Playing Catch-Up: Autumn in New York, Griffin & Phoenix, Harry & Son, The Life of David Gale


So, this year I am making a sincere effort to review every film that I see.  I know I say that every year but this time, I really mean it.

So, in an effort to catch up, here are four quick reviews of some of the movies that I watched over the past few weeks!

  • Autumn in New York
  • Released: 2000
  • Directed by Joan Chen
  • Starring Richard Gere, Winona Ryder, Anthony LaPaglia, Elaine Stritch, Vera Farmiga, Sherry Stringfield, Jill Hennessy, J.K. Simmons, Sam Trammell, Mary Beth Hurt

Richard Gere is Will, a fabulously wealthy New Yorker, who has had many girlfriends but who has never been able to find the one.  He owns a restaurant and appears on the cover of New York Magazine.  He loves food because, according to him, “Food is the only beautiful thing that truly nourishes.”

Winona Ryder is Charlotte, a hat designer who is always happy and cheerful and full of life.  She’s the type who dresses up like Emily Dickinson for Christmas and recites poetry to children, though you get the feeling that, if they ever somehow met in real life, Emily would probably get annoyed with Charlotte fairly quickly.  Actually, Charlotte might soon get to meet  Emily because she has one of those rare diseases that kills you in a year while still allowing you to look healthy and beautiful.

One night, Will and Charlotte meet and, together, they solve crimes!

No, actually, they fall in love.  This is one of those films where a young woman teaches an old man how to live again but then promptly dies so it’s not like he actually has to make a huge commitment or anything.  The film does, at least, acknowledge that Will is a lot older than Charlotte but it still doesn’t make it any less weird that Charlotte would want to spend her last year on Earth dealing with a self-centered, emotionally remote man who is old enough to be her father.  (To be honest, when it was revealed that Charlotte was the daughter of a woman who Will had previously dated, I was briefly worried that Autumn in New York was going to take an even stranger turn….)

On the positive side, the films features some pretty shots of New York and there is actually a pretty nice subplot, in which Will tries to connect with the daughter (Vera Farmiga) that he never knew he had.  Maybe if Farmiga and Ryder had switched roles, Autumn in New York would have worked out better.

  • Griffin & Phoenix
  • Released: 2006
  • Directed by Ed Stone
  • Starring Dermot Mulroney, Amanda Peet, Blair Brown, and Sarah Paulson

His name is Henry Griffin (Dermot Mulroney).

Her name is Sarah Phoenix (Amanda Peet).

Because they both have highly symbolic last names, we know that they’re meant to be together.

They both have cancer.  They’ve both been given a year to live.  Of course, they don’t realize that when they first meet and fall in love.  In fact, when Phoenix comes across several books that Griffin has purchased about dealing with being terminally ill, she assumes that Griffin bought them to try to fool her into falling in love with him.  Once they realize that they only have a year to be together, Griffin and Phoenix set out to make every moment count…

It’s a sweet-natured and unabashedly sentimental movie but, unfortunately, Dermot Mulroney and Amanda Peet have little romantic chemistry and the film is never quite as successful at inspiring tears as it should be.  When Mulroney finally allows himself to get mad and deals with his anger by vandalizing a bunch of cars, it’s not a cathartic moment.  Instead, you just find yourself wondering how Mulroney could so easily get away with destroying a stranger’s windshield in broad daylight.

  • Harry & Son
  • Released: 1986
  • Directed by Paul Newman
  • Starring Paul Newman, Robby Benson, Ellen Barkin, Wilford Brimley, Judith Ivey, Ossie Davis, Morgan Freeman, Katherine Borowitz, Maury Chaykin, Joanne Woodward

Morgan Freeman makes an early film appearance in Harry & Son, though his role is a tiny one.  He plays a factory foreman named Siemanowski who, in quick order, gets angry with and then fires a new employee named Howard Keach (Robby Benson).  Howard is the son in Harry & Son and he’s such an annoying character that you’re happy when Freeman shows up and starts yelling at the little twit.  As I said, Freeman’s role is a small one.  Freeman’s only on screen for a few minutes.  But, in that time, he calls Howard an idiot and it’s hard not to feel that he has a point.

