True Blood 3.9 – Relax. It’s Not Like You Killed Someone.

First things first: bless you, John Paulsen, for stepping in and filling my shoes so capably while I was attending the TCA press tour in Beverly Hills. Although the Hilton did have HBO, trying to find the time to sit down on the Sunday nights that I was out there and watch “True Blood,” let alone blog about it, would’ve been a major pain in the neck…vampire-related joke totally intended, of course. Indeed, I’m particularly glad that you did such a good job, as I’ve spent so much time winding down and ramping back up again that I’m relying on your write-ups to fill me in on the pair of episodes that I missed while I was otherwise occupied.

Things kicked off tonight with Eric zipping into Fangtasia and, with an absolutely-warranted tinge of panic to his voice, informing Pam that he’s just staked the lover of the Vampire King of Mississippi. Nice one, sir. Immediately after blowing off Pam’s suggestion that they hide out at Sookie’s house, good ol’ Ginger strolls into the office. “Ginger, dear, where do you live?” he asks, casually. Good idea, bad timing: a battalion of V-Feds have already established a beachhead, with the dark and despicable (yet somehow still kinda hot) Ms. Flanagan glowering at Eric, thoroughly annoyed that his actions have taken her away from pursing the ratification of the Vampire Rights Amendment. After an apparently extreme search of Fangtasia’s basement which brings up nothing (“I’m a Virgo,” says Eric, “I like to be neat”), Ms. Flanagan sits down sexily and proceeds to take Eric’s formal statement, broadcasting it by webcam to the members of The Authority…which, for some reason, immediately brought to mind Springfield Republican Headquarters on “The Simpsons.”

Eric dives headlong into his back story, adding his comments about and thoughts on The King’s philosophies, including the highly contentious statement, “Fuck The Authority,” then wrapping up with a heartfelt explanation about how he wants The King’s death to be at his own hand. Ms. Flanagan isn’t buying what Eric’s selling, however, putting him and Pam on lockdown. Pam doesn’t understand why Eric’s never told her about the depths of his haunted past, but he basically says, “It’s not your problem,” instead changing subjects and telling her that it’s time for her to become a Maker. Woo-hoo! Promotion!

The King runs in to find the decidedly disgusting remains of Talbot, which he promptly smears himself with. Ew. Just…ew. Then he sees that Eric’s stolen not one but two of his most precious possessions, the other being the artifact which dates back to the King’s destruction of Eric’s family. Oh, yeah, he’s really pissed.

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True Blood 3.8 – Making Up Is Hard To Do

This episode was one of the few in the series that didn’t begin with a legitimate bang. Bill had just saved Sookie’s life, and all that was left was Sookie’s (screaming) reaction when she saw Bill again. Nobody in that hospital room was about to die, so after Sookie settled down and ‘broke up’ with Bill, life went on. Bill doesn’t really explain why he went crazy on Sookie’s blood, but she explains it away later (to Jason, I think) saying that Bill was near death and couldn’t control himself. Um, okay.

This episode was written by Raelle Tucker (her 6th of the series) and directed by Lesli Linka Glatter, who is an experienced director but hadn’t directed an episode of “True Blood” before. The show always has several balls in the air, but it felt especially scattered in this episode. It wasn’t until the final 10 minutes that anything actually happened.

Everything else was just setup for that final sequence or for some episode down the line. For example, there was Arlene’s vision of Rene, which literally had no impact on anything else that happened in the episode. I’m sure it was entirely necessary, but it only made the hour feel all the more frenetic, and not necessarily in a good way.

So let’s hit the high points. To me, the most interesting storyline was Eric’s continued infiltration of the King’s trust. He was playing both Russell and Talbot in order to put himself into position to avenge his family’s death. He had to flirt with Russell and get down and dirty with Talbot to get there, but he certainly got there, and it will be interesting to see what happens to him now that he’s staked Talbot. It’s not like he can blame it on someone else — both Russell and the bodyguards knew that they were together that night.

Eric’s actions essentially saved Bill’s (and Sookie’s, by proxy) life, because Russell felt Talbot’s death and flew off into the night just as he was about to put Bill out of his misery. The fight at Sookie’s house was intense, and she’s lucky that Bill and Jessica (who just went through a sweet combat training experience at Bill’s house) showed up to help. When Jessica ran outside to chase one of the werewolves, Bill was left with the choice of following her or going upstairs to save Sookie, and he chose Jessica, possibly because he had to, being her maker and all. Once Russell left, Bill went upstairs and he and Sookie made up in a big, big way.

