True Blood, Season 4, Episode 7: “Cold Grey Light of Dawn”
Written by Alexander Woo
Directed by Michael Ruscio
Airs Sundays at 9pm (ET) on HBO
This week on True Blood: Antonia is back with a vengeance, Tara dumps her girlfriend and gets her necromancy on, Eric and Sookie have a humorous amount of acrobatic sex, the makeup guys earn their paycheck on Pam, Hoyt worries about losing Jess, Sam gives Tommy an ultimatum, Lafayette is a medium, Baby Mikey has a friend, Andy is a bad date, Alcide and Debbie have a conversation, the vamps silver up, Jason races against time, and Jess meets the sun.
After a mostly strong season, this week’s episode is downright appalling. There are a few strong scenes, but the writing and acting as a whole are pretty terrible. The normally reliable Alexander Skarsgard (Eric) has nothing to work with and Anna Paquin (Sookie) isn’t helping. Though Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica) is good in her scenes with him, Stephen Moyer (Bill) forehead-acts (make that forehead overacts) the whole way through. Fiona Shaw (Marnie/Antonia) is not much better. Her accent is all over the place and she might as well be twirling her mustache while tying a maiden to some train tracks.
There were some bright spots. Rutina Wesley continues to deliver, bringing strength and resolve to every scene and utterly refusing to let Tara be a victim. The expected Sam-finds-out-Tommy-skinwalked-as-him-and-slept-with-his-girlfriend scene was pleasantly brief and underplayed. Kim Bauer is always a hoot, though Pam gets very little screen time, and Ryan Kwanten always comes through when given comedy- Jason’s panic over his feelings for Jessica is well played. Also effective is the very creepy spirit following around Baby Mikey. It’s nice to see Nelsan Ellis get a bit of comedy again, though Lafayette and Jesus must have been speeding like crazy to have found Jesus’ grandfather in Mexico and gotten back already. Though the final sequence of the vamps struggling against their silver was eye-rollingly unbelievable, it must be said that Jessica’s zombie-like struggle towards the door was very well staged.
The blame for this one goes to the script and direction. More than anything, many, if not most, of the performances are groan-inducing. The actors probably haven’t suddenly lost their ability to act; perhaps Ruscio had a bad day. This episode focuses mostly on the vampire and witch struggle, and those are the scenes that particularly suffer, though the others for the most part aren’t much better. This season has succeeded by focusing on character. Eric got a character reboot, but the writers seem to have run out of interesting things to say about this. Marnie was an unexpected antagonist, but she’s gone. Pam has been sidelined, and Lafayette speaks for the audience when he says that Jesus’ grandfather could have just told him what was going on, rather than subject him to a series of hoops.
The season has passed the halfway point. In previous years, this is where it started going off the rails. Let’s hope this one is a fluke, not a glimpse of the direction of the rest of the season.