Of course, the problem is that we’re not supposed to view Howard as being an idiot.  Instead, we’re supposed to be on Howard’s side.  Howard has ambitions to be the next Ernest Hemingway.  However, his blue-collar father, Harry (Paul Newman, who also directed), demands that Howard get a job.  Maybe, like us, he realizes how silly Howard looks whenever he gets hunched over his typewriter.  (Robby Benson tries to pull off these “deep thought” facial expressions that simply have to be seen to be believed.)  There’s actually two problems with Howard.  First off, we never believe that he could possibly come up with anything worth reading.  Secondly, it’s impossible to believe that Paul Newman could ever be the father of such an annoying little creep.

Harry, of course, has problems of his own.  He’s just lost his construction job.  He’s having to deal with the fact that he’s getting older.  Fortunately, his son introduces him to a nymphomaniac (Judith Ivey).  Eventually, it all ends with moments of triumph and tragedy, as these things often do.

As always, Newman is believable as a blue-collar guy who believes in hard work and cold beer.  The film actually gets off to a good start, with Newman using a wrecking ball to take down an old building.  But then Robby Benson shows up, hunched over that typewriter, and the film just becomes unbearable.  At least Morgan Freeman’s around to yell at the annoying little jerk.

  • The Life of David Gale
  • Released: 2003
  • Directed by Alan Parker
  • Starring Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Laura Linney, Gabriel Mann, Rhona Mitra, Leon Rippy, Matt Craven, Jim Beaver, Melissa McCarthy

For the record, while I won’t shed any tears whenever Dzhokahr Tsarnaev is finally executed, I’m against the death penalty.  I think that once we accept the idea that the state has the right to execute people, it becomes a lot easier to accept the idea that the state has the right to do a lot of other things.  Plus, there’s always the danger of innocent people being sent to die.  The Life of David Gale also claims to be against the death penalty but it’s so obnoxious and self-righteous that I doubt it changed anyone’s mind.

David Gale (Kevin Spacey) used to the head of the philosophy department at the University of Texas.  He used to be a nationally renowned activist against the death penalty.  But then he was arrested for and convicted of the murder of another activist, Constance Harraway (Laura Linney) and now David Gale is sitting on death row himself.  With his execution approaching, journalist Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet) is convinced that Gale was framed and she finds herself racing against time to prevent Texas from executing an innocent man…

There’s a lot of things wrong with The Life of David Gale.  First off, it was made during the Bush administration, so the whole film is basically just a hate letter to the state of Texas.  Never have I heard so many inauthentic accents in one film.  Secondly, only in a truly bad movie, can someone have a name like Bitsey Bloom.  Third, the whole film ends with this big twist that makes absolutely no sense and which nearly inspired me to throw a shoe at the TV.

Of course, the main problem with the film is that we’re asked to sympathize with a character played by Kevin Spacey.  Even before Kevin Spacey was revealed to be a sleazy perv, he was never a particularly sympathetic or really even that versatile of an actor.  (Both American Beauty and House of Cards tried to disguise this fact by surrounding him with cartoonish caricatures.)  Spacey’s so snarky and condescending as Gale that, even if he is innocent of murder, it’s hard not to feel that maybe David Gale should be executed for crimes against likability.

Back to School #77: The Fault In Our Stars (dir by Josh Boone)


fault-poster

Well, we’re wrapping things up as far as Back to School is concerned.  A little over a month ago, I set out with a mission.  I said that I would review 80 of the best, worst, most memorable, and most forgettable high school and teen films ever made.  I said it would be able to do it all in one week.  Needless to say I was wrong.  It’s actually taken me five weeks but the end is in sight and, as much as I’ve enjoyed doing this series, that’s probably for the best.  After all, the back to school sales are over.  The kids have already settled back into the school routine.  Everyone’s looking forward to the winter break.

Add to that, it’s nearly October and that means that it’s nearly time for this site to start devoting itself to horror!

So, we have four more Back to School reviews to go and, keeping with the chronological nature of this series, they are all for films that were released in 2014!

