spirit. With Godric, Nora, and Sylvie all gone… wait, who the hell is Sylvie?
As it turns out, Sylvie was another human Eric fell in love with back in 1986 in the Rhone Valley. She was a vintner’s daughter, so maybe the excess wine made her blood particularly enticing. Whatever it was about her, the appeal was strong enough that Eric defied the Authority’s command to walk the line and leave her alone in the name of not standing out. His denial puts him and Pam on Nan Flanagan’s bad side, which is a shame, because she and Pam could have bonded over their shared sense of style.
When the first warning from Nan goes unheeded, the Yakamoto corporation sends representatives to take care of Eric and Pam. He has to choose who lives or dies: Pam or Sylvie? At first he chooses himself to die. Then he chooses Pam to live. He has to watch as his lover is stabbed in the back. Then he and Pam get carted off under silver chains.
I love seeing more Eric and Pam interaction, and it was great to see this first contact with Nan back when the Tru Blood beverage was being put into production and coming out of the coffin was becoming a real possibility. But what was the point of introducing yet another lover of Eric’s now? Apparently she was significant enough for him to avoid the Rhone Valley but not important enough for us to know about her until now. I feel that it also cheapens his connection to Sookie. At least it demonstrates the strength of his connection to Pam, which is critical in this moment where Pam must convince him to fight to live. But even begging Eric to not let her go through the pain of watching him die as he watched Godric die is enough to sway him. The only thing that can give him reason to live is the chance to destroy Sarah Newlin who is alive and in hiding.
I would like to point out that the last time we were introduced to an integral female in Eric’s past it did not fair well. Nora was the most annoying addition in season five. A sister of Eric’s with whom he shared a deep and sexual connection, she miraculously appeared out of nowhere. After two seasons, we were meant to care when she died from Hep V, but my only pain at her death was at seeing Eric’s pain. In the case of Sylvie, at least we only had to put up with her for one episode. On the other hand, we had no time to understand why Eric should love her and feel her death so deeply before she was killed. As plot devices go, Nora was more effective, so why was Sylvie needed? I suppose she gave us a reason to flashback to this particular point in time, see that awesome 80s hair, and meet the Yakamoto goons, who should feature more prominently in Eric’s story to come. At least we didn’t’ waste too much time with her.
In a yoga studio in LA, we find a reinvented Sarah Newlin. It would not be a series finale without one of the craziest characters in True Blood history. Yes, you could say Russell Edgington was crazier, but given he was always a little unhinged, I would argue it was more interesting to see Sarah Newlin range from delusion preacher’s wife to a power-mad politician who knows how to wield a stiletto heel. And seeing that Russell is dead means that Sarah would be the best villain to repeat. The thing is, I’m not sure she is the villain anymore, because Eric is not the only one looking for her.
The ever-resilient Sarah has landed on her feet after Jason spared her life last season. Now, she has found herself doing yoga and doing her yoga teacher. Unfortunately for her, men who look very similar to the ones who killed Silvie come knocking on the door looking for her, and her paramour gets killed. She has done some really horrible things, and now she will have Eric and a bunch of samurais chasing her. I am intrigued as to why she is important, but I hope this storyline does not take too much away from the main action in Bon Temps. Though if it means more Eric and Pam, you won’t see me complaining.
Picking off from last week, Sookie and Bill head out into the woods to enact her grand plan. On the way, we discover that Bill cannot feel her anymore because he was practically drained dry last season. Or as he puts it, “the Bill Compton I am today has nothing to do with the Bill Compton that flows through your veins.” Essentially, this means that they have to reaffirm their connection by having Sookie drink his blood, which will surely play into some sexy dreams in the future. There are many hurdles in the way of the pair reuniting romantically, for which Bill definitely feels remorse. Sookie has not forgotten all of those mistakes (like almost killing her), but the ice is starting to thaw. I expect that something will pave the way for these two to shack up again in the near future, and all of the subsequent interaction pointed to just that.
