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‘True Blood’ Review: “Fire in the Hole”

True Blood Season 7 Fire in the Hole Review Sookie
HBO

True Blood’ season 7 spurts out its 3rd episode of the final year, “Fire in the Hole,” as Sookie and Bill attempt to lure out the infected vampires with devastating consequences, Pam and Eric reflect on their past together, and Sarah Newlin resurfaces in an unlikely position.

Last week’s ‘True Blood’ installment, “I Found You,” saw Team Sookie investigating a nearby town left behind by the infected vampires, while Lettie Mae continued her search for Tara, and the Bon Temps townspeople formed a vigilante mob to deal with the growing threat, 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 3, “Fire in the Hole”!

At a high-end yoga studio is Los Angeles, a guru names Samir instructs his class, paying particular compliments to “Noomi,” a student who looks suspiciously like a brunette Sarah Newlin. Meanwhile in France’s Rhone Valley, Pam asks if a woman named Sylvie is responsible for Eric’s current despair, and apathy about his infection, leading Eric to remember how he’d taken a human lover at that very villa in 1986. Nan Flanagan interrupted his tryst with Sylvie, introducing herself and preparing Eric for the coming Mainstreaming event, though Eric brushes off any interest in True Blood or the Yakimono corporation, opting to remain with Sylvie and Pam.

Back in the present, Alcide discovers Sookie missing and follows her scent to Bill’s, while the two drive down a road nearby. Bill explains that she’ll have to drink his blood once again to reestablish their supernatural connection, as Bill had largely been drained of his own at the vampire camp. Meanwhile in the Bon Temps police station, Adilyn reminds Wayne that they’d once made out, just before Andy and Jessica arrive to set them free, and learn of the mob uprising.

Sam confers with Reverend Daniels about the futility of life and faith, just before Willa interrupts to warn Reverend Daniels of Lettie Mae’s current high, and the woman herself wanders in looking for Tara. The Reverend asks Sam and his vampire companion Matt to leave, though it isn’t long before the two are confronted on the road by the armed mob. Vince declares himself Mayor, shooting Matt, before Sam is forced to flee in the form of an owl. Meanwhile, Jason ask Violet if she’d ever consider raising an adopted child with him, to which Violet insults his manhood against the men of her time, though the argument is broken by the arrival of Andy and Jessica looking for help.

Lafayette dances around his home as James arrives looking for more weed, as vampires can’t enjoy pills the way that humans can. Lafayette offers to take the pills himself and let James feed off his bloodstream, as James admits that he isn’t entirely happy in his relationship with Jessica. Elsewhere, the H-vampires at Fangtasia fret their current shortage of food, breaking up a spell circle downstairs to have Holly accompany them on the hunt.

Sookie sits by herself in a clearing, with Bill watching from a tree overhead and uncertain of their plan to lure out the H-vampires. The conversation turns to talk of her relationship with Alcide, in which Sookie admits to feeling guilty that she doesn’t love Alcide as much as he loves her. Meanwhile, Jason, Andy, Violet and Jessica encounter Sam’s abandoned truck and the mob out on the road. Jason threatens to shoot them all down, though Maxine Fortenberry takes the initiative to kill Jessica and Jason herself, hitting Jessica in the arm before Violet disembowels the woman. Jason notes that Jessica’s healing appears to be diminished, while Violet picks Holly’s son Rocky out of the fleeing mob.

Out in the woods, Sam and Alcide cross paths before being driven away by human hunters, while Sookie laments that her plan with Bill isn’t working fast enough. Sookie recalls a theme park visit on her 9th birthday, comparing that anticipation is the worst part, as Bill remembers taking portraits with his own family, and comforting his young daughter that he’d return from the war. Meanwhile, Reverend Daniels puts Lettie Mae to bed and offers his blood to Willa, remembering his own failed marriage and parish before moving to Bon Temps and meeting Lettie Mae. That said, Daniels notes that Lettie Mae’s addictions problems don’t distinguish between substances, and as such Willa can no longer remain in his home.

James awakes from his high and momentarily fears that Lafayette has overdosed, the concern of which leads Lafayette to wonder if something romantic is forming between them. James admits to sharing the mood between them, though his relationship with Jessica naturally complicates things. Back in the past, Japanese men with katanas interrupt Pam, Eric and Sylvie at the vineyard, the leader of which demands retribution for Eric shunning the Yakimono corporation. The man forces Eric to choose between Pam’s life and Sylvie’s, for which Eric reluctantly gives up Sylvie to a quick death by the sword.