Speaking of which, 2014 has been the year of Shailene Woodley.  Much as how Jennifer Lawrence dominated 2012 by starring in The Hunger Games and winning an Oscar for Silver Linings PlaybookWoodley has proven herself to be both capable of carrying a franchise and starring in a serious film.  Also, much like Jennifer Lawrence in 2012, Shailene has been the subject of several condescending posts  over at AwardsDaily.com.  And, as we all know, you haven’t arrived in this business until Sasha Stone talks down to you.

Shailene’s serious film of 2014 was The Fault In Our Stars, which is based on the excellent and heart-breaking novel by John Green.  The book made me cry and cry.  In fact, it made me cry so much that I wasn’t sure whether I would have any tears left over for the film.  Don’t get me wrong.  I knew the film would probably be good.  Just on the basis of her excellent performances in The Descendants and The Spectacular Now, I knew that Shailene Woodley was an ideal pick for the role of the Hazel, a sarcastic 16 year-old who has thyroid cancer and can’t go anywhere without her oxygen tank.  But I wondered, knowing already what was going to happen, would the film still have as strong an effect on me as it would if I was going in with no knowledge as to what was waiting for me.

I really shouldn’t have even wondered.  For that matter, I probably should not have worn mascara on the night that I saw the movie because, seriously, by the end of it, my face was a mess!  The Fault In Our Stars is one of those films that has been specifically made to make you cry.  And yes, it’s undeniably manipulative and I’ll even agree with those critics who have used the dreaded “schmaltz” label while describing the film but so what?  In the end, the tears are earned.  In the end, the film works.

And that’s largely due to Shailene Woodley’s performance as Hazel.  While Ansel Elgort gives an okay performance as Augustus, the boy who has lost a leg to cancer and who Hazel loves, the film really does belong to Shailene.  She gives a fierce performance, capturing both Hazel’s dark humor and, even more importantly, her independence and her inner strength.  It’s the type of performance that more than justifies 2014 being the year of Shailene Woodley.

Probably one of the more critically divisive scenes in the film comes when Hazel and Augustus are taking a tour of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.  (They’re in Amsterdam because they’re looking for Hazel’s favorite writer, a drunken recluse who is well-played by Willem DaFoe.)  Over the course of the tour, Hazel has to climb several staircases and ladders and it’s not easy for her.  However, Hazel never gives up and, at the end of the tour, she and Augustus share as kiss.  And, of course, everyone else who was on the tour breaks out into applause.  For many, I think this is the scene where the film says, “You can either take me as I am or you can leave the theater.”  Yes, it is incredibly manipulative and yes, I do think it would have been just as effective without everyone else breaking out into applause.  But, dammit, the scene works!  You have grown to so much care about Hazel that the scene works.  It also helps that, up until this point, the film has been so unsentimental about the horrible reality of cancer that the fact that you’re happy to finally see Hazel get that over-the-top moment of happiness.  Hazel has earned it, the film has earned it, and so has Shailene Woodley.

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Review: True Blood 7.1 “Jesus Gonna Be Here”


Sookie

I have to start out this review of the 7th season premiere of True Blood with an explanation and an apology.

I always like to think that I can write a good review regardless of what else might be going on in my life.  If I took a break from writing every time that I felt less than great, I certainly would not have ever reviewed Black Swan or The Perfect Teacher.  Sometimes, you just have to take your medicine and get things done.  That said, I should let you know that summer has just begun down here in Texas.  Pollen is everywhere and I have spent today battling my allergies.  I am definitely under the weather as I write this review and I apologize if that has effected my ability to properly consider tonight’s episode.

However, for the season premiere of a show that’s known for its complex storylines and huge cast, it doesn’t really seem like there’s much to analyze about what happened tonight.

Don’t get me wrong.  True Blood has always been an uneven show.  For every great episode of True Blood, there’s also a mediocre one.  For every brilliantly drawn and acted character (like Kristin Bauer van Straten’s Pam), there’s been characters who have never quite reached their potential but yet remain in the cast.  For every storyline that worked, there will be memories of Bill getting possessed by Lillith.

In the past, mediocre episodes or creative misfires did not worry me.  I accepted them as being just a part of what happens with all long-running television shows.  I accepted the occasional bad because I knew that the good would be great and I always knew that there was a chance that any creative miscalculations would be corrected in a future season.

