Mon
Aug 20 2012 12:31pm

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? True Blood: “Sunset”

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? A review of True Blood episode Sunset

Better late than never, True Blood. I thought a whole season would pass without a real clear favorite episode, but then along came “Sunset.” The penultimate episode rocketed along with lots of soapy, bloody goodness. Bill has really lost his damn mind, Eric may have started World War III, and Pam opens a charm school for wayward babyvamps and steals all the scenes, even from Russell and his big hair.

 

ERIC

Nora’s got all the personality of a boiled potato, but it looks like Eric has successfully converted her. That can be a euphemism, too. Nobody can complain that this episode didn’t feature a lot of Eric Northman. It was awesome when Eric fired the first shot in an escalating war against the U.S. government’s mainstream movement. That general had balls of steel. But all the swelling romantic music and clumsy sexposition in the world can’t make me care about the Eric/Nora pairing. Having literally flown the coop with his sister, has he abandoned Bill to his madness for good or will he attempt another rescue? There are a lot of characters trapped at the Authority compound by hour’s end.

 

BILL

Is he turning into the Big Bad or what? He’s really come unhinged. It remains to be seen if Lilith’s blood really is holy or if the situation is really like Pam said, a coked-up vampire nest. R.I.P. In his craziness, Bill is making dumb decisions. Letting Eric and Nora and Jessica go off with only a few security guards is awfully trusting of your redshirt employees, no? Wouldn’t it have been smarter for those guys to bring Jason to the compound? Anyway, he got Jess back in the end and he’s a bigger dick than ever now. If he drinks all of Lilith’s blood, will his former Southern gentlemanly, eco-conscious, lovable self be gone for good?

 

ALCIDE

I hate to say it because he’s the most ab-tastic male stripper werewolf ever, but his scenes dragged. It felt like the set-up for a spin-off where Alcide’s a Bruce Banner lone wolf-type wandering from town to town saving folks and busting out of his clothes. Which could likely be good. I liked Angel almost as much as Buffy.

 

PAM

How many times did Pam say “fuck” last night? I think my favorite was when she got all inquisitive with Sam in the halls of the Authority headquarters. “What the fuck are you doing here? Who the fuck is Luna?” Now I really care about what’s going on underground. She’s going to be fucking pissed when Eric’s not there.

 

JASON

It’s so nice to see family members on an HBO show saying they love one another without it being really creepy like on Boardwalk Empire or Game of Thrones. This is a big time for Jason. Sookie is all he’s really got left. No friends, no lovers, just his job to serve and protect. And there’s no one more noble to protect than family. As usual, the scenes he shared with Jessica were golden and I’m glad he’s not undead. Still can’t believe he got himself glamoured so quickly. Is Russell that powerful or is Jason that simple? I know Jason would disagree, but a human sandwich with Russell and Steve was hilarious to watch. And the epic sniffing. Oh, mercy!

 

SOOKIE

So, I think the less I say about the ridiculous Elder Fairy, the better. I still haven’t made up my mind on her. My gut reaction was that she was extremely cringeworthy, but this show is so over the top that she kind of made perfect sense. She was serviceable: She doled out a vague prophecy, slut-shamed Sookie for banging vampires and got herself killed before she could give a pretty obviously pregnant Anna Paquin any info on Warlow.

You’d think if these fairies were so scared of vampires they’d have some wooden bullets in their hideout. It’s not like they don’t outnumber Russell 30 to 1. He can’t drink them all before someone kills him. The fairies are so stupid, I want to see Russell kill them all. I also want him to start showing up on other shows and eating characters I can’t stand, like Betty Draper and The Situation. Will Warlow make a grand entrance next week and snatch Sookie from under Russell’s fangs?

 

Other points of interest:

  • R.I.P. Kibwe. Strange to see Peter Mensah on the business end of a sword for a change.
  • Unbeknownst to anyone, Lafayette is being haunted by a sitcom character that compels him to show up once per episode and spout a sassy catchphrase. You could practically hear a studio audience go “Oooooh...”
  • I thought that pregnant fairy was Andy’s one night stand. He and Holly were getting too cute anyway. The time is ripe to torture them with a fairy curse.
  • Here’s a preview next week’s big finale:

True Blood airs Sundays at 9PM E/PT on HBO.


Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com. She covers True Blood, Game of Thrones, and is also an avid gamer. She has also covered tech and TV for Geektress.com and Action Flick Chick. Follower her on Twitter @tdelucci

37 comments
Gardner Dozois
1. Gardner Dozois
I'm beginning to wonder if they're going to kill Bill off--it's not going to be easy to redeem him as a character after all this. You also have to wonder what Lilith--if there is a Lilith; still think she's a hallucination, but then there's those bloody fingerprints--is playing at by setting them all against each other by telling them all that "she chooses them." Seems like a contra-productive way to spread her religion, if she is a god, by getting all your followers to kill each other.

I know that Eric killed the general so that he could have a reason to be send outside the compound and escape, but it seems a bit reckless on his part, since it's likely to touch off a war of extermination by humans against vampires; maybe he doesn't care what happens to other vampires, as long as he (and, I guess, Nora, although she really is an uninteresting character) gets away.

At this point, I almost hope that the humans DO have terrible weapons that the vampires couldn't even imagine--so far, they've been totally outmatched by the vampires, and its hard to see why Roman would have been so afraid that they'd war against vampires if that's the best they can do.

Agree that it's pretty stupid of the faeries not to have weapons of some sort in their hideaway. An unglamoured Jason on the inside with his gun full of wooden bullets would be the perfect solution to Russell howling on the doorstep. For that matter, you'd think that Sookie, knowing that vampires were after her, would have thought to have acquired her own gun loaded with wooden bullets at some point while she was wandering around town all day; she could always have gotten her brother to give her one, if nothing else. And WHAT exactly was the plan when Jason went running off to stand guard on Sookie's porch all by himself? Was he SUPPOSED to get glamoured and lead Russell to the faeries's lair? A Cunning Plan? If so, it didn't entirely work out right.

I thought that the Elder Faerie dancing around ineptly while dispensing her cryptic gems of wisdom was one of the silliest things I've seen on this show for some time. I don't THINK that me falling on the floor laughing was the reaction they were hoping for from this scene.

A good suspensful set-up episode, building toward the season finale next week, entertaining as long as you can ignore the various moments of unbelieveable stupidity--but then, if you COULDN'T ignore such moments, you couldn't watch the show in the first place.
Gregg Anderson
2. digrifter
The faeries and faerie elder certainly deserve to die because they are SOOOO STUPID!! Maybe it's genetic why Jason and Sookie are so dense? It's the faeires genes dumbing them down I tell ya!

I'm hoping the Vampire World War begins next episode, and will be sorely disappointed if the general was bluffing.
Gardner Dozois
3. Gardner Dozois
Jason is widely considered to be one of the stupidest characters on television, and yet all throughout the previous episode, Jason was SMARTER than Sookie, a sad commentary on HER brains. I also notice that he HAS a gun loaded with wooden bullets, and she does not. Still find it hard to believe that if you knew vampires were after you, particularly in this world where guns with wooden bullets are widely available (there's a shop that sells them in TOWN! And she could always have gotten one from her brother), you wouldn't arm yourself with one; Sookie had plenty of time to do so. Not bright.

Watching the teaser clip for next week, I couldn't help but think, while watching the scene with Sam tied up with ropes around his chest and being threatened with immenant death, why he didn't just turn into a fly and fly away? He's done it before. For that matter, he could turn into a two-thousand-pound Brahma bull, something he's done before too--even Bill might have trouble fighting THAT.

Obviously there will be a human raid on the Authority compound, you can see it happening in the clip, but I suspect that they'll forget all about those "terrible new weapons"--too much of a drain on the Special Effects budget. The only weapon you see is Jason shooting a handgun.
Gardner Dozois
4. rewaters
At this point, I'd be happy if HBO didn't renew it for next season. It's run it's course as far as I'm concerned.
Gardner Dozois
5. sofrina
i'm gonna have to rewatch. i missed a lot. not cocoa from "fame" as the whackadoo faerie elder who did NOT in fact 'have this.' hope that club has a fire exit. what the heck was with luna? did she deny being a shifter so she could get out later and save emma? frankly, why is sam committing the first crime of aces in the hole - telling people about them? they didn't know you could do that, but now they do...

