'True Blood' Review: "Love is to Die"

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True Blood’ season 7 spurts out its 9th and penultimate installment of the final year, “Love is to Die,” as Bill attempts to justify his reasons for declining the cure, while the quadrangle between Jessica, Hoyt, Jason and Bridget takes a surprising turn, and Eric finally fulfills a longstanding promise.

Last week's ‘True Blood’ installment, “Almost Home,” saw Violet exacting her revenge on Jason, while Eric's hunt for Sarah Newlin took a surprising turn, and Lettie Mae discovered the truth about what Tara had been attempting to show her, 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 9, “Love is to Die”!

Both Sookie and Jessica question Bill’s decision to not accept Sarah’s cure, though he insists on meeting the true death without offering a true explanation. Bill agrees not to make knowledge of the cure public, while Jessica insists that Bill release her from his thrall, something the ailing maker reluctantly obliges. Shortly thereafter, Sookie and Jessica return to Bellefleur’s and enter Sam’s trailer to find it deserted, as explained by Sam’s letter to Sookie that espouses a need to watch his child grow up free from the insanity of Bon Temps.

Sookie enters the restaurant to find Arlene and the others in good spirits, hoping their positivity will attract customers back to the restaurant. Sookie reveals news of Sam’s departure, pulling Andy into the office to hand him his own letter from Sam, though Andy is irritated to discover the letter only contains Sam’s resignation as Mayor. Outside, James and Jessica make peace with their breakup, so long as James remains happy with Lafayette, leading Jessica to depart for the evening.

Hoyt and Bridget continually argue about his aversion to children and inexplicable connection to Jessica, though Hoyt insists he only visited their home to pay respects to Bill. Their temporary peace becomes soured by Jessica's arrival, as the vampire looks to explain her connection to Hoyt, adding that they were once together in the past. Bridget delivers an ultimatum to Hoyt to choose between she and Jessica, though Hoyt decides he needs to learn the truth about his past for himself. Outside, Jessica acknowledges her selfish behavior in the wake of Bill’s perplexing decision, before Hoyt asks to hear their history together.

Bridget calls Jason to come pick her up, leading Jason to realize that Hoyt will soon learn the totality of their complicated history together. Meanwhile at Bellefleur’s, Sookie remains reluctant to join the festivity, as she and Arlene share advice on moving on from a dying loved one. Eric pays a visit to Bill, looking for insight on the vampire’s decision to accept his fate, to which Bill explains that he wants to release Sookie from the darkness their attraction to one another as Vampire and Fae has wrought. Bill asks Eric to facilitate a meeting between he and Sookie later that night, something Eric reluctantly accepts as a last favor.

Jason shows up to find Hoyt and Jessica talking, though the up-to-speed Hoyt quickly knocks Jason unconscious in anger. Jason awakens in the car minutes later, with Bridget at the wheel, but Jason declines to go to the hospital, given his experience with concussions. Jason also puts forth that the two shouldn’t sleep together that night, answering Bridget's confusion with insistence that it needed to be said. Back at Fangtasia, Pam has the Yakuza men bring Sarah upstairs, looking to dye the woman’s hair back to a more familiar blonde.

Over at Jason’s, Bridget argues with an airline representative over a cheaper flight home, something Jason assists with by turning on the charm with the female receptionist. Back at Hoyt’s Jessica heals his wounded hand and admits that she’d been immature in messing up their relationship years earlier. The two reconnect, spiritually and physically, as Jason shares with Bridget the story of their complicated history, admitting that Hoyt and Jessica truly belonged together after all. Meanwhile at Fangtasia, Pam shares with Sarah their intent to sell her to the highest bidder as a permanent, replenishable cure.

Eric finds Sookie outside of Bellefleur’s, urging her to hear Bill out on his reasons for rejecting the cure, and offering a lift home. Once there, Sookie finds her phone ringing inside, and agrees to let Bill come over to explain his decision. Meanwhile, Bridget takes Jason to bed as a means to show him how to spend time with a woman without having sex, during which the two admit personal secrets to one another. Initially uncomfortable, Jason admits that he wishes to have kids in the future, and worries about a potential daughter meeting someone like him, though Bridget insists he’s a better man than Hoyt would have him believe.

Eric returns to Fangtasia to find Ginger continually bitter over their treatment, leading a weary Eric to propose that they finally have sex to make up the slight. Ginger gleefully leads Eric to the stage throne to straddle him, but manages to satisfy herself in mere moments. Perplexed, Eric heads downstairs to find Mr. Gus and the Yakuza keeping Pam beneath a dangling stake, threatening her life to learn if Sookie Stackhouse knows of the cure. Eric reluctantly admits that she does, just as Bill arrives to Sookie’s home and knocks on the door.

OUR REVIEW:

We feel like a broken record at this point, but with only one more hour remaining after tonight’s installment, compounded by the sheer time it took for the final season to shed itself of some of the more extraneous narratives, we’re not expecting the last few drops of ‘True Blood’ to provide any real salvation for the ailing series as a whole. We’d doubt even if the finale could reach the emotional resonance of some of the stronger episodes at the series’ peak, but we keep invested to see what ‘True Blood’ makes of the limited material remaining. This isn’t ‘Dexter’ after all, and we’ve accepted far earlier that camp is camp, and won’t necessarily provide its audience with any true measure of closure.

And to that end, the limited focus continually works in ‘True Blood’’s favor, with tonight’s episode giving a rather specific, if baffling* conflict to play between Sookie, Bill and Eric. Deborah Ann Woll too gets some fine material to play with her anger and agony over Bill’s defeat, though much more of the hour lends to her relationship with Hoyt, so we’ll table that for the moment. At the very least, “Love is to Die” plays well off the complicated history between Sookie and her two leading men, putting aside any petty squabbles in favor of the larger grief for Bill’s impending end.

*Look, say what you will about Bill’s reasons for embracing the true death, I had to wonder why no one at least proposed the idea of Bill accepting the cure, if only for a day or so to get his mind right, and potentially choosing to end his life thereafter on his own terms. In particular, Eric has proven himself as a no-nonsense character to the point where I half-expected him to simply use his renewed strength and force a syringe of Sarah’s blood into Bill, at least pausing the clock long enough to give suicide the appropriate consideration. Yes, that’s a loaded concept to consider after this week.

On the other side of the story, while it still feels something of a narrative cheat to have Hoyt and Jason simply swap partners for a happy ending, the Jessica-Hoyt pairing unfolded with a much more earnest sweetness, given the history and chemistry between the pair. Ryan Kwanten at least has long been the type of actor with the charisma to sell anyone, as the airline phonecall within the episode itself would attest to, but it doesn’t quite change the fact that we only met Bridget a few hours ago, and are already being asked to consider her Jason’s dreamgirl.

It’s difficult to consider “Love is to Die” a penultimate hour for the series, even with the smaller attempts at closure with Arlene and the Bellefleur’s staff, as well as with Sam’s somewhat off-screen exit. And even with Sarah, Mr. Gus and the Yakuza setting the stage for one final showdown, “Love is to Die” left us with relatively little conflict to settle the series over, and lesser still to emotionally invest in, with Bill still resigned to his fate. Even so, as we’ve said before, we can only expect so much from the series after so long, and “Love is to Die” at least kept things contained enough for a clear vision of next week’s finale.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of fang-banging ‘True Blood’ action?  What did you think about tonight's penultimate installment, “Love is to Die”? Join the discussion in the comments, and check back again next Sunday for another all-new recap and review of 'True Blood''s series finale installment, "Thank You"!

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