In the present, Pam attempts to convince Eric that there may yet be hope for those with Hep-V, though he admits to having lost his interest in living any further. Pam goes to leave, defeated, but remembers that Jason Stackhouse allowed Sarah Newlin to live, and successfully rouses Eric to hunt her down and take revenge. Back in the states, “Noomi” admits to her yogi lover Samir that she’d been mistaken to think Christianity was her ticket to heaven, before leaving to retrieve a bottle of wine. The same Yakimono men from years earlier storm the compound looking for Sarah, but when Samir refuses to divulge her location, the men kill him.

A dazed Holly wanders into Sookie’s clearing, just before the H-vamps attack and even surprise Bill. Jessica, Jason and Andy arrive just in time to shoot the majority of infected vampires dead, washing the infected blood off Sookie thereafter. Alcide glowers at Bill for allowing such a foolhardy plan, before more human hunters in the bushes attack, fatally shooting Alcide. Sookie weeps over his body, denying the opportunity to keep him alive as a vampire.

OUR REVIEW:

Three episodes deep into the seventh and final season of ‘True Blood,’ it’s hard not to feel something of a blasé attitude creeping in. For one, general critic response to the inaugural two episodes (the last, I’m told, will be in advance) has been pretty mixed, while the ratings themselves aren’t quite breaking records in the way ‘Game of Thrones’ has become synonymous for. Even a landmark event like tonight’s episode killing off Joe Manganiello’s Alcide feels like it should carry tremendous weight, though given the manner in which we breezed past Tara’s death, and saw what quiet meditation on the meaning of life might look like with last year’s “Life Matters,” we’re hard-pressed to imagine that the final season will really slow down to deal with Alcide’s departure.

Going into the final season at least, we were left with two major storyline questions in the fate of Eric Northman and Sarah Newlin’s return, and though tonight’s episode largely incorporated both those threads, the narrative curiously skirted their significance at every turn. Despite returning to the villa, we’ve no idea while Pam and Eric would choose the particular moment of his infection to reminisce about a woman Eric found himself enamored of some 20 years ago (that the audience has certainly never heard of), when the more direct questions of Eric’s nude sunbathing survival and resulting infection hover more tantalizingly about. By the same token, it’s of interest to see what Sarah Newlin has become, and what it might mean for the final seven episodes, though beyond a vague introduction to our new Yakimono villains, either story seemed to spin its wheels for another week, at least until their inevitable dovetail.

Elsewhere, the show seems almost to be splitting up its inherent couples for the sheer sake of it, with Jason and Violet seemingly flying apart once again over the same issues, while James grows even closer to Lafayette*, and now of course, with Alcide’s demise. Shock of all shocks, Jason will be free to reunite with Jessica at some point, while Bill and Sookie no doubt rekindle some aspect of their relationship in the wake of Alcide’s fresh corpse. It’s actually pretty funny, you should read Joe Manganiello’s comments about his time on the series and the character’s ignominious end, and then try to muster up any real tragedy over Alcide’s exit, or a sense of why we should buy into some of these half-baked relationships anymore.

* Say what you will about Luke Grimes leaving the series over James’ potential relationship with a male character like Lafayette, what is James even doing there? Had Jessica never once called her live-in boyfriend about Adilyn’s safety at the police station, the roving mob they’d encountered, or the need to rescue Sookie by the end?

Sigh. Look, it’s ‘True Blood,’ and we’re going to stick with the series until the end, even genuinely look forward to remaining threads like the surviving H-vamps, Eric’s revenge, or whatever Tara’s up to on the cross these days. Still, with such an anti-climactic end to a major character like Alcide, it’s hard to feel as if ‘True Blood’ is really going to turn things around in its final hours, or craft a genuine sense of emotional consequences, given how readily it seems to be dispatching its most memorable leads. We’ll miss you Alcide, and your eternally shirtless growling. Truly, you deserved better. Hell, Maxine Fortenberry deserved better. Now, can we get Hoyt back?

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of fang-banging ‘True Blood’ action?  What did you think about tonight’s shocking “Fire in the Hole”? 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, “Sick of Goodbyes”!

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