True Blood Season 7.04 Review: Death Is Not The End
July 13, 2014 – HBO
With a title like “Death Is Not The End,” I immediately expected to see some beloved characters, dearly departed, but not completely gone. I also expected there to be yet another blood bath. I was not wrong, though who returned and who died I did not predict. In one sense, the deaths of two characters near and dear to our hearts caused the immediate, yet brief return of those who were near and dear to them. In the more direct sense, we did see a favorite character come back as his loved one came upon death’s door. And through it all, we saw Eric Northman face the inevitability of his death.
Death was all around, and yet, this episode still made me laugh out loud. And when it left me bawling, it was not from loss but from an overwhelming sense of love. So overall, I would have to rate this as the best episode of the season thus far. I know we’re not too far in, so I hope this isn’t the high point. But now that the diseased vamps are dead, where do we go from here? Does it turn into the Eric and Pam roadtrip show? Sure, I’d pay to see that, but I think we can’t leave Bon Temps too far behind just yet.
“Don’t try to come here at night”
I imagined that there would be no time for funerals or goodbyes, but in the light of day, Sookie and Jason find time to notify next of kin. From Jackson, Mississippi, Jackson Herveaux tells Sookie that he was not close with his son but he could hear when they spoke how much his son loved her. Though that would be difficult to hear, knowing how Sookie doubted the strength of her love for Alcide, it is Jason who has the more difficult call. In Anchorage, Alaska. Hoyt breaks down at the news of his mother’s death, remembering how she claimed she would die if he left her. What he does not remember is that the Deputy Stackhouse on the phone was his best friend for decades. What was heartbreaking was not Hoyt’s crying over Maxine’s passing but his unknowing query, “Do I know you?” when Jason gets a bit familiar on the phone. Though Jackson and Hoyt do not make it to Bon Temps in this episode, I truly hope to see Hoyt back where he belongs before the season ends. If this could include a reconciliation with Jason, all the better.
“Twizzlers, not Red Vines.”
My favorite part of this final season so far has been the rediscovery of things we loved and the new perspective on things we thought we knew. My least favorite thing was the separation between our characters physically and temporally. So when we not only get Pam and Eric flying back to Louisiana but also reminiscing about the past and revealing interesting tidbits that I never would have guessed, I am in heaven. So what did we learn?
In 1986, directly after the death of Sylvie, Eric and Pam get dropped off in Shreveport, Louisiana, where they meet the Magister for the first time. It is a familiar strip mall, but their punishment is not to run the hottest vampire bar in the state. After all, vampires are not out of the coffin… yet. Instead, Fangtasia is nothing but a video store that has the largest selection of adult videos in Northern Louisiana. The Magister warns them not to change it too much. The only noteworthy aspect of the place is the tunnel from the basement that used to be a part of the underground railroad. Clearly, this tunnel will have some importance to the burgeoning rescue mission for Arlene, Nicole, and Jane. Beyond that, the place is clearly a horrible punishment for our wayward vampires. I have to say, I prefer what the turned it into. Oddly enough, this business also comes with the responsibility of being Sheriff of Area 5.
In 1996, we get the introduction of the LaserDisc and Ginger. Always a vampire lover, this early Ginger was actually a Tulane student taking a class on monsters and well-versed in vampire film history. She is immediately taken with Eric when he walks out of the back room and jumps at the chance to work the day shift. Never would I have expected the Ginger we know today to have been an intelligent, expressive coed. I love the extra layer to her, though it makes me sad to see what excessive glamouring has done to her.
In 2006, vampires are officially out of the coffin, and they can sell Tru Blood. Into the video store walks Ginger with the chair that will become Eric’s throne. She has the entire concept for the bar, including the name. Just like with Reverend Daniels, Ginger is a character who has been around but never really had a voice, except for her bloodcurdling scream. Who would have ever guessed she was so instrumental to our favorite bar? Pam, being Pam, glamours Ginger into forgetting that it was her idea. In the present, Pam finally fesses up to Eric about what he did. It’s not only a wonderful tidbit but also a cute bonding moment between my favorite maker and progeny. Often, flashbacks seem pointless and a waste of time, but this look back was time incredibly well spent. Of course, anything that has more Eric is usually a plus in my book, and when Pam is on point with her quips, nothing can go wrong. These trips into the past have been in every episode so far. Is there more to discover in Pam and Eric’s recent past, or will we have to rely on Bill’s history for the remainder to carry on the pattern?
