Close To The End: The Racialicious Roundtable For True Blood 5.7

The summer heat is closing in, and this season drags on. Each week, we lose more roundtable members. For episode 5.7, “In the Beginning,” only Joe, Tami, and Alea are with me to share their thoughts on an increasingly dull season.

Sookie’s Fae Powers
Joe: Half fae? That’s a marked increase from the books of about 30%.
Alea: There has to be something else that makes her special. Just being half-fae doesn’t seem to be enough.
Latoya: Be interesting if the vamp who killed her parents was Bill. Or maybe Eric.
Joe: It will be. That’s the only reason they aren’t showing the face. She’ll find out as her and Eric have sex up the stairs again, cue crying, woe-is-me stances, and the like.

The Hate Group, Revealed

Joe: “Lamestream media?” I’ll take “Go-to GOP Satiric Phrases” for 100, Alex.
Alea: This whole scene feels like such a cheap shot at rural Southern folk, a group the writers seem to think of as “real racists.”
Joe: This hate group seems like a bunch of whiny idiots. And they don’t even know why a hate group is called a hate group. I really hope they aren’t going to attack Jessica.
Latoya: Let’s discuss this hate group a bit more. Because WTF. What did they do, watch a couple old eps of Jerry Springer and pull together a plot arc around it?
Joe: Yes, lets. I love how they stuck in a token black guy (I see you, Damien from Harry’s Law) so that the hate group doesn’t read “racist” but “supernaturalist”. P.S. I’m totally claiming the supernaturalist.tumblr.com.
Alea: Token black guy, token hapa-looking guy. We finally get to see two types of PoC in a room together and they’re exercising their agency by being in a hate group [that’s all about love]. Clayton Bigsby they are not. Can the title of this roundtable be “O Hai, Shark! I’m Jumping You: Alan Ball Has Lost His GD Mind”?

Alcide Prepares
Joe: I take one year of werewolf combat training, please.
Latoya: Guess Alcide is a part of the “the best way to get over somebody is to get under somebody” school of thought.
Alea: Ugh. Pardon while I feel around the floor looking for my eyes. I rolled them so damn hard at this hackneyed and utterly unsexy drivel that they seem to have popped right out of my head. I’ve seen better chemistry on General Hospital.
Latoya: Well, we all know nothing compares to Sook. “It’s been seven hours…thirteen days…”

Damn Arlene
Latoya: This scene with Arlene watching the wedding video is oddly touching. I think this was what Kendra was saying–the normalcy actually does make things better.
Joe: I would agree with you there. There was a bit of homegrown simplicity that the show has been missing lately. They need to strike more of a balance.
Tami: The True Blood cast really has fantastic chemistry. We haven’t had a chance to see enough of that mostly due to the volume of plotlines. It was nice to be reminded that these folks are a community.
Alea: Eh, overly long and too self-consciously folksy. And I guess I don’t understand why she’d be watching her wedding tape at work? Not that anyone who works at Merlotte’s operates at the pinnacle of occupational professionalism.

Where’d Lafayette’s Common Sense Go?
Joe: OMG, Laffy, it looks like a scene out of that VHS movie. Why did you not bring backup?
Latoya: Right? At this point all of Bon Temps should be on a buddy system.
Alea: Sookie even referenced that earlier this season. “Never split up when walking into an abandoned hospital” is pretty much the same idea as “never walk into a psycho brujo’s house alone.” Writers, we all know Laffy’s way too smart for this type of rookie mistake. And why would his inner brujo pour bleach in gumbo over getting the side-eye from Arlene, but not come out when that nutter was sewing his lips shut?
Joe: I’m 400% sure I’m not going to want to see what’s going on with this pregnant lady. There are some scenes (like this) where I find the closest magazine and attempt to listen to what’s going on. If I didn’t do this roundtable I’d go get a sandwich right now. What you gonna do, I guess.
Latoya: See, now would be the time for a strategic possession. Marnie, Mavis, anyone else floating around out there? Jesus? Anyone? Oh wait, never mind–wifey handled it.
Alea: Daaaamn. I….did not see that coming. Might that have been too easy? Can’t that dude just possess Laffy now?
Latoya: And where is this shiftless brujo?

OMG Tara, Why?
Joe: I KNEW her Mama Thornton was gonna show up.
Latoya: While she was on the pole, no less. (Also, why is Pam’s hair crimped? ) Interesting how Tara faced down her mom.
Alea: That crimped hair might be the first aesthetic tragedy I’ve ever seen on Pam. When did Fangtasia become the set of a Tiffany video? I don’t know, but Imma need a moment of silence.
Latoya: Or a moment of Tiffany.

Wait, she’s still crimped for Jessica’s vlog!

