|Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO|
FYI: Because there are only so many hours in a day for me to over-analyze, snark and pontificate, the first two True Blood recaps will be posted on Tuesday this week and next week, until Mad Men wraps up. Now on to the recap before I end your face...
Since its very first episode, True Blood has used vampires and the cornucopia of other supernaturals that populate Bon Temps, as well as the humans who love or hate them, as a thinly veiled metaphor for the uber partisan, red state versus blue state culture wars of the last decade of American culture and politics. While the first season toyed with this through campy satire (vampires "coming out of the coffin" and vampire/human marriage as stand-ins for LGBT rights), the divide between pro and anti-vampire sides has grown each season.
There have been a few detours; the Mary Ann maenad madness of season two, the werewolves (save for the fact they fall in the supernatural category and their connection to Russell, they've always had trouble fitting into the show) and Sam's family drama of season three, and the fairy/witch coven/ghost baby/Brujo mess that was season 4. True Blood has, in its own haphazard way, been pushing toward an inevitable war since it's inception, piling on religious fundamentalism, political corruption, paranoia, civil unrest and good old fashioned sexual/romantic entanglement to push the proceedings to this point.
These things aren't just abstract concepts; they've caused characters to commit serial murder (Renee), suicide (Luke's take one for the team bomber mission) and lose their identity (Hoyt's stint the with Obama-mask wearing hate group) and in general cause destruction to themselves and those around them (Sanguista/mainstreamer arc of last season). They've trickled into their personal lives as well. Jason, Sookie and Bill may be the most obvious examples, but each character has at some point gone back and forth between grudging acceptance, love, suspicion, fear and outright hatred of vampires. Until now though, they've had the luxury of not having to pick a side and truly sticking with it (well Tara had to once Pam ordered her not to fry herself, but you get the point). But now that Bill's become Bilith, Luna's shifted on live TV after revealing the Authority's plot to take over the world and humans have for all intents and purposes have declared war, there's no longer room for fence riding. In other words, shit has officially hit the fan.
Jason's definitely picked a side. He doesn't comfort Jessica when she melts down and runs off after they've all escaped the wrath of Bilith. And he's got a hair trigger when it comes to Nora, threatening to kill her even after Eric threatens to kill him. After accusing Sookie of choosing "them" over him, he runs away and hitches a ride with a creepy stranger. Not the smartest thing to do in a vampire/human war, but that's our Jason. Though he's got his wits about him enough to put his hand on his gun when the driver says he's not afraid of blood.
However, all it takes is a little small talk before Jason's spilling out his whole life story; it's obvious he wants someone to confide in, and since Hoyt's gone and he hates Jessica, this dude's the next best thing. Well almost, since surprise! It's Warlow, who let's his true identity slip before unleashing a skin-crawl worthy laugh (seriously Rutger Hauer, the actor who plays Warlow, is scary good, and he only got about 10 mintues of screen time. But I digress.) and vanishing out of the car. I guess Nora saying Warlow was Lilith's progeny should have been a head's up that he'd make an appearance, but the reveal was genuinely unsettling moment nonetheless.
While we're on the subject, a relationship between another progeny and their maker has hit the skids. Pam is pissed Eric kept another big secret from her (that being Nora's his sister; I wouldn't even wanna be in the same room if she found out they screw like champions), but Eric basically tells her to "hush that noise, the world's ending woman" and zooms off with Nora. Tara tries to be there for her, and they share a nice moment after she and Eric's spat, but her overall attitude towards her own progeny is still arms length--well except for the occasional sex on the beach (forgive me, I couldn't pass that one up).
Pam tries to dismiss the intensity of Tara's affection by bringing her disastrous track record with men, but Tara rightly points out that she's so focused on chasing after Eric and competing with Nora she can't see Tara anyway other than a nuisance she can occasionally fool around with. But the two are a good match for each other; Tara doesn't take any crap, and though her past romances may have been doomed, during them she was fiercely loyal and protective of the person she was with. Pam keeps bringing up how she's been with Eric for 100 years, yet she's been kept in the dark for all these years about huge parts in his life that anyone who knows him at least one year should be privy to. How well does she really know him (cue the episode's title)? She may want to reconsider Tara's words. And judging from the anguished looked on her face after a bunch of guards bust in to tell them Fangtasia much shut down--per the new restrictions on vamp-owned businesses--and shoot a defiant Tara, she just might.
