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True Blood Season 6 Ep. 10 Recap: 'Radioactive'

Photo: HBO

As always, spoilers lie ahead. Now read on so we all grab beers and vampire protection at Bellefleur’s Bar and Grill…

Hell. To. The. NO! They fucking killed Eric Northman! There he was, just casually reading a book in the nude on a snowy mountaintop, when Warlow magic fairy juice wore off (more on that in a minute) and he started to incinerate. This couldn’t be happening. It had to be a nightmare Pam was having because she couldn’t find him. Surely she’d wake up screaming to face a frightened Ginger, fire off a bitchy comment at her and go back to fretting while cursing his existence. But alas, that was not the case. My mind was screaming “Don’t burn baby! Dig baby, dig! Dig a freakin’ snow coffin!” but once a mythological creature screams “NOOOOO!” and the camera pans out, you know it’s wrap.

Or maybe it’s not. After all, we didn’t see the requisite explosion and pile of red goop we’ve come expect when the true death strikes. Maybe there’s still hope. Maybe Pam swooped down and shoved them both into a cave and he healed! Yeah, that’s it. Chile, I know I’m sounding irrational, but take a minute to realize what this means. No more shirtless Eric. No more naked Eric. No more sexy eyes or dreamy smile or seductive flirtation. It was all taken from us in less than five minutes, while Terry damn Bellefleur gets an hour-long sendoff. I mean what the hell? He and Pam could have at least banged their way into oblivion. At least they had the decency to let Eric go out in a blaze of full frontal glory. Jason and Alcide better step their game up in the showing skin department, ’cause they won’t have Northman to pick up the slack for their lazy (though admittedly tight and firm) asses anymore.

*Sips tea, massages temples, counts to ten*

But seriously, on a character level the death of Eric irrevocably alters things in the True Blood universe. While certainly compelling in his own right, Eric always served as the charismatic bad boy yin to Bill’s brooding, self-loathing yang. Where Bill was always fighting his vampire nature, his loyalties swinging which ever way the wind blew him (Sookie, Queen Sophie Ann, the AVL, The Authority, Lilith) as he searched for an identity, Eric, save for the occasional witch spell, always knew who he was and reveled in it. Where Bill is often crippled by indecision, only taking action when others scream at him or come to him in a vision, Eric is a man (or vampire) of action, and his plans were more than often not, wildly effective. Like Bill, he could be duplicitous and manipulative, but he never pretended be anything other than ruthlessly interested in his own, and to a degree Pam’s, self-preservation. In other words, love him or hate him, what you saw is what you got. Even when Sookie wasn’t in the picture, their dynamic was still compelling, especially when Bill transformed into Billith.

Now that Eric’s met the sun, who will be there to balance Bill out, now that Lilith’s powers have drained out of him and he’s back to plain old Bill? Alcide is an okay guy, and will likely be a big part of season seven now that he and Sookie are playing house, but he’s not a vampire and even if he was, he’s no Eric. And I don’t even want to think about how Pam’s going to react. I complained earlier about the swiftness of his death, but when I think about it, how else could Eric have bitten the dust? He definitely wasn’t suicidal, so the chances of him slurping down Hep V-laced True Blood were slim to none. And he was too strong and smart to be taken out by a random human vigilante. His demise had to be one he never saw coming, and the fae blood wearing off was the wild card he didn’t predict. Although his departure is highly unfortunate–and could prove highly problematic if the show doesn’t wrap its head around how to deal with his absence–it leaves a gap for other vampires, such as Pam, Tara and Willa, to step into a more prominent roles.

Okay, enough about Eric *tear*. The big “what if” going into “Radioactive” was whether Sookie would become Warlow’s vampire fairy bride. Or, more accurately, how the writers would find a way for Sookie not to become his bride, as it became pretty clear when she started to give Warlow the “let’s take things slow” speech they weren’t going to be getting his and her coffins anytime soon. Warlow doesn’t take the news well; he back slaps her and ties her to a maypole, explaining he’s not interested in sharing her with her “friends of low birth.” Sookie summons her vamp-killing light ball and dares to throw it away so she’ll no longer be fae, but as is often the case comes to matters of the heart, she’s all talk and no action.

“You really are a danger whore, aren’t you?” Warlow says as he reinforces her restraints. “You risk everything on the belief you are special.” You don’t have to tell us Warlow, but for Sookie it could bear repeating. Further illustrating she should go with her first mind with it comes to men, he tells her her original instincts about him were right as he begins to suck her dry. Though as we all know, there really is always someone willing to save Sookie, and this time it’s a rag tag crew of Bill, Adeline, Violet, Jason and Andy, who use Adeline to get to the fairy realm and rescue her. Warlow, being ancient and all, proceeds to kick everyone’s ass, and is about to make Sookie his when guess who pops out of the nether realm? Grandpa Niall! He holds him while Jason comes in to provide the fatal stake to heart, and it’s bye bye Warlow. Though if Warlow really wanted lock things down with Sookie, he’d have disposed of Violet instead leaving her on the floor to wake up and unglamour Jason. But I digress.

