Tag Archive: True Blood


My mind is still a mess right now of different stories and random observations. I’ve watched another episode of the disc of Angel that I’ll be reviewing next and I’ve got not one but two movies left to review. I got my power back in 24 hours so I can’t complain too much about the massive power outages on the East Coast (600,000 West Virginians were without power)), but I’m not going to lie. It’s still putting a cramp in my writing. I’m going to be so happy when I finally get the rest of this out of the way. Sunday brought us back to Bon Temps and while I just read a recap of the episode, the details are still a little fuzzy in my mind. One thought from Sunday evening has managed to stick with me though. This is going to prove to be a very divisive season. Based on my sister’s reaction to the whole Authority story line alone (as well as general buzz across the blogosphere), it is proving to be rather unpopular among the fandom. The introduction of vampiric religion and the Sanguinista fundamentalist cult is causing some vexation. I enjoy it (infinitely more than last season’s witch yawn-inducers), but I can see how the slower pace and universe building is going to be a turn off to people who simply turn into True Blood for the sex and violence.

Sookie didn’t have a lot to do this week (although she potentially added someone else to do at the end of the episode…), but let’s face it, when was the last time Sookie was a worthwhile character. She is overwhelmed with guilt about killing Debbie Pelt and having Tara turned into a vampire. After admitting to Alcide that she killed Debbie, she only wants to continue doing the right thing to get herself out of the hole she’s in. She admits her crime to Jason (and Jessica) but he refuses to turn her in. Sookie and Lafayette finally fight about what they’ve done and he goes all evil witch on her car (unknowingly to normal Lafayette) and she nearly dies when her car careens out of control. Sookie decides to get absolutely wasted at her house to ease the pain of what she believes will be her impending trip to prison when Alcide shows up. He lied to Debbie’s parents and told them that Marcus killed Debbie (and that he killed Marcus for doing it). After the two bond over some booze, they start making out (as Bill and Eric watch). Speaking of the thorns in the Authority’s side, Bill and Eric are finally released from the Authority’s custody (but they still have their iStakes attached) to find the AWOL and dangerous Russell Edginton. Since only two other people knew about Russell’s fate (and Alcide was the one that tipped them off to what happened), they believe that Pam might have been the one to free Russell. Obviously, she would never betray Eric and is deeply hurt that she would accuse him in the first place. By the end of the episode, Eric has released Pam from his command in order to protect her.

As for everyone else, things are hit or miss in the eventful department. Pam saves Tara from her suicide attempt via tanning bed by using her maker “command” powers and later forces her to feed from a “willing” human (she could have been glamored). That’s basically it. Andy wants to continue the investigation into Debbie Pelt’s disappearance (even though her parents have dropped it and left town) but Jessica glamors him into believing that the investigation is finally over. Andy and Jason are invited to a fairy brothel (no I’m not making that shit up) by the local judge whose son Andy helped get out of a ticket. When they arrive, Jason discovers that vampires killed his parents (and that Hadley, his cousin, is staying there to protect herself and her child from the vampires). When he tries to get more information about what happened, he and Andy get kicked out of the brothel (after Andy has already cheated on Holly with the fairy he had sex with last season) and are being zapped by the fairies when the episode ends. Terry and Patrick are investigating their former comrade from Iraq when we get flashbacks to what actually happened. Apparently, in a drug-fueled haze, Terry’s squad massacred a family of Iraqis (although there’s an implication that the hostiles they were fighting were hallucinations and it’s possibly supernatural related). Finally, Sam gets a visit at the bar from some shifter friends that he agrees to run around with but by the time he gets home, someone has shot them in the head.

