True Blood: "Escape From Dragon House"
C-

True Blood: "Escape From Dragon House"

C-

True Blood

"Escape From Dragon House"

Season 1, Episode 4
C-

True Blood

"Escape From Dragon House"

Season 1, Episode 4

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Okay, now that was bad.

A week after True Blood started showing a little life, along comes a subplot that takes a lame Viagra joke and stretches it to nearly half the episode. You could almost see Jay Leno offscreen, ready to come in for the kill. To the surprise of no one who follows the show, dumb sex machine Jason downed the whole vial of vampire blood and discovered in the most wince-inducing possible way why only a drop or two is required for human men to get their proverbial motors running. You know the ad that says, “If an erection lasts longer than four hours, call your doctor.”? This is like that times a hundred.

To cut him the tiniest bit of slack, Jason was in the back of a police car, under arrest for his alleged involvement in the murder of yet another girlfriend of his within a one-week period. He definitely didn’t need a second charge brought against him for holding illegal vamp blood. But was downing it the best solution? Granted, this is a character not known for his wisdom, so maybe his decision was regrettable merely for how it derails a large chunk of the episode with broad, oooky comedy.

Before Jason even steps into the police car, we’re treated to a family of onlookers that are about as grotesque a stereotype of Southerners this side of a Jeff Foxworthy routine. “Maybe it was just her time,” one of them says, in reference to Dawn’s body be dragged out (sloppily) by the coroner. “I feel like a cat on a hot tin roof,” says another. “That’s from a play.” And then there’s a third, who worked alongside Dawn at Merlotte’s, who wants beer and ice and paper doilies, for that extra-sophisticated touch. It would have been nice if Alan Ball and company had defied such stereotypes, as he suggested he would in my interview with him. (“I certainly don't want to belittle the South and do the typical Hollywood ‘Look at those clowns and idiots,’ or give the women silly hats and big flowery dresses.” Oh really, Alan?)

Back at the police station, Jason protests his innocence to Larry (of Larry, Darryl, and Darryl) from Newhart and Frank Sobotka of The Wire, but just as they’re speculating how he might get aroused by killing women, up comes the unbeatable erection. Given the proliferation of male genitalia in movies lately—Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Walk Hard, and Sex And The City, just off the top of my head—I’m grateful that the eggplant penis stayed offscreen, but enough was suggested to turn the stomach anyway. I’m not sure what was more disturbing: Jason with a blister on his inner thumb from nonstop masturbating or the doctor readying the syringe to drain his erection of blood. Either way, there was nothing fun for me about this subplot.

That would leave Sookie and Bill, who have taken it upon themselves to figure out who or what killed Dawn and Maudette. They both have a stake in it: Sookie wants to exonerate her brother, whom she knows (and everyone knows, really) isn’t capable of murder, and Bill wants to take the heat off himself, the new guy in town, and a natural magnet for suspicion. Together, they head to the vampire bar in Shreveport where Dawn and Maudette had been known to frequent. (The name, “Fangtasia,” leads to the one good gag of the night, courtesy of Bill: “You have to remember that vampires are very old. Puns used to be the highest form of humor.”)

The trip to Fangtasia is yet another missed opportunity. We’ve been hearing about this vampire bar for weeks and it’s a pretty brilliant idea to undercut that by turning it into a Disneyfied attraction for tourists. Selling t-shirts and postcards (and presumably, theme drinks) in this supposed sex-and-death palace is a clever piece of irony, commenting on the “mainstreaming” of vampires against their true natures. But then it’s dropped just as quickly as it arises, and we’re thrust into the darker corners of the place, where Bill and Sookie meet Eric the super-vampire, an old and powerful creature who can summon anyone to him in a trance-like state. An amateur sleuth, Sookie’s line of questioning doesn’t extend far beyond “Do you know these girls?,” and the only substantive answer she gets is from the bartender, who suggests that women like them want to be killed to a certain extent. So clearly, perky sexpot Dawn had more on her mind than it appeared.

And finally, there’s Sam, who’s either a sheet-sniffing freak or a non-human of the sort that’s been telegraphed lately. He also had a relationship with Dawn that transcends landlord and boss, so we can expect those revelations to come later. In the meantime, let’s pretend this episode never happened.

Grade: C-

Stray observations:

• Fun music tonight, though: A disco rendition of Blue Oyster Cult leading us into Fangtasia, then Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “That Smell” leading us out of the episode.

• Tara on education: “School is for white people looking for other white people to read for them.” Did I transcribe that right? What does that even mean?

• Block that metaphor! We get the whole vampire bar=gay bar thing, but then the concept of “separate but equal” comes up, too, so there’s that, too.

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