I have always, always been an Eric Northman fan, but you cannot deny the chemistry between Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer. Even when the two are on screen just chatting about their love loves, or Six Flags, or war, there could be nothing more interesting. They just work so well together. Of import from their killing time talk: Sookie knows that Alcide loves her more than she loves him, and that makes her feel guilty; Sookie’s plan is directly based on Bill’s comment that she looked like vampire bait that first night at Fangtasia; and Sookie hates that feeling of waiting for the fall.
Talk of war leads Bill into thinking of leaving his family when he was still human. A Fortenberry took their family picture, and he had to comfort his daughter by telling her that he would return safely. Was it only talk of war that led him to remember, or did this have something to do with Sookie’s remark about Alcide wanting kids?
With the entire human section of Bon Temps armed and roaming the streets, no one is safe. Except for maybe Adilyn and Wade, who they locked up in a jail cell. Jess and Andy show up to rescue them, interrupting a possible makeout sesh. I’m not sure what Adilyn sees in Wade, since he is so undeveloped, but the poor girl is so under-socialized that I suppose it makes sense she would fall for any pretty face. The group immediately heads off to Jason’s house, as Adilyn fears that Sookie might be the mob’s next target. There they interrupt an argument between Jason and Violet, who have been discussing the option of adopting. Jason wants kids; Violet thinks he’s turning into a girl. Where is her strong warrior? I like Violet, and I wish she could have gotten behind the idea of family. Jason may be dumb, but it would be adorable to see him acting like a father. He’s improved enough over the seasons that he might be able to accept the responsibility. Maybe this is a way to get Jess and Jason back together, because I could definitely see them raising a little brood. It would be too adorable!
The only thing standing in the way of that on Jess’ side is her boyfriend James. But James swings both ways and might have a little thing for Lafayette. And Jess acts like sometimes James isn’t even there. So Lafayette gets high off pills and lets James get high off his blood. They connect, but James won’t act on anything… yet.
Meanwhile, Sam has a crisis of faith and visits Reverend Daniel. After a good talking to, he leaves the church with his vampire, who is a chatty chap named Matt. Hello, Matt, it’s nice to meet you. They come across an angry mob of humans, and when they step out of the car, Matt gets shot and turns into a pile of goo. RIP Matt. We just learned your name, so I can’t come up with much of a tribute. Sam cannot talk sense into the crowd, so he has to transform and fly away.
When Jason, Andy, Violet, and Jessica come across Sam’s empty truck, they inspect the scene and encounter that same mob. Maxine Fortenberry stands her ground and takes her revenge for Hoyt leaving by shooting Jessica in the shoulder. In a second, Violet runs to her and tears out her heart. Terrified, the mob scatters. Andy sends Violet after Holly’s son Rocky while Jason tends to Jess, who is not healing. Killing one of the humans was probably a bad idea if you want to win them over, but Maxine was a stalwart hater of all supernatural beings from the start. I doubt anyone would name her a favorite character, but she was there and of some importance from the beginning, so her death should be noted. RIP Maxine Fortenberry. I wonder if your son will even hear of your passing. If he does, can he come back and be friends with Jason again?
Elsewhere, Willa is reluctant to eat from the Reverend, but he insists. As she starts to chow down, the Reverend tells the heartbreaking story of how he came to Bon Temps. Short version? It involves the loss of a child and a cheating wife. Why did we not see him truly until this season? He’s a stand-up guy and I realized that until tonight I knew nothing about him. When he first married Lettie Mae, I though he was just another shallow character to hate. When we finally get an explanation as to why he is with Lettie Mae, it shows depth to his character that you would not expect. Of course, this whole explanation is a segue into his kicking Willa out of the house because she is too easily swayed into giving Lettie Mae her blood. But at least he was kind enough to give her a meal before kicking her out! And really, it is these quiet moments of character development that I love the most. Too bad it’s a little late in the Reverend’s case!
