6.1 “Who Are You, Really?” review

My thoughts on episode 6.1, below the Read More for those who haven’t not seen it yet and do not want to be spoiled.

The season 6 premiere of True Blood picks up right where it left off, with the world as we knew it flipped upside down by the explosions of the Tru Blood factories, Billith chasing after Sookie and Eric, the rest of the gang blasting their way out of the Authority Headquarters, and, in a new wrinkle, the Governor of Louisiana declaring war on the vampire population.  While the episode felt like a thriller at many points — and deliberately so, according to director Stephen Moyer — it still honored its philosophical episode title, “Who Are You, Really?” In the process, it seems to be setting up this entire season as an exploration of all the characters answers to that question.

Who is Billith?  Of course, no one has changed more dramatically — and caused more repercussions with his change —  than Bill Compton, who rose from the goo of his vampire remains as a blood-encrusted, roaring “monster.” A shower and change of clothes later, it certainly looked like Bill Compton — although with colder and more detached eyes, IMO — but Bill has quit an array of new tricks at his disposal.  He is now stronger than Eric, can fly, can stop objects midair, cause earthquakes and even survived being staked by Sookie.  As Jason said, he’s like a “nekkid evil Superman.” But is this new, super vampire still Bill?  Bill himself seems to think so, referring to himself as Bill Compton but conceding that he is also “something more.”  Sookie is less convinced that the Bill she once loved remains, enough so that she drives a stake through him without hesitation and refers to him as a “thing.”  Progeny Jess, however, is still hoping that the Bill she knew, her beloved Maker, is still in there somewhere, enough so that despite his nearly tearing her body limb from limb in the simple act of summoning her, she moves right back into the Compton mansion with him, eager to resume her role as loyal vampire daughter.  My predicted question for the season: Who is Billith really? Is Bill Compton in there at all? The fate of the world may depend it.

Who is Jessica? Why would she do something so crazy? In my opinion, Jessica is clinging so tightly to Bill, however changed he is, because he is the one remaining lynchpin in her own self-identity.  Just in the past few days, she had to remove even her memory from Hoyt’s mind and heart, and Jason, who she clearly loved, has rejected her, not only as a lover, but even as a friend.  Who does she have left, but Bill, as changed and frightening as he is?  When her maker called, her body responded, a sign that she interpreted as some indicator that the “real” Bill was still inside the monster.  Jessica is young, idealistic and desperately lonely, and  while her vampire father tucked her carefully into her own bed almost as if all was normal, I fear for what Jessica’s choice will mean to her in the end.  Despite Bill’s hope that Jess will somehow act as a check and balance on his super powers, I somehow suspect the influence of Lilith will not be as tolerant of that arrangement.  Predicted question of the season: How does Jessica define herself with the new Billith, and is she even capable of defining herself if she doesn’t have him as her guide?  She was just getting to know herself when she broke away from Hoyt; is she going to lose herself again because of her loyalty to Bill?

Sookie is also questioning who she is.  As she tells Eric in their walk home in the dark , she tells him she doesn’t like who she’s turned out to be, and she longs to return to being that “girl in the white dress” that walked in Eric’s bar.  She wants it so desperately that she rescinds Eric’s invitation to her home, however gently, after he returns the ownership of her home back to her.  And while I can sympathize with Sookie’s desire to return to her lost innocence, my feeling is that to try to turn back the clock in that way is foolish and dangerous, especially when a claim is placed on her by Warlow. Question of the season for Sookie: Can she truly become normal again?  Will it free her from Warlow’s claim? I suspect that the lesson Sookie is going to learn is that that girl in the white dress would not survive in the new post-Billith world, so she had best “get over it” (to borrow advice from Eric to Pam) and prepare to either get her friends’ backs or get out of the way as well as learn to protect herself with the skills she has.

Eric. Alexander Skarsgard has said that the “old Eric” will be back this season, but while I think that Eric the warrior and strategist will make a return, Nora pointed out that Eric now actually has a weakness he never had before: he loves Sookie.  And they made such a big point of it in this episode that you just know that it is going to come into play at some point, no matter how many resolutions he makes to stay away from her and to let their love be in the past.  Sookie is bound to be threatened and I think Eric will be unable to resist trying to help her.  Question for Eric this season: Who is this Eric who loves Sookie? Will he totally return to his old ways, or is there still some part of him that has been permanently made “good” because of her? I’m betting that he’s going to take his role as anti-hero from season 5 to a new level in season 6.