However, we’ve now reached a point where there are no more future seasons.  This is it!  Season seven has ten episodes and then True Blood — as a television series — is over.  Rumor has it that there will be a Broadway musical and I’m certainly looking forward to it eventually showing up on the community theater circuit because I really do think that I’d be a natural for it.  But, until then, these final 10 episodes are all that we have left and True Blood — being True Blood — has a lot of storylines that it needs to somehow resolve so that viewers like me don’t feel like we’ve spent the last 7 seasons being set up for an anticlimax.

After all, we don’t want True Blood to end up like Dexter.

That’s why I can’t simply laugh off a mediocre or uneventful episode now.  As I sat through tonight’s premiere, a part of me was thinking that things were moving slowly because the show is setting up the foundation for a proper and satisfying finale.  However, another part of me wanted to scream, “HELLO — WE’VE ONLY GOT 10 EPISODES LEFT!  THESE HAVE TO COUNT!”

And I will admit — though this may have been the headache talking — I did end up hissing at the screen, “Where.  The.  Hell.  Is.  Erik!?”  As we all remember from last season’s finale, Erik was last seen naked on a mountain, bursting into flame as the sun shined down on him.  The important thing, however, is that we never saw Erik explode into red goo.  I chose to believe that Erik is still alive and, apparently, Pam agrees with me because tonight’s episode found Pam in Morocco searching for Erik.  There really weren’t enough scenes featuring Pam but I was happy for what we got of her.  Pam’s snarkiness always brings True Blood to life.  Hopefully, Erik will show up next week.

As for everyone else:

Tonight’s premiere began where season 6 ended.  A group of infected vampires attacked a human-vampire mixer at Bellfluer’s.  During the attack (which was well-filmed but still a bit too chaotic for its own good), vampire Tara is apparently killed and Holly and Arlene are kidnapped by the infected vampires.  Sam, who is now the mayor, orders that all the humans go home with an uninfected vampire, the idea being that the human will feed his vampire in return for protection.  Nobody is really happy with the arrangement and, as quickly becomes apparent, everyone blames Sookie.  What people don’t consider is that Sookie can hear their accusatory thoughts.  At the end of the episode, she goes to church and tells everyone off.  So, it looks like Sookie is once again frustrated with living in Bon Temps and thinking about saying goodbye to all of the drama and going off on her own.  Then again, that’s pretty much what always happens to Sookie.

(Sookie, incidentally, is now in a relationship with Alcide and good for her!  I still have a feeling that she’ll end the show with Sam but when you’ve been through everything that Sookie has, you’ve earned the right to spend a few nights with Alcide.)

Meanwhile, Sheriff Andy and Bill spent the episode looking for the kidnapped humans and I have to say that Andy has actually turned into a badass, even getting to save Bill from a group of human vigilantes.  However, Andy assures Bill that, even if there are temporarily allies, Andy still hates Bill and every other vampire.

Jessica, meanwhile, is stuck outside of Andy’s house, protecting Adelyn.  Despite the fact that Andy ordered his daughter not to invite Jessica inside, Adelyn does allow Jessica to enter to escape both the rising sun and to thank her for protecting her from a random vampire who wanted to drink Adelyn’s blood.  Once inside the house, Jessica nearly attacks Adelyn but manages to stop herself.

And finally, Jason has sex with his vampire girlfriend.  It’s not an episode of True Blood unless Jason is having sex with his vampire girlfriend.

I always enjoy watching True Blood and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season but I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with tonight’s premiere, which seemed to move slowly and, oddly for True Blood, didn’t really seem to be too concerned with moving any of the show’s dozen or so storylines forward.  Hopefully, future episodes will pick up the pace because, after all, we’ve only got nine more left and they have to count!

And, hopefully, Erik will return.

Soon.

Review: True Blood 6.10 “Radioactive”


True Blood

Eric better not be dead!

A lot happened on tonight’s sixth season finale of True Blood.  Along with wrapping up Warlow and Billith’s storylines, it also set up what’s presumably going to be season 7’s major storyline.  A lot of strange things have happened over the past two seasons of True Blood and tonight’s finale promised both a return to normalcy and a new beginning.

And with all that in mind, my number one reaction to tonight’s finale was this:

ERIC BETTER NOT BE FREAKING DEAD!

