True Blood, Season 6 – Episode 9: “Life Matters”
Directed by Romeo Tirone
Written by Brian Buckner
Airs Sunday nights at 9 on HBO
If anyone sticks around after an episode of True Blood finishes to see the “inside the episode” segment, then you’ll have seen one of the powers-at-be talk about how “Life Matters” is one instance of True Blood taking time to feel something, which hasn’t really been the show’s style ever. This is a fast-moving story (to a fault, sometimes), so you wouldn’t have been wrong to have expected there not to be much done about Terry’s death in the wake of that event. How wrong you would have been, though. “Life Matters” has at its centerpiece Terry’s funeral, which drew out a whole range of reactions – some expected, some incredibly surprising.
Beginning with the surprising, “Life Matters” really did follow through on making the viewer feel. Sookie listens in on Arlene’s thoughts, hears that Arlene isn’t ready to get up there and say a few words about her late husband and steps in to say some words of her own to buy Arlene some more mourning time (even though, Sookie says, she isn’t good at speaking in front of people; has this been mentioned on the show before?). The other flashbacks we get before Sookie tells her Terry story were great if just to see the guy on screen one more time if not also because the genesis of his place in this show is kind of interesting. But Sookie takes the proverbial cake by sending us back to the beginning of this series and telling Arlene the story of the first time Terry really saw Arlene and what his thoughts were as another, more…forward, shall we say?…waitress was putting the moves on him. Sookie tells her that not many people truly get to experience love at first sight. But Arlene deserves to know that she is one of those few people. Maybe the whole sequence is a bit corny to some people, but even after emotionally checking out of this show and watching just for fun, I was genuinely moved.
“Life Matters” is the theme that runs rather overtly and noticeably through the episode. It’s what Terry says in the flashback when he’s fishing with Andy and Sam as he asks Andy to throw back a catch. And it’s what Jason comes to realize he believes in during the other sequence that is juxtaposed with the funeral: Jason nearly killing Sarah. Huge compliments go out to director Romeo Tirone for how that was executed. As Jason is roughing Sarah around, Big John – a largely ignored character in this overpopulated series – goes up to sing a song at the funeral. The cuts back and forth are fantastic, but how Jason and Sarah’s scenes are shot while John’s continues to play in the background is the stuff of good action films. Neither Sarah nor Jason are all that interesting at this point (a lot of people have been a bit disgruntled by how Jason, who was initially such a fun character, has become total caricature), but those scenes had a kind of elevated weight to them that actually got the viewer invested in what Jason was going to choose to do.
In the end, life really does matter for our protagonists, even if people like Eric are actively trying to not believe that. Where he and the rest of the crew end up in next week’s finale and the coming seventh season will be intriguing if just because this season’s major conflicts have already been solved.