Recap: 'True Blood' - 'Karma'
Tonight’s episode brings Will Yun Lee, formerly of “Witchblade” and the ill-fated “Bionic Woman” reboot, on board as Katsurou “Mr. Gus, Jr.” Ryouichi. He’s the son of the CEO of the Yokonomo Corporation and the head of its North American division. The Yakuza forces capture Eric and Pam in mid-rampage and deliver them to Gus Jr., who shares Eric’s vengeful hatred of Sarah Newlin; after all, by tainting the Tru Blood supply and creating the Hep-V epidemic, she bankrupted his company. The vampire and the businessman-gangster come to an agreement to share information and split the work: Eric, who knows that Sarah has an infected vampire sister living in Dallas, will kill her, and Mr. Gus will take the body. I would assume that, after a quick stop at the taxidermist, he’d have the corpse stuffed and mounted in the lobby of the Yokonomo corporate headquarters, as a warning to others. But we just found out from “The Bridge” that even in Texas, this sort of thing don’t fly.
Eric is on the right track, but he fails to grasp the big picture. Sarah does indeed come to visit her sister, Amber, resulting in a sisterly reunion scene that is funny in ways that such a scene can only be when one of the sisters is a vampire and the other is a former religious fundamentalist who has spearheaded a conspiracy to wipe out the entire vampire population, and who is also played by Anna Camp. Suffice to say that the least of it is getting to hear her say “Bodhisattva.” Trying to convince her sister that she is, as she puts it, “literally a different person” than she used to be, Sarah wails, “I was on the run. I needed to find a place where nobody knew who I was, which is hard when you’re a celebrity!”
When Amber tells her that “You can’t just dye your hair and blow a guru and absolve yourself o all the horrendous s**t you’ve done in your life,” Sarah, always a positive thinker, insists, “See, that’s where you’re wrong.” But Sarah has more than airhead comebacks to share with her sister. For reasons that probably make a lot of sense but that the series may not have enough remaining air time to explain to us, the scientists who were working so hard to exterminate the vampire population also created an antidote to Hep-V, and Sarah drank it. She offers her blood to her sister, and when Eric and the Yakuza arrive at Amber’s door, they are astonished to find that she has been instantly cured.
It’s a good thing there’s an antidote, because the rising tide of Hep-V is threatening to take out what’s left of the main cast. It’s not just Eric who’s infected; Bill discovers the telltale marks on his body and, after traumatizing Jessica with the news, hurries off to a lawyer’s office to get his affairs in order. There are so many vampires there on the same mission that he has to cool his heels in the lawyer’s waiting room for hours and hours, while the visible signs of his condition spread so unnaturally fast that the horrify even his fellow Hep-V sufferers. (One of them watches the markings creeping up Bill’s arms like kudzu and moves to a chair on the farther side of the room. Hep-V is the show’s metaphor for AIDS—a point that’s driven home visually in a scene in a doctor’s office, where a poster on the wall shows a pink triangle with the message “SILENCE = TRUE DEATH”—and when Bill finally gets to meet the lawyer, it provides the opportunity for some angry satire on the legal gobbledygook that’s used to justify discrimination, and some even angrier satire aimed at those who would exploit the dying and desperate.
Bill wants to leave his estate to his progeny, Jessica. But as the lawyer explains, “The state doesn’t recognize progeny as a legal distinction. They’re not considered children and/or relatives under the law.” And the will that Bill dictated as a vampire, back when he was still “quote unquote ‘in the coffin’”, is invalid, because in the eyes of the law he was “posing as a human,” and the law does not recognize “posthumous” legal documents that reflect the wishes of people who are technically dead. He can adopt Jessica, but it’ll take months, and at the rate his infection is spreading, he won’t last that long. The lawyer offers to move him “to the front of the line,” in exchange for a one-time, under-the-table payment of $10 million. Bill can’t even glamour her: “They sell anti-glamouring contacts at the Walgreens now,” she sniffs when he tries.
