True Blood (HBO) – Mid Season Check In

With six episodes down and six more to go, let’s take a look at the current state of affairs during this fifth season of True Blood. Like most seasons of True Blood, the story lines thus far have been a mixed bag of what I’ve categorized as the good, the bad and the meh. As we head into the final six episodes of the season, here’s hoping for more of the good, less of the bad and improvement of the meh (read: the who gives a crap category).

THE GOOD
 

Russell Edgington

The return of Russell Edgington was much like the first season of Boardwalk Empire. There was a slow, ominous build designed to set up for a huge return in the latter half of the season. Although we’ve only seen Russell in fully healed form for the first time this week, his murderous return will unquestionably change the course of this season.

Steve Newlin

I was not a big fan of Steve Newlin during his initial stint on True Blood. His return, however, as a proud “gay Vampire American” has been simply fantastic. Whether he is professing his love for Jason, showing off his spectacular dance moves or fighting with Jessica – Newlin always brings levity, camp and entertainment to the screen. Newlin was the perfect choice as Nan Flanagan’s replacement. I hope that he will still find work in the Authority under the Edgington regime and will not join the ranks of other characters who return to the show, only to be severely under-utilized.

Jessica – The Perfect Accessory

Although Jessica has not had a main story line this season, she has certainly made her presence felt. She is like the perfect accessory, complimenting every scene in which she’s been this season. From sharing tender moments with her maker to slapping around Steve Newlin to bonding then catfighting with Tara, Jessica’s screen time has not disappointed. She’s one of the few characters the writers have struck a great balance with in that she does not have to have a major storyline in order to leave an imprint on the season.

Bromance

Whether they’re spooning in the trunk of a car or chasing after Russell Edgington, Bill and Eric have proven to be quite the dynamic duo. The two characters are much more compelling to watch when they’re not pining after and competing over the affections of Sookie. Although they both clearly still have feelings for her, they have not allowed it to get in the way of much more important tasks – like staying alive.

What I like most about the bromance is that we get to see the fearless, sometimes ruthless, side of Bill that we’ve mostly encountered through flashbacks. Although Bill tries to do the right thing, we’ve seen that he is perfectly capable of getting down and dirty with the best of them. I enjoy that side of him and hope that we see more of it as the season progresses.

Eric/Pam

Speaking of pasts, Eric’s history has proven to be much more interesting than some of the main storylines on True Blood at times. From Godric to the making of vampire Pam, Eric’s past could be a great spinoff or prequel movie. Okay, prequel movies rarely work so I’d welcome more of Eric’s past in the second half of the season. Based on the previews, it looks like we’ll get another visit from Godric.

I also trust that Pam and her protegee Tara will continue to deliver great moments. From yellow Wal-Mart sweatsuits to reigning in Tara’s anger-driven impulses, Pam has proven to be a great choice as a maker. I would really like to see one more family reunion with Eric, Pam and Tara before the end of the season.

THE BAD
 

Roman

I was among the many Law and Order: SVU fans left devastated by the departure of Christopher Meloni. Upon learning that he would make his return to HBO on True Blood, I was thrilled to see what the writers would do with him. Six episodes in and Meloni’s Roman is now a pile of icky, vampire goo thanks to Russell Edington. His death, rather Russell’s hilarious line (“peace is for pu$$!es”) as he staked Roman, proved more memorable than what we’d previously seen from Roman – a few grand speeches and a deeper understanding of Authority politics.

With so much hype surrounding his addition to the show, I found his early departure quite anti-climactic. I was also extremely frustrated that a vampire with his experience and wisdom was totally clueless about those close to him who were clearly working against him (I’m looking at you Salome).

Werewolves

The good news here is that with Alcide finally deciding to lead the pack, the werewolves could finally provide more to the show than internal strife and leadership issues. The bad news is that we spent the first few episodes wasting time on Debbie Pelt and Marcus – two characters I’d like a vampire to glamor away from my True Blood memories.

Unrequited Love

I liked Hoyt and Jessica as a couple. In fact, it was about the only time on the show that I felt invested in his character and actually liked him. When Jessica moved on, however, so did I. With so many other (and better) story lines on True Blood, I hate it when even three minutes of an episode is wasted on him. We get it – he’s depressed (maybe even suicidal), hurt and desperate. Hoyt lost his best friend and his best girl and fell into a downward spiral involving black nail polish, guy liner and really bad clothes from the 80s. Enough.

What’s even more frustrating about Hoyt is that he is a reminder of how little screen time we get with his crazy, always entertaining mother Maxine. If we must continue to deal with Hoyt during the second half of the season, I hope it means we get more Maxine.

Talking Heads

I am a LaLa fan and it pains me to admit that I absolutely hate his current storyline. In fact, I wasn’t keen on Marnie and the witches last season either. My heart aches for LaLa, who lost his boyfriend and his cousin. The only confidante he has left is his mother, who dishes out loving sentiments and vitriolic homophobia in the same sentence.

I hope that Lafayette wraps up the mystery of Jesus quickly and that we never, ever have to see that damned brujol again. Lafayette is too interesting not to be involved in a central story line with the other characters on the show. I’m thinking Terry could use LaLa’s talent for speaking to the dead. Maybe they can channel the spirit of the woman who put the smoke monster curse on Terry and his comrades.

THE MEH
 

Shifters

The Bon Temps bigots have now expanded their hate to include shifters. Unfortunately, they’ve chosen to wear hideous Barack Obama masks while setting about on their mission to murder innocent shape shifters. I’m curious as to how these people knew that Luna and Sam’s friends were shifters. That, however, is the extent of my interest in this story. I would have actually included this in the bad were it not for how adorable Emma is as a cub. This is yet another storyline I hope has a speedy resolution.

Curses and Smoke Monsters

The curse of the murdered Iraqi woman is not a horrible storyline, I just don’t understand the point of it. I am fond of Terry and Arlene and I’m always game for a Scott Foley guest appearance but none of this seems to warrant such a disjointed plot. As previously suggested, inserting Lafayette and perhaps Holly into this storyline would help. As it stands, the scenes feel like a completely different show that happens to feature two characters from True Blood.

Fairies

Based on True Blood’s fourth season, I’m no fan of the fairies. I’m glad they’ve adjusted their looks to fit their current, invisible club environment in Bon Temps. Although I’m indifferent to the storyline now, I see the potential in it. It has the potential to give Jason his first meaningful non-sex related story and allow him to do a little police work. Jason and Andy also have great rapport and their conversations are pretty funny. Along with Andy’s tryst in the forest with one of the fairy’s last season, the fairies could take us from meh to good.

 

CONCLUSION

Roman’s murder and what will likely be the ascension of Russell Edgington and the Sanguinista faction to the head of the Authority should make for an interesting conclusion to the rest of the season. What are your thoughts about the first half of season 5 of True Blood? What do you hope to see in the second half? Sound off below and check out the mid-season trailer courtesy of HBO.com: