‘True Blood’ Open Thread: Wrack And Ruin

This post contains spoilers through the Aug. 7 episode of True Blood.

Tonight’s episode started out as a light meditation on the petulance of people who can’t stand not to be the center of attention. “Can we go back to how I’m a medium?” Lafayette complains while Jesus has it out with his uncle. Debbie’s jealousy of Sookie leads her and Alcide into the woods — and to the revelation that Alcide may be more emotionally involved with Sookie than he wants to acknowledge. And Tara sends her girlfriend off, explaining, “I’m barely hanging on to my own life. I don’t want to be responsible for yours too.” But then it takes a very different turn, justifying at least some of the sillier things we’ve been subjected to this season.

We’re finally getting some intersection between the parallel storylines that are running together this season, as Antonia/Marnie appeals to Tara as a fellow survivor of assault by vampire, telling Tara that her sympathy with Marnie’s cause is evident because “it’s in your face, it’s in your rage.” And Hoyt shows up to check in on Jason. Initially, he tries to break through his friend’s facade of stoicism (which is exists, in part, because Jason can’t get the thought of sex with Jessica off his mind), telling him, “You were raped. And maybe turned into a werewolf. How are you doing?” But instead of having an actual conversation about any of the things that have happened to Jason in the past few episodes, Jason shakes off Hoyt’s concern and they end up talking about Hoyt’s girlfriend problems instead. Similarly, Antonia’s recruitment of Tara has nothing more than a surface rhetorical engagement with her experiences as a victim, which is one of the biggest problems of the show —True Blood loves putting Tara through terrible things, but has no interest in providing her with any healing or growth.

As much as I’m so totally bored and even made angry by this Antonia storyline, and for what it means for how lax the enforcement of the rules of this universe are, it does make for some nice symmetry in the main storyline. When Sookie met Bill four seasons ago, he was tied up with silver chains by people who wanted to do him harm, and Sookie wrapped herself in those same delicate chains to create a distance between herself and the thing she wanted and feared. Now, her former lover is telling her to wrap her new ones in silver chains, to mortify Eric’s beautiful, dead flesh because “If you care anything for him, you will do this, or it will be his last day one earth.” And Bill’s wrapping Jessica tenderly in silver, holding back because he’s afraid to cause her pain.

As it turns out, there is a deadly cost to that kindness, as Jessica rips off her chains, and in the most moving sequences in this entire sequences, drags her burned and bleeding body towards the sunlight. For all the work the special effects team is doing to make Pam look disgusting, and it is stomach-churning and considerable, none of it as affecting as the sight of something as simple and elemental as sunlight shot as if it’s a narcotic, a marvel, one of the seven wonders of the world — and death.