True Blood 4.03: "If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin'" Review

A column article, Shot For Shot by: Danny Djeljosevic , Rafael Gaitan
The ridiculous HBO vampire soap opera (with fairies and witches and shit) continues! In this episode, the Witches made a huge mistake, there's another argument between Hoyt and Jessica and Alexander Skarsgard reprises his role from Zoolander. As usual, we skipped some subplots because we couldn't really make fun of them, so we didn't talk about Bill getting an indecent proposal (MORE LIKE A PRETTY DAMN DECENT PROPOSAL), and that really boring plot point about Mrs. Fortenberry's land. Nor do we ever get the main character's name correct.



Danny: "If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin'" is the first episode written by Alan Ball since the painfully boring Season 3 finale. It is not a welcome return.

Rafael: I gotta say, my impressions were initially hopeful. Ball is usually a great writer, and his episodes from the early seasons were among my favorites.

Danny: Here's the problem, though: this show has surpassed him. He's a serious writer, and True Blood works best as ridiculous trash.

Rafael: I really enjoy him when he tries, and he does get some genuine good out of these characters, but as a whole this episode is lacking. Probably due to the general malaise of the show. I still feel like his abilities should allow for the versatility to write trash and something serious, but some of these cats can't shake their desire to write something "meaningful." Personally I feel the path they've chosen for storytelling has eclipsed it.

Danny: You'd think an Alan Ball episode would be a highlight of the season, but I think Ball is one of the writers trying to make this show seem "important" and "meaningful." Because the last episode was pretty fun, I thought, and this one seems like someone's trying to make something serious but without the correct tools. The "tools" in question here being people turning into horses and panthers, and Fairy Godmothers.

Rafael: When I saw his name I was excited to genuinely like this one. I would like to think that he tries, but he's gotta be happy with having his show still on the air and so successful. Say what you will, he never strayed that badly with Six Feet Under. Though I acknowledge the stories each show tell are different.

Danny: I wonder if True Blood is Ball trying to make a show that will be shitty but popular, and will in turn help finance his passion projects. Which are hopefully not actual Passion Plays.

Rafael: Hang on a second -- I need a drink to get through this bullshit a second time. Plus I'm on an empty stomach, so I'll use less. Let this be a lesson to you, children of America. Don't eat before drinking -- it'll save you money. Gaitan For President, 2024!



Danny: First line of the episode, as uttered by Cookie Crackhouse, is "You know perfectly well why I smell." Which is a good sign. Who would have thought Cookie's subplot in this episode would be the most entertaining? Granted, it's thanks to Eric, but still.

Rafael: Eric is doing all the legwork of making it worthwhile. Cookie is just the catalyst to see what he's up to.

Danny: Eric, who, having had his mind wiped by the Witch Coven, is now a loveable doofus. He plays mimbo really well. Shades of his Zoolander role?

Rafael: OR A GLIMPSE INSIDE.

Danny: Also, I think Eric wins us both over pretty early in this episode by addressing Cookie as "Snookie." HE GETS US

Rafael: Alexander Skaarsgard has proven he's a talented actor, and I would say that he's probably the most talented on the show. He doesn't allow the role to bog down his effort.



Danny: That said, Cookie is pretty amusingly written in this episode, the way she tries to pretend that the amnesiac Eric doesn't own her house, and how she tries to pawn him off on other people.

Rafael: It's super silly, and a welcome change from "Bitchface," which seems to be her default expression.

Danny: WUT DA FUCK, ERIC

Rafael: She actually has something to do, with being Eric's makeshift caretaker, I will say.

Danny: Previously, her goals included getting the dick-down from Bill Condom and being annoyed at everything.

Rafael: Her relationship with Eric has always been one of the more intriguing parts, when done right. Skarsgard always acts like she's an item to be acquired, and not a romantic conquest, which we have with Bill. Man, that ship seems to have ripped midway, as now she and Bill Condom are bust.



Danny: Speaking of Bill...

