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‘True Blood’ Review: “Death Is Not the End”

True Blood Final Season Death is Not the End Review Pam
HBO

True Blood’ season 7 spurts out its 4th episode of the final year, “Death Is Not the End,” as Eric and Pam return to Bon Temps just in time for Sookie, Bill and the others to mount a rescue mission at Fangtasia against the infected vampires, with deadly consequences.

Last week’s ‘True Blood’ installment, “Fire in the Hole,” saw Sookie and Bill attempting to lure out the infected vampires, while Pam and Eric reflected on their past together, and Sarah Newlin resurfaced in an unlikely position, so what’s next for the final year?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘True Blood’ season 7, episode 4, “Death Is Not the End”!

Sookie calls Jackson Herveaux to inform him of Alcide’s passing, just as Jason calls Hoyt Fortenberry in Alaska to tell him of his mother, though Hoyt remains glamored into not remembering who Jason is. Jason nearly breaks down from the emotional toll of the call, until Sookie reminds him that they need to be strong. Elsewhere, Eric drinks from his stewardess on the flight with Pam, diverting their course to Shreveport for a stroll down memory lane before hunting Sarah Newlin. Pam remembers back to 1996, wherein the vampire magister of Louisiana punished she and Eric by relegating them to run a video store on the future site of Fangtasia, making Eric a sheriff in the process.

Andy reluctantly allows Sookie to help Holly recover memories of her time in captivity, revealing that Kevin has died, while the others remain alive at Fangtasia. Andy comforts Holly as Jason has to stop Sam from going off half-cocked, knowing that they’ll need to wait until nightfall for the vampires to aid in their rescue mission.

A still not-healing Jessica continues to languish in pain, having not eaten in the weeks since killing Adilyn’s sisters, for which James urges Bill to help Jessica come to grips with her needs. Sookie arrives in search of Bill’s help, but seeing the situation at hand, bluntly offers to feed Jessica for the sake of having everyone at full strength later that night. Taken aback, Jessica reluctantly agrees to feed, but refuses Sookie, willing to feed of Lafayette instead.

In 1996, a young Ginger comes to the video store in search of vampire movies for her class, finding herself awestruck by Eric’s decidedly ‘90s appearance, and looking to apply for an available day shift. Meanwhile in the present, Jason and Sam arrive to Kevin’s widow Rosie’s house to give her the bad news about her husband, and assure her they’ll recover the body that evening. Back at Bill’s house, the vampire expresses his doubt that many available reinforcements will join their mission that night, before Sookie insists on feeding him to instill full strength.

Lafayette arrives to feed Jessica, reminding her that he isn’t one of the “innocents” she laments having to feed off of in order to survive, before she finally eats. Meanwhile, Pam remembers back to 2006, wherein Ginger brought a discarded antique chair back to the video store, propositioning Pam that in the wake of vampires coming out, they re-designate their business as a nightclub named “Fangtasia,” and station Eric and his new throne on a nearby stage to drive up the sex appeal. Impressed, Pam glamors the idea out of Ginger to propose has her own to Eric, something 2014 Eric laughs upon learning.

Still short of reinforcements even after James’ bandmates join the mission, Bill and the others are surprised by the arrival of Eric and Pam, who make no effort to hide Eric’s progressing infection. In a moment alone with Sookie, Eric reveals that he’d traveled the world one last time before his ultimate death, and offers his condolences on Alcide. Willa arrives, having been summoned by her maker, as Eric commands she assist with the coming raid on Fangtasia in spite of her protests.

With Pam and Eric’s help, Sam manages to shapeshift his way into the Fangtasia dungeon, assuring Arlene and the others of their safety while simultaneously outing himself as a supernatural being. Upstairs, a weakened Eric finds himself unable to punch through one of the secret entrances, but by the time Bill intervenes and the others arrive downstairs, Arlene has already been taken for feeding. Meanwhile, Vince and his vigilante group ride for Fangtasia on Rosie’s information, preparing to take on the vampire themselves.