I’ll try to keep this short since I still have my two other movie reviews to do. I thought that the way that Roman (Christopher Meloni) killed the child vampire for being the mole inside the Authority to the Sanguinista movement was pretty great and deliciously violent. I knew he was the mole early on because I knew that killing a kid would make for the highest possible shock value on the show, and True Blood definitely delivered. However, I’m still convinced that they are adherents to the vampire religion as well in some form or another. There’s just too much religious-esque ritual to their actions for them not to be associated with the cult of Lilith. I also still think that Salome has something to do with the Sanguinistas as well and that Nora is still protecting her (and it’s the only reason Nora hasn’t been staked yet). I’m excited to see that Alcide and Sookie may be finally hooking up. I think Alcide is a great character (even if he hasn’t had a lot to work with this season), and the whole vampire romance storyline with her and Bill is dried up. Joe Manganiello and Anna Paquin have some serious sexual chemistry (which is really awkward since she’s married in real life to Stephen Moyer) so that could be fun. I almost feel bad for Stephen Moyer. For the last two seasons, his wife has been shipped with every man on the show but him. Also with Stephen Moyer, I wish Bill had more to do this season. He’s always been one of the better characters on the program and I don’t feel like he’s developed any with this Authority stuff (even though I really like how that storyline has deepened the series’ mythology).

After the campish absurdity of last season, True Blood needed to take an opportunity to slow things down and try and work its way back to its roots (without unnecessarily retreading over old stories). So far, I think the show’s succeeded. It’s dark, comic, sexy, and violent as hell. It’s not art house television but it’s never made any pretensions of being that. Not all of the stories are working. I’m done caring about Terry’s Iraq issues, and I still think that fairies were the moment when True Blood jumped the shark. However, the Authority has breathed new life into the program (so to speak) and the shockwaves that Sam and Alcide made in the were and shifter community still have the potential to resonate. However, we’re nearing the halfway mark of the season. That means that it’s time for True Blood to take the brakes off and finally add some momentum to the season’s events. The show has managed to reinvest me in these characters. Now, it’s time to find something for them to really do.

Final Score: B

You know what’s the key to enjoying True Blood these days? Tempered expectations. It means coming to terms with the fact that “guilty pleasure television” always means you’re going to feel a little guilty about watching it (the sad fact is that there’s people out there who thinks this program still has any intention of being legitimate, significant television). Although this season has managed to be less on the side of poorly written fan faction (what with the show’s never ending preoccupation with who’s fucking who), it’s not exactly high brow. It doesn’t even have the allegorical or character driven strength of other popcorn programs like Angel or Doctor Who. The show used to have something so unique that it made it stand out from the rest of the crowd. It began more as a pitch-black comedy with a healthy dose of fantasy and romance. That got lost somewhere over the years. It still has some unique appeal that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s the something that brings me back against my better judgment (and keeps me writing about the show). Part of its the cast. I’ve become so invested in the residents of Bon Temps over the year that barring a complete implosion of quality (which nearly happened last season), I have to see the show through to the end. Also, I hate to admit that for someone who goes long stretches without a girlfriend (I’ve been single for two months now and was single three years preceding my last relationship), the pure, undeniable sexiness of the program keeps me coming back. I hate that about myself.

Continuing my pattern established with the season’s first two reviews, paragraph one is Sookie, Bill, and Eric. Paragraph two is everyone else. Sookie and Lafayette continue their search for Tara. However, she’s ran off to Sam at Merlotte’s after she nearly fed on a strange woman on the streets (she stopped herself at the last second). Sam has to lock Tara up in the freezer for the day and it doesn’t take long for psychic Sookie to figure out where Tara is. Sookie’s life continues to be complicated when Andy Bellefleur asks her about the disappearance of Debbie Pelt (though he doesn’t particularly suspect Sookie) and Alcide comes sniffing around as well. When Tara wakes up at night (and reveals to the chatty Arlene that she’s a vampire), Sookie’s life gets even worse when Tara reveals to Alcide that Sookie is hiding something and Sookie has to admit to a distraught Alcide that she killed his ex-fiancee. In Bill and Eric-ville, they’ve been commissioned by the Authority to kill the not-dead Russell Edginton. However, they’ve also been equipped with chest harnesses known as iStakes which will kill them the second they try to flee or pull a fast one on the Authority. They are both seduced by the gorgeous Salome (who apparently played a part in the beheading of John the Baptist which means she’s even older than Eric). She was trying to determine for one last time where their loyalties live and whether they’re Sanguinistas (vampire fundamentalists intent on destroying the mainstreaming movement and subjugating humanity under the boot heel of vampires). They seemed to be clear although Eric’s sister, Nora, admits to being a Sanguinista although its unclear whether that’s true or she was giving  in to torture.

