S3E11 One of the many criticisms leveled at True Blood is how it tends to get a bit ...crowded. As the show's gone on, it's picked up more side characters and subplots than The Wire, and without The Wire's high death rate, the cast just keeps growing. Normally I'd hold that as a point in the show's favor, as long as it's done well, having a large, diverse cast and multiple stories can bring a level of depth and immersion to a show, and create a sense of a complex, growing world. But sometimes it's just a pain. In last night's penultimate episode, there was a total of 14 minutes of the "actual" plot, that is, plot involving Bill, Sookie, Russell, and Eric, while the other 46ish minutes were spent elsewhere. Some of last night's side stories were entertaining, or at least promised future entertainment, but that's the kind of ratio that can piss fans off (not to mention certain recappers who just just their wisdom teeth removed.)
Having multiple plot lines can be a strength for a show, moving between stories helps cover some of their dull moments. Imagine how awful an episode of nothing but Bill and Lorena in the torture dungeon would have been, if we didn't also get Tara and Franklin and Eric and Russell to distract us. But when there's only one story that's really interesting, and the others are just going through the motions, the whole show gets dragged down. Take Tara and Sam, for instance. Since Sam's sudden angst aquisition last week, he's been going through a very stereotypical television downward spiral. Tara's been doing the same thing, more or less since she first arrived on the show. For the most part, it's been insufferable, so the writers finally sucked it up and had the pair sit down and deal with their issues, in something vaguely resembling a mature, developed manner. (True, they did end up having sex, but it's True Blood. Sex is used like duct tape.) It's not the most exciting part of the episode, but it sets up Tara and Sam to be slightly less annoying in the future, so it we can consider it a net gain. If the other plots were stronger, we wouldn't mind a little time off to put Tara and Sam's lives in order, especially if it meant that we don't get any more scenes of Sam insulting everyone in the long run. But when every other plot is equally dull, or far more irrelevant, it's a chore to watch.
Take a look at Jessica and Hoyt, for instance. They're cute, likable characters, but that doesn't mean that I want to watch Hoyt's mom and ex-girlfriend plot to break them up. As a matter of fact, that's exactly what I don't want to do in the middle of the second-to-last episode, because #1: Those characters are two-dimensional stereotypes, and #2: It has NOTHING to do with anything. The same thing goes for Jason, who takes some valuable time out of searching for his sister, who he has reason to believe has been kidnapped by a 3000 year old, insane, homicidal vampire, to watch a high school football practice. Unless the finale ends with Hoyt's mom working together with the quarterback to throw a stake through Russell's heart, I have no idea why we've been spending so much time with these people.
It's a shame, because those 14 minutes of plot were pretty excellent. Sookie breaks out of Eric's sex dungeon, with some help from Bill and hooker cardiologist Yvetta, but is promptly re-captured by Eric and Russell, who want Sookie's magic sunscreen blood. There's some good character moments, like Eric saying goodbye to Pam, and Bill and Sookie imagining their "normal" life (Bill wants to teach third grade! I hope they don't teach diction that year, otherwise all the kids of Bon Temps are going to come out with little Bill accents), but the momentum is shot to hell by the fact that we only get about two minutes of action at a time before we're back to watching Sam being drunk. Pacing's not the only problem the storyline has, of course; it would've been nice to hear about the "ultimate vampire dream" before this episode. Though it's easy enough to accept that vampires miss the sunlight, but it's got to be a bit disappointing when your minute in the sun in spent in the Fangtasia parking lot. The episode ends with one of True Blood's patented cliffhangers, but is there a doubt in anyone's mind that Eric's going to make it out okay? True Blood needs to start trimming down its cast, but there's no chance in hell that they're starting with Eric.
True Blood opened with an Emmy's-esque death montage. It thoughtfully includes an entry for "vikings."
"This is not just about your relationship, you infatuated tween." - Bill might want to consider getting this tattooed on his chest.
"I thought it was shoplifting or something!"
"Apparently you wanted my father's crown for your vast collection of meaningless shit."
"Gosh darn! Dagnabbit! Shit fucker!" may be the best insult combo ever.
"That's my double-cousin Beauford! Don't worry, he never hurt nobody."