True Blood Season 5, Episode 2: ‘Authority Always Wins’

Fresh from her dirt nap, new vampire Tara makes an immediate break for her lifelong B.F.F. Sookie’s neck. Sookie is used to people making plays for her magic fairy blood and doesn’t flinch, but Pam (still in that wonderful yellow kitten sweatsuit) orders Tara not to suck on Sookie or Lafayette. I love the True Blood trope of vampires wearing sweatsuits. Gothwear is often binding and body-conscious. Capes are heavy! Who wouldn’t want to kick back and unwind in a comfy, sunshine-colored, cotton cocoon?

Eric’s “sister” (I am not going to put this in quotes all season, but she is not really his sister, they just share a maker in Godric) Nora Northman brings Bill and Eric to some vampire palace. A seductive lady vamp with a sinister tone and slight accent slaps Nora for impudence and brings the gang downstairs via a luxurious elevator to check in somewhere that looks like The Standard Hotel for vampires. But it turns out to be a prison, where Nora, Bill, and Eric are locked in kennels.

On the subject of kennels, Alcide is again getting mean-girled out of his pack for refusing to eat Marcus’s corpse meat. I guess it’s not cool for a werewolf to be a pussy. Martha, mother of the deceased pack leader, guilts Alcide in her batter-thick Southern accent. Arlene wakes up to find Terry standing over her in a nightmarish trance, babbling about how they’re going to die. Tara is vamping all over Sookie’s house. They try to pacify her with a bottle of the red stuff. She pounces on Lafayette, then runs away screaming.

Pam returns to Fangtasia, and we get a Pam flashback. Finally, a character whose backstory I’m mildly interested in! She is ordering Campari and proffering coke bumps in 1905 San Francisco, which is signified by rinky-dink piano and an escort with Gibson Girl hair. I feel like they’re reusing the Gem Saloon set from Deadwood. Pam knocks on the door of a call girl named Claire who’s been on the job for over an hour and finds her dead.

Back in the future, Pam leaves a desperate message for Eric. Why not a text? O_v__v_O. Eric, Bill, and Nora are still in their cells, discussing potential methods of escape. A creepy cellmate named Nigel tells them about how he was once a nurse practitioner but had a newborn-eating problem. A German-accented voice over the loudspeaker welcomes them to the prison and asks why they reached out to The Chancellor. Bill tries to cover for Eric, which results in a deadly UV light switching on to sear their faces.

Luna takes care of Sam as he rests on her couch. A knock at the door turns out to be Luna’s former mother-in-law Martha, using Luna’s daughter’s impending werewolf puberty to try to trick her into aligning with the pack. Luna tells Martha to get lost, which causes Martha to squeeze out a couple of manipulative were-tears before slipping back into the wild. Sam plays shifter’s advocate and suggests maybe they should do what Martha wants. Luna demands that Sam GTFO.

Lafayette and Sookie are still dealing with Tara’s outrageous new vamp strength. Lafayette brandishes a knife, cutting his arm open so that Tara will go suck on it and Sookie can tie her up with a silver chain. Meanwhile, Frank Sobotka asks Jason Stackhouse for advice about how to get a lady to call you back after you’ve made sex to her, and Jason wonders why he’d want a relationship when he’s already getting laid NSA. Jason fakes bravado about his casual-hookups relationship with Jessica, pretending their “perfect situation” was his idea.

Jason and Sobotka investigate an abandoned car. Sobotka finds a vial of V and palms it — before thinking better of it and handing it off to Jason, who pours it out. Over at the Stake House, Sookie is shopping for slayer supplies while the secretly undead Reverend Steve Newlin talks about his newfound acceptance of Vampire Americans on TV news (without revealing the reason why he suddenly developed sympathy for their plight). The Stake House employee tries to sell Sookie a vamp gun. She smugly reads his mind.

Terry is cooking something with a lot of ~fire~, prompting a combat flashback in his brain that Arlene walks in on. He throws her against the wall, which is that shit she don’t like. Terry defensively yells back, then storms out. Sookie is vamp-proofing the house, but she overhears Lafayette trying to talk himself into staking Tara. Sookie, ever the optimist, tries to convince him that Tara will be back to her old self soon.

