Maybe We Shouldn’t Meet Again: Racialicious Roundable for True Blood 5.4

Apologies all–between my vacation in June, Arturo’s semi-vacation this month, SDCC, Adacamp/Wikimania, and other power-out madness, we neglected to put up this roundtable last week. This is the discussion for episode four–tomorrow, we will post episode five which aired this Sunday. – LDP

Carryover–On Pam’s Slur
Latoya: Since it wasn’t called out last week, we need to talk about Pam. She straight up dropped a racial slur while describing one of her employees. As commenter Mickey pointed out:

Mickey

I actually forgot to mention that in my post. When she said that I was like, “Huh!?” But then again, she used a similar slur against Tara’s girlfriend in the previous season (“yellow tail”). Does Pam have something against Asians?

Tami: That made me cringe when I heard it. I love the character of Pam. But, disturbingly, it seems that True Blood’s writers have bought into the idea that anti-P.C. (read: racism, sexism, etc.) is “edgy” and adds to the character’s bad-ass persona. They routinely put racist and sexist shit in her mouth. Racist slurs…the “gash in a dress” line…

Kendra: Knowing where she’s from–San Francisco, 1905–I wonder if she does have something against Asians. It could be a remnant, albeit a horrible one, from the era of her turning. Granted, it would show a follow through in character traits that TB hasn’t exactly excelled in in the past.

Joe: I was thinking the same thing actually. It would in fact be a terrible, yet accurate addition to her character. She did in fact have an Asian employee, so if she were really that racist, we could have gotten an indication of the racism in the flashback. It would have at least made more sense coming out of nowhere back then.

Alea: Cosign, Kendra and Joe. While the word was jarring to hear, it wasn’t anachronistic, and Ruby’s very presence in the array–along with her reaction to Pam’s introduction–make Pam’s anti-Asian racist language signify something more complicated than her just having “something against Asians.”

Latoya: But as we already know, just because something may be historically accurate doesn’t mean they will treat it with any kind of nuance or insight. It’s just another racist throwaway. At least with struggles for queer and civil rights they gave some context before abandoning plot development in favor of one-liners.

The Angel of Death And Her Discontents
Latoya: Glad Lafayette finally called Sookie out on her “Angel of Death” ways. Not saying she hasn’t been through stuff, but she’s definitely the one who keeps coming out on top on all of these things.

Joe: Also glad about that, although Sookie’s reaction is to confess, blissfully unaware of consequences for the other people involved. Lafayette would likely be charged as well, unwilling accomplice or not.

Latoya: Can we keep a “break character” count? As in…why would Tara go anywhere with Bill willingly? Didn’t she swear to kill him after the Franklin/Russell situation?

Tami: She wouldn’t, especially as Bill as the one who left her to be raped by Franklin and what all.

Latoya: How many more tracksuits is Pam going to wear? Since when is Bill not completely anal about properly raising Jessica?

Alea: Since Bill has more life-or-true-death stuff to worry about than sweating Jess for throwing parties and having ditch weed in the manse? Though it seems like he’s the one who gets [Tara] out of the bloody clothes she’s been wearing since last season…? The change in their dynamic might lead to Tara confronting him about what went down with Franklin.

Tami: I see this is the season of speaking truth to (and about) Sookie. Has Alan Ball been reading our roundtables?

Latoya: Ball is gone at the end of this season, remember? It’s his grand “fuck it” moment.

Joe: Maybe he’s had a thing for Todd Lowe (Terry). This would explain his extensive storyline (because nothing else does). “If you think this storyline is slow as molasses, go to hell! I have my reasons.”

Why Arlene Hasn’t Evolved As a Character Since Season 1
Latoya: And Arlene just called the shifters Barack and Hillary?

Tami: Um, what? I didn’t even get that.

Alea: It was neither clever nor accurate. Lazy writing abounds.

Kendra: Every so often the writers like to slip in a little Racist Country Bumpkin moment for Arlene. I actually find it kind of interesting, if only because I wonder how people like that don’t ‘slip up’ in front of their PoC friends, i.e. Laffy and Tara. The only discrimination Arlene is really blatant about is her anti-vamp ‘ish.

Alea: I guess…but it just seems kind of tired to me. Arlene’s main settings are being alarmed, indignant, bigoted, or some combination of all three. When was the last time she got to do something else?

Joe: They have no other ways of saying “Remember? We’re really in the south!” Ignore the accents, they don’t give it away enough.

Latoya: It’s interesting though. The audience is supposed to laugh at the “edgy” racial slurs characters like Pam use but laugh at Arlene’s bigotry. It’s like the TB writing staff is playing a game against itself.