Admittedly, when we last saw Eric, things did not look good.

Warlow, having revealed himself to be just as evil as we all knew he was and refusing to allow Sookie to back out of their arranged marriage, was finally killed by Sookie’s grandfather (Rutger Hauer), who, in this best tradition of dues ex machina, managed to pop out of his little prison dimension and drive a stake through Warlow’s heart.  Warlow dissolved into red goo and, with the death of Warlow, all of the vampires who had drank his blood lost their ability to walk in the daylight.

The majority of the show’s vampires were safely inside when this happened.  However, Eric was sunbathing naked in the Swiss Alps and, as he lost his special Warlow powers, he burst into flames.

A collective cry went up on twitter as thousands of Eric fans (present company included) tweeted out a massive: “NOOOOOOOO!  NOT ERIC!”

However, there is hope.  The scene cut away from Eric before we actually saw him explode.  So, maybe Eric managed to bury himself in the show.  Maybe he ran into a nearby cave.  Maybe Lillith reached out and saved Eric’s life.

As far as I’m concerned, until I see definite proof of his true death, Eric lives!

Warlow’s demise occurred about halfway through tonight’s finale.  At that point, season 6 officially ended.  Warlow’s gone.  The vampires can no longer walk in the day.  Bill, having refused to go off with Lillith’s sirens, is finally starting to act like Bill again.  And hopefully, Eric’s not dead.

The second half of the episode felt like a preview for season 7.  We jumped ahead 6 months into the future and we discover the following:

Sookie is living with Alicide.  (You go, girl!)

Sam is now married to annoying Nicole and is mayor of Bon Temps.

Andy is still very protective of his last remaining daughter.

Bill Compton is now a published author.  He’s written a book about his experiences as a God.  In the book, he writes about ripping the Governor’s head off of his body.  He also reveals that Hep V was a creation of the government.

Hep V, meanwhile, has become an epidemic.  Although only vampires are killed by it, the virus can live in humans as well.  Mayor Sam arranges for a human/vampire mixer so that the citizens of Bon Temps can pair up — one human to a vampire.

And while everyone in town gets acquainted, an army of infected vampires shambles towards the gathering like zombies from a George Romero film…

And that’s how season 6 ends.

So, what did everyone think of season 6?  I thought it was one of the better seasons of True Blood and a definite improvement on season 5.  That said, I was definitely happy to see Bill acting like Bill again at the end of tonight’s episode.

Hopefully, Season 7 will start with Eric showing up on Bill’s front porch and saying, “The weirdest thing happened in Switzerland…”

Random Thoughts and Observations:

  • Unofficial scene count: 45
  • As fun as it was to see all the daywalking vampires happy at the start of tonight’s episode, I’m kinda glad that they lost that power.  I’m not sure how many more scenes of vampires playing volleyball I could take.
  • My first tweet after the end of this episode: “Fuck you, #Newsroom!  I’m too concerned about Eric on #TrueBlood to care about some maniacal news anchor!”
  • Alcide was wearing the word’s worst wig at the start of tonight’s episode.
  • I had forgotten all about that whiny scientist until he showed back up tonight.
  • Again, we never saw Eric explode into red goo.  That’s the important thing.
  • “You don’t want a vampire bride!  You want a faerie vampire bride!”
  • I’ve had a lot of fun reviewing True Blood this season.  I look forward to doing it again next season.  Thanks for reading!

Review: True Blood 6.9 “Life Matters”


True Blood

When the history of True Blood is eventually written, Life Matters will be remembered as the best episode of season 6 and perhaps as one of the best episodes of the entire series.

For a show that has occasionally been a tad too complicated and a bit too dependent on easy snark as opposed to genuine sentiment, tonight’s episode was both focused and sincerely emotional.  If an episode of True Blood could ever make you cry while still making you laugh and occasionally jump, Life Matters is that episode.

Tonight, True Blood was all about death.  While the citizens of Bon Temps gathered to say a final goodbye to Terry, the vampires got their revenge on the humans at Vamp Camp.  The Rev. Newlin finally met his well-deserved demise at the hands of Eric and the sun while Jason came close to murdering Sarah Newlin before finally relenting.