As for everyone else, Pam gets the award (again) for most interesting story of the week. After she and Sookie get into a fight at Fangtasia (and Sookie goes full on fairy light beam power on her), Pam has the chance to reminisce more on her initial meetings with Eric (when she was a 19th century madam at a bordello) as well as the first time Eric met Bill (because Bill and Lorena were the vampires draining her prostitutes). She wants Eric to turn her into a vampire because she doesn’t want to face the miserable life that all madams of that age faced when they got old. Eric doesn’t want to do that to her (this seems like a surprisingly kind and sensitive Eric compared to how he turned out before becoming an amnesiac) but when she slits her wrists and gives him the option to either turn her or watch her die, she has no choice. Tara’s story was also interesting and it was cool to see her being able to resist the temptations that none of the other vampires we’ve seen in the show could turn down. Also, the fact that she seemed to be about to commit suicide with a tanning bed at the end of the episode (with Pam realizing what’s happening) made for another interesting turn. I don’t know how things are going to go with Aclide, who was confronted by Debbie’s parents about her disappearance. He hasn’t been as interesting as past seasons (although to be fair, he hasn’t had much to do). Lafayette finally had a plot development that was about him and not his friendship with Sookie. Towards the end of the episode, he was re-possessed by the evil witch spirit and he poured bleach in the gumbo (and realized at the last second what he’d done and stopped himself). The Terry/Arlene story also didn’t really move forward much other than Terry and Arlene having a fight after Arlene pushed him to solve this mystery in the first place. The other big story was Jason meeting the teacher he may or may not have lost his virginity to in high school (I thought that was the implication) and realizing with the help of Jessica (who encountered a fairy) that he was using sex to fill the hole in his life and he wants to get his shit together.

My sister is decidedly against this whole “Sanguinista” storyline but I kind of like it. One of the things that I’ve always enjoyed about True Blood is the way that it uses vampirism as a reflection of modern religious attitudes (particularly against homosexuals although the vampires as gays metaphor is sort of a broken Aesop since the vampires on this show are kind of inherently a little evil), and the whole Sanguinista movement seems like another fun way to poke fun at the religious right (now that the Fellowship of the Sun is apparently disbanded and Steve Newlin has become the new Nan Flanagan). Obviously, the Authority has its own serious, serious flaws so it’s once again kind of a broken Aesop, and I actually suspect that they have their own dastardly ulterior motives about humans. They’re just better at hiding it all so far. It’s the way that they use words like “apostate” and the highly ritualized nature of their actions that makes me suspicious. The stuff with Pam having flashbacks to her time with Eric before she turned (and I’m presuming now we’ll see what it was like when she first turned) has been the best thing the show’s done since Season 3. It’s very, very interesting and Pam is one of the better characters on the show. I’ve completely written Sookie off as the worst main character on TV right now. The only woman who’s become more boring and useless than Sookie is Betty Draper (and I don’t hate Sookie. I fucking loathe Betty). Jessica hasn’t had anything interesting to do yet this season either (although the arrival of fairies may change all of this) and her stories with Jason haven’t really connected with me like they did last season.

I’m about to eat lunch (my sleep schedule is a little off. I know this) so I’ll draw my ramblings about True Blood to a close. For what the series tries to be, which is a fantasy-driven romance (with elements of dark comedy and light political allegory), the season has been a success so far. It’s not great, but I’ve enjoyed it, and unlike previous seasons, there isn’t a single storyline that I actively despise and certain people are stealing the show (Steve Newlin has become a surprisingly hilarious/great character as has Christopher Meloni’s Roman). I’m ready to see more Russell. The show is taking its sweet time bringing him back into the fold. Hopefully, that means the pay off his reappearance will be worth the wait. Next week, we’ll be a quarter of the way through the season, and hopefully by the end of that episode, we’ll have a better idea about where the season is heading and since we’ve reached the fifth season of the program (HBO dramas traditionally rarely last more than six or seven seasons), maybe we’ll get hints of what the end game of this program is starting to look like. Dexter has already ran for far too long. I’d hate to see True Blood suffer the same problem.

