True Blood picks up the pace in the fifth episode of the season, but it’s clear that “Trouble” is more about carrying viewers along to the next big reveal. Still, it wasn’t all exposition and unfolding plot lines. As bridge episodes go, “Trouble” was nicely revealing. Jason meets the mysterious Crystal, Bill makes his escape, and Franklin reveals himself to be every bit as insane as we’d suspected when he first abducted Tara.
It turns out that the King of Mississippi’s a bad guy from way back–all the way back to when Eric was still a mortal man, in fact. Eric may have been denied his kingdom, but he may finally have the vengeance he promised his father. The more I see of Eric, the better I like him; his disregard for the vile Lorena certainly didn’t hurt, but his equally obvious concern for his vampire progeny is appealing too.
Much less appealing is Franklin. Oh, the actor’s terrific–he’s tearing up his scenes with Rutina Wesley’s Tara, his abducted bride-to-be–but the character’s clearly crazier than a soup sandwich. How out of touch must a vampire be to promise his human paramour a fine evening out at Shoney’s?
Good for Tara for finally rescuing herself, albeit without success; she’s playing Franklin along masterfully. Bill seemed pained to be unable to help Tara, but at least viewers got some indication that the true Tara–the tough one who took no crap and wouldn’t dream of giving in to her troubles–is still in there. She’ll come up with something.
Is anyone else a little…well, bored with Jason’s story at the moment? Ryan Kwanten’s as charming as he can be (even more so when shirtless), but I don’t find myself feeling very invested in his police work and even less in his new girlfriend, Crystal. There’s something mysterious about her, obviously, but with so many supernatural beings already embroiled in lively stories of their own, it’s hard to feel too curious about Crystal or about Jason’s interactions with her.
At least the Mickenses’ story seems to be going places. Just what hold does Joe Lee Mickens have over his son, and why does Tommy suffer it from a father who not only deserves little respect, but isn’t even physically powerful enough to restrain him? I’ve intentionally stayed unspoiled and haven’t read the Charlaine Harris novels, but I get the sense that there’s more brewing there than the usual rebellious son/authoritarian father dynamic.
It’s nice to see that the writers have forgotten neither Sookie’s ability to read minds nor her freaky hand-of-power ability that she used on Maryann the maenad last season. I doubt it’ll be enough to save her from having to go with the King to his mansion, but at least she was able to deliver a psychic rolled-up-newspaper swat to the nose of the lapdog trying to abduct her.
Some of the supporting cast got short shrift tonight, but as much as I love them, that’s actually a good thing. This cast could be unwieldy in less talented hands; Alan Ball knows when to feature the major players and when to let others come to the fore. A little of Jessica’s little revenge on Arlene or of Terry’s excited speech to Sam about how happy he was to have some normalcy in his life is enough to keep us grounded in Bon Temps without taking us too far away from the action on various major story lines.
If “Trouble” is a bridge episode for True Blood, it’s a very successful one. I’m already looking forward to seeing what’s on the other side.