Meanwhile, Jason’s relationship with Crystal takes another turn when she shows up at his place soaking wet after running away from her betrothed. One can only assume she and her kin are werewolves, and Jason’s confrontation with her father is only going to put him squarely in their cross hairs. But my main problem with the storyline is Crystal’s assertion that she had never been out of Bon Temps — if that’s the case, how in the world did she not at some point cross paths with Jason Stackhouse? In a small town, that would seem to be entirely impossible.

Other than Sookie’s flirtation with Alcide, everything else that happened this week seemed to be swirling about on the fringe — Tara’s strange recovery, Lafayette’s mom and Jesus’s arrival, Sam sending his own mom away, and Holly, the new waitress.

Taking a step back, I can see how some might compare the romantic triangle between Sookie, Bill and Alcide with what apparently goes on in “Twilight,” but the books that “True Blood” were based on were published a full four years earlier. So, if anything, “Twilight” is a watered down version of “True Blood,” not the other way around. (I’m not saying it is, I’m just saying that the “True Blood” story came first.)

Anyway, Will Harrris will be back at the keyboard next Sunday, so my time steering the ship has come to an end. Moving forward, while some have been critical of the third season, we have all the makings for a strong finish. (Namely, one crazy, pissed-off, 3000-year-old vampire.)

  

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True Blood 3.7 — A New Authority

My esteemed colleague, Will Harris, asked me to cover the “True Blood” blog for a couple of episodes while he does his thing at the TCA press tour. So before we move on, let’s go ahead and lower those expectations.

Lowered? Good.

First, there’s the issue of Lorena, who is about to kill Sookie in the woodshed. (That sounds a little like some backwoods version of Clue, doesn’t it?) Lorena marvels at how good she tastes, underlying the ongoing question of the third season — just what is Sookie Stackhouse?

Bill manages to jump Lorena and hold her down while Sookie stakes her. Killing off a minor, yet important character is always an interesting way to start an episode, and it looks like Lorena’s hold over Bill is finally over.

There were a couple of scenes in the episode where Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” would have been an appropriate soundtrack. First, to get off the King’s compound, Alcide had to kill Cooter and lock his ex-girlfriend in the shed — instead of putting her down, which will no doubt come back to bite him, pun intended — before loading Sookie, Bill and Tara up in the truck to get them the hell out of Dodge. During the escape, he kills another werewolf, which will only serve to embolden the pack’s desire to track him down.

The other jailbreak was Sam’s adventure to the dogfights, which have to be one of the most despicable ways to spend a sunny afternoon. After cheering him on when he let all of those dogs loose, I laughed out loud (literally LOL) when he convinced that Rottweiler that he’d be far better off making a run for it than standing there snarling at him.

One question that I have with regard to Tommy’s involvement in the fights — why doesn’t he just shapeshift into the biggest, baddest pit bull in Louisiana?

Back to the truck — Sookie offers up her blood to Bill, and he partakes — oh man, does he partake. It’s obvious that her blood has an effect on Bill, because he doesn’t have any recollection of what happened when he comes to. Funny that Lorena didn’t have the same reaction — it must be something specifically about Bill, right?

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True Blood 3.6 – Big Hat, No Cattle

Now that’s what I call an opening!

The King drags Sookie into the royal mansion as Lorena’s coming down the grand staircase, Eric and Talbot stroll in, and Bill – who’s kind of been bringing up the rear – is thrown to the floor and declared to be a traitor. Instead of giving up the ghost, though, Bill stakes the King’s bodyguard and attempts to take down His Majesty, too. It proves a laughable effort, however, as Bill is shunted upwards into the ceiling and then comes crashing down on the staircase. Ouch…but now we cue Eric, who steps in and immediately starts sucking up to the King, telling him he’d better hold on to this fine new filly he’s found himself.

Really, you can’t blame Sookie for her response: “Eric, what the fuck?”

There’s a whole lot of pissed-off people in the royal mansion: Talbot’s annoyed that the King isn’t giving him any say in what goes on in their homestead, and Lorena’s angry that Bill’s being sent to the slave quarters to be slain. I’d love to see a cat fight between Lorena and Sookie, I surely would. Lorena might want to wear Sookie’s ribcage as a hat, but I still wouldn’t count Sookie out of any such fight.

