After last week’s upswing, True Blood delivered its worst episode of the season. ‘Death Is Not The End’ was clumsily put together, marked by pacing issues and, quite frankly, just a lot of boring segments. As a result the momentum created by ‘Fire In The Hole’ was squandered and no amount of blatant fan service could make up for that fact. There were no yakuza present this week and the town mob that had seemed like at least a bit of threat after the death of Alcide, got killed off at the end of the episode. It was a rushed affair that missed any form of tension because of how meandering ‘Death Is Not The End’ had been before its final moments and because of how awful the dialogue and plot were written.
The opening scene would be an example of a scene that did work quite well. The telephone conversation between Jason and Hoyt, thanks to Ryan Kwanten’s acting, was at least somewhat compelling and Kwanten made you feel for Jason in that particular moment. The talk between Sookie and Alcide’s father was barely okay, again thanks to acting, but even Robert Patrick couldn’t save the man’s last line. “He loved the fuck out of you, Sookie,” Alcide’s father said; not quite a phrase that really tugs at the heart strings. These moments aside that was basically all the time spent on the death of one of the show’s main characters which, after Tara’s demise, was True Blood‘s second botched attempt at mourning this season.
Surprisingly little else happened too. Our heroes finally learned that Arlene and company were held captive in the Fangtasia basement, which led to a clash between Sookie and company, the Hep V vamps and the Bon Temps mob. Much like the first scene of the season, this punch-up was filmed in an amateurish fashion and did little to elevate what was essentially quite a contrived battle. It felt like a lazy and easy way to wrap up the Bon Temps mob storyline when, without hesitation, Bill bashed in the skull of group leader Vince to save Jessica. In the end the people we’re supposed to care about survived and that was that, everything got neatly wrapped up. It felt hollow and unsatisfying, like a cop-out after the time spent on the Hep V vampires and the Bon Temps radicals. The only good thing about it was that, for the first time, Pam and Eric were part of the crew once again, but even they were given surprisingly little to do.
Before their arrival we were treated to a few moments of fan service. ‘Death Is Not The End’ spent a lot of time on Eric and Pam’s flight back to the Bon Temps, where Eric wanted to go because of Willa, to say goodbye to her before going after Sarah Newlin. During their flight Pam, apparently sentimental now, recounted the beginnings of Fangtasia, something that served as both unnecessary fan service and as another cheap way for the writers to get out of a corner they had written themselves into. We were told about a secret entrance into the club that used to be a video store, something that came out of nowhere and only had one single purpose: it offered a solution to the problem that Sookie’s group would be outnumbered fighting the Hep V vamps, so the writers needed to come up with something to tip the scales in the protagonists’ favor. This, the element of surprise, was apparently the best the writers could come up with, a fix so uninspired and glaringly obvious that it was cringe-inducing.
Lastly we were treated to a bunch of scenes that focused on Jessica: after killing three of Andy’s daughters she had apparently sworn to not eat again, which is why she didn’t recover from the gunshot wound she suffered in ‘Fire In The Hole’. Apart from that making her sick, it also made her unbearable this episode which, again, seemed like a cheap way to drive a wedge between her and her boyfriend who’s in love with Lafayette, who ultimately showed up and fed her. During these scenes it was again painstakingly obvious that the show was just grinding its wheels and putting its pieces in a particular place, only to steer toward a certain outcome. A huge problem with that is that it didn’t feel remotely organic or like how these characters would actually act, which is one of the pitfalls when you’re favoring a plot-driven storyline over a character-driven one.
‘Death Is Not The End’ was even worse than ‘Jesus Gonna Be Here’, a baffling achievement. This follow-up to ‘Fire In The Hole’ was hollow, stale and dumb. 3/10