True Blood: “Karma” Season 7 Episode 6 Review

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In a rather somber episode, True Blood elevates itself from last week’s mess.

The interesting thing about a show like True Blood is that it can be both wildly unpredictable and annoyingly straightforward at the same time. This can make for a roller coaster of a season, mainly because we don’t know if we’re going to see the best the show has to offer or the worst of its weakest efforts. This season has offered plenty of both, with truly funny and heartwarming character moments…along with a slew of plotlines that either make no sense or are completely unnecessary.

“Karma” is a wholly enjoyable episode, but it still bears the fruits of the show’s previous missteps. Most of the central action at hand was very engaging, but the world of Bon Temps has grown so big that it’s impossible to tell a story without including some of the more undesirable characters.

Strangely enough, Lettie Mae proved to be not such a character this week. Once again, she goes on the hunt for vampire blood in an attempt to reconnect with Tara. This time, however, she gets some help from Lafayette, who’s able to raise her plotline out of insane obscurity and give it some real meaning. After Lafayette also sees Tara in his V-induced hallucinations, he sides with her when the Reverend comes to take her away. What follows is a surprisingly moving response from Lettie Mae—delivered perfectly by Adina Porter—as she tells her husband that she chooses her daughter over her marriage. It’s here that we begin to see the reasons behind the episode’s choice in a title. It’s a bit of karmic justice that, since Lettie Mae wasn’t able to care for Tara in life, she must sabotage her own happiness to help her in death.

The real emotional core of this week’s episode, however, derived from Bill’s surprise Hep V diagnosis. We were thankfully spared more civil war flashbacks, and instead given a narrative that did well in expanding the reach of the show’s vampire culture. True Blood has often mishandled its attempts at presenting vampires outside the world of Bon Temps, but Bill’s visit with a lawyer to settle his estates was not one of these instances.

It’s a pretty simple plot, really. Bill sits in a waiting room for an inordinate amount of time, watching the sick vampires all around him and looking horrified at his own rapidly-spreading disease. When he’s finally called in, the lawyer tells him he can’t leave his property to Jessica in his will because the government doesn’t recognize progeny as a legal next of kin. Then the two discuss possible adoption options.

Yet, the clinical nature of Bill’s scenes are utterly effective. We’re used to seeing him be master of his domain. Lest we forget, Jason reminds us that six months ago Bill used to be a vampire god (we were all trying to forget though, Jason). Here, he’s totally powerless against an unfair bureaucracy. His scene with the lawyer is heartbreaking in its sternness. There’s nothing he can really do short of handing over $10 million dollars to cut to the front of the line. He feels as though he’s run out of options, and that is very scary. For the first time, the Hep V virus is actually very impactful.

Bill’s disease also lends itself to some pathos for Sookie, as she learns that she’s likely the one who infected him. Here too, she’s faced against some impersonal authenticity when she goes to get her blood tested. As an allegory for the HIV/AIDS virus, this plot is a little too on the nose. As a device for character development, however, it’s incredibly successful. Sookie shares some tender moments with both Jessica and Jason, with Anna Paquin turning in another heartfelt performance. (Quick Aside: Could the speed at which Bill’s disease is spreading be attributed to a mixture of H-Vamp blood and Sookie’s fairy blood? As we’ve seen before on this show, fairies grow at an exponential rate and time moves more quickly for them. End of Aside.)

With all the negativity surrounding several core characters this week, we were also offered a glimpse of hope in the most unlikeliest of places. Once it was revealed that both Bill and Eric had contracted Hep V, it was fairly obvious that a cure would come about soon enough. I couldn’t be happier that the cure arrived in the form of Sarah Newlin. As it turns out, the scientists who created Hep V also created an antidote—which she swallowed in a last-ditch effort to ensure her necessity. How fitting is it that the woman who spearheaded the creation of this disease is now the only one who can save all the dying vampires? As the episode’s title indicates, it’s a bit of twisted karma, and twisted is what True Blood does best.

Unfortunately, all of this excitement was spliced up in between some moments of dull unimportance. Though Adilyn and Wade’s relationship allowed for some humor between Holly, Andy, and Arlene, it really just felt like setup for Violet’s ultimate revenge on Jason. Her character is all over the place and incredibly frustrating, so this isn’t something I’m particularly excited to see. Additionally, we were given a scene between Sam and Nicole that felt so out of step with everything else going on, I briefly wondered if it was pulled from a different series. It was clearly put there to remind people that Sam Trammell is still on the show, which speaks volumes about the excess of characters True Blood has allowed into its universe.

These unpleasant detours aside, “Karma” was still a vast improvement from last week’s antics. I finally have an idea of the direction the season is heading in, with Sarah Newlin’s antidote reveal tying the Yakuza and H-Vamp plots together into a more cohesive narrative. True Blood certainly has its faults, but it’s never uninteresting, and so with bated breath I wait to see what happens next. Grade: B+

 

By Mike Papirmeister

 

 

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