Bill sneaks upstairs while Eric causes a distraction at the front door, asking the other infected vampires to invite him in with the sweet-smelling Sookie. The vampires prepare to feed as Eric reveals that he brought reinforcements, but the rescue mission is thrown into chaos when Vince and his militia lob Molotov cocktails through the front door. A massive battle begins between the three parties in the parking lot, as Sookie races to tend to a drained Arlene, who has begun seeing visions of Terry in her approaching death. Sookie sends for Eric to bring her healthy vampire Keith, who provides Arlene with enough blood to survive, as her vision of Terry encourages her to stay and be happy.

The battle outside won, and both the mob and infected vampires put down with no major casualties, Eric and Sookie acknowledge one another one last time before Eric departs.

OUR REVIEW:

We were admittedly harsh on ‘True Blood’’s final season last week, and it seems we weren’t alone in feeling that Alcide’s death carried far less weight than it should have, as even Joe Manganiello seemed to admit in interviews that the character had become largely superfluous. Still, Alcide’s was the second major ‘True Blood’ core cast member to be given in unceremonious death in only three weeks of the final season, a stretch in which the story would understandably up the death quotient with impunity, but dare not sacrifice fan-favorites without just cause. Still, with Manganiello’s words in mind, we’re hard-pressed to deny that the final season story feels somewhat lighter for the loss, and brief reappearances from characters like Robert Patrick’s Jackson or Jim Parrack’s Hoyt certainly softened the blow of last week’s bloodbath.

In any case, “Death is Not the End” at least put Sookie to better use with a bit of her own agency, as she led the charge in rescuing everyone from Fangtasia with a take-no-prisoners attitude to any emotional conflicts that stood in the way. Joe Manganiello was right again in suggesting that Alcide’s death paved the way for Sookie to sort out a few of her issues with both Bill and Eric, the latter of whose return certainly speeded things along for keeping plots contained to one location, for now anyway. The different stages of the Fangtasia rescue effort likely proved the most concentrated and exciting ‘True Blood’ has been all season, even if it seemed to remove most, if not all of the early antagonists, and took place somewhat offscreen.

Of course, the hour wasn’t without a few head-scratching moments as well, as it’s difficult to justify why Pam and Eric have been taking so many trips down memory lane to fill in the details of questions few audience members had really thought to ask, and seemingly avoiding their actual questions* allthewhile. Sure, it’s a novel idea to see how Pam and Eric ended up managing Fangtasia, see Zeljo Ivanek’s magister one last time, and of course humiliate Kristin Bauer and Alexander Skarsgard with some wonderfully dated fashion choices, so perhaps we’re meant to gather the various return cameos and flashbacks of the prior two weeks serve as a means to swirl about ‘True Blood’ nostalgia as a whole, rather than contribute anything meaningful to the final season arc.

*Granted, Eric’s fiery outcome in the Swedish mountains both took place, and was resolved without any interaction from the main characters, hence why no one would necessarily ask him about it, but what are we left to infer? Did the “avalanche” Eric caused stem from his burning screams, and subsequently cover to protect him until nightfall? If nothing else, why has no one onscreen thought to ask Eric how he contracted the virus in the first place?

And while we’re at it, can ‘True Blood’ vampires passably survive for weeks on end without feeding? Had Fangtasia really not been in operation until at least 2006?

Now that both the infected vampires holing up in Fangtasia, as well as Vince’s posse have been dealt with (Kenya? Kenya? Bueller?), it’s hard to say exactly where the remaining six episodes will find their drive beyond the hunt for Sarah Newlin, Lettie Mae’s continued search for Tara, whatever remains of the infection threat or Lafayette’s weak romance with James. Still, we have to hand it to “Death is Not the End” for at least providing us the most concise, and thereby enjoyable episode of the final season to date, with some fun cameos to stoke our nostalgia for the coming end. Hopefully, the latter half of the final season will maintain as effective a balance, considering how trigger-happy producers have felt with the ancillary characters in these first four hours.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of fang-banging ‘True Blood’ action?  What did you think about tonight’s revelatory installment, “Death Is Not the End”? Join the discussion in the comments, and check back again next Sunday for another all-new recap and review of ‘True Blood’ season 7′s latest, “Lost Cause”!

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