Rafael: Can we talk about how much I loathe the usage of social networks on this show? Man, I loathe it so much.

Danny: In this episode, we see a YouTube video of a vampire tricked into feeding on a woman, and then the guys who video tape it shilling their Facebook Page.

Rafael: With every ep having the #trueblood tag in the teaser, to these idiots who post a video on YouTube telling America to share this video on their Facebook page. "Make sure you get on Twitter and "Like" our site on Facebook, so you know you're in danger!!"

Danny: It was a really accurate YouTube video, which leads to a scene with that same vampire in the office of Bill Condom, Principal of New Orleans.

Rafael: I think you mean Municipal Dickest of Heads.



Danny: It turns out vampires have a rule where, if you get video taped eating someone, you get murdered for realz. The "True Death," they call it.

Rafael: They have addressed it before, with Zejlko Ivanek as the Magister back in Season 1.

Danny: You gotta feel for the guy, but I thought it was hilarious when they dragged him off and Bill had an entire dialogue scene with Jessica, which had a loud BANG in the middle of it. Ultimately, that Vamp seemed like a bit of a D-bag anyway, so I can't feel too bad for him.

Rafael: Basically the American Vampire League have extremely stringent policies, which I found a great piece of definition, especially their draconian policies for vampirism. Oddly, I understand -- considering how hard they've worked to be public, the last thing they need is vampires encouraging stereotypes. But does that make Bill Condom the Oprah or the Bill Cosby or vampires? Are they still the King and Queen of Black Media?

Danny: Ahem, Obama.



Rafael: Sorry, this episode sucks, so I'm like halfway through this drink. But let's talk about a great scene: Hoyt and Jessica!

Danny: Hoyt and Jessica are quickly becoming the emotional center of the show.

Rafael: The couple with the most fertile dynamic. I could watch a show about just these two trying to stay together.

Danny: Every episode in this season so far has had an argument between Hoyt and Jessica. This time, she admits that she fed on a dude at Fu Fangchu or whatever the vampire's club name is.

Rafael: Fangtasia?

Danny: That's the one.

Rafael: And then she glamors him.

Danny: To undo her moment of weakness by making Hoyt forget. A major breach of trust there.

Rafael: A fantastic moment, if I do say. One of the better uses of that power, and it resonates so well.

Danny: My favorite part about the glamoring is the really dumb face Jim Parrack affects as he's being hypnotized.

Rafael: How seemingly easy would it be if you could make someone forget how bad you hurt them? I could try to pretend to have a moral high ground and say I would never, but I'd have a lot less sleepless nights. But yes, that scene was easily my favorite this week.

Danny: I would glamor every person in sight if I could. No moral debate.

Rafael: Would it be safe then, to say, that you would have a Glamour Profession? Since it takes up all your time?

(Raf's True Blood Steely Dan Reference Count: 1)

Even without an album since 2003, they're still fresher and more interesting than True Blood.



Danny: Surprisingly, I'm liking the witches coven subplot -- at least as it develops in this episode.

Rafael: You are? Man, that one bugs me so much, maybe out of disinterest bordering on comical.

Danny: I just liked the development in this episode, where Lafayette, Tara and Lafayette's-Boyfriend-Whose-Name-I-Don't-Know are basically like, "Fuck this, I don't want to piss off the vampers" and offer to help them undo whatever Marnie and company have done. I just love that they immediately go against the coven like that. Smart kids. And it gave us Zoolander Eric, so it can't be all bad.

Rafael: I've never been a fan of the overtly supernatural stuff (faeries, et. al). I liked the idea of a horror-stained Southern Gothic soap opera, and then they had to fuck about and try to make it mean something. But true, Zoolander Eric was worth it.

Danny: The faeries are way too whimsical for True Blood, but dark magic seems in the right territory of this show. If you really have to venture out past vampires.

Rafael: True, especially with the bloodletting and sacrificing and whatnot. That lady what slit her wrists in front of a mirror. Fuck, this episode must really suck -- I'm halfway through my second. Now I know how drunk Alan Ball was when the writer's room asked him if they could put faeries in his show.



