True Blood is not a show built on sophisticated plotting. It is a show built on charisma (I’m looking at you, Eric), audacity (I’m looking at you, crazy Marianne-inspired orgies), and romance. The plots themselves rarely make perfect sense, and often seem to be just crazy plot twist built upon crazy plot twist, merely for the sake of plot twisting. They play with cliches in a way that is not at all subversive, but merely serves to make the stories feel strangely familiar despite their naked orgy aesthetics.
Which brings me to the latest, semi brilliantly deployed cliche: the convenient amnesia. In the most recent episode of True Blood, the second best character on the whole show (I’m looking at you, Lafeyette), Eric Northman, found himself the amusing recipient of some witch-induced amnesia. As Alexander Skarsgaard, half naked because this is True Blood, stares blankly at Sookie through er car window, all I could think was “HELL. YES.”
Amnesia is a convenient writers’ crutch, of course. It leads to cheap comedy and easy pathos. And when you have a bad boy vampire embroiled in a love triangle with a neurotic, brain-reading, fairy waitress, it’s an easy way to shift up the power dynamic and lead to substantial movement on the “will they or won’t they or will it all just be a dream?” front. But you know what? I don’t care. A Brilliantly employed cliche, especially on a show like True Blood that I don’t exactly watch to be impressed with their plotting, can be like a shot of adrenaline in the stalled heart of a heroin addict**. And given Skarsgaard and Paquin’s awesome push and pull chemistry, I am more than on board for this trip down the road that so many shows and movies have traveled before.
In honor of this lovely move by the True Blood staff, here are my top five favorite cases of amnesia in popular culture.
5. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), The Bourne Identity
4. Leonard Shelby (Guy Pierce), Memento
3. The Whole Scooby Gang, “Tabula Rasa”, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
2. Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
1. The Whole Angel Investigations Crew, “Spin the Bottle”, Angel
**I watched Pulp Fiction this weekend. Sorry for the metaphor.