mirella reminds me of shae on "game of thrones." only this girl's features are flawless and shae always makes me wonder what her nose looked like originally.
Gardner Dozois
6. Gardner Dozois
It just occurred to me to feel sorry for Jessica--she's gone from one abusive father to another; just as she was beginning to develop familial feelings for Bill, the rug gets yanked out from under her and she ends up with another child-beater.
Theresa DeLucci
7. theresa_delucci
I don't know if I'd go so far as to call Bill a child-beater. This is the only episode he ever got violent towards her. He hasn't turned into Carrie White's mom just yet. Jessica's also nineteen. But she has gone from one family of religious nuts to another, so the gist is still the same.

Out of everyone at the compound, I'm most worried for Jessica and Pam. Pam's mouth could get her into a LOT of trouble with the Authority and she's got nothing anyone particularly wants. Fangtasia? One little fetish club in Bon Temps doesn't amount to much for the big players.
Gardner Dozois
8. Gardner Dozois
Well, Bill did knock her to the ground and is standing over her screaming at her in a threatening and abusive manner. That might qualify him as a child-beater in some eyes. Your point about her going from one family of religious nuts to another is well-taken, though, and something that occurred to me as well. Poor Jessica.

I wonder if Tara is going to try to rescue Pam? Clearly Jason is going to try to rescue Jessica. Having gone to great pains to get many of the main characters in the same building at the same time, I suspect that most of the finale will deal with them, and you probably won't see the other part of the cast--Lafyette, Terry, Arlene, Holly, even Alcide--much; I suspect that the reprecussions of the Andy And the Knocked-Up Fairie line won't play out until next season.

I suspect that you're right, and that Warlow is going to show up at the last moment to snatch Sookie away from Russell, and that'll be the big season-ending cliffhanger.

The producers have been claiming that one of the main characters is going to get killed this season. I thought that it might be Jason, since if they killed him and then turned him, they could "kill" a main character and still keep him around, but that seems less likely now. They could, of course, kill someone like the pack-master or Alcide's father or the two fairies, but that would be something of a cheat (not that I put that past them). My guess would be either Nora or Luna, as nobody would particularly miss either of them, especially Nora. I think that Eric, Sam, Jessica, and Jason are reasonably safe, and I think they'd want to save the possibility of bringing Russell back in another season. They MIGHT kill Bill. They've painted themselves into a corner with the character, and there's always the possibility that the actor wants to move on to something else. I'm still disappointed that Bill wasn't playing a long game and conning them all, which I think would have made a better storyline.
Gardner Dozois
9. Gardner Dozois
POSSIBLE that they'll kill Pam, especially if they have her die saving Eric.
Shelly wb
10. shellywb
Nooooo not Pam! She redeems every bit of stupidity I put up with every week from the others!

About Sam escaping, I don't know about the show but in the book Sam assumes the form of the animal he last saw, either for real or in a picture. So his choices are limited. But book verse is so different from TV verse now that that may well not be in his TV character description.
Thomas Jørgensen
11. Lavode
The only anti-vampire weapon the humans really need is a good way to find them while they sleep. -The general was right, they own the day. Superspeed, strength, and healing wont do a damm thing to save you from someone throwing C4 into your lair or digging you out of the ground with heavy machinery. But they probably have not only that, but more and worse.
Which could be anything, really. - Orbital mirrors, warehouses full of UV lightbulbs, a vaccine that renders human blood toxic to vampires..
Gardner Dozois
12. Iamme
I couldn't tell if Bill's anger resulting in him pushing Jessica to turn Jason had to do with him feeling she was playing him or because she, in her frantic attempt to save Jason, reminded him of what he felt for Sookie/humans thereby finding the chink in his "I'm-all-about-Lillith-and-antimainstreaming" armor.

I consider Pam an often underused TB character asset (one of my favorite segments this season was delving into her past), therefore will be incredibly disappointed if she's off'd. Same with Jason and Lafayette. Bill? Not so much even though I like his character. I can totally see him perishing to save a human (maybe Jason or Sookie) thereby releasing the Lillith blood hold - good vamp triumphs over bad vamp and saves humanity.