Danny: There's only one best scene in this episode, though.

Rafael: Is it Andy, jonesing for V, attacking Sam Merlotte?

Danny: Yeah, where Sam almost catches Andy doing V, and Andy just flips out and, as a cover-up, starts complaining about bullshit building codes that Sam's probably not even breaking.

Rafael: It speaks really well to his character (and Chris Bauer's talents) how well he highlights the addict's symptoms.



Let's talk about a thing. The return of a character's abs! We have Sookie trying to pawn Eric off on anyone, so she consults our old friend Joe Mangianello. Whom girls go nuts for, even though he just looks like a lumberjack.

Danny: I do not remember the male model werewolf guy that Cookie meets to see if he can help Eric. Nor do I remember his girlfriend. Explain me them.

Rafael: They were in Season 3, and he didn't wear a shirt. Which was weird, because he could have caught a cold, from how barren his character was.

Danny: He looks like an Italian lumberjack.

Rafael: "The frigidity of the writers towards developing him was most biting- he could have caught his death from sheer disinterest."

Danny: Did you write that as Bill Condom again?

Rafael: It was my spec script audition. Sounding like Bill Condom is tough, sometimes. I can't quite fill the role, but I usually manage to keep it on the entire time.



Danny: As always, Jason Stackhouse, even tied to a bed, has the most fun out of any character. In this one he gets raped.

Rafael: He had it coming, with abs like those. In a post-Russell Edgington world, people have to know better!

YOU CANNOT LOOK GOOD, FOR PERSONAL REASONS OR WHATEVER, IF YOU EXPECT NOT TO BE TREATED LIKE AN OBJECT

-Defrocked Minister Rafael Gaitan, 2012

Danny: Yeah: Jason wakes up to find Crystal having sex with him, after feeding him Viagra.

Rafael: And, oh, does she have the sex!

Danny: In, on and around him. Well, actually just on top of him.

Rafael: Stackhouse, employing a classic "poison dick" face that would make James Gandolfini come with pain, sells it really well. Especially with the reveal...

Danny: Oh yeah! All the women in the shed are having sex with him to restart the shapeshifter population. Kind of like She Hate Me, but less interesting.



I love when Eric eats Cookie's fairy godmother.

Rafael: More like He Ate Me amirite? And she calls her as much!

Danny: "You just killed my fairy godmother!"

"...Sorry."

Rafael: Dweeby smile and... that's a wrap. SMASH CUT TO CREDITS. CASH PAYCHECK.

Danny: Adorable. Worth the price of admission.

Rafael: Can we address the cover of "Season of the Witch" that closes this episode?

Danny: No.




Rafael:

A fair episode, which is insulting for Alan Ball. A writer of his caliber should do better. But I am prepared to put the full strength of the Comics Bulletin legal team behind me when I libel this man by saying that he probably had other things on his mind, like the piles of money that must adore his Bill Condom-like office.

Danny:

While it had some moments that made me laugh out loud, the ridiculous/serious ratio was waaay out of whack.

Rafael: I'd be more merciful because of how much I did enjoy Goofy Eric. Though I'm tempted to take it away because we did not see any of that hot shapeshifter. And too much of that creepy, Jason Stackhouse-raping shapeshifter.

Danny: I love how any time Jason Stackhouse gets laid, it's actually a problem.

For more True Blood hijinx, check out our reviews of previous Season 4 episodes:

Episode 4.01: "She's Not There"

Episode 4.02: "You Smell Like Dinner"




Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book writer, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter as @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his newest comic, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics.



Rafael Gaitan was born in 1985, but he belongs to the '70s. He is a big fan of onomatopoeia, being profane and spelling words right on the first try. Rafael has a hilariously infrequent blog and writes love letters to inanimate objects as well as tweets of whiskey and the mysteries of the heart at @bearsurprise. He ain't got time to bleed.

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