Monday, June 30, 2014

The Desperation Of Killers: “I Found You” Has Infected Vampires Freaking Out!

The Good: Good plot development, Decent acting
The Bad: Pathetically obvious direction, Light on character development, Uninspired continuity issue
The Basics: With a much better sense of pacing and plot progression, True Blood explores the genocide of a neighboring town in “I Found You.”

Like many people, I was seriously disappointed by the seventh season premiere of True Blood, “Jesus Gonna Be Here” (reviewed here!). In fact, my antipathy toward the season premiere led me to delay watching the sophomore episode of the season, “I Found You.” “I Found You,” fortunately, is a much better episode and one that allows the plot of True Blood to progress in a much more satisfying nature than the episode that opened the season.

“I Found You” continues the menace of the vampires who have been infected with Hepatitis V and are threatening Bon Temps. Introduced in the final frames of the prior season, the presumption so far has been that the difference between the vampires infected with Hep-V by drinking the contaminated Tru Blood and the hordes seen assaulting the patrons of Bellefleur’s is that the new breed contaminated by the Tru Blood have a longer period before the virus kills them. Even after “I Found You,” one of the essential questions – how did the infected vampires live long enough to become a menace to a population that should have been able to wait them out in private residences for the days it should have taken for them to all die out – remains unanswered. The scope of the threat, however, is explored through the course of the main two groups of characters presented in “I Found You.”

After Jason Stackhouse has a vivid sexually-charged dream about Eric Northman, he awakens in church where the residents of Bon Temps are freaking out about the assault on the town the night before. The only lead Sherriff Bellefleur has comes from Sookie; a dead body that she suspects came from the same place as the horde that abducted several members of the Bon Temps community the night before. Checking the dead girl’s wallet, Sookie, Alcide, Sam, Andy and Jason discover she came from nearby Saint Alice and they head for the town to see if they can find clues to who might have abducted their friends and where they went.

Meanwhile, in the basement of Fangtasia, Arlene, Holly, Nicole and the other prisoners wait in mortal terror to be dragged off by the vampires who harvested them the night before. Arlene and Holly recognize the new reaper as Betty Harris, a teacher who both found to be exceptionally supportive of their children. Arlene tries to convince Mrs. Harris to save the captives and she makes some headway. Sookie and her team learn that Saint Alice is a ghost town where the residents were butchered or captured days before and she begins to fear that Bon Temps is soon to suffer the same fate. In the absence of law enforcement, the citizens of Bon Temps take control of the guns at the police station, which puts Adilyn in danger.

“I Found You” includes subplots like Lettie Mae becoming a full-fledged V addict and Pam continuing her search for Eric. Lettie Mae has always been a disturbed Christian fundamentalist and in “I Found You,” her character takes a complete right turn. The idea that she has tried and become addicted to V in such a way that she will do such gruesome things as burn herself horribly so Willa has to heal her without any hints of that addiction before now seems like lousy continuity more than compelling character development.

In another, perhaps more problematic leap slip of continuity, “I Found You” introduces Mrs. Harris. Out of nowhere, Mrs. Harris is suddenly the most important person in Arlene and Holly’s lives. While Holly has not been a presence in True Blood for long or in an indispensible way, Arlene has been a part of the series since episode one. Arlene cites Mrs. Harris as a powerful friend to her children after Rene betrayed her and yet this episode is the first and only time we have seen her. Arlene delivers her self-serving monologs to Mrs. Harris in a convincing-enough way, but her sudden importance is somewhat ridiculous.

The defect of character in “I Found You” does not end with the sudden appearance of a brand new character who becomes the only hope for the captive main cast characters. Kendra, who has seemed like a strong supporting character at the Sheriff’s office, gives up all her credibility and personal strength from one ridiculous minute-long monologue from another character who has had no substantive presence in the series before now. It is only Kendra’s suddenly insubstantial character that allows Bon Temps to turn into perhaps the stupidest, well-armed town in Louisiana. It is hard not to watch “I Found You” and suspect that the idiots who are left in Bon Temps (Adilyn alone remains as a character viewers might actually care about) will be slaughtered because they are all hanging out in a public place where infected vampires can easily enter.

The field trip to Saint Alice is a good and appropriately creepy journey for some of the show’s most important characters. That trip brings Sookie back to the forefront of True Blood and makes “I Found You” very watchable and interesting. Unfortunately, director Howard Deutch telegraphs much of “I Found You.” Well before Jason Stackhouse is revealed to be in a church and the mass grave are shown, viewers who have seen any prior True Blood will be able to tell that Jason is engaged in a dream sequence and that the group is coming around the corner where they will encounter the residents of Saint Alice.

That said, all of the acting in “I Found You” is quite good. Despite the problems with the character of Lettie Mae suddenly turning to a vampire blood addict, actress Adina Porter does an exceptional job of selling her character’s unsettling change. Anna Paquin makes reading a diary into gripping television and Carrie Preston embodies Arlene well. Sure, Arlene is hard to screw up given that she is surrounded by people who are just crying hysterically, but Preston does a decent job of balancing emotion and rationality in Arlene’s tone.

In the end, “I Found You” does exactly what it needed to; it reinvigorated the sagging True Blood enough to make viewers want to watch the next episode, which is something “Jesus Gonna Be Here” utterly failed to do.

For other works with Carrie Preston, please check out my reviews of:
A Bag Of Hammers
Cradle Will Rock
My Best Friend’s Wedding

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into True Blood - The Complete Sevent Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the final season of the supernatural show here!


For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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