Joe: Jeez, Ma Thornton, that’s pretty cold. It is like certain people to choose something over unconditional love. I think Tara’s character will be much better off without someone as emotionally damaging as her mother. I hope, at least.
Alea: Tara looks and is so damn fierce here that even Pam is having trouble hiding her maternal pride under her crimpy-ass bushel of loathing. She’s the only mom Tara’s got left, and that could actually end up being a good thing, if Pam stops being such an inconsistent ass [read: if the writers could actually examine her trepidation about being a maker instead of copping out by replacing emotional depth with facile racism].
Joe: Oh, Tara chose to be a dancer. Interesting. I know that outfit says S&M, but with the current state of Pam/Tara racial relations, I feel like that costume reads more Amistad than 50 Shades.
Latoya: Right? Why did being a vamp make Tara some big fan of confessing her feelings to people she used to disdain? I thought vamps got more evil.
Alea: I don’t think they get more evil automatically, especially if they’re not evil as human beings. Also, Tara’s looking for a mom.
Latoya: In Pam? Gram is rolling over in her grave, provided she isn’t elsewhere…
Joe: Looks like Pam is taking over as mother. Love doesn’t seem to come easy to her. Pam ran a brothel, and she did act as sort of a mother figure to those girls at one time or another, one could assume. She didn’t seem like an abusive pimp or anything in the flashback, and she even mourned for the loss of one of them. I wonder what the deal is with her closed offed-ness.
Alea: Lazy, lazy, lazy writing.
Tami: I’m not getting why Tara seems to be going through some sort of vampire hazing. Eric, who is no more prone to emotion than his progeny, was Pam’s maker/boss, but he generally treats her respectfully and not like a servant or slave. Yet, this is the relationship the show runners have chosen for Pam/Tara. Given the women’s racial differences and the show’s Southern setting, it is cringe-inducing.

The Authority Drops V
Latoya: Were these background speeches as tedious on Buffy as they are here? This whole divergence into vamp Ecstacy is amusing, but I still feel like this is a spin-out plot, like the whole Maenad thing. And there’s not even an Eggs to look at this time.
Alea: Ditto. Watching that ragtag group of vamps rolling their asses off was pretty great–Eric giving Bill a piggyback ride!! Next week, please let there be sweet make-outs!–but I don’t actually feel like it’s taking us any closer to anything interesting. I’m not that keen on Lillith and this whole Sanguinista storyline has mostly been a bust for me so far. I mean, who didn’t guess at least two episodes ago that Salome was behind the whole thing?
Latoya: Are they going to do anything with Russell besides up the camp factor on the show?
Joe: I think like Michael Kors on Project Runway, the powers that be have decided to devolve him into a series of sassy one-liners. “Our snappy murderer is back and this time he’s going to sing ‘The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.’” Bleh.
Tami: They are camping it up, but frankly Denis O’Hare makes anything work. I’m a bit of a fangirl after watching him in TB, American Horror Story and in an episode of Law & Order. Russell getting his Debby Boone on is right up there with his “we will eat your children” monologue.

The Speech

Latoya: Let’s talk about Sam and Sookie’s convo in the hospital. While a bit hamfisted, the speech served the purpose of returning to that familiar territory of the “others” versus a hostile society.
Alea: For better or worse, it plays nicely into the parallels between vampires–all supes, really–and the LGBT communities. It seems like Sookie’s going to try to “cure” her faerieness. I’m sure we can all guess how well that’s going to work out [see But I’m A Cheerleader for spoilers].

Pack Problems

Joe: JD, you crazy son of a bitch, giving drugs to a little girl. Some characters are so easy to hate. Add him to the list!
Latoya: I guess that’s what it took to get grandma on Sam/Alcide’s side.
Alea: Even though I knew it wasn’t going to happen, I kinda wanted to see Emma on V. She’s so damn squeaky clean.
Latoya: That’s so wrong. Considering what happens to Bon Tempers post puberty, I say let her enjoy her puphood.

And then…
Joe: Sargent Felicity: Every ounce of pity the universe felt for you flew right away when you said, “Suicide is for muslims.” I don’t even know where to go with that line.
Latoya: At that line, boyfriend goes “I think Racialicious is going to have stop covering this show if they keep this shit up.” Did it get racist near the end of Heroes too? Or is this just a slow, slow, jump of the shark?
Alea: Long, sloooooooow jump of the shark. I was over this effing episode from the appearance of the multiculti hate group at the beginning. Hell, I might just be over this whole damn season.
Tami: I think True Blood is dripping with a kind of white, liberal privilege–the kind that says a line like “Suicide is for Muslims” is okay because that’s the sort of thing poor, uneducated, Southern folk say and viewers will know that we (i.e. the show) don’t mean it really, because obviously we are smart, liberal, Hollywood writers. It’s related to the thinking that props up Sarah Silverman, et. al.

OMG GOD–Wait, It’s Too Late to Get Excited
Latoya: Of course, they whip out Godric at the end of the episode. Wait, is Godric supposed to be Jesus? Was there someone else in opposition to Lilith? Can someone more familiar with the Bible diagram where this plot is going?
Alea: Jeez. Way to kill Eric’s buzz, Godric. Do we have to watch him try to save Nora for the rest of the season now? The character isn’t even that compelling. Also, Angel Godric popping down for a visit from on high? Hallucination Godric giving voice to Eric’s nagging conscience? Do the writers even know? Does it even really matter? Oh, look, a shark.