Pam and Tara.  Of course, with Eric changing, Pam is also forced to change, something she clearly resents and is perhaps frightened by.  Not only is the political crisis stripping her of her livelihood and identity as a partner in Fangtasia, but her relationship with Eric has shifted as well.  After 100 years of believing she knew him intimately — only to find that Eric has withheld parts of himself from her, even as she withheld nothing from him — Pam is facing her own crisis of identity.  It has always been “Pam and Eric” until now, but now that he has released her and she has discovered he cares about other people besides her (Sookie, and now formerly unknown sister Nora), Pam is distraught.  But as Tara wisely reminds her frustrated and hurt (even if she wouldn’t admit it) maker, love doesn’t have to be a competition.  My hope is that Pam and Eric will find a new way to relate this season — still with love, but without it being so all-consuming for Pam.  I also feel that her words to Tara — that theirs will not be a “grand love” and that Tara will never replace Eric — are going to come back to bite Pam in the ass.  Like everyone else, Tara is also changing and redefining who she is.  She seems to have finally accepted who she is as a vampire — enough so that when Jason loses his cool and freaks out that Sookie “loves those vampers more than her own flesh and blood” it is Tara who, while calling him on his hate, also recommends giving him space because she feels he’ll come around — just as she has. Questions for Pam and Tara: Who is Pam without relying completely on Eric? And who is Tara now that she has accepted who she is?  

Jason. Oh, Jason.  Why have you turned into such a bigot just because your ghost Mama and ghost Papa have turned out to be — from your own words – “more racist and scary” after death.  Granted, he also just lost his precious Bubba Hoyt and has rejected Jessica’s love out of guilt for that, so he’s also searching desperately for something to believe in.  But hate, Jason? Question for Jason this season: are you really that dark and hate-filled? Seriously?

Alcide and Rikki. And while the shifters and weres have not yet been directly impacted by the transformation of Bill to Billith, you can see that Alcide and Rikki are all going to be making changes in their self-identities as well. With Alcide as the new packmaster, Martha points out wisely that power erodes a man’s decency.  And already it begins in subtle ways — Alcide eating the old packmaster, not in wolf form as was done when Marcus died, but with his human teeth, like a cannibal; and pretty casually taking up young pack member Danielle on her sexual offer despite his relationship with Rikki.  Rikkie makes the most of the changes in circumstances by seizing the role of “#1 bitch” in Alcide’s life, showing her dominance over Danielle by snarling into her neck and then inviting her to join herself and Alcide in a threesome. I predict we are going to see a decline of Alcide’s character as the season wears (or is that weres?) on, with him succumbing to the less moral attractions of packmasterhood, becoming more and more willing to cut corners the same way J.D. did, all in the name of pragmatism.  After all, Bill’s story to Jessica about the moral decline of once honorable General Sherman because of his power can apply to Alcide as well as to Bill!  Questions for Alcide and Rikki this season: How corrupt will Alcide become and can he stop the process? And how far will Rikki go in trying to hang on to what power she has through her link with Alcide?  Will she lose herself for the sake of that power?

The new dads. Finally, both Sam and Andy are going to be changed by impending responsibility for children — Sam as Emma’s protector at Luna’s request, and Andy because of his litter of little fairies.  Fortunately for Andy, at the rate the quadruplets are growing — and do they even have names yet? — his responsibility for them will be short-lived, but I expect very powerful nonetheless. Questions for Sam and Andy: As new/surrogate fathers, how will they change? Do they have it in them to define for themselves what a good father is?  I think they will.

Governor Burrell and the mysterious man in the car.  Two new characters were introduced whose characters (if you will excuse the pun) will be pivotal to everyone else in Bon Temps and Shreveport.  First we have Governor Truman Burrell, who portrayed himself in the first episode as conservative but pragmatic, an opportunist who seizes circumstances to increase his political power.  But is that all he is?  He claims that he will not be the Big Bad of the season, but is that true? Previews make him look like a liar.

Even more importantly who is the old man in the car with Jason?  Since he knew Sookie’s name and that Merlotte’s used to be a steakhouse owned by the Bellefleurs back in the day, we were left with the impression that he could be Warlow — and yet, promos reveal he is helping Sookie with her faerie training, so there is good reason to suspect it is Niall.  Which character is he? Or is Rutger Hauer somehow playing both? If Warlow is Lilith’s progeny, what does he want with Sookie?  And what is his connection with the fae? So many intriguing questions!

