Thursday, July 24, 2014

Everyone Cheats, Inevitable Carnage, True Blood Makes Significant Moves Without Being A “Lost Cause!”

The Good: Decent character development, Good acting
The Bad: A-plot is very soap operatic and limited
The Basics: When the characters of True Blood are not doing somewhat ridiculous things, “Lost Cause” has a bland party offset by an awesome action sequence featuring Eric and Pam!

The seventh and final season of True Blood has been off to a rocky start, but as it reached its midpoint, the writers seemed like they might have had an inkling of how erratic the season was. The fifth episode of the season was called “Lost Cause” and, fortunately, the episodes had gotten good enough that the season did not feel like it would be a genuine lost cause. “Lost Cause” continues the action of the seventh season as a generally tight narrative; up until this point, the season’s episodes have added up to less than a week and “Lost Cause” occurs over the course of only a few hours.

As one might expect of the very serialized True Blood, “Lost Cause” follows on the heels of “Death Is Not The End” (reviewed here!) and cannot truly be evaluated without referencing significant elements from prior episodes, though (ironically) not much from the previous episode. “Lost Cause” is intriguing in that it has two very focused plots, which consolidate the sprawling cast of True Blood remarkably well. Despite the elements that might remind viewers that True Blood is essentially a high-class, supernatural soap opera, “Lost Cause” does a lot to remind viewers why they loved the show from the beginning!

After Willa reveals to Eric and Pam that Sarah Newlin has a vampire sister, Eric abandons his progeny and Ginger and heads out to kill Sarah before he meets the true death. Sookie arrives home, where LaFayette and James offer protection long enough for her to get some rest. She awakens to Jackson bringing food to help her mourn Alcide’s death. As Sookie’s friends prepare a party to celebrate Alcide’s life, Eric and Pam find Amber Mills, Sarah’s sister and the current whereabouts of Sarah Newlin. Amber is receptive to helping them kill Sarah.

Sneaking away from her boyfriend, Lettie Mae joins the celebration of Alcide’s life. After Andy forgives Jessica for the carnage she caused in his family, he gets Grandma Stackhouse’s ring from Jason and Sookie and proposes to Holly. Holly’s acceptance makes James want to leave the party, but Jessica wants to be social. James and LaFayette have a quiet conversation on the porch and make out while Pam and Eric prepare to invade the Republican event in Dallas. Pam realizes Eric has stage 2 Hep-V, but the two commit to finding Sarah. As Jessica reels from James cheating on her at the party (which pushes her into the arms of Jason),

Peppered throughout “Lost Cause,” as if to remind viewers he still matters and to make the last shot of the episode have any emotional resonance at all, are flashbacks to the personal history of Bill Compton. In those flashbacks, Compton heroically stands up against the Confederates in Louisiana as they argue to secede from the Union. Compton, who had a decent set-up in the prior season’s finale, has been a virtual non-entity in the seventh season. Seeing more of his history, where he stands up for new freemen in Confederate territory gives him more backstory character than he has in the show’s “present.”

After a Sookie-heavy episode, “Lost Cause” moves Sookie largely to the back burner, despite the funeral party happening at her house. Even though the bulk of the cast is stuck in Sookie’s house, there is remarkably little character development for Sookie. She both mourns Alcide’s death and pines for Bill over the course of the same hour-long episode and the compressed mourning period seems somewhat ridiculous. Anna Paquin is not given much to do in “Lost Cause,” but what she does, she does adequately. At the very least, Paquin’s character is written with more consistency than in the prior episode.

Chris Bauer plays Sheriff Andy Bellefleur well in “Lost Cause.” For sure, it is unclear why Andy and Holly are actually together, but in “Lost Cause,” Bauer sells the viability of their characters’ relationship. Bauer get the chance to play Bellefleur with a wonderful sense of seriousness in a scene opposite Deborah Ann Woll’s Jessica and then with pure joy as his character proposes. “Lost Cause” is one of the few episodes where Bauer is allowed to smile unabashedly and he is wonderful in his range. When Bauer smiles (in character) it is a genuine and beautiful thing and following on the heels of a serious moment with Jessica, Andy’s joy is palpable and well-delivered.

At the other end of the spectrum, Alexander Skarsgard and Kristin Bauer van Straten play their parts of Eric and Pam as classic action movie heroes. Skarsgard is serious and plays Eric as violent and powerful, Bauer van Straten uses comic relief and banter to remind viewers why they love Pam. Director Howard Deutch might not have the most compelling script to work from, but he gets decent performances and makes the episode look good.

“Lost Cause” turns the final season of True Blood around in the nick of time and is the first episode that leaves fans of the show with the desire to see the next episode.

For other works directed by Howard Deutch, please check out my reviews of:
”I Found You” - True Blood
”Don’t You Feel Me” - True Blood
”You’re No Good” - True Blood
The Whole Ten Yards

[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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