I really didn’t expect any other outcome than Warlow meeting the true death, but it was disappointing to watch Sookie play no real role in his defeat. What happened to the badass who broke into Russell Edgington’s house and staked Lorena, gave Debbie a beatdown, or hell, even attempted to stake Billith? Using her fairy bomb to destroy Warlow would have both freed her from the immediate danger and from the perpetual cycle of attracting vampires and the chaos they bring with them. There would have been no turning back. Instead, she watched helplessly as the good men in her life destroyed the current bad man in her life. You might as call her Princess Peach.

Warlow’s words about her belief in her uniqueness may have left a mark though; six months after his death she’s dating Alcide and going to church with him in her Sunday best, her life for all appearances being one of any young Southern girl in a committed, vampire-free relationship. She even reels off a pretty blunt assessment of her years with Bill when he says he can be trusted again: “Even at your best, I could never really trust you.” Snap! Sookie’s not the only one who’s changed; Sam’s the mayor of Bon Temp, Arlene now owns Merlotte’s, now known as Bellefleur’s Bar and Grill, and Jason still hasn’t gone all the way with Violet (talk about a big buildup). The vampires are back to being creatures of the night, as Warlow’s death rendered their day walking abilities moot (hence Eric’s flaming on), but Hep V has still managed to spread to the masses, infecting vampires across the country and causing them to feed on humans in desperation.

Bill has taken the lead on the epidemic, writing a book (copies of which should be available on Amazon, if True Blood’smarketing team is smart) about Vamp Camp and the origins of the Hep V and popping up on talk shows promising a new openness between humans and vampires. He and Sam have also come up with a controversial solution for the problem; all humans who aren’t carriers of the virus will pair up with an uninfected vampire, so that said vamp can feed and said human can be protected. Yeah, that went over real at the church service/town hall meeting, as some folks waved their funeral home fans and walked out. But the plan provides the opportunity for several frayed vampire-human relationships to be mended. Jessica bravely reaches out to Andy, offering to protect him and Adeline, to which he begrudgingly agrees. Lettie Mae offers herself to Tara, in a nice scene where she apologizes for abandoning her after she was turned, and takes full responsibility for her failings as a mother.

Sookie’s taking her chances with Alcide, being cordial to Bill but refusing his protection, or any other vampire’s. But if the final shot of a herd of Walking Dead-esque vamps shuffling towards Bellefluer’s Bar and Grill is any indication, she better have a hell of a back up plan.

All in all, it’s been a good season of True Blood, arguably the most consistent in the show’s entire history. Much of the residual crap and supernatural zaniness from past seasons was cleared away (though the werewolves somehow managed to stick around for way too long), to focus on a main plot where the stakes felt real and urgent. Not having a veritable encyclopedia of magical creatures left space for the show to reconnect to its down home roots and its characters, paving the way for an episode like “Life Matters,” or scene’s Eric’s meltdown over Nora in “In The Evening.”  The latter has been this season’s real strength as the show finally found the courage to let the bodies hit the floor, and to mine the aftermath for emotional resonance. Death and human-vampire relationships actually mean something again. And now that humans and uninfected vampires must literally depend on each other to survive, they stand to mean even more in the season ahead.

Other Thoughts:

—Nice touch having many of the black and white congregants sit the opposite sides of the church before the good reverend cajoled them into mixing together. It showed the segregation that still goes on in many church services (the most segregated hour in Christian America as MLK said). The vampires may lurk outside, but prejudices still exist on the inside.

–Where the hell is Pam? Don’t take away my Pam True Blood. I like my campy horror mixed with detached, snarky color commentary, and Pam is the voice for that.

–Sarah Newlin’s obviously gone into hiding, as she probably would’ve been on some right-wing talk show speaking out against Bill’s book if she weren’t. Hopefully Anna Camp will come back for season seven so we can savor more Whore for Christ insanity.

–All seems well, if a little strained, between Jason and Violet. But being Jason is a known horndog and Violet has a possessive streak a mile wide, I don’t how long things could remain good between them. Now that the Hep V vamp herds are out, their union will likely end up being one of mutual survival.

—Is anyone surprised James fronts an alt-rock band? Me neither, though I’m glad they didn’t try to mold him into a wannabe Lestat.

What are your thoughts on this season?

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