Okay, so I don’t want to spend too much time on this episode, which missed the mark again for me. (For those keeping score, I’ve liked two out of seven episodes.) I really hate to rag on the show every week, which must frustrate those (relatively few) of you who eagerly tune in for your vampire fix, but True Blood hasn’t been living up to its potential so far—and I’m starting to believe that with this cast and these characters, that potential was more limited than I had originally imagined.
First, the good: The post-coital Sookie makes a big transformation; once the lone prude in a town full of horndogs, she now knows what sex—and transgressive sex, at that—is really like and she makes a leap into self-assurance and maturity as a result. I wasn’t wild about Bill dismissing holy water (“just water”), crucifixes (“geometry”), and garlic (“just irritating”), because the show has enough vamp myth revisionism as it is. And I didn’t really like Sookie’s encounter with her pervy uncle to be the skeleton key to unlock her sexual reticence. But they do have chemistry together and the raised stakes (pun unintended) makes things difficult for Sookie, who is now more emotionally vulnerable and vulnerable to the throngs (including her brother) who consider her a “fang-banger.”
She’s not really fooling anyone with that bandana, is she? Having teethmarks on your neck is the ultimate hickey in Bon Temps. Anyone who knows Sookie would probably figure out she’d done the deed by the tell-tale blushing, but the marks make her private life very public in a way that invites all kinds of trouble. In one night, she’s gone from the town’s biggest prude to (as Lafayette jokingly puts it) a “skank.” The evening after also brings Bill’s nefarious buddies into town to terrorize Merlotte’s as a way of getting Bill back into the bad-guy fold. He accepts seemingly to protect Sookie and the other bloodbags, but that darkness is in his nature, too, and the episode leaves open the possibility that he might be hurting her, too. (Though draining Sookie’s uncle is a strong argument against that theory.)
Now to the bad: Has there been a lousier scene in the show’s brief history than Tara’s mother trying to secure a bank loan for an exorcism? Jason getting his super-erection treated at the hospital is a solid contender, but for bad acting, atrociously overwritten dialogue, heavy-handed social commentary, and sheer histrionics, this one takes the cake for me. The entire subplot has been a grating distraction from the start, because (so far at least) it only marginally ties into the supernatural bent of the show. It’s just melodrama with a hick religious twist, and the fact that Tara herself may also have a demon inside her makes me dread what’s coming. Leave the exorcisms to William Friedkin, please.
Then there’s poor, stupid Jason, heading as conspicuously as possible into the vampire bar in Shreveport to get his vamp-blood fix, as if its denizens are eager to open up a vein. When a stranger offers to help him out—and save him from certain slaughter—you suspect that she has some ulterior motive, but not so far. Jason does what he always does: He stumbles his way into a getting what he wants and as a bonus, has magical sex with yet another pretty young woman. While I realize his character exists as a goofy distraction, it would be nice if something he did had weight or consequence to it. Maybe Sookie’s disenchantment with him will lead to something better.
That’s all for now. I realize I’ve skipped over Sam streaking (just give us the big reveal on the Sam-is-a-dog thing already!) and Lafayette’s side business dancing for the camera in his thong, but time is a precious thing.
• Nice to see Alexander Skarsgard, who was more or less the lead in the great HBO mini-series Generation Kill, make another cameo as Eric the vampire king. The bit where one of his minions destroy a tourist’s cell phone camera reinforces him as a figure of great importance, but I hope there’s more follow-through to come.
• Drowning a possum: Only in the (Hollywood) South!