“We Like To Be Held”
Sookie goes to check on Arlene’s kids. Lisa is so old now! She makes the promise that always bodes ill in these kind of shows: she tells them she will bring their mother back. That involves going to a recuperating Holly and rooting around in her mind to find out where Arlene is being held. Sookie recognizes Fangtasia, so the group decides to meet up that night with whatever vampires they can recruit to get their people back.
But not all their vampire allies are 100%. Jess can’t sleep because she’s in pain. She won’t eat, so she won’t heal. Sookie shows up and offers herself. She trusts Jess, but she has no sympathy for her problems. She just wants her help. Jess won’t eat from Sookie, but Sookie calls in James’ human, Lafayette to feed her. Lafayette and Jessica are my two favorite changes from the books. Lafayette did not last this long, and Jessica never existed! To see the two of them sympathizing over having killed people was disturbing and sweet all at once.
Elsewhere in the manor, Bill promises to round up what vampires he can, but given that this venture does not give them anything, he is not optimistic about the numbers. Sookie offers her blood as lunch so he can be at his strongest. Pretty sure that is not all it means to him. Poor Sookie is so disconnected from emotions right now, and it is a bit eerie to see her so callous with regard to the needs of others.
Before the small band of rescuers (Bill, Jess, Violet, James, and two unknowns named Michael and Keith) can leave, Eric and Pam show up so that they can show them a better way into the bar. More importantly, though, Eric has some time to reconnect with Sookie. The way in which Eric immediately goes to chastise Sookie for letting Alcide in when he gave her the house to get herself back. The way he immediately backs off and just holds her when she reiterates that Alcide died just that morning. Are the writers trying to make my heart hurt? I’ve said that I appreciate the chemistry between Sookie and Bill, but I have always wanted to see Eric and Sookie together. Seeing how Sookie so readily accepts him back just kills me because no matter how that relationship started, it has come to a good place. Eric and Pam are immediately drawn back into Sookie’s problems, and I sincerely hope it will not be their last mistake.
“Because I owe you everything”
Sam sneaks into the basement to give the captives the plan. But in-between freaking out over Sam turning into a rat and Bill coming in for the rescue, Arlene gets dragged upstairs. Bill has to wait for reinforcements as he watches her get bled dry. Eric and Sookie show up at the front door to provide some distraction because they both have a death wish. The stalling time is enough, however, for the other vampires and a truckload of angry humans led by a distraught Rosie to show. The humans start shooting, which makes it difficult for the good vamps to do anything, so the fight happens in the parking lot. In the end, all of the infected vampires fall with no casualties on the other side, though there are many close calls. Eric almost gets chopped down but is saved at the last second by Bill, who then has to turn around and save Jessica from Vince.
In all of the commotion, Sookie stays by Arlene’s side as she slips farther and farther away. In her delirium, Arlene sees Terry, our dearly departed resurrection of the night. As I start to bawl my eyes out, Sookie pleads for Eric to find a clean vampire to donate some blood, and Arlene tries to leave with Terry. Even when it became clear that Arlene would be okay, once Keith showed up to save the day, I was still crying as Terry told Arlene she had to stay. That was one impactful return. That single scene seems to have erased all of the bad memories of Terry’s last storyline (smoke monsters, be gone!) and left only the good that I associated with his character. I cannot conceive of any other way that his return could have been used any better.
The dust settles, and Eric looks back to Sookie one more time before turning to leave. One long and meaningful glance is not enough, Eric. I appreciate that you showed up just in time to help Sookie, but you had better not just leave her to go hunt down Sarah.
As the screen turns to black and through all of the feels, I have to say again: best episode so far this season.
Quotes of the Night
“This place smells like sperm and piss and bad hair dye, and it’s all yours.” The Magister re: the strip mall in Shreveport.
“Ginger, look at yourself and look at me. Who has better taste?” Pam to Ginger
“Because sex sells. And Eric Northman is nothing if he is not pure sex on a throne.” Ginger to sell her idea of Fangtasia to Pam.
“I’m sorry, I just don’t give a fuck about you or your problems.” Sookie to Jessica.
“Jason, we suffered over 200,000 causalties at Normandy. The beaches were stained with blood for years after.” – Bill to Jason, who chooses the wrong rallying call.
“Pam tells me you wrote a book in which you claim not to be an asshole anymore.” Eric to Bill
“Need I remind you we have a Christian to kill?” – Pam
“She’s like a fucking fungus that just won’t go away.” – Pam re: Sookie
Jessica On Being Alive… And Violet on Having Followers
For more, visit Jessica’s blog.