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True Blood Recap: Flight Night

What's the more sensual Eric Northman experience: flying through the air wrapped in his arms, or receiving a debilitating orgasm from a single thrust of his undead genitalia? I know what you're thinking: BOTH, PLS. But hold on for a second, rascal. Think about it: Flying in somebody's arms does not actually seem very fun. The human spine can only withstand so much high-speed whiplash — to say nothing of all the bugs and birds that would almost definitely hit us in the face — and superheroes and vampires are just not very thoughtful about these factors when they pick us up and fly across town at super speeds.

But then again, the sex that Ginger and Eric had in this episode did not seem very fun, either, despite Ginger nearly slipping into a coma from ecstasy after three seconds of intercourse. In fact, has anybody noticed that True Blood's vampires do not seem to be very good at sex in general? Putting aside Violet's medieval sex-toy collection, which just screamed sexual inadequacy, we've seen other vampires hump WAY too quickly (which most likely chafes), plus there's all that biting. I honestly don't get the appeal there. But at least now, when it comes to an Eric Northman sensual experience, Sookie and Ginger will have something to spend the rest of their lives debating.

Question: What exactly should our expectations have been for the second-to-last episode of True Blood? Many penultimate episodes broaden a world, raise stakes, present several possibilities for our heroes, but "Love Is to Die" instead shrank the world, the plot, the stakes into something so intimate it verged on inconsequential. I obviously love this season's reliance on character camaraderie, its living-room confrontations, its frequently knee-weakening moments of sincerity, but generally these scenes have worked because their catalysts felt grounded and emotional. The crux of "Love Is to Die" was Bill's arbitrary decision to not take the cure, effectively suiciding simply because he had regrets about what he'd done to Sookie over the years. His decision was not only baffling and stupid, it ruined any kind of sympathy we may have generated for Bill throughout the season. And yes, I'm saying that I did indeed come to like Bill again over the past eight episodes, and that's a compliment I will freely pay this season. But now, nope! No longer. Bill sucks again, perhaps more than ever. By the episode's end, I was outright hoping he'd dissolve into black goo finally. Get out of here, jerk.

To be fair, like many of True Blood's various head-scratchers (i.e., who is this new lady who's suddenly Jason's soul mate after two episodes?), Bill's plotline was intended to provide enriching scenarios for the other characters. A distraught Sookie bonding with Arlene over starting fresh was as lovely as this show gets, plus the sight of Eric showing up on Bill's doorstep to make the case for staying alive tightened my ribcage and made my brain tingle. At some point, we have to forgive a live-action cartoon for not making 100 percent sense and instead just sort of appreciate that those contrivances gift us with such rewarding dramatic moments. It doesn't really matter whether we find it plausible that Bellefleur's diner and Fangtasia are now completely devoid of customers; what does matter is how intimate and special those places seem now that they're inhabited only by characters we know and love.  

The streamlined nature of "Love Is to Die" (named after the fantastic Warpaint song that played over the end credits) meant that we really only switched between three plotlines. Aside from the Bill-Sookie-Eric triangle, the second biggest plotline was Jessica's reunion with Hoyt. I'm not sure fans were necessarily clamoring for this particular blast from the past, but the rekindling of their love does provide a nice symmetry for the series as a whole. Yes, there's a nagging sense that their hookup was as out of nowhere as, say,  Hoyt's girlfriend suddenly becoming a crucial character, but again, it's not about Hoyt, it 's about Jessica. And, for that matter, it wasn't about Hoyt's girlfriend; it was about Jason. Jessica's story needed some kind of reconciliation with her origins on the show while Jason needed to end up with a human girl who likes him for more than his sexual prowess. Missions accomplished? Yes, both results felt rushed, but they also felt correct.

Whether or not those two burgeoning romantic endgames felt earned or not, this episode still concerned itself with either sending off characters or at least setting them on paths toward future happiness. That meant Lafayette and James now seem to be in a pretty serious relationship only a couple days after they were caught sexin' in the parking lot, plus Sam has now officially left Bon Temps to go raise a family with Nicole. In previous seasons, neither of those situations would've stuck for long, but now that we're nearing the finale, both relationships have clearly been hashtagged #HappilyEverAfter, and in both cases, it's hard to complain. But if you were to ask me which character I'd prefer to spend time with in the second-to-last episode — Lafayette or Hoyt — I would not have chosen Hoyt. But that's just me.

Ginger, though. That is a character that this season has wisely celebrated. After Eric flew Sookie across town and then rejected her feeble invitation to enter her home, he retreated to Fangtasia, where he glumly informed Ginger that he was ready to have sex with her. What followed was perhaps one of True Blood's all-time most hilarious bits of physical comedy, and if Tara Buck doesn't become way more famous after this show ends, then I don't even know what to tell you. Ginger's insta-orgasm upon finally realizing her life's dream was truly something special. And guys? It was set to Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You." Perfect television, basically.

Finally, after 55 minutes or so of melodrama, the episode ended with what appeared to be the Yakuza setting out to murder Sookie simply for knowing about the secret of Sarah Newlin's blood. Were you expecting a more epic showdown for the True Blood finale? Perhaps something involving, I don't know, immortal gods or seemingly unstoppable nightmare creatures? Sorry, but the True Blood finale looks to be Yakuza-centric, which is only a letdown in that Eric should have been able to easily run around the room chopping everybody's heads off (as Nora did to the Authority guards in the season-five finale).  But you know what? Maybe I shouldn't jump to conclusions about this particular conclusion. This season of True Blood has certainly surprised us with its ever-shifting priorities, and I appreciate being kept on my toes. For all we know, the Yakuza will be murdered in next week's cold open and the rest of the episode will be a ghost parade of dead characters arriving to take a final bow. Man, I really hope so, anyway.  This frequently excellent season's master stroke has been mixing nostalgia with coziness with closure. As far as I'm concerned, this show has already wrapped its arms around us and jumped into the night sky; now let's just see if it can stick the landing.

Photo: HBO