Stars: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Christopher Meloni, Chris Bauer, Nelsan Ellis, Joe Manganiello, Carrie Preston, Deborah Ann Woll, Michael McMillian, Denis O’Hare, Jim Parrack, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Todd Lowe, Lauren Bowles, Valentina Cervi, Janina Gavankar, Lucy Griffiths, Scott Foley, Chris Heyerdahl, Alfre Woodard, Kevin Alejandro, Tina Majorino, Dale Dickey
Writer:
Alan Ball, series created by Alan Ball, based on Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels|
Director:
Daniel Attias
Network:
HBO, Sundays @ 9 PM
Airdate:
July 15, 2012

TRUE BLOOD promises to get a whole lot bloodier with the finale of “Hopeless,” which is the payoff we’ve been expecting from the moment the Authority sent Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) to retrieve crazy rogue vampire Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) – we all knew it wasn’t going to be that easy to get rid of the erstwhile King of Mississippi, right?

While Bill, Eric and werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello) are wrestling with vampire Russell’s werewolf minions, Russell corners Sookie (Anna Paquin). Fortunately, Sookie is able to zap Russell with her fairy powers. Eric gets Russell under his stake – and then Bill pulls a stake on Eric. Bill thinks the smart move is to turn Russell over to the Authority alive. In fact, the Authority sends its troops in at that moment, taking custody of Russell.

When Authority representative Kibwe (Peter Mensah) says that Sookie and Alcide know too much, Bill offers to glamour them. Knowing that he can’t really glamour Sookie, Bill pretends to do so, telling her that she should forget she ever met him and Eric and that she should go live in the sun. Eric really does glamour Alcide, telling him that he should protect Sookie with his life – but that he shouldn’t have any romantic interest in her and should find her somewhat disgusting.

Russell’s human captives are not so fortunate. Kibwe first reassures them, then kills them so that they won’t talk.

Back at Sookie’s house, Alcide recoils from Sookie, which lets her guess what Eric did. She restores Alcide’s memory, at least partially (we don’t know if he’s over the “Sookie is disgusting” suggestion at this point), which results in Alcide realizing that fellow werewolf J.D. (Louis Herthum) is responsible for other werewolves working for Russell – which just got two of them killed. Alcide is so angry that he challenges J.D. for leadership of the pack.

Shapeshifters Sam (Sam Trammell) and Luna (Janine Gavankar) are both rushed to the hospital after being shot. Luna’s former mother-in-law, werewolf Martha (Dale Dickey) shows up with Luna’s little daughter Emma (Chloe Noelle), who has manifested as a werewolf, like her late father. Luna gives her consent for Martha to look after Emma until it’s safe for Luna to bring her home. Sam persuades Sheriff Andy (Chris Bauer) to let him help investigate the shootings, as some human thugs clearly have it in for all supernatural types. Their first stop is a gun shop where the proprietor is so anti-supernatural that he tries to take a shot at Andy, but Sam nails the man with a bow and arrow.

Jason (Ryan Kwanten) tells his sister Sookie about seeing their cousin Hadley (Lindsey Haun) in the faerie nightclub. Faerie Claude (Giles Matthey) reintroduces himself to Sookie – he saved her from getting stuck in the nasty part of Faerieland before, but he assures her this part is pleasant and safe. He affirms that Sookie and Jason’s parents were in fact killed by a vampire (not an accident) because the vampire wanted something it found smelled in their car. Sookie is also warned that if she uses too much magic, she’ll run out.

At Fangtasia, Pam (Kristen Bauer Van Straten) gives Tara (Rutina Wesley) an insulting compliment about the fight with fellow vamp Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll). Jessica, meanwhile, is horrified that human ex-boyfriend Hoyt (Jim Parrack) wants to get back together with her. When Jessica rejects Hoyt again, he goes out in the alley with a male vampire and says he doesn’t care if he’s drained. Before this can happen, the vampire is killed by the same yahoos who shot Sam and Luna. Thinking they’ve rescued Hoyt from an attack, the vigilantes pull Hoyt into their van.

Terry (Todd Lowe) is furious with Patrick (Scott Foley) for getting them into the apparently fatal mess with the Efreet smoke monster. Terry tells his wife Arlene (Carrie Preston) that he has to leave her and the kids to keep them safe. Arlene realizes he’s serious and lets him go.

Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) gets a call from the nursing home that his mom Ruby Jean (Alfre Woodard) has had a seizure. Actually, she’s her usual self. Ruby Jean tellsLafayette that an evil man has Jesus (Kevin Alejandro). Lafayette realizes that Jesus’ evil magician grandfather, Don Bartolo (Del Zamora), must have stolen Jesus’ body after Jesus died.Lafayette must find Bartolo if he is to rescue Jesus’ spirit.

Back at the Authority, top man Roman (Christopher Meloni) congratulates Bill and Eric. He asks them for their views on humans. Bill is wholeheartedly for détente. Eric says as long as it doesn’t affect him, he’s a “pacifist” (with a sarcastic smile), but Roman pegs him as someone who just doesn’t want to admit he’s got a good side.

Eric asks to see his sister Nora (Lucy Griffiths), who is still a prisoner of the Authority. Nora spouts some religious Sanguinista rhetoric. Then Russell is brought in to be executed. Except that Russell hasn’t been subdued as promised – instead of Roman staking Russell, Russell gets the upper hand and stakes Roman.

While it’s a pity not to have more scenes between O’Hare and Meloni – and more of Meloni, period – it’s not exactly a shocker than Russell escapes. Russell is the ultimate loaded gun of the theatrical advice – if you show him in Act One, he’s got to go off in Act Three. Actually, being Russell, he goes off pretty much every time he’s onscreen, which is one of the things that makes him such a great villain. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that O’Hare plays him with such emphatic delight.

In the fake glamour scene, Paquin and Moyer again show they have strong chemistry, while Skarsgard gets to be especially and enjoyably snarky throughout. The scene between Ellis and Woodard, full of affection and exasperation as Ruby Jean goes back and forth between motherly love and casual homophobia, as well as intermingling Jesus (Lafayette’s late lover) and Jesus (the deity), with Lafayette soaking it all in, benefits from great timing between the actors. As for Parrack and Woll, the pain and demoralization in the Hoyt/Jessica scene is so real as to be downright heartbreaking.

It’s hard to see how some of the storylines can connect – the werewolf/shifter elements seem to be growing farther apart than closer together, and Lafayette and Terry at present both seem to be totally isolated, though perhaps they’ll team up (Lafayette seems to be Terry’s best bet to get the curse lifted). We may care for all these people, but the jumping back and forth is a little jarring.

Still, “Hopeless” is lively and engaging, not to mention leaving us very eager to learn what’s next.

AGREE? DISAGREE? LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD. COMMENT BELOW!

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