Casualties of War
Tired of waiting, Sookie cuts herself to draw the vampires out. Instead, she sees Holly, sent in as a trap. In a few moments, Sookie and Bill are surrounded, and Bill is about to get staked. Luckily, Alcide and Sam arrive to save Bill, and the rest of the gang comes blazing with guns to kill the vamps surrounding Sookie. The poor girl gets doused in infected blood, but she and Bill are both ok. The worst seems to be averted as Sookie takes the time to wash off in a stream, and Alcide lays into Bill for letting her go off on such a hair-brained scheme. Mid argument, shots ring out and Alcide falls to the ground with a bullet through the head. Sookie runs to him, and though Jess offers to turn Alcide, Sookie lets him go. Another quick and brutal death of a fan favorite. I didn’t’ want him to die!! While sitting in shock on my couch, my mind instantly jumped to what the cast must have experienced during this entire final season. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for the cast to do these table reads and find out which friend would fall. My heart feels like it is torn out every episode, so I can only imagine what that room felt like.
I’ve read a few responses already that were extremely upset over the abruptness of Alcide’s death. I commented on the quickness of Tara’s, and perhaps that death prepared me for more no-nonsense killings to come. I feel like Sookie’s ability to mourn in that moment was enough. In reality, as Sookie commented to Bill, they are in war. They would not have the time to plan and execute a full funeral in those circumstances, so the sudden loss should be expected. And I appreciate it. One of the joys of knowing that this is True Blood’s last season is that the show writers can go there. Very few shows have the gall to kill main characters early on (Game of Thrones aside), but when it is your final season, no one is safe. And no one should be safe. That said, I would not be this calm if Eric or Pam had died. Alcide was an interesting character who had lost his way for an entire season and did not have enough time to redeem himself. But since there is little time left, and, as Joe Manganiello himself said, Alcide needed to die to pave the way for Sookie’s end game with both Bill and Eric, I am comfortable saying goodbye. I will request, however, that we get additional Jason nudity to make up for the loss to the male hotness quotient.
Quotes of the Night
“But we can’t very well remain hidden when we are biting, sucking, and fucking the vintner’s daughter.” – Nan Flanagan to Eric
“I am as big a fan of French vagina as you are, Eric, but come back to Earth. She’s just a human.” – Pam to Eric, also about Sylvie.
“I have a boyfriend.” – Sookie to Bill when he pops fang from her feeding on him.
“C’mon y’all! I taste like sunshine and flowers and I’m right fuckin’ here!” – Sookie
“Death is a dark and blinding motherfucker whether you see it coming or you don’t. But a life spent in anticipation of it coming? Sam, well that’s not life worth living.” – Reverend Daniels to Sam
“I’ve lost my taste for oysters, Pam.” – Eric telling Pam that he has lost his will to live.
“I walked into this institute five months ago, a clueless Christian woman… named…Numi.” – Sarah Newlin
As always, the episode barely ends before Jessica has her final say. HBO kills in the internet tie-in market, and Jessica’s timely blog or vlog post is an excellent example of how the extras can enhance your viewing pleasure. Did you forget how close Jessica and Sookie once were? Because I did. And if you felt that you weren’t given enough time to mourn Alcide, perhaps Jess’ take on the scene might do you some good:
“I’ve been kind of numb for weeks now. Some days are easier than others, you know? Then in the blink of an eye everything changes and there’s this pain that won’t go away. It’s different from the dull pain of being numb, or the physical pain of being shot — God, does that hurt — but even that type of pain can still be stuffed under the surface. Instead, this pain, this grief, is raw and sharp and so intense that it’s impossible for me to ignore.
Watching Alcide’s murder, and Sookie’s reaction, was unreal. For a moment everything froze. And just as quickly the shock was gone, sound returned, and all I could hear was the ringing of Sookie’s cry. It’s as if I could see the grief gripping and tugging at her heart. I can only imagine what that type of love and loss must feel like. I’m not saying I don’t know what it’s like to experience loss, but this wasn’t the same as losing my grandparents or even Tara, for that matter. The hurt in Sookie’s eyes looked different. I guess the closest I’ve come to understanding her pain was having to say goodbye to Hoyt, but even that doesn’t come close. I could tell Alcide really loved her.
Sookie was the first person to show me real kindness after being made vampire — sort of like a big sister. I could always go to her when I thought Bill was being unreasonable, or if I wanted to do something I didn’t want him to know about, and she would cover for me. The moment I looked into her eyes after Alcide was killed, I wanted to be there for her. I wanted to carry this pain for her, because I could see it was too much to bear. If only for a brief moment, I could be the big sister.”
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