Final Score: B

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

Well, after some pondering, I have decided to actually attempt to review this season of True Blood. Much like the second season of The Walking Dead, the fourth season of True Blood was a bit of a disaster (though it had none of the glorious highs of season 2 of TWD to make up for its low moments). The main villain, Marnie (The Butcher Boy‘s Fiona Shaw), was the worst in series history and the show abandoned much of the humor and fun that had made True Blood such a guilty pleasure delight the previous three seasons and instead decided to focus on a love triangle that while interesting the source material books, threatened to derail the entire program into a more generic and bland soap opera. Similarly, the show accumulated show many competing storylines that it became impossible for the show to devote any real time to any of them, and at the end of the day, none of them were particularly interesting except for those involving Sam and Jessica. I was ready to give up on the series until the finale which seemingly (though apparently not god damnit) killed off my least favorite character (Rutina Wesley’s Tara) and resurrected my favorite character, Russell Edginton. It’s to be seen if the latter is true but sadly the former isn’t though the season premiere of True Blood managed to be enjoyable nonetheless as the show managed to recapture a little bit of the humor I love so much.

I had honestly forgotten nearly everything that happened last season (mostly as an attempt to repress the memories of how awful the show had become) except for Debbie Pelt shooting Tara in the head and Lafayette murdering Jesus when he was possessed by Marnie. So, I had forgotten many of the cliffhangers of the season including Sam being surrounded by a pack of werewolves (after killing their old packmaster with Alcide in order to protect Luna and her daughter), a vampiric Steve Noonan showing up at Jason Stackhouse’s home, as well as Terry Bellefleur’s old army buddy showing up in Bon Temps and stirring up shit. I also forgot that Eric and Bill had killed Nan Flanagan and would now be wanted by the Authority. That’s how bad last season was. I literally did my damnedest to forget it had happened. Still, tonight tried its hardest to make these stories compelling and it mostly succeeded. Immediately after killing Nan Flanagan, Eric and Bill are captured by the Authority. Though they manage to escape the Authority’s clutches with the help of Eric’s “sister” (who was also made by Godric. He calls her sister but they fuck. It’s weird and apparently True Blood is embracing the Game of Thrones incest thing), they are captured shortly thereafter as they’re trying to flee the country under assumed aliases (and all of the vampires around them are given explosive renditions of the true death). In Sookie-ville (traditionally the least exciting place in True Blood), she and Lafayette enlist the help of Pam to turn Tara into a vampire rather than let her die (despite Tara’s complete hatred of vampires). Pam agrees to “make” Tara in return for Sookie patching up her relations with Eric as well as another, unnamed favor in the future. Sookie lies to Alcide about killing Debbie (well, she’s stopped by Lafayette before she can admit to it), and the episode ends with Tara being resurrected as a vampire.

Maybe part of the reason why this episode was able to succeed was that it didn’t try to tell a million stories at once. There were only a handful of other stories and they were mostly compelling (Andy Bellefleur and Holly’s budding romance being the less interesting exception). Steve Noon showed up at Jason’s house and confessed his love to Jason cause apparently he was a closeted homosexual when he was a person. He professes his love for Jason but when Jason rejects him, it takes Jessica’s intervention to save him but those two don’t wind up a couple again. In a moment of surprising maturity from Jason, he actually turns down guaranteed sex with a young co-ed because he knows it wouldn’t mean anything. Sam agrees to be taken in by Alcide’s old pack in order to take the blame for killing the packmaster. He’s nearly killed by the new pack before Alcide shows up to take responsibility for what happened (Sam was covering for him as payment for helping Sam out in protecting Sam’s brother). By pack laws, Alcide killing the old packmaster means he’s the de facto new packmaster, but there’s obviously some dissension in the ranks, most clearly from Marcus’ mother (Winter’s Bone‘s Dale Dickey). Terry Bellefleur’s friend from Iraq brings news that the houses of several people in his platoon from Iraq have caught on fire and there’s some vague illusions to some dangerous incident from Iraq that Terry doesn’t want to talk about (and would explain his PTSD). We finally see a violent side of the otherwise loveable Terry which means whatever he’s blocking about Iraq must be pretty awful.

