‘Fire In The Hole’ was a solid True Blood episode, a confident step in the right direction compared to the previous two entries of the show’s current season. Not only did this outing bring back a fan favorite character and loose end from last season, it also decided to shake things up just before the credits rolled. And how: in a surprise moment two members of the Bon Temps mob shot Alcide and killed him. It was a genuine shock and it raised the stakes for the remainder of the season significantly, now that we know our main characters are actually in danger. While it’s true Tara already got killed off back in the season premiere, that death was anticlimactic and unimpactful because it happened off-screen and no one really seemed all that sad about the fact she was gone. While it’ll be interesting to see how Alcide’s demise affects Sookie, it’s safe to say that Alcide has left a Bill-shaped hole in her life.
Which isn’t a bad thing: ‘Fire In The Hole’ once again proved that Sookie and Bill go together very well. In its seventh season actress Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer still have great chemistry, as their conversations this week made abundantly clear. It turned out that Sookie showed up at Bill’s last week because she had a plan: to present herself as vampire bait in order to lure in sick vamps and hopefully find out where their hideout is. As Bill noted it wasn’t that great of a plan, but at least the time the two were waiting was spent well: they were catching up and Sookie even confessed to Bill that she didn’t love Alcide as much as Alcide loved her, after which Bill tried to comfort her. Their interaction was sweet and warm, and a short flashback of Bill taking pictures with his family before he went out to fight a war he never came back from, added even more emotion to the scenes. These understated moments are quite the rarity in True Blood, but they were implemented and executed to great effect here. With Alcide dead, it seems very likely that these two will rekindle their relationship but, who knows, maybe True Blood has a few more surprises up its sleeve.
Another fun surprise this episode was the return of Sarah Newlin who had found another religious leader to hook up with. While her actions were definitely played for laughs, they also played a crucial part in the larger narrative, as it turned out: she’s the reason Eric Northman ultimately decided not to wither away in France but to come back to America instead. The flashbacks about Eric and his French girl Sylvie fared less well, because she was a new character we never heard of before, who wasn’t developed, but who was suddenly made important to Eric’s story for the purposes of introducing Yakanomo Corporation’s hit squad, who then immediately offed Sylvie and, later, killed Sarah Newlin’s new lover while looking for her. I guess the company responsible for producing Tru Blood wasn’t all that happy about the fact she used their profitable product to poison the vampire population, huh?
While ‘Fire In The Hole’ didn’t make many real mistakes, one decision was very questionable. After last week’s episode made a big deal about Andy’s daughter getting locked up, during this episode Andy and associates could just walk into the police station, unlock the cell and get her out. It was an lazy, jarring and completely illogical fix to get to the rest of the episode’s goings-on without any delay, and could’ve been handled in a more thoughtful manner. What also didn’t quite work were the Lafayette-James scenes and the Reverend Daniels-Willa scenes; not because they weren’t wonderfully written and acted (the were actually), but because these characters really aren’t all that important to the central plot and it feels like they take away screen time from the more important characters. What also doesn’t help in the case of James, is the fact that his relationship with Jessica has only been talked about this season. These two haven’t actually spent time together aside from the premiere’s opening minutes, which is why there’s no real emotional connection to James himself or his actions regarding Jessica. What the writers seem to be going for here is for a way to get Jason and Jessica back together, which means that James and Jessica have to break up first. That’s probably also why the Jason-Violet relationship isn’t working: much like Jess Jason also needs to be available for this scenario to come to fruition. One wonders how the writers will get rid of Violet, but, before they do, she was at least given a nice action moment during ‘Fire In The Hole’: she ripped Ma Fortenberry’s beating heart from her chest and scattered the Bon Temps mob. All in good fun, of course.
While certainly not flawless, ‘Fire In The Hole’ was a far stronger outing than S7’s previous episodes. It balanced its laughs, thrills and emotional moments quite nicely. 7/10