Sookie may believe the Bill she knew died when he downed Lilith's blood, but there's no doubt in Jessica's mind; he's her maker, and anyone, vampire or human, that stands in his way, will be destroyed. Though now that he's become immune to staking and can move things with his mind, he'll probably be the one protecting her, at least physically. In a nice scene between Bill and Jessica, she confesses how seeing him all butt naked and bloody was freaking scary (then there was that whole business about summoning her and almost ripping her heart out in the process). But Bill is scared too. "I don't know what I am," he says, in a subtle callback to Sookie's confusion over her fairy origins, as he asks Jessica to not let his power corrupt him and drive him mad. Though she's probably got her work cut out for her, if the visions and multiple bloody vampires zipping into his skin is any indication.
I'm kinda disappointed Bill didn't get all "destroy all humans" and go on a rampage, but I can see why the writers would rather build to that climax than use it on the season premiere. It's smarter plot-wise to have Bill try to understand his new abilities and struggle not let them consume him. Still, it's hard to feel that much sympathy for Bill; while Lorena made him a vampire against his will, he chose to ignore the signs that Lilith's a mad god and drank her blood anyway.
For his part, Eric's gotten all chivalrous; not only did he walk Sookie home, he gave her her home back, signing a temporary deed in blood, and instructs (more like commands) Nora to stay away from her. Though if you remember how she sniffed around Sookie like a rabid dog last season, that may be easier said than done. While talking to Eric, Sookie gave him this spiel about not turning out to be the person she thought she'd be. "I want to go to back to being the girl in the white dress," she tells him before rescinding his invitation. That's all well and good girl, but we've been here before. Season after season she's let Bill and Eric back in her life and then kicked them out after the latest betrayal was revealed or crisis had died down. Actions speak louder than words, so she's gonna have to do better than showing Eric the door and telling Bill where to go. Besides, with Warlow coming to claim what's his, she's not going to go back to way things were anytime soon. Or, if you want to apply her words to episode title, does she even remember who that girl was?
In shifter news, Luna died. Cue crocodile tears. Truth be told, I could never get into her character. Her personality was just too one note (perpetually pissed off); of course True Blood's other females are tough as nails, but Luna had neither Pam's acerbic wit, Sookie's sweetness (or naivete depending on the situation), Tara's vulnerability or hell, even Maxine Fortenberry or Arlene's trashy charisma to add more depth to her character. Luckily this frees up Sam to interact with other characters like Lafayette, who like Pam, had some of the best lines of night ("Sobering up on your office floor. You know drunk driving kills," he tells Sam after he spies him sipping his Tequila). Though I hope he doesn't get lost in the shuffle this season either.
Look, I love some naked Joe Maganiello, but at this point the werewolves story arc is totally disconnected from everything else that's going on. Right now, Alcide enjoying his new pack master status, taking a bite out of JD's severed arm and having threesomes in the woods with Ricki and another were chick. Martha tells Ricki that power "eats away at a man's decency," so I guess we'll see Alcide's struggle to remain a good guy this season parallel with Bill's. Perhaps he'll lead the pack in trying to stake a claim in vamp/human affairs (which they've been trying and failing to do the past three seasons) and Sam will likely get mixed up in things now that he's taking care of Emma, but other than that I don't see much happening with them. I also don't see much interesting coming out of the governor of Louisiana's backdoor deal with a True Blood exec. How exactly does a greedy politician lining his own pockets with True Blood tie into the story? You got me, but I'll try keep an open mind.
Oh, and Andy's fairy offspring went from babies to toddlers in one night. Suck on that!
---Where's Holly? Or Steve Newlin? I guess fitting them in would be one too many characters, even for True Blood.
--Kristen Bauer must look at her scripts each week and plant a big wet kiss on the pages when she sees the lines she gets to recite. A few of my favorites: "I hate the beach. Fish piss and sand in your cooch," the aforementioned "I'm about to end your face," "Who the fuck is Mary Poppins and can I please kill her?" and her curt "Honey it's been swell knowin' ya'. Good luck," to Jessica as her insides almost implode. Not to mention the epic F bomb she drops when screaming at Eric to drive when the gang spots Bilith in all his blood insanity.
--Was that random girl's "Stop the blood shed governor" moment, complete with hurling a ball of fake blood, a dig a PETA?
--Tara and Sookie's simultaneous "Shut up Jason!" was cute. Nice to see the two of them bonding over shutting down Jason's stupidity, just like old times.