Hi there. I'll be filling in for Scotty T. on tonight's episode of True Blood, because he was afraid that its awesomeness might overwhelm him. (Actually, he's just on vacation.) But don't expect much difference in our approaches to the show–I'm just a little more fond of it than he is. I almost gave up watching a few weeks ago as the season started to really drag, but got back into things with the addition of Stephen Root and Sookie's bosom. I'm a sucker for both of those things, what can I say?
So last week's episode, as you can read in last week's recap, was very strong. It went light on the Tara (yay!) and heavy on some crazy shit, particularly the cliffhanger ending with a naked Sam waking up in Sookie's bed where the dog had been. (He's the dog, you see. Or some kind of shapeshifter. I'm the only idiot in the True Blood-iverse that didn't see this coming. I thought they were setting Sam up as the killer of Sookie's family the whole time.) Oh, and then there's that other tease from this week: The baddie vampires are putting poor ol' Bill on trial for killing an extra from From Dusk Til Dawn. Things will happen this evening, that you can be sure of.
So when Sookie wakes up with naked Sam in her bed, the first thought that popped into my head was, "How bad will the CGI be when Sam proves that he's a shapeshifter?" Answer: Not that bad. First Sookie accuses him of being the murderer, of course (I think that point was made specially for me), then runs off to hide in the shower stall. (Hmm.) Sam comes in as the cute doggie, then morphs back into himself. This semi-dumb reveal was made awesome by this: "I'm a shapeshifter." "Shut the fuck up."
And then it's onto Tara's exorcism, which will be performed (as was her mother's) by Meshell Ndegeocello. (No, not really. Just a passing similarity.) At the beginning of the scene, I find myself wondering–as I have all year–how much better True Blood would be if Tara weren't in it. Correct me if I'm wrong (like you need to be told to do that), but has she helped us advance the plot in any meaningful way? I assume they're building up her character for some big, important plot point–is her demon the killer?–but other than acting as a link to the ever-entertaining Lafayette, Tara and her mom are the weakest links. (Goodbye!)
But no, they're not gone, unless you count being off on some dumb subplot as gone. Tara, with monetary help from Sam, decides to get herself exorcized. Her scene with Miss Janette is actually pretty funny, especially the whole "Do you live near a highway? Cook with a microwave? Talk on a cell phone?" bit. And then Tara's cleansing comes: She pukes and pukes, then confronts a demon in the woods that's actually sort of scary. It's herself as a child, and she must stab her to death. It's fairly freaky, and then Tara is cured, and she and mom can get on with the business of being fixed and wonderful. But alas, that's not to be: They only get one trip to the crawfish restaurant before fate crosses Tara and Miss Janette again, this time with the latter wearing a ridiculous wig and glasses–obviously not the person she was made out to be. Their confrontation ("Faith is a powerful thing") is lame. And we're back to where we started, with Tara having nothing meaningful to do. Toward the end of the ep, she sees a naked woman on the road, and swerves to miss her, crashing her car. What does it all mean? Only one thing for sure: More Tara subplot next week.
Meanwhile, Jason and hippie girl are juicing Stephen Root. I don't particularly like Amy, but it's clear that her character is far more complex than most on True Blood. I want to see where the story takes her, and when she gets indignant with Root's pleading vampire, she's funny and menacing and the same time. She sounds like a viper when she says, "I'm an organic vegan, and my carbon footprint is miniscule." More of her dogma is revealed when she claims to love all living things–which of course excludes vampires. But when Root tells her "If I die here, Jason will never forgive you," he hits a nerve. So what does she do? With a touch of evil in her eye, she suggests to Jason that they make nice with Root and essentially treat him "like a pet!" They'll take his blood, travel around the world. She wants to visit the Dalai Lama, he wants to snowboard naked. It's a match made somewhere.
But things can't stay hunky-dory for too long; Lafayette finds out that something is amiss, and he realizes Jason is involved somehow. Scared of vampire retaliation (oh, it's coming), Lafayette scares Jason into action. "On my mama's grave, motherfucker, I ain't gonna be next." Along with some accusations of pussy whippedness by his friends, it's enough to make Jason stand up to Amy and try to free Root. Bad mistake: With one thrust of a wooden stake, Amy wiped out the most engaging character on the show. Farewell, sweet Stephen Root as a scared, gay vampire. We hardly knew ye.
All this action left not much for Sookie to do this week, though! She's hanging out at the engagement party, mostly being her little dark-cloud self. But wait, she gets a vision of someone being murdered in the bathoom. And then the chase is on, as a shadowy figure tries to grab her. The identity is, of course, not revealed to us. Presumably it's not Sam, who comforts her instead of storming into the kitchen of his restaurant, where the killer is just hanging out. Sam, c'mon.
Finally, it's on to Bill's trial at the vampire tribunal, which apparently meets in the old used-car graveyard that so many crappy movies are made in. The judge is played by character actor Zeljko Ivanek, who's pretty great at playing sleazy dudes. He metes out punishment to a vampire that fed on another's human property–getting his fangs torn out. (Ouch!) Bill pleads his case, which seems like a pretty strong one–the vampire he killed was about to break a vampire law by feeding on his property, plus the dead vampire was stealing from Sheriff Eric–but the judge isn't really having it. He threatens Bill with five years locked in a silver coffin, which would apparently drive him crazy and make him wither up, but not kill him.
But no, the judge is feeling creative. He's going to force Bill to "make" an innocent little Christian girl into a vampire. Now this is where I have to call bullshit a little bit, or maybe just wait for somebody who's read the book to provide a better explanation. But in all vampire lore that I know of, when you get bit, you turn into a vampire. By that logic, Sookie should be a vampire, and of course she's not. But in True Blood world, you have to do something specific–and it's not clear what–to "make" a vampire. Now, these vampires are pissed that Bill has "decreased their numbers in a critical time in our history," but if that's the case, why don't they just go make a bunch more vampires out of homeless people or something? Instead, we have to learn what an awesome dude Bill is–he really, really doesn't want to turn this innocent girl into a vampire. He's never done it before, we learn. But alas, he ends up doing it. That's not the Bill we know, really. Our Bill is kind of a badass. But I guess he's learning to love. (Aww.) Too bad from the looks of the preview for next week, Sookie is going to dump his ass in favor of a shapeshifter. Does that make her guilty of bestiality?
-- The exorcist was quick to admit her secret formula: Ipecac syrup and a little bit of peyote.
-- Rene is a terrible dancer.
-- "I wish Bill was here." "There's some dead people I wish was still around, too."
-- It's comforting to know that Sam still wears the same kind of shirts he did when he was 15.
-- Sam explaining the rules of shape-shifterness to Sookie violated a pretty serious rule–show, don't tell. But I guess we got it all out of the way at once.