Eh, we'll know more (or less) next week.
Gardner Dozois
13. Gardner Dozois
Yes, Lavode, I agree with you. Stealth has always been the vampires's biggest weapon. They're ambush predators, basically. Once the humans know that there really ARE such things as vampires, it becomes a matter of FINDING them during the day. Once you do that, they're toast. Vampire toast.
Theresa DeLucci
14. theresa_delucci
Mmmm... vampire toast.

I appreciate the continuity in the way staked vampires turn into a giant mess. That one noob vampire attacking Alcide this week was hilarious. "We turn into GOO?!"

@12 I think it was the former. The actress playing Jessica is a terrific actress and she did a great job playing Jessica trying to play Bill. It was so obviously a fake-out I would've had even less respect for Bill if he bought it.

I'd be okay with losing Bill for good. I don't see much progress for his character and he hasn't been much fun since maybe the beginning of season 3. Perhaps if Warlow does steal Sookie in the finale, it'll snap him out of his current d-baggery? And next season he can search for her. What's the time frame on this season? Two, maybe three weeks? Just trying to figure out how long it's been since Bill (and Eric) said "Fuck Sookie."
Gardner Dozois
15. ChakaTodd
Humans own the day? Couldn't the vamp just follow the night around the world and wreak havoc as they went? How much sleep does a vampire require?
Gardner Dozois
16. Gardner Dozois
I'm told that vampire toast is good with baked beans.

Time-frame can't be more than two or three weeks. I can see only one of two ways they can go with Bill--kill him, or figure out something noble and heroic he can do to redeem himself. Rescue Sookie from Warlow? Perhaps. It's certainly not an impossible way for them to go. Eric has already redeemed himself to some extent by rejecting Lilith and her religion; in the teaser clip, you can seen him saying to Bill that "Lilith is an evil god." (By the way, that he and Bill are having a face-to-face seems to mean that he goes back to the Authority compound next episode, since the confrontation seems to be taking place in the Holy Blood Room. Which leads to another possibility--Eric is unable to talk Bill out of drinking all of Lilith's blood, and it kills him. Or turns him into a super Big Bad, which may mean that they kill Russell off and have Bill be the villain in the next season.)
Gardner Dozois
17. Gardner Dozois
Remarks by the actor who plays Jason over on io9 seems to indicate that they're NOT GOING TO TELL you who dies at the end of the season finale, holding the whole thing over as a cliffhanger until next season. I'm not sure that that's really a good idea.
Gardner Dozois
18. Iamme
@Gardner (#17) - No shit?! I loathe that type of season ender; makes me not want to tune in next season just for spite.

Leaving you hangin' for a year ... well it's just plain mean.
Christopher Hatton
19. Xopher
Two words: KILL BILL.

I'm ready to see the bastard staked.

Gardner, Lilith is a kratistos kind of god; it's perfectly reasonable of her to set them against each other, because then only the strongest (well, or most devious) one will survive, and believe they survived because they're The Chosen One. Of course, if she's a hallucination it also makes sense!

Jason standing guard on the porch where Sookie isn't is a classic Plot Stupid. Unless there's a plan, but that seems unlikely, the Fae being what they are.

I dunno about Sam. Maybe he knows vampires are damned fast and would swat him out of the air if he turned into a fly.

Lavode: Orbital mirrors, warehouses full of UV lightbulbs, a vaccine that renders human blood toxic to vampires...

I love it! And didn't they have a security system last season that sprayed silver nitrate and flashed ultraviolet?

ChakaTodd: Not with orbital mirrors.

Iamme: I agree, but then I hate season-ending cliffhangers with a passion anyway.
Christopher Hatton
20. Xopher
Ooo! Remember Hep D? Another potential anti-vamp weapon.
Gardner Dozois
21. Gardner Dozois
The more I think about it, the more I think that the scene in the Coming Attractions clip is Eric trying to talk Bill out of drinking all of Lilith's blood--and that he does so anyway, with effects not to be fully explained until next season, except that I suspect that the effects will be to turn Bill into a super-vampire of some sort.