Like I said last paragraph, part of how this episode succeeded was that it scaled back the storytelling to a more manageable level. There were around ten independent storylines last season, and honestly, only two of them were compelling because none of them had a chance to develop and mature into something. Let’s not even start about how all of these poorly written romantic subplots threatened to derail all of the great characters on the show like Eric and Bill (and even Lafayette seemed depressingly domesticized). Several of the characters who were forming all of their own different stories last time around seem to be hanging out together (i.e. Bill and Eric, or Sookie, Lafayette, Tara, and Pam). True Blood just became far too unfocused last time around, and if this episode is a sign that the show is narrowing its focus again, that’s for the best. True Blood has always been a show I’ve wanted to love, and in seasons 2 and 3, I honestly did. However, it doesn’t know when to draw things back, and these seasons have really upped the ridiculous quality (I’d still like to pretend Sookie isn’t a fucking fairy). I’d like to see the show return to its roots a little bit. Another thing this episode did well was allow for some great, little humorous moments. They mostly involved Pam, and if her joke about wearing a Wal-Mart shirt and being a team player wasn’t one of her comedic highlights of the whole series, I don’t know what is.

I want to write a little bit more about this episode but I’m still buzzed as hell on allergy medicine like I’ve been all day. It’s a miracle that I’ve been able to get any writing done today. Plus, it’s nearly 2:30 in the morning and I want to do a little bit of reading and go to bed. I’m almost finished with Thomas Pynchon’s V., and I’d kind of like to finish it tonight. I don’t know if that will actually happen, but I’m going to try. So, despite my better judgment, I’m going to give True Blood another try and see how this whole season works out. I actually up to like the 7th book in the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery novels, so I think I know about some of the potential storylines, but honestly, True Blood has parted so significantly with the books that I wouldn’t be shocked if zero things from the books ever happened again. Also, I read those like three or four years ago so my memory is spotty at best. I just have two requests for this season. Plenty of Sam and Jessica (and maybe Alcide). They’re the best characters on the show and the only ones who have remained consistently compelling.

Final Score: B

SPOILER ALERT

 I’m nearly done with Season 3 of True Blood. After I post this review, I’m only going to have two episodes left. This season has been incredibly gory and violent over the last 6 episodes or so. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen a vampire die the “true death” in an explosive burst of blood and guts. Humans and werewolves haven’t been spared the graphic violence either. If you need a good old fashioned fix of a bit of the old ultra-violence (but without the splendid Ludwig Van (I need to stop with the A Clockwork Orange jokes)), then this season is for you. Discounting the lesser products that are TV programs that are on Starz or Showtime (Dexter excluded from that disparaging remark), this is one of the bloodiest seasons of TV that I’ve ever watched.

The proverbial shit hits the metaphorical fan in this stretch of episodes. Russell and his werewolf servants come after Sookie. Bill and Jessica are only able to defend her from the 3,000 year old Russell’s wrath because Eric kills Russell’s lover, Talbott, as revenge for Russell killing Eric’s family whehn Eric was still human, 1000 years ago. This all comes to a catastrophic head when Russell loses what little bit of hold he had on his sanity and rips a new anchor’s spinal cord out of his back and then delivers a lengthy monologue about his desire to subjugate humanity. It’s one of the most awesome scenes of the whole show. I don’t know what it is but the site of Russell holding someone’s spinal cord and giving a crazy speech is just hilarious. Eric is given the duty of killing Russel by a mysterious vampire organization known as the Authority, but since Russell is 2,000 years older than him (and vampire strength is related to age), it’s basically a death sentence. We also get more of Sookie being a fairy but I’m going to go “NA NA NA I’M NOT LISTENING” to that incredibly stupid storyline.