  • http://womenshealthnews.wordpress.com/ RachelW

    “That’s a marked increase from the books of about 30%.” – Pedantic Book-Based Nitpicking: in the books, Sookie has a single grandparent who is 1/2 fairy, so by the usual math her father was 1/4 fairy and she is 1/8 – quite a bit less than 30%. (crawls back in nerd-hole…)

  • Anonymous

    thank you guys for keeping this up. I’ve been waiting for the roundtable’s perspective on the Islamaphobia mess since last week. Couldn’t agree more with privileged white liberal concept. I agree with Lyonside-you guys are the only thing making this season bearable.

  • EH

    If Season 5 was a person it would be having non-stop seizures. it’s just all over the place. At this point none of the story lines interest me anymore. The most exciting thing for me was Tara turning but her relationship with Pam turned me off quick. Although hopefully it improves somewhat but I don’t keep my hopes up when it comes to the writing for this show. I also can’t stand how quickly plot lines pull a 180. The sanguinista storyline, which I find somewhat boring, to me seems somewhat ridiculous. So the only thing holding the authority in line and keeping them mainstreaming was the Guardian? He was dead for 7 seconds before the other vampires switched loyalty. It would also be nice to see more sanguinista’s seeing how they’re supposedly such a threat. And one minute Hoyt is getting drained in alleys and toilet stalls and a few hours later he feels “love and acceptance” with a bunch of supe hating murderers whose line of thinking makes no sense whatsoever (I loled at the token Black guy too)? I also don’t understand why they even brought back Steve Newlin although I’m hoping he has more of a role either this season or the next if he survives. 7 episodes in and I think he’s only had like 4 or 5 appearances. Terry storyline? Snore. Fae storyline? Snore. Sam storyline? While I wasn’t that into it at the start, at this point it’s one of the more interesting compared to the others. Even Lafayette’s storyline feels like a season 4 leftover.

    I do agree that these actors have great character. It would be nice to see them interact more like they did in the first season but everyone is over the map and dealing with their own thing you don’t get to see it much. Outside of Bill and Eric’s new bromance anyway.

    • P. Cherry

      Yeah I though the Authority, as a whole, would be more in charge than that. I was somewhat off-putting when they stood around and watched Roman be killed.

      • Anonymous

        Christopher Meloni is gone. My man is goooooooooooooonnnne! ::whips out guitar, sings the blues::

        I didn’t think Lillith was going to be a woman of color, considering how they cast Salome and how they’re characterizing Tara post-turning. I’m with Mickey and keeks on being concerned about how the creative team is going to play Lillith. I’m hoping for some Queen of the Damned Aaliyah levels of fabulous, but Alan Ball’s DNA is all over this show, and we know how he plays PoCs.

  • mickinickharp

    Thanks for continuing to do these. I adore the True Blood roundtables. I’ve watched TB since Season One, y’all are a hoot, and I think your analyses are generally spot on. I’m continually having a hard time watching the way “regular” Southerners are portrayed on this show. As a white, Southern woman who was raised working-class, it’s infuriating to listen to some of the garbage the writers put in Arlene’s mouth because she is clearly supposed to represent everything that is white and Southern, sans supernatural. And the SGT’s comment about Muslims was too disgusting to quote in its entirety. It reeks of classism because so many “special” white characters have had paternalistic, institutionalized or outright overtly-racist moments on this show. Not all poor, regular white folk are bigots, but no one’s told Alan Ball despite the fact that this show is filmed on location in rural Louisiana. Makes me wonder if he or his staff ever actually visit down there or leave their trailers if they do>>rant finished! :) AND yes, Lord–the Sanguanista story line is zzzzzzzz. The best thing about that arc was the jaunt through Bourbon Street, and Russell looking like the lost member of the Velvet Underground.

    • Anonymous

      I’m a black Southerner and very liberal but I get very annoyed how “liberal” whites in other parts of the country portray white Southerners as being racist and backwards.
      A lot of privileged, liberal white people are quite racist but don’t recognize themselves as such b/c they vote for Democrats, sleep with POC, and live don’t have accents.
      It’s a big problem in a lot of ways, mainly b/c they let themselves off the hook for a myriad of transgressions b/c they think racism means cross burning and hoods.

  • P. Cherry

    I knew Lillith was going to be a woman of color!

    • Mickey

      I thought so, too, but I’ve got a funny feeling that she is going to be coded as white.

      • keeks

        I’m more worried about if she’ll be portrayed as “savage” and “primitive.” She hasn’t spoken a word since she first appeared.

        • Lyonside

          A la’ The First Slayer? Yeah… me too.

          Thanks, Racialicious, for making it bearable – you and TWOP (and really, not even TWOP as much anymore) are the only reason I’m still watching this season.

        • Anonymous

          Strains of the “first slayer” on Buffy?