Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Plot Rules The Penultimate Episode Where “Life Matters!”

The Good: The plot progresses, A decent farewell to a dead character
The Bad: Nothing exceptional on the performance front, No real character development, Baffling plot discontinuities
The Basics: In the sixth season’s penultimate episode, “Life Matters,” Bill’s vision is more or less realized with consequences more absurd than incredible.

With any serialized television series that effectively employs foreshadowing as a plot technique or in working to develop serious, long, character arcs, there comes a time when the foreshadowing has to pay off. In the sixth season of True Blood, the show has been steadily building to what appears to be the death of several important characters in a white room in the Governor’s compound. Bill saw a vision of the untimely death of most of the credited vampires in “Who Are You, Really?” (reviewed here!) and viewers have been hanging on to see if that would be the last shot of the season or if the consequences of those (potential) deaths would be dealt with.

Rather smartly, the writers and producers of True Blood went with the latter option and with the penultimate episode, “Life Matters,” viewers get to witness Bill’s vision in real time. And “Life Matters” is pretty much worth it. That said, late in the episode, director Romeo Tirone makes some absolutely baffling choices with extras that gut the emotional resonance of the season’s big plot arc. Because this is a late-in-the-season episode, it is impossible to discuss “Life Matters” without revealing some key aspects of where “Dead Meat” (reviewed here!) left off. Consider that a spoiler alert.

Opening with Sookie and Bill arriving in the fairy realm to find Warlow largely exsanguinated byEric, Sookie vows to keep her word to Warlow and remains with him after launching Bill back into the real world. There, Bill finds himself arriving late to the jailbreak Eric has incited at the Governor’s compound. While Sookie attends Terry’s funeral, Eric frees the vampires in search of Pam, Willa, and the others Bill saw in the white room meeting the sun. Minutes behind him, Bill finds vampires tormenting back at their tormentors. When Eric finds Jason Stackhouse still alive in the female gen pop cell, he has a very different experience than he did after freeing the male gen pop (where he confirmed that the inmates of the camp have been infected with Hep V).

Guided by Jason, Eric finds his way to where his friends and progeny are being kept. Meanwhile, Sarah Newlin manages to escape the carnage (how? Every other vampire has been able to hear heartbeats and smell living humans!) and she runs outside to make Bill’s vision come to light. As the sun enters the white room, Eric and Bill’s paths converge and . . . the long-awaited event occurs in a slightly different way than previously visualized and with an anticlimax that has a casualty that is truly hard to give a damn about. Spliced in between the action at the Governor’s camp is Terry Bellefleur’s funeral, which is where Sookie and the rest of the main cast finds closure and spends their time.

“Life Matters” has some really odd discontinuities. Foremost among them is that Eric has come to care about vampirekind, yet releases a ton of infected vampires out into the facility. While it was night moments ago – Eric bit Adilyn at night to enter Warlow’s realm – but apparently lingered there the whole night? This makes no rational sense as if Eric truly wanted to save everyone, night time would be the best time to open the cages.

But, more importantly, “Life Matters” has a resolution that makes absolutely no sense. Eric frees a number of vampires who are infected with Hep-V when the humane thing would be to kill them. Eric has seen firsthand just how gruesome their deaths will be and given that no cure for the disease was found in the episode, there are a number of infected vampires who are about to die pretty horribly in the genera vampire population. But as baffling are the sheer number of vampires seen in the sun at the climax of the episode. Either they are infected with Hep-V, but Eric fed them anyway or . . . well, they couldn’t have fed on anyone else because those who did were seen doing so . . .

The scenes that focus on Terry’s funeral are good, though they allow Sookie to make even the tragedy of his death partly about her. The plotline is a fitting exit for Terry and the flashbacks are nice; even Sookie’s revelation of her telepathic nature is not trumped by her revealing that Terry was in love with Arlene from the moment he first saw her.

“Life Matters” stumbles a bit on the character front. Given Sookie’s assertions at her parents’ graves in the prior episode, it is no surprise she is willing to stay with the wounded Warlow and honor her word to him. Similarly, given how angry Eric was following the death of Nora, it is unsurprising that he would still have issues even after the Governor’s camp is essentially dismantled. Ironically, the character of Terry is fleshed out a bit more, but given that he is dead and not likely to return, it ends up being something of a wash. The surviving characters do not grow or develop in any truly significant ways.

“Life Matters” does live up to the promise of a casualty, though, but it is not one of the major characters and the death is not one likely to change any of the surviving ones (Jason Stackhouse, for example, could have begun a much more interesting potential arc had he become a killer in this episode). Like so much of the sixth season of True Blood, “Life Matters” got where it promised, but did nothing truly extraordinary in getting there or where it leaves the viewer.

[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 fantasy movies based on book series’, please visit my reviews of:
The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones
The Twilight Saga
Beautiful Creatures
Warm Bodies


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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