You know the endlessly self-amused Nazi prick Christoph Waltz played in Inglourious Basterds? Well, someone over at True Blood casting found a prim-o Waltz-alike in the actor Christopher Heyerdahl.
Heyerdahl plays Dieter, a sociable sadist and Vampire Authority operative. His vampire theology monologue—shared while torturing Bill (Stephen Moyer), no less--finally gives Alan Ball, who's leaving the show this season, a chance to actually offend people.
Dieter asks Bill if he recalls what’s special about the Vampire Bible.
And we learn that what’s special about this Bible isn’t that it predates The Old and New Testament. Or that it’s the original Testament, telling how God created Adam and Eve as food for vampires and for God’s greatest creation—Lilith.
No, what’s remarkable in this time of election year Fundamentalist fever is that God created Lilith in his image, as God is a vampire.
As Dieter editorializes, “Powerful stuff indeed!” (To view this scene, please click on the video above.)
If this episode is any indication, Season Five will indeed be powerful stuff. I’m just not even certain what genre it is anymore.
I mean, sure, there are vamps and shifters and werewolves. But Ball is also fusing the zero sum war between Fundamentalism and sanity inside large institutions, with allusions to splintering U.S. conservatism in an election year. And making no bones about it.
But there’s much more. There’s an ongoing, Andrew Sullivan-style "death of gay culture" subtext argument, an import of the main theme of Buffy’s Season Six necro-existential crankiness, courtesy the turning of Tara (Rutina Wesley) into a vampire—or as I’ll call her from now on, the Tarapire.
And at least half the show is finally showing us the Vampire Authority. Damned if their underground realm, all chrome, sleek curving plastics amid a mid-century futurism that never happened doesn’t evoke a Swingin’ 60s spy film, equal parts Phillipe Starck and Ken Adam (the master designer behind Thunderball, Dr. No, and The Ipcress File),
At the center is Roman, the Authority himself, played by Christopher Meloni with the a brand of hyper-intense, top-dog, apocalyptic Type A times Pi machismo imported from an edgy production of Glengarry Glen Ross.
Roman, the ultimate sanguine super CEO, who loves to toss off non sequiturs like “Do you think that the whole concept of the common good is hopelessly naïve?”—which allows Eric the drollery of “I try to stay away from politics.”
But True Blood certainly doesn't.
But on to recapping. Much of this week is devoted to the Tarapire’s freak out, when she tears down down Sookie’s house.
Dying has been a really positive thing for the Tarapire—she’s very assertive (bam, there goes the fridge), has a killer deathly stare, and most of all, she doesn’t complain.
When she does snarl to Sook and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) that “I will neither forgive either of you,” there’s the delicious possibility that she’ll be promoted to full-blown bad guy. (To watch Tara in vampire form, please click on the video below.)
Things are going from bad to incredibly terrible for Bill and Eric (Alexander Skarsgård).
An Authority operative new to the show named Salome (Valentina Cervi) escorts them to the 60s design extravaganza I mentioned earlier, and jails them in a facility where they’re tortured with artificial sunlight and liquid silver and interrogated by sophisticated sociopaths like the aforementioned Dieter.
Over in our werewolf subplot, Alcide (Joe Manganiello) is refusing to join the pack in eating the corpse of ex-pack leader Marcus. Among the ritual diners is Marcus’s mom, Martha (Dale Dickey).
Clearly signed up for her gnarly, white thrash outlaw Sons of Anarchy appeal, and this impressively gross scene aside, Martha is a terrific addition to the cast, a gravel-voiced biker chick in her deep fifties with a worn regal vibe that fascinates.
Martha insists in several scenes that her daughter Emma, child of Marcus and Luna (Janina Gavankar), has more in common with her werewolf father than with her. This is a teaser for a scene that is astonishing, that demands you not drink fluids for you may gag or spit them up.
But right now, we’re talking Terry flashing back to Iraq and saying, “It’s coming for us.”
Will this show ever tire of crazed Iraq storylines? Can’t Terry get possessed by fairy lemurs or something, just once?
Then, a sweet cookie of a backstory is tossed to Pam (Kristin Bauer) fans. It’s a bawdy house in San Francisco, 1905. After a Campari, she hits the street. A creep tries to kill her, but in a flash Eric, in full Victorian eveningwear, kills the guy, licks the blood off his fingers and gives Pam his charm-face. There’s something oddly tentative about the show’s depiction of pre-vamp Pam, like Ball isn’t certain what he think of her quite yet. Still, that dress is a keeper. (Pam meets her maker, Eric, below.)
Sam (Sam Trammell), meanwhile, is recovering from his own wounds when Martha shows up, again insisting that Luna and Marcus’s toddler has supernatural canine blood in her veins. “She’s wolf—I can feel it!”
Are you sitting down? If not, do.
You’ll next see a scene where Jason goes to Hoyt’s mom’s, only to be rebuffed as by Hoyt (Jim Parrack) yet again as a girlfriend-fucker. And then we’re back at Luna’s house.
Suddenly, director Michael Lehmann cuts to a puppy in pajamas.
No CG, no make-up. Just a puppy in jammies. Only on True Blood.
There’s no way to follow that, but the show must go on. We end up deep in vampire Authority HQ, where Dieter is explicating that theology we started with, ending with what I assume will be the crux of this season’s drama:
That there are Vampire Bible fundamentalists who believe in a utopia where humans are farmed for food and human/vampire intimacy is blasphemy.
And there’s the Authority and Roman, who believe in “mainstreaming” and peaceful co-existence with humans.
In their secret chambers, the congress of the Authority lorded over by Meloni, dressed in the ultimate Hugo Boss-style pinstripe power suit.
Roman considers Bill and Eric, and says, “I’m in a real pickle here, boys.”
The pickle is—he needs to mete out justice to the killer of Authority member Nan Flanagan. Who Bill and Eric did kill.
Roman is the king of the mainstreaming cause, and he tells about it in detail, which is cool: I’ll listen to Meloni yell at me about a Google search for superior celery, he’s that violently entrancing.
Meloni wants to stake Eric and Bill. Bill has something to trade: the news that psycho-vamp Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare) is alive.
Russell the anarchist psycho-vamp who would love nothing more than to destroy the Authority’s mainstreaming initiative for the sheer fun of it.
As Meloni considers the import of this news, Lehmann cuts to Russell in a cart, his skin cracked into a thousand bloody fissures.
In true Edgington style, he licks his ruined lips. Gross! (Awesome.)
This week’s vestigial subplots:
She falls victim to Bon Temps’ most prevalent illness: unmotivated Sudden Character Reversal Syndrome. Last year, Sam became a murderous asshole for no apparent reason. Now Luna’s becoming a mean jerk, apropos of nothing.
Steve Nawlins claims vampires for Christ. Will this dovetail with the Authority’s interests?
Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll)
Nawlins tries to buy Jason from her. Jessica says she does not sell her friends. Like, ever.
But mainly this week is owned by Meloni’s Roman, the Tarapire, and the puppy. Good times.
Ian Grey has written, co-written or been a contributor to books on cinema, fine art, fashion, identity politics, music and tragedy. Magazines and newspapers that have his articles include Detroit Metro Times, gothic.net, Icon Magazine, International Musician and Recording World, Lacanian Ink, MusicFilmWeb, New York Post, The Perfect Sound, Salon, Smart Money Magazine, Teeth of the Divine, Venuszine, and Time Out/New York.