The clientele at Merlotte’s is far more discerning that I would’ve expected. Anyone asking the help how the peas are served in that place deserve whatever answer they get…or whatever they find in their peas. Obviously, there’s still some serious flirtation going on between Lafayette and Jesus, but we’ll get back to that in a moment. First, we should have a laugh at the whole Arlene / Jessica plot thread. I laughed at just about every moment those two shared tonight, whether it was Jessica’s fangs popping out when Arlene cut her finger, Arlene’s completely horrified reaction (particularly her concern that her pregnancy made for an added temptation), or – most hilariously – Arlene’s assurance that she takes garlic supplements. In the end, Jessica offered an olive branch of sorts by getting Curlers to offer up a tip before offering herself up as a snack…and, hey, nobody got killed! Looks like Jessica learned something from Pam after all…

Okay, back to the Lafayette / Jesus flirtation. Jesus talked about his past, and, amazingly Lafayette actually seemed to be falling for him, though he clearly was taken aback by the concept of taking it slow. Things looked like they were getting pretty sweet between them…and then, a little later, they suddenly weren’t. Oh, sure, they did double-team the hillbillies like they were Jean Claude Van Damme and Dennis Rodman, but as soon as Jesus learned that Lafayette was a dealer, things went south in a hurry. This, of course, begs the question as to whether or not Lafayette cares enough about Jesus to consider trying to get out of the game…and if Eric will let him do so.

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True Blood 3.5 – Where’s Your Badge? Where’s Your Gun? Where’s Your Shirt?

“Mmmm, spicy!” So says Talbot, the close personal friend of the Vampire King of Mississippi, as he takes a big whiff from Tara, who’s tied up next to the dining room table. Franklin tells him to piss off, and so it is established immediately that these two aren’t exactly thrilled with each other, a fact which is decidedly underlined by the breaking out of the fangs a few moments later. (In fairness, Franklin called Talbot “the cleaning lady.” Not cool, man.) Before the two can really get down to business, though, Bill, Lorena, and the King are back in the building…and, oh, the look on Tara’s face! And it only gets worse when Bill is totally dismissive of her plight. While meeting with the King, we learn that Franklin has a history of causing trouble amongst humans, but for what it’s worth, he seems to legitimately like Tara…not that it makes him any less batshit crazy.

So was it just me, or was that a ridiculously anticlimactic departure from the were-club? Unless my memory is failing me, Alcide told Sookie to run, she ran, and…the next thing we see, they’re driving off together in the truck? I feel more than a little bit gypped. Anyway, Wereboy’s busy reminiscing about the good ol’ days with his ex-girlfriend, Debbie, while Sookie’s intuition has convinced her that Bill’s connected to Russell in some capacity or other. That girl’s got a nice set of instincts on her. There’s also a touching moment when Debbie stops by to scream at Sookie, at which point it’s like we’ve stepped into an episode of “The Jerry Springer Show,” but the scene serves to confirm that Debbie doesn’t know anything about Bill.

Eric turns up at the King’s pad, duly impressing Talbot, who’s pretty clearly undressing him with his eyes. Unfortunately, the discussion between Eric and the King goes south almost immediately when Eric tries to blame Bill for all the shenanigans back in Bon Temps, only to have Bill step out of the shadows behind him. As usual, the tension between Bill and Eric was palpable, which was good to see again, and I loved the expression on Eric’s face when he absorbed the information that Sookie was now a free woman. So maybe everyone can work together like one big happy vampire family? Yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it…

I just don’t know what to make of this whole Franklin / Tara storyline. She’s petrified, he’s crazy…nah, I’m just not seeing a future in it. And, clearly, neither is Tara, given the way she manages to cut herself free and make a run for it. I’m a little skeptical that she could’ve succeeded in escaping from literally under a vampire’s nose, but it doesn’t matter, anyway, since she ends up getting chased and captured by a werewolf. So he’s planning to turn her and make her his vampire wife, huh? Cue another freaked-out expression from Tara.

Things in the sheriff’s office have clearly gone to shit since Sheriff Bud left. Looks like Andy’s dealing with Jason’s threats of blackmail by giving him a gig, and, man, are the deputies pissed about it. Clearly, the desk job isn’t exactly what Jason signed on for, as was proven with the comedy montage of him performing that brilliant paperclip limbo, smearing fingerprint ink everywhere, and so forth. It was deeply dumb, yes, but I laughed in spite of myself. Andy’s managed to pull some strings for Jason, but even so, he’s still got to take a handwritten exam, which is his worst nightmare…literally. A bit later, while he was out washing cars, he spotted the cute blonde driving by. Frankly, I’d all but forgotten about Jason seeing that girl in the woods, but I enjoyed the Flatt & Scruggs styled music playing while he was in hot pursuit. Again, watching him approach her truck wearing nothing but pants and sunglasses was so completely ridiculous that I had to laugh. Although he invites her to meet him at Merlotte’s later in the evening, it looks as though she’s stood him up…until he strolls outside and sees her walking away. They end up wandering into the woods, where they make out and she says cryptic things like, “There’s no forever for us, only now.” What’s her deal, anyway?

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