This post contains spoilers through the Sept. 4 episode of True Blood.
I would abjure True Blood, just to honor what felt like one of the only decently-acted scenes in Sunday’s episode and this increasingly dreadful season, but I do feel an obligation to make it all the way to the end of this season, even if I never come back. So I’ll save going all teary-eyed-but-clear Alcide on Alan Ball until later in the month.
I did actually think that moment in the show was handled well, with some real emotional grounding and force. Alcide’s efforts to stay with Debbie have been one of the most consistently-rendered storylines this season, each time bringing Alcide closer and closer to his limits. First, he’s joining a new pack, even if he’s not particularly comfortable with the people in it, as a way to try to help Debbie stay clean. He’s resisting Sookie, even though she might be an easier partner. And he’s stood by Marcus up to the point when it became clear that his packmaster wasn’t man enough to do his own fighting, much less enough wolf. But Debbie’s infidelity, her role in stealing someone else’s child, are too much, and True Blood made us feel the force of Alcide’s ritual without explaining it into the ground.
That subtlety is at odds with the crudity of the rest of the episode. Without being a prude, it’s increasingly tiresome to hear Lafayette call every woman in hearing a bitch, as in, “Marnie just puked that bitch out,” when Antonia frees herself of Marnie; this is beyond a linguistic tick that expresses Lafayette’s simultaneous identification with and distance from women. It’s just lazy. Ditto for Pam’s appalled reaction to the idea that Eric and Bill would “put your entire species at risk for a gash in a sundress,” which is both sexually nasty and not deeply perceptive. I liked Pam a lot in the books, the feel of someone struggling towards humor and humanity, the one who has an actual relationship with Sookie. Pam’s been through a lot this season, so I understand that she’s a little tetchy, but it’s sort of inconsistent to see her get all hair-triggery on Marnie and then pause to pluck a fallen comrade’s Cartier necklace off her soon-to-be-destroyed neck. And when Eric yanks Marnie’s last loyal comrade’s heart out of his chest and sucks the blood out of it like the magic shop’s the Caribbean and he’s just been handed a frosty glass with a lot of ice and tequila blended together in it, the moment should have some genuine horror to it. Instead, it just feels mildly amusing.
And beyond the political problems, what’s making True Blood unwatchable is the show’s total loss of connection to the sensuous and the terrible, and the interaction between them. When you’re subbing in stoner fantasies, ancient and awkward porn scenarios, and goofy guts for good sex, forbidden desires, and the power of immortal killers, you’re taking even the pleasure out of a show that’s supposed to be a guilty one.