This hasn't happened to date. Typically, I watch the series via press screener a few weeks ahead of broadcast and then sit down on Sunday night to rewatch the week's latest installment in order to have it fresh in my mind so I can write my review. This was not what happened this week.
In fact, I was so turned off by Sunday's episode ("Let's Get Out of Here"), written by Brian Buckner and directed by Romeo Tirone, that I couldn't actually force myself to sit through it again. Which is saying something, I think. Perhaps it was the overabundance of Emma (shudder), the hostage standoff/Ghost Whisperer plot of Lafayette (double shudder), Sookie's intensely unerotic dream, or the irritating showdown at the Vampire Rights rally (yawn), this episode just got under my skin in the worst possible way.
I've been able to rationalize a lot with True Blood and find deeper meaning for some of the metaphors that the show employs on a weekly basis, whether it be the show-covered shower scene from last week or the beauty, majesty, and sacrifice of Godric's death in Season Two. But this week, I just couldn't find a way into the episode, nor muster any sympathy for the characters, which is extremely odd as I've stuck with them this long.
But this week's lackluster episode tested my patience in ways that True Blood hadn't before. After a jaw-dropping cliffhanger the week before--Sookie is shot and dying!--it's quickly reversed with little fallout: Alcide rescues Sookie from the graveyard, Bill gives her his blood (which means they're bonded again!), and Sookie dreams of taking him and Eric to bed, but instead indulges in a weird '50s music-tinged daydream. Sookie nearly dying should have been a much bigger moment, but the second that that possibility was eliminated without a second thought, really, sucked all of the drama out of that scenario. Bill, it seems, is always a speedy run away from saving her life, which means a gunshot--or mortality, essentially--isn't a real danger for our Sookie Stackhouse.
Which is a bit of problem for a show that revolves around life, death, and the undead. A safety net such as that eliminates much of the tension... and the lack of dealing with consequences (whether about Sookie's shot to the gut or Jason's gang rape) is problematic as well. Yes, the plot is moving at a high-octane pace, and that doesn't leave much down time for the gang in Bon Temps, but if we're to believe that Sookie and the others are real people (or, well, former people), there needs to at least be a moment or two here and there in which they take stock of their lives, or at least process things that happen to them. This is especially an issue in a show where the main characters are largely reactive, rather than proactive (stuff happens TO them, rather than them setting things in motion), but I want to see some character growth and this was a key moment where that was entirely thwarted.
(On the other hand, I was glad to see Debbie revert back to form in a way. She's a recovering addict struggling with maintaining control over her life. While she wants to broker peace with Sookie, she's also jealous of the hold her rival has over Alcide and while she's quick to offer her help, she's also quick to sell Sookie out to Marnie/Antonia when the opportunity presents itself to eliminate the competition. But Debbie's not a lost cause either: she could have driven away, leaving Sookie to suffer at Antonia's hands, but she hesitates and lets her get in the car. There's still hope for Debbie, but it's a rocky road ahead and her imperfections are all the more apparent as she tries to become, well, perfect.)
I've been upfront about my disdain for the child actor playing Emma, whose every line of dialogue makes me cringe, but this week instead threw more Emma at me: Emma, Sam, and Luna camping; Emma playing with Sam the Bunny; Emma; Emma; Emma; Emma. Sam Trammell is acting the hell out of this season (witness him channeling Marshall Allman's Tommy a few weeks back) but putting him next to this kid is sucking the life out of these familial/domestic scenes with Luna... and not making me care about this storyline at all.
Tommy tried his hand at redemption at took Sam's place at the rendezvous with Marcus, which quickly turned bloody as Marcus and his men began to pound on Sam/Tommy, before--bloodied and broken--he shifted back into Tommy, shocking everyone there. Alcide intervened and carried Tommy away. Alcide seems to be doing a lot of this lately.
And then there was the ludicrous Lafayette storyline this week, which had him possessed by Mavis, the spirit of a long-dead grieving (and vengeful) mother, who kidnapped Mikey and held him hostage at gunpoint at Jessica and Hoyt's house. The tenseness of the situation devolved into a weird Ghost Whisperer-lite plot about Mavis coming to terms with her son's death and her own, and everyone lends a hand to dig up the grave containing the corpse of Mavis and her baby, before Mavis sings yet another lullaby and dissolving into gold dust or something. While I was intrigued by this particular storyline, this week's culmination of the plot destroyed any interest I had it in, rendering the conclusion leaden and deadly dull. Sad.
Are there really only three episodes left this season? Because this week's episode seemed a poor opportunity to shoehorn in these inane plots and crush the momentum that had been building thus far. While I'm not giving up on True Blood, "Let's Get Out of Here" severely tested my patience and loyalty. It's an episode that I will never, in any circumstance, wish to revisit, and, with just a few installments remaining, a major misstep in the fourth season. Luckily, next week brings us Nancy Oliver, and--I can only hope--more of a return to form...
Next week on True Blood ("Burning Down the House"), as all hell breaks loose in Shreveport, Sookie summons her most potent powers yet to save Bill, in the process breaking a spell and leading Marnie/Antonia to re-evaluate her mission; Jason urges Jessica to glamour him for Hoytʼs sake; Terry drags Andy to “Fort Bellefleur” for an intervention; Alcide reconsiders his allegiances after Marcusʼ fight with Tommy; Jesus, accompanied by Sookie, Lafayette and Jason, tries to breach the Moongoddess Emporiumʼs defenses to liberate Tara and Holly, while Bill leads a brigade of vampires committed to blowing the place to kingdom come.