At the end of last week’s episode, Bill and Sookie were standing over Warlow’s drained body.  Well, it turns out that Warlow is not dead.  He’s just weakened.  After Sookie allows him to feed on her, she leaves for Terry’s funeral while Bill heads to Vamp Camp.

The rest of the episode very skillfully cuts back and forth from the powerful emotion of Terry’s funeral and Bill and Eric’s bloody rampage at Vamp Camp.  While those at the funeral speak of the value of celebrating life, Bill, Eric, and the vampires are literally killing every human that they can find.  While Andy and Sam talk about (and we see flashbacks of) the first time they ever met Terry, Bill is killing a human scientist by stomping his face in.  While Sookie gives her eulogy and also outs herself as being a telepath, Eric is releasing all of the female vampires and announcing, “Go forth and kill all the humans!”

Sarah Newlin, realizing that she’s literally one of only two humans left alive at Vamp Camp, climbs up to the top of the roof of the sun room and turns a wheel that opens up the ceiling.  The sun shines down on the vampires below but all of the vampires have now fed on Bill’s blood and are now immune to the sun.

Every vampire except for the Rev. Newlin, of course.

Newlin begs to be allowed to feed on Bill’s blood but none of the other vampires are willing to allow Newlin to get near him.  Finally, Eric grabs Newlin by the throat and holds him in place as the sun shines down on him.  As Sarah watches from above, her ex-husband starts to burn and then explodes into a mess of red goo.  Newlin’s last words are to declare his love for Jason Stackhouse.

As for Jason, he catches Sarah as she tried to flee Vamp Camp and, in a rather uncomfortable scene, holds a gun to Sarah’s face while she begs for her life.  Jason finally allows her to escape, saying that he doesn’t want her blood on his hands.  As hateful a character as Sarah is, I’m glad that Jason didn’t kill her.  Jason may be many things but he’s not a cold-blooded murderer.  That’s one reason why we all love him.

Bill, weakened after having been drained, lies on the floor of the sun room and has a vision of Lillith’s sirens approaching him.  They tell him that it’s time for him to come with Lillith.  Bill says that he’s not ready to go.  Fortunately, Jessica and James find him and James feeds him.

Meanwhile, Terry’s funeral ends with Arlene accepting an American flag from the Marine honor guard and Big John singing “Life Matters.”  A random old lady wonders why there’s so many black people at Terry’s funeral.  That’s just life in Bon Temps.

As the episode ends, Bill and the other vampires are celebrating in the daylight.  However, Pam sees Eric standing some distance away.  Pam tells Eric that he better not leave her.  Eric responds by doing just that, shooting off into the sky and leaving Pam by herself.

Tonight’s episode of True Blood felt almost like a series finale.  As I watched it, I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t watching the end of the show or even the end of the season.  Instead, I was watching the 9th episode of a 10-episode season.  There’s one more episode and at least one more season to go before True Blood concludes.

I just hope that Eric comes back.

Random Observations:

  • Considering just how marginal his character often seemed to be in the grand scheme of things, I was a bit surprised at how touching Terry’s funeral truly turned out to be.
  • Still, as a friend of mine pointed out on twitter, dead Terry got more screen time during tonight’s episode than he ever did while he was alive.
  • If an episode of True Blood ever deserved an Emmy for editing, this is the one.
  • How is Season 6 going to end?  Is there more to the Lillith story or will next week’s episode just be about setting things up for season 7?  Your guess is as good as mine.
  • I’m sure that those of you who got this review in your e-mail might be wondering if I really did accidentally type Big Brother instead of True Blood in my initial draft of this post.  Yes, I did.  Whoops.  I also write a daily blog over at the Big Brother Blog.  My mistake was the result of me trying to write reviews of two very different shows at the same time.
  • “I love you, Jason Stackhouse!”

Review: True Blood 6.8 “Dead Meat”


True Blood

If nothing else, this episode will always be remembered for confirming what all of us ladies already knew.  High heels are murder!

Seriously, if you had any doubts about whether or not Sarah Newlin (played, with manic glee, by Anna Camp) truly was batshit crazy, all you had to do was watch tonight’s episode.

First off, she’s refusing to tell anyone that Gov. Burrell is dead and it wouldn’t surprise me if she’s got his severed head in the trunk of her car.

