Monday, July 20, 2009
"True Blood" recap: Don't fence me in
Though I seldom recap the HBO show, "True Blood," this season has been so good, and so worth talking about, that I'm going to make a concerted effort to blog about it whenever I get the chance. Last night's episode wasn't among the season's best, as it had few memorable lines (the sole exception: Sookie telling Bill "You have a heart, whether it beats or not.") and not a lot of action.
But there was enough interesting stuff to talk about. I'd like to start by talking about our dear friend Jason, still holed about with the Fellowship of the Sun folks, and still making himself known as a potential superstar in the vamp-fighting world. Clearly, show creator Alan Ball and his staff are making connections between FOS and religious cults. That was never more clear than in last night's episode, when Jason and his fellow Soldiers of the Sun recruits were yanked from sleep, denied privileges like bathrooms and subjected to a grueling training regimen. This is how they break your will Jason! Don't fall for it!
Jason, to his credit, resists more than the other soldiers. And he shows a shocking compassion when he helps archenemy Luke over a fence during a training exercise (though, in a nice touch, Jason promptly plops Luke in a mud puddle once he's on the other side).
This marks him as true "soldier" material with the Newlins and trainer Gabe, and Steve Newlin gives Jason access to a room of anti-vamp weapons. The most terrifying image of the night? