True Blood is chugging right along (although at a slower pace than usual but that’s okay because the stories are more interesting so far than last year) and all I can think about this season is what a misstep last season was. I went on a big rant about all of last season’s flaws in my review for last week’s season premiere, so I’ll spare you anymore ravings in that direction except for this. Simply put, True Blood abandoned its campy, fun side in an attempt to be more serious and more traditionally “dark” (as opposed to darkly comic). I think after two episodes this season, we’re seeing a slow return to the more fun side of the series and perhaps the departure of Alan Ball won’t negatively affect the series nearly as much as I thought. I’m pretty sure he left the show before this season began. Some people are frustrated with the show moving at a slower pace but I actually like it. I feel like stories are actually being given a chance to develop, but they aren’t quite moving at the tepid pace of the second season of The Walking Dead (I’m looking at you “lost Sophia” story line). It’s a trade-off I’m willing to make so far as long as the pay-off down the road is good. Also, this week saw the first appearance of Christopher Meloni in the cast and as a long time fan of Oz, I’m excited to see what he brings to the table.

There are two main stories this week and then the various smaller stories so let’s start with Sookie work our way to Bill and Eric and then see where everybody else fit into the week’s festivities. After waking up as a vampire, Tara is not taking it very well. That makes sense since she pretty much hates vampires and they’ve caused her nothing but misery for the last several years. She nearly kills Sookie before Pam orders her not to bite Lafayette or Sook. Pam leaves (to manage things at Fangtasia as well as to give us some flashbacks but more on that later) and Sookie and Lafayette are left caring for a newborn vampire who despises her own existence. Tara completely wrecks Sookie’s house, and it takes Lafayette cutting open his arm for Tara to feed as a trap for Sookie to wrap her in silver for them to get Tara in Eric’s cupboard before sunrise. Lafayette nearly stakes Tara in her sleep because he realizes what he did was a mistake. Sookie convinces him not to and that Tara will eventually adjust. However, when Tara wakes the next evening, she tells Lafayette and Sookie that she’ll never forgive them and runs away. In Bill and Eric town, they’ve been captured by the Authority. After enduring torture-fueled interrogations where they want to know what they’re protecting (I’m assuming this is all about Sookie and her fairy powers/blood), we meet Roman (Christopher Meloni), the head of the Authority. Apparently, there’s a fundamentalist vampire cult intent on subjugating humanity for vampires and destroying the mainstreaming agenda. They think Bill and Eric are part of this cult. Just as Roman is about to stake the pair, Eric and Bill pull out their trump card which is that Russell Edginton is alive and they’ll pay off their debt to the authority by killing him once and for all.

As to the other people in town, things took a slight backseat (except for Alcide/Sam/Luna). Jessica is confronted by Steve Newlin who is now becoming a prominent spokesman for the vampire community as someone who has changed his opinion after being a rabid anti-vampire fundamentalist. He wants to buy Jason Stackhouse from her. She teases him but then fights him and kicks him out of the house for making such an offensive offer for someone she still cares about (even if their relationship is pretty much done). Jason is really beginning to feel guilty about all of the women he’s slept with and kicked to the curb over the years especially after a teenage son comes to the police station to pick a fight with him when Jason’s rakish ways caused his family to get divorced. Alcide refuses his place as the new packmaster of the werewolf pack even though he killed Marcus which by werewolf tradition makes him the new packmaster. He wants no part of it though and doesn’t even rise to the bait of one of the other werewolves calling him a coward and insulting him. Sam is allowed to leave when it’s discovered that he didn’t kill Marcus although after Marcus’ mother (Dale Dickey) visits Luna to see Emma, her granddaughter, Sam and Luna have a fight over what would be best for Emma in the off-chance she becomes a werewolf instead of a shifter. By the episodes end, we see Emma in her room and she’s transformed into the most adorable wolf ever. Terry is having more flashbacks and sleepwalking problems than usual and so Arlene gives in (after Terry freaks out on her at Merlotte’s) and recruits Patrick for help. It turns out that Terry knows that the guy Patrick was asking about last week is still alive and where he is so they decide to visit him.

I’m really excited to see where this whole Tara storyline goes. While Bill suffers through some angst about his being a vampire and we saw some flashbacks where it was miserable for him, we haven’t really had a character yet who exists to show how terrible it would be to become a vampire if you absolutely loathed vampires. Jessica took to vampirism pretty enthusiastically and Steve Newlin seems to be adjusting pretty normally as well. Tara on the other hand hasn’t had a single good experience with vampires and is now one of their numbers. Perhaps, for the first time in the series, she will finally have something interesting to do. We shall see. Sookie hasn’t really had much to do this season but let’s face it. She hasn’t been a compelling character since Season 1. Ever since then, she has done more reacting to the world around her than any actual constructive activity. She’s a pretty flat character and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. She’s meant to the be the audience avatar though so it’s understandable if not actually forgivable. Lafayette has historically been my favorite character on the show and I’m afraid that this season is going to see a return to the broken, shell Lafayette of Season 2 because of his losing his boyfriend and his cousin becoming a vampire. He operates at his best as the morally ambiguous joie de vivre of the series. I also want to know where this whole story with Alcide is going. He’s become an interesting character in his own right and if he does end up being the new packmaster, it should layer some new complexities on his persona other than just being the sensitive giant.

I have to review the Thomas Pynchon novel V. today (and I’m heading to Morgantown to play Dungeons and Dragons with my cousin shortly) so I’m going to have to bring this all to an early close. Here are some last thoughts. Sam hasn’t had a lot to do yet this season. He’s the second best character behind Lafayette (and in the last two seasons, he’s probably been the best character), and I’d like to continue see his character develop and grow. Similarly, Jessica hasn’t had a whole lot to do so far either besides party away. I’d like some more from her that is something beyond just relationship angst. This show puts far too high a premium on the concept of “shipping” and it needs new ideas. It’s too early to tell where the Terry Bellefleur storyline is going but I’m intrigued. All in all, we’re two episodes into the season and while I’m not blown away by any means (Game of Thrones this is not), I’ve enjoyed it so far and that’s a lot more than I could say about last season. Of course, last season actually started with my expectations being high because of the well-implemented time-shift. So, perhaps True Blood could be setting me up for disappointment again.

Final Score: B

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