Back in Bon Temps, we finally discover just what Crystal Norris, Jason’s new girlfriend, is. She’s a were-panther as are her clan of incestual red-neck meth dealers up in Hotshot. We’re also introduced to a mysterious woman named Holly, who turns out to be a Wiccan. Franklin makes his return to terrorize Tara, but Jason puts an end to him with wooden bullets. I’ll kind of his miss his crazy creepiness yet dark hilarity. We begin to see a darker side of Sam who nearly beats a man to death in his bar, and we get flashbacks that show him as some sort of Sawyer-esque (Lost) con man. I think this twist might be a little out of character for Sam, and for now, I’m against it. My dad says they continue to take him to an even darker place, and I really don’t like it. Lafayette and his mother’s caretaker Jesus have officially started dating, and it’s revealed that he’s a witch when they go on this weird acid trip sequence with vampire blood. It was super weird but it was pretty funny too.

Denis O’Hare has become one of the best psychopathic villains on TV in a really long time. He’s going full Patrick Bateman during this stretch as Russell and it’s just glorious. He’s ripping people’s spines out, carrying around a giant urn full of his lover’s intestines and blood, and staking prostitutes after having them pretend their his dead lover. True Blood is a fantasy melodrama first and foremost, but it is also a pitch black dark comedy at times, and Denis O’Hare gives the show that touch that it was missing. I really hope he at least gets nominated for some Emmy’s and Golden Globes for his performance.

The new season premieres next month. I’m pretty excited for it. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve read most of the books, and book 4 is easily the best book in the series (that I’ve read). It’s actually heavily plot-focused (by Charlaine Harris) standards, and there’s a lot of Eric Northman. I honestly don’t know what shows I’m going to start reviewing once I’ve finished up True Blood and the rest of the Glee I have left, which isn’t very much. I might try Sons of Anarchy. My dad and the rest of my family are big fans so there’s a chance I might enjoy it. It’s probably either going to be Sons of Anarchy, Treme, or maybe Dexter. I know at some point this summer my sister and I will be watching the complete series of both Buffy and Angel, and my dad wants to watch Dr. Who. It should be good times no matter what I choose.

Score in Progress: B+

 SPOILER ALERTS

One of the things that True Blood the show does really well is that it incorporates certain aspects of the books into the series well before they should have appeared if they were strictly following the books continuity. Season 2 brought Bill’s maker, Lorena, in and made her an actually developed character instead of just being some ex of Bill’s that Sookie puts a stake through in Club Dead. We actually see the Queen of Louisiana (Evan Rachel Woods) long before she should have made her first actual appearance. There are definite hints at the presence of werewolves before we see the first one. And season 3 brought about the shifter community living outside of Bon Temps. However, there was one plot (which I’ll get to in this post) that isn’t revealed to far later in the series, and I was extremely disappointed to see it show up on the show since that was the moment the books “jumped the shark” for me and I could no longer continue to read them. I hope it doesn’t ruin the show as well.

Russell Edgington has discovered that Sookie is in Mississippi and that the Queen of Louisiana has taken a special interest in her (and possibly is the reason Bill went to Bon Temps in the first place). He takes Sookie captive and orders that Lorena kill Bill. Thanks to the help of Tara (who is being held captive by Franklin who is in love with her and extraordinarily creepy), Sookie is able to escape and free Bill and stake Lorena in the process. However, things don’t go entirely smoothly as Bill nearly kills Sookie as he feeds on her trying to regain his strength (the show left the part out from the books where he brutally raped her). And (in a moment that extremely pisses me off) Sookie, in a coma in a hospital, dreams of Claudine who is her fairy godmother which means the revelation that Sookie is part fairy is soon around the corner. It’s so dumb. This is a dark and violent show full of sex, blood, and gore. Fairies are not welcome. I am firmly against this plot twist.

Back in Bon Temps, Sam has discovered this his birth parents force his younger brother to compete in dog fights as a way to make money (since they’re shifters). Sam finally cuts off all ties with his family and takes his brother in. Lafayette has a new-found love interest in Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) who is his mother’s care-taker at her nursing home. Jason has finally got to join the police department and delivers some much needed comic relief. Jason is consistently the funniest (and dumbest) character on the show. We also meet his future (I assume) girlfriend, Crystal Norris, who is part of said shifter community up in Hotshot, Louisiana. Russell Edgington has also consolidated all vampire power in Mississippi and Louisiana into his hands by forcing Louisiana’s Queen to marry him and abdicate her power to him. He has also murdered the Magister (Zeljko Ivanek) to further solidify his power base.