For goodness sake, some of the technology that exists NOW would make efficient anti-vampire weapons. How difficult would it be to tinker up a device that blazed high-intensity ultraviolet light in front of you as you advanced? Or mobile high-pressure hoses that shoot out a mist of silver nitrate? Christ, a FLAMETHROWER, in existence since at least the '40s, ought to take out a nest of vampires standing around in close proximity, as long as you can trigger it before they kill you or snatch it out of your hands.
Christopher Hatton
22. Xopher
Gardner, I always wondered why Buffy didn't have a suit with crosses all over it. Crosses don't work in TB, of course, but silver suits should help at least against the weaker class of vampire (can't imagine it working against Russell).

I also remember the UV-emitting bullets from Underworld. They wouldn't really work, of course; they'd shatter in a real gun, but then so would wooden ones, and they use those here.

The UV lights we've seen so far aren't fast killers. They burn and cause pain, but again, I can't see them stopping the likes of Russell. Maybe there are more intense ones out there. I'm hoping the human military does have some weapon powerful enough to scare the Sanguinistas again.

But what I hope for on this show seldom happens.
Gardner Dozois
23. Gardner Dozois
Yes, in the real world, wooden bullets wouldn't work, although they do in this universe. Of course, in the real world, you couldn't ram a flimsy pair of takeout chopsticks through somebody's heart, either.

UV lights might at least slow them down, though, nullifying their super-speed. And certainly there's no reason why high-intensity sprays of silver nitrate, or the good old flamethrower, wouldn't work, even against Russell.
Christopher Hatton
24. Xopher
My point was that since real-world shattering isn't a barrier with the wooden bullets, maybe the UV-emitting glass ones from Underworld would work here.

Hmm, it didn't occur to me that UV lights would slow them down. That might help against Russell. But his greatest asset isn't his strength and resistance to things that normally harm vampires. It's 3000 years of experience. Something as slow to aim and fire as a flamethrower or hand-held silver nitrate sprayer wouldn't work because he just wouldn't be in front of it when you pulled the trigger. Haven't people tried to shoot him before?

I think it would have to be some kind of area thing, deployed by surprise, that he couldn't run away from fast enough to save himself. A bomb that emits a super-intense UV flash, with silver shrapnel, say. Or needles filled with silver nitrate, so it would get in his blood.

At any rate, I hope, like you, that they have SOMETHING and that that general wasn't bluffing. I hope it's something we haven't thought of, because that's more fun, but I'll settle for being right! :-)
Gardner Dozois
25. Gardner Dozois
There was a bomb with silver shrapnel in it used against vampires in the second season finale, and it seemed to be effective enough. Grenades with silver shrapnel in them, maybe?
Christopher Hatton
26. Xopher
Rocket-propelled grenades with silver shrapnel. Bunker-busters ditto, dropped on the Authority.

LOLAM. They've made it OK to kill vampires again! Yay.
Gardner Dozois
27. Iamme
Just saw another sneak peek clip on YouTube wherein Sookie and Jason are chatting in GMa's living room when in pops Nora, Eric and Tara in an attempt to enlist Sookie's help at AVL headquarters in saving Jessica and Bill. Sookie's wearing the same dress she was wearing when Russell was just outside that creepy carnival face-door to Faeryland about to have a gorgefest on Faery juice. Sooooo, I assume either Russell is waylaid or he perishes?! At the very least, it explains how and why Eric goes back to AVL headquarters and why Jason's there as well.
Gardner Dozois
28. Gardner Dozois
Sookie's presence there does seem to suggest that either they kill Russell or zap him away to some convinent limbo, as the Fairie Elder was trying to do last episode, from which he can later be recalled at need. Hope they're not going to kill him, but it's possible if next season's Big Bad is going to be either Warlow or a hyped-up-Lilith-blood Bill.

I still think that it's going to turn out that Eric is trying to convince Bill not to drink all of Lilith's blood, and that he's going to do so anyway--with what effects, we'll probably have to wait until next season to see.

If they really are going to leave everything unresolved in a massive cliff-hanger, maybe we'll have to wait until next season for Warlow to show up.
Christopher Hatton
29. Xopher
Iamme, could you label spoilers when you post them? Just a request.
Christopher Hatton
30. Xopher
Gardner, you're probably right about them not killing Russell. I hope you're wrong, though I seem to be the only one who's bored with Russell...even as I admire the actor who plays him. Maybe he could be eaten (slowly) from inside by a parasite, giving the character a deservedly-painful death but leaving the actor to play the parasite-possessed vampire corpse?