Some lighter, less analytical thoughts (because I did actually watch this for fun as much as thinking all of this through!):

  • Interesting choice to have the episode start with Billith’s POV, which seemed different from Bill’s.  And did you catch that Billith could see Sookie’s faerie energy inside her when she opened her mouth?
  • Poor Luna. I suspected that Luna wouldn’t make it out of the Authority because Janina Gavankar was on the TB set for such a short period before departing for Arrow, but it is still sad to have it confirmed.  And how much has Emma grown while in Steve Newlin’s custody? He must have been feeding that puppy a lot! How much do you want to bet that Emma and her Grandma disappear before the end of the season to allow the girl to grow in peace?
  • Love the Sookie describes her love for Bill as being literally “in her blood.”  Since she said she “felt” him die when he became Billith, I wonder if Sookie is going to find that her explanation to Jessica will be more literal than she even realized and that she will realize that her love for Bill truly was blood-driven.  And I love that she is the one who tells Jessica it is time to let Bill go.  Maybe that is the first sign of his blood’s influence starting to leave her body, hmmm?
  • I got a kick out of the way that Raelle Tucker carried the literal question of “Who are you?” through by having Pam demand to know who Nora was, Nora asking if Bill was Lilith, and even Danielle (the nubile young were) having to share her name after Alcide refers to her simply as “sister.”  (And doesn’t that sister-who-I-have-sex-with thing sound familiar…?)
  • In all that discussion about Warlow between Jason and Nora, why in the hell didn’t it come out that Warlow has a claim on Sookie?  Forget the past action of his having killed your parents, Jason, and reveal the future threat: that he wants to take your sister!
  • Andy’s fairy brood, as silly as I found it in the finale last season, were much-needed comic relief in such a grim, heavy episode and I for one, appreciate that.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with those Miracle-Gro girls.
  • Is anyone else scared of the green laser lights? I thought they were just target guides, but given the pain they caused Tara, I think they are something much, much worse, and seeing those green glowing dots on vampire chests now makes me shiver.
  • Why is Billith having visions of screaming and chains? And who are the three women  (who seemed to be of different races) who possessed him at the end? Daughters of Lilith? Something else?
  • And last because it was I enjoyed the most, so much Sooric goodness in this episode!  I suspect it may be the last we have for a while this season, so I intend to cherish it.  So many great little shippery moments!  Eric’s concerned question of Sookie in the elevator, “Are you okay?” Their partnership of using her fae light and his strength to break out of the elevator shaft.  The way they were the two in the front seat, leading the others.  And oh, the walk home from Bill’s, which was very much a continuation of their previous walk home from the cemetery after burying the were! Eric offering Sookie his money to escape if that’s what she wants, but not arguing with her when she says it would be a waste.  His reminiscence of her as the girl in the white dress that came into his bar.  The way he uses his key (politely) for the last time to let himself in and she thanks him for escorting her home.  The way his insists on using his own blood to give her her house back. (Although why Sookie would have a fountain pen much less offer it to him is beyond me.)  And oh, the looks between them at the door. His hopeful look — very similar to his expression when he hoped she was going to choose him over Bill — but quickly resigned to the disappointment when she says she wants to rescind his invitation instead.  The gentle way he glides out the door and it softly shuts behind him, rather than being pitched out in fury the way Bill was.  And the quiet way he says “Good night, Miss Stackhouse” and she replies “Good night, Eric,” with her eyes looking slightly teary.  (The words were actually said so softly that I couldn’t understand what they had said until I played it back.)  And the way Eric responds toNora that he loved Sookie “in another life.”  It was a bittersweet parting, but one that brought them back together with a reminder that he loves her very much and, while she hopes (vainly, IMO) that being apart from him will turn her back into that girl in a white dress, there is still love between them.  Our ship got a little puff of wind in its sails again, I believe!

Anyhow, good start to the season, with a lot of promising themes.  In closing the lyrics to the end credits (“Who Are You, Really?” by Mikky Ekko) as well as the lyrics for the original episode title “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by Eric Burden with Jenny Lewis)

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood:  http://youtu.be/1VWbXQiJbkE
Next week: 6.2 The Sun

A long-lost relative reveals himself to Jason and Sookie. After Tara is victimized by a new government weapon, Eric takes matters into his own hands in an effort to thwart Burrell’s anti-vampire initiatives. On the road to work, Sookie is drawn to a handsome stranger who shares her faerie abilities. Sam is unnerved by supernatural-rights zealot Nicole (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and is confronted by Alcide and Martha (Dale Dickey) about Emma’s future. Bill contemplates the scope of his heightened powers.
Written by Angela Robinson; directed by Dan Attias.

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2 responses to “6.1 “Who Are You, Really?” review

  1. Seems like next episode we’re going to give Sookie a little “Preston diversion” ala Gift Wrap –wonder if Naill/Warlow put it together as in the short story???

  2. Oooh, I hadn’t thought about the Preston diversion. Given that they keep hinting that Ben is going to be super dark, the idea that Niall/Warlow would set it up is even creepier! (Yeah, already not a Ben fan and I haven’t even seen him for more than few seconds yet.)

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