Bill denounces her as “a vulture, like those men I watched picking the pockets of dead soldiers and prying fillings from their mouths!” I gripped the arms of my chair, bracing myself for a Civil War flashback, but it didn’t happen. I guess the writers were pressed for time and just made do with a footnote this time, as a little present for anyone in the audience who can’t get through an hour without a tip of the hat to Bill’s back story. Then, just so there’s no confusion about where Bill and the show stand on the issue of extorting the mortally ill, Bill kills the lawyer by stabbing her in the throat with a letter opener. This was apparently their first and only meeting, after Bill made an appointment with her based on a Yelp review. Does it strike anyone else as peculiar that a centuries-old vampire as well-organized and thoughtful as Bill wouldn’t already have a lawyer of his own, especially since turning himself into a public figure with his book? I suppose we all have these little gaps in our life plan.
The episode also has a lively assortment of subplots in various stages of development, and hops from one to the next like a performing flea. In the one that might have the most potential bearing on the season overall but that is most taking its time about getting someplace, both Lettie Mae and Lafayette get stoned on New James’ blood—Lettie Mae in the hope of receiving another vision of Tara, Lafayette so that he can prove that her “visions” are hooey. He ends up convincing himself of the opposite: while tranced out on the couch, the two of them share a waking dream of Tara coming down from a cross—the one she shares with that big-ass yellow snake that, for Rutina Wesley’s sake, I hope is CGI—and leading them to their old house, where she falls to the ground and digs at it like a dog. This vision is interrupted by the Rev, who, refusing to believe that something mystical is going on, tells Lettie Mae, “You’re gonna have to choose. It’s the V or me!”
Then there’s the hot, hormonal love blossoming between Adilyn, Andy’s sole surviving faerie daughter, and Holly’s son, Wade. Since Andy and Holly are engaged, it’s practically incest, which may be where even “True Blood” draws the line. Many a man who caught his teenage daughter in bed with some naked dude on top of her would kill him with his bare hands whether they were related or not, and Andy is open enough to this idea to cause some friction between him and his betrothed. Holly resents Andy for acting as if this were all Wade’s fault: we all know the deranging effect those slutty faerie girls can have on a healthy young male.
The two of them go seek the counsel of Arlene, who already has her hands full: she’s spent the day cleaning up her restaurant, which, you may remember, the good people of Bon Temps were barely halfway through cleaning up for her, in the wake of the attack by the infected vampires, when they threw down their brooms and mops and decided to go all vigilante-mob instead. Arlene tells them that teenagers who think they’re in love will be teenagers who think they’re in love and, you know, go back home and deal with it like grown-ups. The scene ends with an exchange that may be the single funniest moment of the night, with Arlene wishing them off with a spirited “Love each other!” and Holly grunting “Mm-hmm,” in response.
The Adilyn-Wade forbidden-love subplot is mostly treated for laughs, but it builds to a cliffhanger that carries the most immediate threat of danger at the end of the hour. Last week, Violet sensed that Jason and Jessica were doin’ the nasty, and it looked as if things would turn violent. Instead, Violet tries what, for her, is an unusual tack: she waits until she and Jason are alone at their house, then purrs, “When I told you that you’re mine, I realize that I forgot to tell you that I’m yours,” then goes lovingly places her face in his lap. But Jason, he tells Sookie later, just isn’t in love with Violet, He doesn’t feel about her the way that Sook tells him she felt about Bill, and the way she felt, in a different way, about Eric, and even about, you know, what’s-his-name, Alcide. The strongest emotion he feels toward her is fear. So after Jessica phones Jason and he goes running to her, Violet trashes the house, leaves him a note telling him that she’s over him, and wanders off to find Adilyn and Wade smooching in the woods. Will she cheer herself up by treating herself to a long, full drink of delicious faerie blood?
Whatever happens, she’s got the wrong idea about Jason and Jessica. She was calling to ask him to deliver Sookie to her, so she can tell her about Bill’s Hep-V face to face. Sookie rushes to get tested, and learns that she’s Hep-V positive herself, and extrapolates that it was she who infected her beloved Bill. When Bill comes home from his eventful visit with the lawyer, he finds her sitting on the stairs with Jessica, the two of them sharing a good cry. Next week, somebody’s going to have some catching up to do.
What do you call a predatory lawyer with a letter opener sticking out of her jugular? A good start! Thanks, I’ll be here next week. But with Hep-V spread across every point of the show’s basic romantic triangle and only so much Sarah Newlin blood to go around, who are you betting will still be standing come series’ end, and who will continue to grimly stare into the face of the True Death?