Secondly, when Mrs. Suzuki came by Vamp Camp to check out what was going on with the Tru Blood production, Sarah ended up chasing her through the prison.  Now, I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that it is next to impossible to successfully run away from a crazed maniac while wearing high heels.  That still doesn’t stop Mrs. Suzuki from trying but, once she ends up tripping on a steel grating, Sarah proceeds to beat her to death with one of her own high heels.  Underneath the grating, a grateful group of male vampires feast on Suzuki’s blood.  “Thank you, Jesus!” an orgasmic Sarah proclaims.

This macabre chase scene — coming towards the end of tonight’s episode — perfectly sums up season 6 of True Blood.  It was over the top, silly, melodramatic, vaguely sordid, and yet definitely effective.

Mrs. Suzuki was murdered to prevent her from telling the FDA about Sarah’s plan to give all the vampires Tru Blood that’s been spiked with Hep V.  The first batch of infected Tru Blood was given to the prisoners during tonight’s episode.  James, the hot new vampire who Jessica is now in love with, warned the Rev. Newlin not to drink the infected blood.  This led to Sarah demanding to know why Newlin was refusing to drink the blood.  Since Newlin is a weasel, he quickly revealed the names of every vampire who knows the truth about the new Tru Blood.

As a result, Newlin, James, Pam, Tara, Willa, and Jessica all found themselves in that white death chamber that Bill keeps seeing in his visions of the future.  As Jessica quickly figures out, this is where they’re going to stay until the sun rises, the ceiling opens up, and they’re all burned to death.

Bill, however, has a plan.  As he tells Sookie, he wants to allow all the vampires at Vamp Camp to drink Warlow’s blood so that they can be immune to the sunlight.  Warlow tells Sookie that he’ll only do it if Sookie agrees to be “his.”  So, once again, the future of the vampires pretty much depends upon Sookie surrendering any shred of independence from the whims and needs of the men in her life.

So, as must happen at least once during every season of True Blood, Sookie prepared to sacrifice herself.  She took Bill to the faerie dimension so that she could give herself over to Warlow and then Warlow could give himself over to Bill.  However, as soon as she and Bill arrived, they discovered that Eric had gotten there first and had already drained Warlow.

And that, quite simply, is why I love Eric.  While everyone else talks and broods, Eric gets stuff done.

Finally, in case you were wondering how long it would take Sam to get over Luna, the answer is eight episodes.  Sam returned to Bon Temps for Terry’s funeral and, upon arrival, he discovered that Alcide had rescued Nicole from the werewolves (and, in the process, had surrendered the title of pack leader to Rikki).  Sam discovered that Nicole’s pregnant and, within a few scenes, the two of them were declaring their love for each other.  Nicole is a boring character and werewolf politics tend to put me to sleep unless they involve Alcide getting naked.  Since Alcide kept his clothes on tonight, I have to admit that I pretty much zoned during the majority of the Sam/Nicole/Alcide scenes.

But no matter!  Between Sookie preparing (yet again) to sacrifice herself and Sarah getting crazier by the minute, tonight’s episode was a lot of fun.  I assume that Eric is now heading towards the Vamp Camp and I can’t wait to see what happens once he arrives.

Random Thoughts and Observations:

  • Tonight’s unofficial scene count: 48
  • I always enjoy it when Bill and Eric get to argue.  Alexander Skarsgard and Stephen Moyer really throw themselves into those scenes.
  • Nora may be dead by Lucy Griffiths — much like Arliss Howard and Todd Lowe — is still listed in the opening credits.
  • Rev. Newlin seemed to have a thing for people who have had sex with Jessica.
  • I was a little surprised that Alcide didn’t know who Terry was.
  • I’m proud to say that, in last week’s review, I totally guessed Bill’s plan for Warlow’s blood.
  • “Mother, I can fly!”
  • “The only way he’ll agree to help you is if I agree to become his faerie vampire bride!  So there!”
  • “How about that, you motherfucking monster!?”
  • “I’m trying to decide if I’ll be more uncomfortable in here or out there!”
  • “Sarah Newlin!?”  “Don’t tell me you’re a fan!”