I really need to write my own damn stories (and finish them).
Gardner Dozois
31. Iamme
@Xopher (#29): Oh goodness! I'm terribly sorry about that. Didn't even think about it. It won't happen again.
Debbie Solomon
32. dsolo
I'm really kind of disappointed with True Blood this season. Bill has turned into a psycho and Sookie is just pathetic. Even after she knows about Russell being alive, she tried to get rid of her fairy powers, so she could be "normal". What's the benefit of being normal, when it leaves you without any protection from things that go bump in the night. Bored with Terry and Arlene, Nora is blah, tired of bloody Lilith lurking. Pam is always a bright spot. Jessica and Tara are the only other enjoyable characters. I like Sam, but Luna has been pissing me off. Does anyone on this show think things through? Like Grandma Wolf, smart off to the vampire while you're surrounded by a pack hyped up on V. That won't bite you in the butt. I don't think they'll kill off Bill, since he and Anna Paquin are supposedly the stars, but I don't know how they'll redeem him.
Debbie Solomon
33. dsolo
Almost forgot, the Elder Fairy was a joke. At least, Niall in the book was competent and powerful. That fairy dance alone was reason enough to kill her. What were the writers smoking?
Gardner Dozois
34. Gardner Dozois
The Fairie Elder dancing around while uttering her cryptic words of wisdom is my choice for silliest thing ever on TRUE BLOOD--and that's a title that takes some doing to claim. If they'd just sat her down on a throne, maybe wreathed her with some dry ice smoke, the exact same dialog would have been 400 times more effective. As it was, I could hardly hear it over the sound of me laughing like a hyena.

As for her fighting tactics--well, it's no wonder why the fairies are almost extinct.
Debbie Solomon
35. dsolo
re: humans vs vampires - We outnumber them, and previously there best defense was secrecy. If I was a human, I would invest in big, silver neck bands and wear plenty of silver jewelry. UV outside lamps, guns with wooden bullets, carry silver tipped stakes with me (and for the fashion forward women, high heels that were made of wood). The government could offer safe haven to all mainstreamers and put them in protective custody, then off the rest of the vamps. The ones in protective custody would basically be imprisoned until they were determined not to be a threat. Venues like Fangtasia would be closed until order was restored, and then strictly regulated. Humanity has a long, unpleasant history of dealing with whoever fits our definition of other. The fact that all the True Blood factories have been blown up and vampires are rampaging should have more of humanity becoming outraged. In view of that, I'm surprised that more people weren't joining the "Obamas". Not that I wanted anything to happen to Jessica, but given small town paranoia, it just seems like an overlooked detail.
Gardner Dozois
36. Gardner Dozois
The "Obamas" may have been right. The show stacked the deck against them by making them assholes who killed harmless shifters, but if there really are vampires rampaging through your community, killing everybody in sight, as was shown in last week's episode, and the human authorities were doing nothing to protect you, then you'd probably be glad to see a gang of human vigilanties show up to protect you. Such groups probably WOULD spring up under these circumstances, and probably should. After all, in this universe, guns with wooden bullets, silver nitrate spray, UV lights, and so forth are not hard to come by (there's even a store selling them in Bon Temps), and humans will fight back, viciously, like rats, if pushed into enough of a corner.
Gardner Dozois
37. Adriana
Only in Alan Ball's broken woman-hating screw-up-Sookie-Stackhouse-story Sookie-hating head is Jason smarter than Sookie.

That scene in the bedroom was my final straw.

I can't wait for Ball to leave the show. I hate what he has done to a strong female smart spunky supposedly central character.

So in Ball's mind: Pam is an evil jealous bad mother sookie-hating bitch, Sookie is a stupid pointless bleating helpless man-using twit, Tara is not the strong independent friend from the books, Jessica is a whore who broke Hoyt's heart, Jason is smart?!??, etc. etc.

I get that he likes men. Fine. But does he really have to also really ruin every female character and relationship on the show. All the women become hysterical useless nutbags under his guidance.

I really liked Six Feet Under, but my respect for him is gone.

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