On The Agency of Characters Of Color
Latoya: Can we talk about the possession roulette wheel Lafayette is on? The rage-brujo thing is fascinating, but…he’s been possessed three times. One seems to have stuck–the fact that rage brujo almost killed Sookie is an interesting turn of events.

Kendra: Both Laffy and Tara are having to deal with major lack of choice and agency this season, which is something I think we’ve discussed with at least Tara before. Lafayette is literally losing control of his body and actions, while Tara’s finally vamped out against her will. Kudos to them for having it take 2.5 seasons though, I guess. The way they’ve drawn out ruining her life (starting with S2) is pretty impressive. (That said, who knows, maybe this becomes the best thing that’s ever happened to Tara? We’ll see.)

Joe: I’m pretty sure (read: hoping) this Tara will grow to be okay with her vampire self, since the power that comes with it is what her character could really benefit from, frankly, being attacked all the time. True Blood might have to find a new punching bag… oh who am I kidding.

Tami: Oh, I thought sure Alcide was bout to snitch on Sookie, but that was wishful thinking. No man can resist sacrificing himself for Sooks.

Also, Linda Purl! Am I the only one old enough to remember Debbie Pelt’s mama?

Alea: Tami, I just remember her from Matlock S1 [pours one out for Andy Griffith].

Terry’s Revelations
Tami: I think this was what we all suspected.

Joe: It’s just so obvious. There’s really nothing else to say.

Eric + Pam 4EVA?
Tami: The relationship between Eric and Pam is, frankly, one of the most moving and real of the show.

Joe: I was thinking to myself during that scene: Pam is such a great actress, and great actresses (mostly) feel what their acting. I could tell she was about to cry, like in real life. Do they have a tear dabber designated to make sure none of the vampires cry water?

Alea: Seeing KB’s eyes well up with water-tears, I totally wondered that myself, Joe.

Latoya: I’d trade all of this characterization though if it means Eric bites it at the hands of the authority by the end of the season. Eric has shown such resourcefulness, I can’t believe he’s going gracefully to this end.

Tami: I’m not too worried about Eric or Bill…at least if the show intends to stay true to Charlaine Harris’ books. Too many future plot lines turn on Eric, at least, in some way.

Joe: True. They wouldn’t surprise us that much. Even though some have been shouting that “sex up the stairs” thing (you all know what I’m talking about) last season was jumping the shark, killing any of the major characters would certainly be just that.

Alea: I haven’t read the books and am not familiar with Harris’ various plotlines, so it’s pretty much just my gut that’s telling me that it would be waaaay too schmaltzy and obvious to have Eric taken out at the end of the season. Also, Alcide and Bill and Jason combined would not be enough beefcake to fill that hole.

Tami: Oh, look, there’s an app for that–assassinating rogue vamps that is.

Here Today, Fae Tomorrow
Latoya: Did we really have to up the stakes on Fangtasia with a new magical/sexy club? Man, I am really missing Game of Thrones

Kendra: Here’s the thing though, at least they didn’t forget the fae exist. I have to say I’m kind of proud of them for that. Now if they could just explore Sookie’s powers a bit more.

Joe: I mean, any excuse to show men in thongs is fine by me. Fangtasia is mostly touristy anyhow. This club looks much more… exclusive.

Alea: I do appreciate that the fae club seems to be more…equal opportunity in its displays of well-toned, barely dressed flesh.

Tami: Okay, as much as hate Sookie, I do love a girl who can groove to some Rupert Holmes while drunk.

(See clip at 02:24)

Latoya: This is the most relatable thing she’s done the whole show. I think that most people have that moment of getting absolutely fucking gone and singing along with stupid songs on the radio. Oh wait….we can’t just have a goofy Sookie moment. We always need a damn man. Does True Blood pass the Bechdel test?

Tami: I think not. I’m not sure Sookie has ever had a conversation that didn’t revolve around Beeel or, last season, Eric.

Joe: And now… Alcide.

Latoya: NO ALCIDE NO! … I guess we all knew where that was going. Disappointing. Faerie powers have magical boxer-dropping abilities I suppose.

Alea: Pam nailed it in 5.1 with “super snatch” and 4.12 with “precious faerie vagina.”

Joe: You would be right about that. See: Jason. And Andy throwing away an idyllic life with Holly for some T & Fae.

TARA + PAM 4EVA?

Tami: I really do like the relationship developing between Tara and Pam. In a way, they are very similar. They are both strong women, who in their human lives had to survive without much support.

Latoya: Maybe, but that doesn’t mean solidarity. It just means Pam has the opportunity to fuck Tara over. She got the best of Eric and seemed to benefit from their long relationship. But so far, Pam’s treated Tara like a puppet. And if I remember correctly, she and Tara weren’t exactly besties before the turning. How do we know this isn’t like giving a psychopath a puppy?

