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'True Blood' review: An episode in need of 'Fresh Blood'

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“I’m excited to destroy you,” said Russell to Eric at one point during the penultimate episode of True Blood this week. If only that excitement had been contagious. It pains me to write this, but this was another week in Blood‘s recent run of scattershot-quality hours.

Oh, sure, it started out fun. Even before the opening scene there was a funny “In Memoriam” segment paying mock-tribute to all the humans and creatures who’ve left this show’s mortal, and non-mortal, coil. And Pam spraying Bill with some silver flecked water was, in Russell’s word, exciting, as was learning that the much-put-upon Fangtasia dancer Yvette was a cardiologist in her native land.

The central storyline this week was clear: Bill and Eric teaming up to try and defeat Russell, who wanted a prize — their prize, their object of affection, Sookie. The lure: Russell was deceived into thinking that drinking Sookie’s fairy blood would enable him to be a “day-walker.” “I can offer you the sun,” as Eric said. Russell thought this would enable him to conquer all he surveyed. Seems to me Russell would have done more homework, over hundreds and hundreds of years, on this subject before falling for that promise. But I was willing to buy into the premise. It was the rest of the hour that was less satisfying:

• Sam rampaging through Merlotte’s drunk and furious, before hooking up with a grieving and furious Tara? I came close to stifling a yawn. Ultimately, I couldn’t.

• All the New Age-ish mumbo-jumbo Arlene went through with Holly, only to have the mystical abortion fail? Yay for Rene’s baby-of-evil, I guess.

• Lafayette and Jesus still having visions both good and bad, lost in lust and V.

• Football hero Kitch also on V, which for him is a performance-enhancing drug, a no-no that Jason found infuriating. I found it tedious.

• Summer bawling about losing Hoyt to the latter’s mother? Really? We needed that, at this point in the season? Is that going to pay off in the final episode two weeks from now? Hope so. Sorta.

And so all the good stuff was concentrated in the Bill-Eric-Sookie-Russell quadrangle. I liked Eric’s “Ain’t We Got Fun” ringtone. I thought Bill and Sookie, dreaming of the ordinary life — Sookie yearning to be a real-estate agent, Bill a third-grade teacher — was charming. And even though you could see it coming, Eric’s brave walk into the sun to lure Russell into its burning rays was excitingly staged. But Sookie being left, at the end of the episode, once again a helpless victim of vampire warring was, to put it mildly, repetitive — an anti-climax leading up to the season climax.

Oh, well: Nowhere to go but up, two weeks from now, eh? I still have hope that True Blood can pull out a smashing season-ender.

Do you?

Follow: @kentucker