SPOILER ALERTS

The Christmas after the first season of True Blood ended, my father bought me the complete set of the Southern Vampire Mystery novels, which are the books that the True Blood TV series is based off. Each season of the show has been a loose adaptation of the books. Since each book is between 150-200 pages along with a decent enough plot strung along to allow Charlaine Harris to ship Sookie with as many possible romantic partneres as possible, it was essential that the show expand the plots and characters from the books. With that in mind, True Blood the show proved to be a far superior product compared to the books that spawned them, a rare accomplishment indeed.

I had complained that the first two episodes of the season didn’t really feel like they were going anywhere, and I can happily report that the next two episodes saw the series re-hitting some of its creative strides from Season 2. Bill remains abducted by the King of Mississippi, Russell Edginton, but out of a desire to protect Sookie from harm, he has pledged his fealty to Russell in return for Sookie’s safety. With assistance from Eric Northman, Sookie has enlisted the help of werewolf Alicde Herveaux, in an attempt to find and rescue Bill. However, Bill has contacted Sookie informing her that he does not wish to be found and breaks up with her (as a way to protect her). Despite this, Sookie throws herself headfirst into the werewolf community of Mississippi trying to find Bill and discovers a pack of werewolf bikers who are servants of Russell Edgington because he supplies them with the powerful drug that is vampire blood.

 

The strength of the show in relation to the novel is the show’s greatly expanded cast, and while the main thrust of the story is always dependent on the relationships and actions of Sookie, there is still an entire town of people to help fill out the hour long nature of the show. My favorite character on the show is Lafayette Reynolds, the gay drug-dealer, prostitute, fry cook, and road worker, and he has been made Eric Northman’s chief distributor of vampire blood in the Louisiana area. Jason Stackhouse has decided that it is his destiny to be a police officer since he killed Eggs last season and helped stop a meth dealer this season. Sookie’s best friend, Tara Thornton, has been seduced and ultimately kidnapped by a mysterious vampire named Franklin Talbott who works for Russell Edginton and is searching for information about Bill. Sam Merlotte is still discovering just how unsavory and untrustworthy his birth family is.

 The thing that helps to set True Blood apart from other romance/vampire pieces like Twilight is the darker and morally ambiguous nature of the show, which is no better represented than by Bill Compton. Bill is a consummately tragic figure, and any episode that explores his backstory and early days as a vampire are always great. He has so much more depth and nuance than Edward Cullen or Anne Rice’s Lestat could ever have. While in the books I am firmly on Team Eric, the show makes Bill a much more interesting and compelling character. Stephen Moyer fills his performance with a quiet emotion and intensity that really invests you in Bill emotionally. The show consistently refrains from making Bill quite too heroic though, and you are forced to see him in moments of great violence and depravity. The sex scene between him and his maker in the third episode is one of the most disturbing sex scenes I’ve seen since Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rosselini in Blue Velvet.

 I’ll finish this blog up but I wanted to give another shout-out to Denis O’Hare’s performance as Russell Edginton. I can’t remember such a bad-ass and dangerous gay character since The Wire’s Omar (although Russell will never be as awesome as Omar). He plays him as an old queen who will argue with his boyfriend about ancient antique carpets and then just as quickly viciously murder you. It’s fantastic. I’m glad the show picked up the quality so noticeable in the space of two episodes. Hopefully the rest of season 3 can maintain this level of fun and entertainment.

 Score in Progress: B+

Advertisements