True Blood finds its dark humor again in ‘Death Is Not the End’

A time for reconciliation. John P. Johnson/HBO

A time for reconciliation. John P. Johnson/HBO

The residents of Bon Temps are reeling from the latest deaths in the town, Sookie is mourning Alcide but keeping a stiff upper lip, and Arlene is finally chosen to be vampire food in “Death Is Not the End,” the fourth episode in this final season of HBO’s long-running vampire romance drama based on the Charlaine Harris novels. The episode is full of callbacks to the first season, as the last few shows have been. The True Blood team really wants to bring everything full circle, and this week they’ve succeeded more than expected.

While death may not be the end for vampires, it’s certainly the end for a host of folks in this forsaken little southern town. The shockers continue this week, not the least of which is Eric Northman with ’90s hair, some fantastic Pam lines, and a funny little scene as Sam and Jason go to inform Deputy Mayberry’s next of kin that he’s dead. “Kevin was a good man,” says Jason. Pause. “With a funny voice.”

“Death Is Not The End”
Written by: Daniel Kenneth
Directed by: Gregg Fienberg

Alcide’s father is shacking up with a hot lady that at least looks to be the same age as he is when he gets the call from Sookie that Alcide is dead. Jason calls Hoyt (remember him?), who’s up in Alaska on an oil rig, to tell him that Hoyt’s mama is dead at the hand of vampires.

Ginger used to be pretty smart. Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

Ginger used to be pretty smart. Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

This week’s flashback is Eric and Pam and the birth of Fangtasia, the bar that Eric owned until last season. The building that became the popular fang-banger bar was originally given to Eric and Pam as a penance for their refusal to bow to The Authority’s, well, authority. The Magister tosses the keys to a ridiculously uncool video rental business to Pam, who refuses to catch them in pure horror at the thought of having to run a rental shop. The Magister makes a licorice joke: the shop will only carry “Twizzlers, not Red Vines.”

Underneath the video store is the porn section, which is the money making part of the venture. Eric will give The Authority 80 percent of his revenue, and become the sheriff of area 5, which is how we met him in season one. There’s also a door that leads to an old Underground Railroad tunnel which (foreshadowing) will play into the end of the episode.

Apparently, Eric and Pam end up selling videos and peddling porn (Midnight Plowboy, anyone?) for twenty years, until Ginger (Fangtasia’s vapid and screaming assistant) shows up in the 90s as a smart cinemaphile college student looking for quality vampire films, like Cronenberg’s Rabid and the 1967 classic, The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon me, Your Teeth Are In My Neck.

It’s Ginger that finds a throne-like chair and comes up with the whole idea of turning the video store into a vampire bar in 2006, when the vampires have finally come out of the coffin to live alongside humans. Pam glamours Ginger to steal her idea, and that’s probably when Ginger lost all her smarts.

"Redbone, you gots to eat." Photo: John P. Johnson/ HBO

“Redbone, you gots to eat.” Photo: John P. Johnson/ HBO

Jessica is still not healing, most likely because she hasn’t eaten for a couple of months. Boyfriend James and maker Bill can’t sweet talk her into feeding on anyone, she just feels so guilty over eating those baby fairies, but Sookie comes in, tells Jessica to cut the crap, and just feed up so she can help Sookie go save the three ladies in the dungeon of Fangtasia. LaFayette comes over (he’s James’ food-source), and doles out some LaLa wisdom and folksiness. Jess eats from his forearm. It still looks like it hurts. Jessica continues to be the warm, beating heart of True Blood, with her earnestness and kindness to all.

Sookie, Bill, Sam and Jason need to find out where the infected vampires are, and they need Holly (recently escaped at the end of last episode) to remember where they’re all holed up. Sookie holds Holly’s hands and listens to her memories and lo and behold, it’s the old vampire bar, Fangtasia! Why no one thought to look there in the first place is beyond me.

Eric shows up at the Compton place, and says, “Pam tells me that you wrote a book in which you claim not to be an asshole anymore.” Bill lets him in anyway, though Pam is skeptical. “Need I remind you,” she tells Eric, “that we have a Christian to kill?”

A time for reconciliation. John P. Johnson/HBO

A time for reconciliation. John P. Johnson/HBO

Eric calls his progeny Willa back from her seedy connection behind a dumpster, and then he and Sookie have a maudlin moment in a back room. Eric gets uppity about Sookie dating a werewolf, but Sookie tells him to stop, since it’s only this morning that Alcide died. Because, too soon, Eric. Too soon.

We finally get pay off for the basement door at Fangtasia, as Eric leads the human/vampire A-Team to the back door of the bar. Sam sneaks in as a rat (“Did he just turn into a rat?” asks Arlene. “He did. He turned into a rat.”) to have a moment with his girlfriend and to lead a few vamps in to ambush the ones upstairs. Eric claims sickness and brings Sookie along as his own prisoner (a trick at least as old as Star Wars. Sookie the Wookie). One of the bad vamps then utters the lame line of the episode: “Spread your legs, blondie. I want it from your nasty place.” Ugh.

The Brit H-Vamp asks Sookie, “What are you?” which is something Bill asked her in the first episode of season one, bringing it all back for long-time viewers. Arlene has, in the meantime, been brought up as food, and is lying there dying.

Don't die, Arlene! Terry's not really there...or is he? Photo: John P. Johnson/ HBO

Don’t die, Arlene! Terry’s not really there…or is he? Photo: John P. Johnson/ HBO

Unfortunately, the human vigilantes (that have been off camera all episode until now) show up just as Eric’s about to spring the vamp trap, complicating every damn thing. There’s a big confusing fight, everyone is killing everyone else; it’s hard to figure out what’s up. Bill rushes off to help Jessica and kills Vincent, the stupid vigilante leader and Sam’s recent mayoral opponent. Seriously, it’s about time that dude died, and right in the head. Go Bill!

Then Arlene dies, because drama. Of course, they have to drag out her death scene with Terry calling out to her from beyond the grave, which has some weird fairy glow about it. The scene goes on and on, with Sookie seeing Terry via her telepathic powers, and Arlene going cold and lifeless looking before she totally dies.

Just kidding! Terry tells Arlene to go back to living and take care of them kids. And “hey, Arlene. Be happy.” Bassist vamp Keith saves Arlene. Yes!

Action Figures We Want:
NINETIES-HAIR ERIC
UNIVERSITY STUDENT GINGER
VAMPIRE BASSIST KEVIN

Funniest sight-gag:
Eric holding up a tangled VHS tape as a video-store owner, saying, “Idiots.”

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About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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