'True Blood' Review: "Lost Cause"

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True Blood’ season 7 spurts out its 5th episode of the final year, “Lost Cause,” as Sookie unwittingly finds herself the host of a party for the town, while Eric and Pam track Sarah Newlin to Texas, and Jessica makes a surprising discovery about James.

Last week's ‘True Blood’ installment, “Death is Not the End,” saw Eric and Pam returning to Bon Temps just in time for Sookie, Bill and the others to mount a rescue mission at Fangtasia against the infected vampires, with deadly consequences, so what's next for the final year?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘True Blood’ season 7, episode 5, “Lost Cause”!

Willa refuses to go on the hunt for Sarah Newlin with Eric and Pam, noting how absent of a maker he’d been, something Eric surprisingly agrees with. Eric reluctantly releases Willa from his thrall in exchange for information on Sarah Newlin’s hiding habits, to which Willa reveals that Sarah has a vampire sister in Dallas she’d paid to keep quiet. On the way out, Ginger demands that Eric finally make use of her as a sex slave, though the vampires ignore her as they load in for the trip to Texas.

Sookie returns home to find James and Lafayette waiting to comfort her, offering to take care of the cleanup while she gets some deserved rest. The following night, Sookie awakens to find Alcide’s father Jackson (Robert Patrick) clearing out some of his son's possessions, while Lafayette and James ready the spread for a party they’d decided to throw. Sookie balks at the prospect of celebrating, until Jackson reminds her that Alcide wouldn’t want her to be alone, and that they’d all been through enough suffering of late. Bill arrives first, offering flowers in lieu of alcohol.

Eric and Pam find Amber Newlin in Dallas, seeing that she too has been infected with the virus, and would eagerly join the revenge effort for the loss of her boyfriend to Hep-V. Amber had denied Sarah a place to stay that morning, which would make her parents the next target, likely at a Republican fundraiser the Newlins will attend that night. Back in Bon Temps, Lettie Mae expresses her interest in attending Sookie’s party, though Reverend Daniels attempts to dissuade her, given the alcohol and vampires present. Lettie Mae acquiesces, but eyes a bottle of Benadryl on the shelf.

With the party in full swing, Bill remembers back to the moment he learned that Northern troops had amassed for the Civil War, in particular from his overeager neighbor Mr. Charles DuPont. DuPont attempts to rally a local pub, but when Bill speaks up to remind the Southerners that the North has the advantage, the townspeople throw him out of the establishment. Back in the present, Jackson leads a group toast to Alcide, while Lettie Mae arrives (having drugged Reverent Daniels), and is reluctantly allowed a nonalcoholic glass to toast to Tara’s memory.

Andy finds Jessica sulking outside, for which he reminds her that holding onto the pain of killing his little girls keeps the pain alive for him as well, changing the subject to enlist her help in proposing to Holly. Jessica has no ring to loan him, but instead entreats Sookie and Jason to pass down Gran’s ring, seeing as neither of them has any current cause to use it. The parties watch as Andy nervously walks up to Holly, and has the music lowered to publicly explain how little he deserves her. All said, Holly accepts the proposal, and Sookie finds herself somewhat sad, for which Arlene ushers her upstairs.

While Jackson overhears Sookie and Arlene discussing the difficulty of getting over a lost love, James laments to Lafayette downstairs that Jessica only provides him with enough love and affection to keep their relationship afloat at the bare minimum. Lafayette asks if James had been intimately involved wit the boy he’d been beaten over years earlier, which James confirms, leading the two to kiss. Meanwhile in Dallas, Pam and Eric enthusiastically dress one another in trashy Texas Republican garb, though the mood turns serious when Pam sees the depth of black veins spreading across Eric’s torso.

A drunk Sookie and Arlene sheepishly hide from the affections of Arlene’s vampire savior Keith, though the vampire expresses his interest in waiting for Arlene to be ready for him. Meanwhile in search of James, Jessica finds her boyfriend and Lafayette getting intimate by the cars outside, and loses her composure. James attempts to explain, but Jason revokes the vampire’s invitation to the home at Jessica’s request. Afterward, Jason seems less than surprised that James turned out to have an interest in men, before Lafayette interrupts to suggest that Jessica had never taken the time to get to know James. Lafayette admits the embarrassment of the situation, but reminds Jessica that he wants love and happiness as well, and she should let James go if she doesn’t return his affections.

Outside the party, Bill remembers back to a fugitive slave leading he and his family to freedom away from Confederate soldiers, though DuPont soon catches up and executes his former servant. Bill burns the map they’d been using to find a safehouse, putting DuPont in a rage. Back in the present, Sookie questions Bill’s disinterest in the party, to which he reminds her that vampires and humans co-mingling together is her doing. Inside, Lettie Mae attacks Willa through the shoulder to obtain her blood, for which the others restrain Lettie Mae and dismiss her claims about Tara. Sam’s wife Nicole speaks up to say that they’ve all lost sight of the recent tragedies, and also departs.