Review: True Blood 6.7 “In The Evening”


Bill_embraces_lilith

Poor Eric!

Going into tonight’s episode of True Blood, I knew that another major character was expected to die but I was really hoping that it wouldn’t be Nora.  Not only did I feel that the character (and Lucy Griffiths) has never quite been used to her potential (not an uncommon occurrence on a show that has a huge ensemble, like True Blood) but it also seems like Eric is always losing the vampires who are most important to him.

However, I also knew that, story-wise, Nora had to die if just so we could understand how dangerous Hep-V truly is.

And so, after bringing Nora to Bill’s mansion and even going so far as to pray for her recovery, Eric ended up holding Nora while she literally melted in his arms.  Adding to the pathos of the situation, we were treated to a flashback to 1666 where we saw how Eric originally turned Nora into a vampire in order to save her from falling victim to the Great Plague.

It was a highly effective moment in an otherwise average episode of True Blood.  If the show often struggled to figure out what exactly to do with Nora, it at least allowed her to make a powerful exit.

Tonight’s episode was all about death.  While Eric watched Nora die, the rest of Bon Temps struggled to deal with the demise of Terry.  Sookie abandoned the post-coital bliss of Warlow so that she could comfort the grief-stricken (and quite drunk) Arlene.

Sookie’s return allowed Bill to track her down and, in a wonderfully tense scene that was very well-acted by real-life husband and wife Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, Bill told Sookie that if she doesn’t lead Bill to Warlow than all the other vampires will die.  I imagine that Bill’s plan is for all the other vampires to drink Warlow’s blood.  Once they, like Bill, are immune to the sunlight, the LAVDF will no longer be able to burn all the vampires to death.

Back at Vamp Camp, Jessica, Pam, and WIlla are aware that the new tru blood is tainted with Hep-V but, as Pam explained, they can’t say anything because, if all the vampires refuse to drink the tru blood, then the authorities will know that the secret is out.  That said, Jessica still asked Jason to arrange a meeting between her and the surprisingly sensitive vampire James (Jake Grimes).   Jessica informed James about the tainted tru blood and then proceeded to lose her vampire virginity to him.  And good for her because James is seriously superhot!

Meanwhile, Sarah Newlin discovered the massacre at the Governor’s mansion and, after kissing the Governor’s severed head, she took command of his plan to destroy all of the vampires.  She returned to the Vamp Camp where she tracked down Jason, cut his wrist, and then tossed him into a cell full of female vampires.  Tara jumped up to defend him but then, a vampire named Violet announced that Jason was hers.

FInally, Sam found out about Terry’s death and is now planning on returning to Bon Temps, despite the fact that he promised Alcide that he wouldn’t.  Alcide, it turns out, lied to the rest of the pack and told them that he had killed both Sam and Nicole.  As tonight’s episode ended, Alcide discovered that Nicole and her mother had been captured by the pack and his lie had been exposed…

(Seriously, I can understand why Alcide didn’t want to be packmaster.  The werewolves are way too much drama!)

As I said, this was an average episode of True Blood.  It featured a few memorable moments (Nora’s death, Arlene getting drunk, and the James/Jessica sex scene) but, for the most part, it felt like the main purpose of this episode was to set things up for the season finale.  There’s only 3 more episodes left before the end of season 6 and there are rumors that at least one more major character might be leaving before the end of the season.

Here’s hoping it’s not Eric!

Random Thoughts and Observations:

  • Tonight’s unofficial scene count: 49
  • I noticed that Todd Lowe is still listed in the opening credits.  Was Arliss Howard listed as well?
  • Willa really does look a lot like Nora.   It’s a bit distracting.
  • In my notes, I wrote: “Ewwwwwww!” when Sarah Newlin kissed the Governor’s head.
  • The attempts to provide therapy for the vampires are a pretty obvious comment on the whole “ex-gay” movement.
  • Alexander Skarsgard made me cry tonight.
  • During tonight’s show, I tweeted the following: “When Sheriff Andy is the voice of reason, you know bad things are going to happen in Bon Temps. #TrueBlood”  As of this writing, it’s been retweeted 77 times and favorited by 52 people.  That’s a personal best for me so yay!
  • “How deep do you want to go?”