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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fly on the Wall: An Advance Review of Next Week's Episode of "True Blood"

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Every now and then an episode of a television series comes along that changes the way you see that particular series. HBO's True Blood has always been been a fun and often crazy roller coaster ride through some dark Southern swamplands (and through the darker corners of the heart) but I never thought it would touch upon the profound.

That's now changed.

I had the opportunity last night to watch next week's gripping episode of True Blood ("I Will Rise Up") and, the morning after, I'm still turning over this heartbreaking and beautiful installment in my mind. It's an episode that's a game-changer for True Blood inasmuch as it shifts the action from the physical desires of the flesh to something innately divine and, yes, profound and alters the playing field of the second season.

I'm not giving out any spoilers about just what happens in "I Will Rise Up," but if you want to know more about this brilliant installment of True Blood, keep reading.

Credit for this amazing episode goes not only to the stunning work of writer Nancy Oliver and director Scott Winant, but also to the truly extraordinary performances by actors Anna Paquin, Allan Hyde, Alexander Skarsgard, Deborah Ann Woll, Jim Parrack, and Stephen Moyer, to name just a few. Their magnificent turns in this episode elevate an already elegiac story into something penetrating and weighty.

Special kudos have to go out to newcomer Allan Hyde, who in just a few episodes has made Godric one of the most compelling and memorable vampires in recent memory. If you thought his presence in the most recent episode of True Blood had showcased Hyde's considerable skills, you might want to think again: this episode announces in no uncertain terms that a true talent has arrived.

When we last saw the vampires of Area Nine, Luke (Wes Brown) had detonated explosives (along with a cache of silver) inside Godric's nest and the episode begins seconds after the explosion. So who lives and who dies? That would be telling. But it's the aftermath of the attack by the Fellowship of the Sun that also provides one of the series' most shocking moments to date.

So what is "I Will Rise Up" about then? For one, it's about the notion of forgiveness, both in terms of the divine and the mundane. None of the characters on the series have been saints (it's rather hard to do so in a series overflowing with blood-thirsty vampires) but there are several scenes that speak to the redemptive power of compassion and grace.

The truth, as they say, will out in the end and so it does here as several secrets laid bare for all to see. Likewise, the episode deals not only with mercy but also with a mercenary craftiness that's as staggeringly bold as it is shocking... and one that forever changes the parameters of one of the series' central relationships. New alliances are forged, the bonds of friendship are severed, families reunited and ripped asunder, and evocative dreams point the way to a haunting new reality.

Several characters make decisions that will have lasting implications as we begin the race to the second season finale of True Blood. As terrifying as things have gotten for the residents of Bon Temps (including those currently in Dallas), things are only going to get more grim in these next few episodes.

In other words: be very afraid.

All in all, "I Will Rise Up" is one of the most scary, sexy, funny, and perspicacious installments of the slickly seductive True Blood to date. Whatever plans you might have had for Sunday evening, this is one episode of True Blood you definitely want to watch live.

Sunday night on True Blood ("I Will Rise Up"), Eric plays Sookie for a sucker; Sookie and Jason bond over their recent adventures; Lafayette and Lettie Mae try to figure out a way to pry Tara from Maryann’s clutches; Hoyt defends his relationship with Jessica to Maxine; Sam looks for a way to escape both jail and Maryann; Godric decides to take the fall for the vampires' recent PR disaster when Nan Flanagan arrives in town.

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