Upstairs, both Jessica and Jason wonder if their choice of mates might have been influenced by the tension of their time in prison camp. Jason laments that Violet had no interest in his grandmother’s ring, or any kind of normality, to which Jessica compliments his sweetness, and kisses him. Meanwhile in Dallas, Pam and Eric arrive to the political function, as Sarah Newlin herself secretly confronts her mother in the women’s room. Sarah’s mother denies that any of their political connections will help after it came out that Sarah created the virus, even with the Yakuza on her trail.

Violet heads upstairs from the party and overhears Jason and Jessica getting intimate, but declines to confront them. Meanwhile in Texas, Eric goes to confront Sarah Newlin’s father on her whereabouts, but is quickly interrupted by the arrival of the Yakuza, who open fire on the function. The men kill Sara’s father and pursue she and her mother, killing the latter as well. Eric intervenes in time to take Sarah for himself, but is forced to release her to confront and kill the Yakuza men, the same one who’d killed Sylvie years earlier.

The party since emptied, Sookie retreats upstairs and follows Arlene’s advice, curling up in Alcide’s jacket in bed. Meanwhile at his own home, Bill emerges from a bath and is stunned to find a black vein on his chest, the sign of a Hepatitis V infection.

OUR REVIEW:

It’s been a rough going for ‘True Blood’ to regain its bearings in the final season, or at least enough to passably resolve its many roller-coaster plots in time to craft some kind of meaningful end in the last five episodes. And here we are, at the halfway point of the season, with vigilante posses and Hep-V invaders thoroughly dealt with, and a trimming of the core cast, with the series desperately hoping for a smaller narrative focus to turn things around before the end. The measure of success is difficult to evaluate, but considering the almost real-time pace of the series, and the sheer number of plot and characters to service, the more we shave off at this point, the better.

And to the series' credit, however awkward it may seem for Sookie to greenlight a hastily-staged party in her home to "celebrate life," it at least felt in tune for the series to take a breath, and regain its bearings with some well-needed lampshading of the events that came before. Sure, increasingly ancillary characters like Nicole (seriously, how overlooked has she been this season?) may not appreciate the levity of their circumstance, but ‘True Blood’ has certainly been missing some positivity and a sense of joy to remind us its human characters are more than quivering meatsacks, and carry a range of emotions beyond abject terror. What better way to flush that out than with some righteous revelry, really?

The larger events of the party shouldn’t surprise anyone, between James and Lafayette’s attraction finally coming to a head, paving the way for a Jessica-Jason reunion, while Andy finally follows through on his proposal to Holly. Still, with the festivities covering bases of superficial drama, it was at least entertaining to have Eric and Pam back in action on the hunt for Sarah Newlin, in the process trying on yet another pair of ridiculous outfits. The interactions with Sarah’s parents were short, and it bears questioning how much attention the Yakuza would want to draw to themselves to shoot up a Republican dinner as such*, but the event’s various turns provided a suitably thrilling counterpart to the Bon Temps partying.

*The logistics of Yakuza attacking the function itself not withstanding, what exactly happened at the end, there? POTENTIAL SPOILERS, next week’s previews made it seem as if Eric and Pam end up captured, but shouldn’t killing their leader have at least put a dent in the Yakuza mission? Where was Pam, that Sarah was able to realistically escape when Eric would only have been a few moments behind? And why have we still learned nothing of his fiery mountain escape, or contracting the virus in the first place?

The trouble now will of course prove building a serviceable story back in Bon Temps, and while Bill’s apparently random infection certainly throws a curveball into the proceedings, our only hope is that the increasingly extraneous flashbacks will somehow tie into the story at hand. Of course, there’s also whatever possessive vengeance Violet plans to enact on Jason and Jessica (groan), and whatever’s going on with Tara’s presence beyond the veil, but hopefully the final five episodes will work with the reduced cast to find some kind of genuine emotional core to remind us why we fell for these characters in the first place*.

*I mean, granted Jason and Jessica have long been established as impulsive, somewhat intellectually stunted characters, but considering Violet’s surprising comfort with allowing Jason to console his ex-girlfriend, for the two of them to lose themselves in the throes of passion, without once considering that the ancient, possessive vampire with super-hearing might so much as walk up the stairs?  Come on, guys. We want to sympathize with these characters before the end, but you’re making these conflicts awfully contrived.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of fang-banging ‘True Blood’ action?  What did you think about tonight's revelatory installment, “Lost Cause”? Join the discussion in the comments, and check back again next Sunday for another all-new recap and review of 'True Blood' season 7's latest, "Karma"!

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