I just want to go off on a little tangent about all of the scenes between Tara and Franklin. While Franklin is just about the creepiest character on the show and can be absolutely terrifying when he wants to be, there was something about his temper tantrums any time that Tara wanted to leave him that were just darkly comic and gut-bustingly hilarious. Maybe, I have a sick sense of humor, but knowing Alan Ball, I’m fairly certain that was all meant to be really funny, and boy, it was. It was a nice respite from the ridiculous amounts of gore in these episodes. The scenes where Lorena was torturing Bill were so bloody that I could barely watch them, and I am a veteran of countless horror films and violent video games. It was just all very intense. Tara taking the morningstar to Franklin’s head was just graphic and then some. You could easily say the same thing for Lorena’s death. If you had an appetite for blood , then these were the episodes for you.

I am so thankful that the slow start of the season was just a red herring. This season has turned out to be just as entertaining as season 2 and definitely better than season 1. If you like violent shows with tons of sex, romance, and drama thrown in for good measure, then True Blood is perfect for you. The writing isn’t Shakespeare but I don’t want all my shows to tickle my brain. Sometimes, I just want to shut my brain off, relax, and enjoy a good-old fashioned melodrama. I really wish that they had waited til much later (and preferably never) to bring up that Sookie is a fairy, but maybe they’ll do that storyline better than the books did. I’m not sure if you can do fairies well, but we’ll see.

 Score in Progress: B+

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+

*SPOILER ALERTS*

One of my favorite shows to air on HBO was Alan Ball’s classic dark comedy Six Feet Under. A couple of years ago, I read that he was turning a series of vampire books into his first project since Six Feet Under went off the air. It didn’t really strike me as the kind of project that I would associate with the man who was responsible for writing the script for American Beauty. Yet, I gave the show a shot, and while it will never be a show that I consider great, it’s a fun descent into a TV fantasy that feature’s Ball’s darkly comic tone mixed with a healthy dose of sex and graphic violence. The fourth season airs this June, and since I never watched the third season when it aired, I thought there was no better time than now to catch the stuff I missed.

Season 3 picks up literally seconds after the end of season 2. Bill Compton has just proposed to Sookie Stackhouse, but he’s been kidnapped by the vampire King of Mississippi, Russel Edginton, and his crew of werewolves. The town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, is recovering from the destruction wrought by Maryann, a maenad. Jason Stackhouse is dealing with the stress and guilt he feels for shooting Eggs, Tara Thornton’s boyfriend. Tara is suicidal and in the throes of depression at the death of her boyfriend and the revelation that he had murdered many girls in town. Sam Merlotte has headed off to find his birth family who turn out to be a bunch of white trash rednecks. Sookie enlists the help of the Vampire Sheriff of her area, Eric Northman, so that he can help her find Bill.

The first season was a fun distraction while I waited for my regular shows like Lost and The Wire to come back on. Season 2 was actually a significantly better product as it widened the scope and dramatic thrust of the series. I’m way too early into this season to guess anything about the overall quality of the season, but I’m not going to lie, these first two episodes were sort of disappointing. I didn’t really feel like a whole lot happened and there wasn’t any major development of the characters. It mostly consisted of Sookie running around like a cat in heat trying to find Bill. Sookie’s strength as a character is that she is such a powerful and usually independent woman. Having her seem so broken at the loss of her man is an insult to her character and to feminism. The only perks fo the episodes involved Jason Stackhouse and his usual whoring and hilarity and the scenes with the always refreshing Lafayette Reynolds, the gay fry cook at Merlotte’s Bar and Grill.

HBO shows have a lot less episodes per disc than the average TV show. Lost would have 4 episodes a disc. True Blood is never going to have more than three, but it will just as often be two. This would be good for a show like The Wire or The Sopranos where each episode would have an incredible amount of material to cover. I’m not so sure how well it’s going to work out for True Blood, but we shall see. Anyways, I’ll be back later with the next two episodes of the series and hopefully, it’s able to get out of the gates a little stronger than this less than impressive beginning.

Score in Progress: B