The Good: Decent performances, Good special effects, The plot progresses, Moments of character
The Bad: Still very crowded
The Basics: The True Blood episode “Fuck The Pain Away” moves the vampire characters into position for their presaged slaughter to occur!
As the sixth season of True Blood reaches its midpoint, the show was at an intriguing place: the first four episodes had largely been spent with putting characters in place and moving very slowly with surprisingly little actually happening. While it makes sense that the show would have to start paying off on the investments fans have made, as the fifth episode aired it was announced that True Blood had been renewed for a seventh season, so it was conceivable that HBO was banking big on the idea that the show would retain its audience for the final five episodes of the season. After seeing “Fuck The Pain Away,” the fifth episode of the sixth season of True Blood it is easy to see why.
“Fuck The Pain Away” is the episode where things finally start to happen. Even more important than the plot progressing, however, was that writer Angela Robinson actually packs the episode with character revelations and reflections. It is the characters who advance the plot in “Fuck The Pain Away” and that, in turn, gives the performers more to do with their characters. It is a refreshing change of pace from the first four episodes of the season and the episode, appropriately, climaxes in such a way as to make it seem like an agonizing wait to live through the next week until the follow-up episode.
Even so, “Fuck The Pain Away” is not a perfect episode. Like all of the episodes so far this season, “Fuck The Pain Away” bites off more than it can chew and between introducing new characters (there is a psychologist and a mysterious new vampire woman introduced in the camp as well as a former associate of Terry’s who materializes out of nowhere, all of whom promise to have more relevancy beyond this single episode) and trying desperately to include most of the established main cast. While Lafayette gets a meatier role in “Fuck The Pain Away,” Alcide, Sam, Holly, Terry, Jackson, and Arlene (all of whom are main castmembers) each appear substantively in a only single scene in the episode. It is hard to complain, though, because the time devoted to the essential characters is time well-spent and the backstory of Warlow is well-detailed, answering questions and providing some strong pay-offs for the fans.
Picking up immediately where “At Last” (reviewed here!) ended, “Fuck The Pain Away” has Sookie confronting Warlow. As she threatens him with her fairy light, Warlow reveals what he insists is the truth: that Sookie’s parents were taking her to kill her the night he killed them. Warlow claims that he was saving her life (and protecting his investment in her). Elsewhere, Tara reveals to Eric that Pam has been taken by the Governor’s forces and so she and Eric surrender so they might be taken to the camp where the Governor is studying the vampires. Rejected by Governor Burrell, Sarah Newlin seeks out Jason Stackhouse for solace. But, after making love with him, Sarah is appalled to discover that Jason has had a relationship with Jessica (who arrives at Jason’s house in shock and horror following her slaughtering Andy’s children). Spitefully, Sarah has Jessica taken from the house to the same camp as the other vampires.
Elsewhere, Bill – utilizing the power of Lilith’s blood – exerts control over Warlow and the history of the fey vampire is revealed. When Terry wrestles with the murder of his military buddy at his own hand, he reconnects with an old acquaintance who agrees to put him out of his misery. Andy Bellefleur manages to save the life of one of his daughters as Alcide pushes his own father away during the hunt for Sam and Emma. Sookie enlists the aid of Lafayette to learn the truth about the night her parents died and her quest for the truth has some harrowing consequences. Back at the camp, Pam is psychoanalyzed and in revealing her detachment for her own maker, she sets up a conflict between herself and Eric that might be lethal for both.
“Fuck The Pain Away,” despite being crowded up by subplots like the Terry plot and bothering to include the werewolves/Sam, is the best episode of the season so far. The psychological evaluation of Pam and her presentation of perspective is worth the price of admission alone. For sure, actress Kristin Bauer van Straten is not given anything new to present as Pam, but she has the cold, otherworldly façade down pat. She uses it to deliver some of the most chilling lines of the episode and through Pam – who is smart and ruthless in a way that Eric is not (especially in this episode) – she makes the vampires in the True Blood universe seem entirely plausible and like a completely different species.
Jessica’s crisis of faith continues in “Fuck The Pain Away” and here she comes to doubt that her loyalty to Bill might have been such a good thing. As Jessica turns to Jason and is forced into a conflict with Sarah, there is no trace of a melodramatic love triangle. Instead, the conflict seems like a deeply-rooted rending of Jessica’s human values and her vampire beliefs and it makes for a compelling character struggle. Through her, Jason begins to once again swing on his pendulum of ever-changing values back toward a progressive attitude and that is refreshing to see.
Eric gets his come-uppance in “Fuck The Pain Away” and that is refreshing to see, especially the way Alexander Skarsgard presents it. In the prior episodes, Eric developed a plan and it hinged on human emotion playing along predictable lines. So, when Eric learns that the Governor did not accept his daughter back and has instead interred her at the camp, there is an appropriate look of shock and horror on Eric’s face that is quite impressive. The performance by Skarsgard mirrors the shock and horror that Anna Paquin emotes as Sookie early in the episode when Warlow reveals his truth to Sookie.
Character abounds in “Fuck The Pain Away” and the episode makes decent use of the flashback sequences. Witnessing the struggle between Lilith and Warlow is rewarding after so much build-up and even the guest performers like the ever-naked Jessica Clark as Lilith play their roles well. “Fuck The Pain Away” pushes the series to the point where all of the characters seen in the foreshadowing vision in “Who Are You, Really?” (reviewed here!) are where they need to be for the horrible prophecy of Lilith to come to pass. This episode starts to knock the carefully-placed dominoes down and it sets up the promise of a real blow-out for the next episode.
[For a much better value, check out True Blood Season 6 on Blu-Ray and DVD. The penultimate season is reviewed here! Check it out!]
For other works with Anna Camp, please visit my reviews of:
True Blood - Season 2
For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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