Tami: True. And in her human life, Pam had racial privilege, which Tara did not. On the other hand, the show has treated the maker-child bond as being rather sacred: Godric/Eric; Eric/Pam; Bill/Jessica. Now, the Lorena/Bill relationship was something else indeed. I’m hoping Pam becomes a better friend to Tara than Sookie.

Alea: I think that’s exactly what’s going to happen, Tami. So far, Pam has mostly treated Tara like petulant child because that’s kind of how she’s been acting after the trauma of her turning. After Pam’s flashbacks in 5.3 and Eric releasing her earlier this episode, I can’t see Pam ever intentionally fucking Tara over now that the maker-progeny bond is in place. The lineage of “good parenting”–from Godric to Eric and Eric to Pam–will deeply influence Pam’s parenting style, with the possibility of Eric’s true death making Tara’s success as a vampire even more crucial. I agree with Kendra’s supposition earlier–getting turned probably will make Tara’s life a whole lot better [e.g. she’s much more clear-minded about Sookie than she ever was].

Kendra: I think the perfect indicator of how much race comes into play between the maker-child bonds would be to have Pam turn someone of Asian descent. Just sayin’.

But… the maker-child bond is kind of a direct counterpoint to the biological parental bonds depicted. I know Ball has his fascination with Death, but I’ve never stopped to think about his relationship with parenting. Regardless of race or gender, the main biological parents mentioned on TB are either dead (Sookie and Jason), ‘damaged’ in some way (Lafayette’s mother), not great at the job (Tara’s mom, Sam’s parents, Arlene at times), or just portrayed in very poor lights (Boyd’s mother, Jessica’s parents). Luna is the one exception I can think of right now (and since she’s new she has plenty of time to mess up Emma’s life, hah).

Meanwhile you have the maker-child bonds which are these sacred, loving things that none of the characters seemed to have in their human lives. Even Lorena loved Bill in her own (bloody) way. I guess on True Blood you just don’t get true love until you’re dead?

Joe: I do agree, the maker bond is something else, they make it seem like something more than even a parent/child relationship, since, as True Blood illustrates, you can do a bad job. The worst job as a maker someone is doing is Bill and Jessica, and he’s not really doing such a bad job, just not so much a great one?

Alea: Eh…I think Bill’s doing a solid job considering the model Lorena provided for him.

Respect The Author-i-ty!
Tami: Vampire Stabler’s big come to Jesus moment with The Authority, including the offing of that annoying little kid, is reminiscent of the O-Ren-Ishii monologue from Kill Bill. It’s not just me, right?

Joe: Let’s all refer to Roman as Vampire Stabler from now on. Also, he’s finally scary now that he’s actually killed someone, and just not threatened to do so. I wonder what his vamp’s backstory is. I would very much like to see it.

Alea: He’s no Chris Keller, but I’d be down to get just a skosh more backstory for all of the council.

Latoya: Now, why did it take freaking four episodes for this season to get interesting? The vamps killed Sookie and Jason’s parents? Did Gram know?

Alea: Can we even trust the intel about vampires making Sookie and Jason orphans? I might not even be that interested in more of the Nefarious Faeries storyline, but it is nice that Mind-Erased Eric’s gorging on Sookie’s faerie godmother didn’t occur in a vacuum. The fallout looks like an intensification and rebranding of the efforts seen in 4.1, which seem much more sinister than just accepting humans with fae blood as “refugees.” Cue ominous music.

  • Africameleon

    Re: Tara and Pam…. “giving a psychopath a puppy”… actually that’s EXACTLY what it is, except it’s giving a racist psychopath a puppy. In the preview for next weeks episode Pam actually calls Tara a dog – or “like one being proud of a dog.” And in a behind the scene spot on HBO, Allan Ball talks about Pam being Tara’s “master” not her “maker”…. interesting. I wonder what kind of transition Pam will undergo by being the maker of a Black vampire? They probably wont deal with race at all.

  • Africameleon

    Re: Tara and Pam…. “giving a psychopath a puppy”… actually that’s EXACTLY what it is, except it’s giving a racist psychopath a puppy. In the preview for next weeks episode Pam actually calls Tara a dog – or “like one being proud of a dog.” And in a behind the scene spot on HBO, Allan Ball talks about Pam being Tara’s “master” not her “maker”…. interesting. I wonder what kind of transition Pam will undergo by being the maker of a Black vampire? They probably wont deal with race at all.

  • EH

    I swear these writers intentionally make Sookie dumber every season. I can’t understand why so many people don’t see it.

  • http://twitter.com/CookieMuellers Candace Blake

    I think that True Blood passes the Bechdel test with the next ep, where Tara and Jessica bond over being baby vamps!