In the station, Jason watches the same interview with Steve Newlin, so either it’s on a loop, hours long, or this is happening simultaneously with Sookie’s Stake House visit. Frank Sobotka shuts off the TV. A teenager comes in and punches Jason in the face. Back in Pam’s turn-of-the-century San Francisco flashback that I wish made up the entire show, she’s being stalked by a Jack The Ripper type in a bowler hat, who pins her against the wall and is getting ready to rape her when she is magically saved by dapper gent Eric Northman. Pam’s flashback is very Anne Rice, as the satin-cravat-wearing Eric gives her some change for a new outfit and takes off.

The German begins to interrogate Bill, warning him that he is connected to a deadly lie detector. They talk about the Vampire Bible (OF COURSE), which states that God first made Lilith, a sexy goth demon who according to them was a vamp. After some more Vampire Bible trivia, the German presses Bill to admit that humans are nothing more than food. Bill, vampire Drake that he is, refuses to accept the literal interpretation that humans are non-beings. He gets zapped.

Eric is being interrogated nearby. Why weren’t they stripped naked? It’s not like they don’t take any excuse they can to get these dudes naked. I thought it was contractual. Eric feigns innocence and gets slimed. They lie to Bill about Eric and Eric about Bill, just as they lied to Eric about Nora. I feel like True Blood has been watching Homeland.

Meanwhile, Jessica is in a crop top holding a keg aloft with one super-strong arm so that one of her chill friends can chug on bended knee. She opens the door to push a vomiting girl outside (it is her dad’s house, after all) and unintentionally lets in a rockin’ Steve Newlin, doing the Carlton into the living room. The college kids are stoked to see Newlin, just like college kids always are to see anyone vaguely notable.

Newlin wants to talk to her in the study about her relationship with Jason, and offers her a bounty of 10,000 dollars for him. She negotiates it up another 10 grand and then they have a weird conversation about how Jason’s butt is “rock-hard.” Who wants buns of steel these days? Isn’t the whole point to be squishy? She tells him that Jason is not for sale, and ejects him. Then she tosses the partiers out of her home like a ginger Lindsay Weir.

Arlene knocks on Sergeant Noel From Felicity‘s door to ask about why Terry’s been so weird lately. Noel doesn’t snitch, which is a good move because Terry shows up a second later. They kick out Arlene and talk about the truth: that one of their unit has been going around setting fires and they need to take him out. Jason shows up at Hoyt’s mom’s place to try to sort out their friendship. Hoyt fixes the sink like Don Draper at Pete Campbell’s house. Hoyt tells Jason to lose his number permanently. Hoyt’s mom shouts solidarity with Hoyt but then whispers to Jason, “Thanks for splittin’ him up with that red-haired slut” and promises to bake him a pie (cherry?).

Luna opens her daughter’s door to find her transformed into a wolf puppy. Sookie and Lafayette face off with vamp Tara, who has become conscious enough to confront her friends for letting her get turned.

In vampire court, the new vampire prosecutor (actually the new king), Christopher Meloni, walks in and ritualistically drains his wrist for his followers to drink. He calls it “the blood of Lilith” and drops communion-wafer-style dribbles into their open mouths. Meloni, who’s wearing an ’80s Reagan Republican blue suit with a red tie, consigns Bill and Eric to a Bogus Journey. He asks about their ties to the Sanguinista movement. Eric Northman claims to be an Ayn Randian. The chancellors sit around the table and a Thatcher-haired Southern lady orders the true death. A child vamp resembling Timmy from Passions is a death hawk.

Meloni gets his knife out just as Bill and Eric promise everyone’s favorite evil speed texter, Russell Edgington, in exchange for sparing their lives. Bill and Eric convince the other vampires to paint the fence for them. Meloni calls their bluff and pump-fake stakes Bill a couple times. He exercises restraint, saying his “personal desires” are a low priority, and lets them live. While Bill and Meloni believe in “mainstreaming,” or co-living with humans, Russell is a strong believer in vampire superiority.

On a hospital gurney, a Day of the Dead sugar skull adorned with blood streaks turns out to be the terrifying face of Russell, who wheezes and comes to.

Filed Under: HBO, Recaps, True Blood

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert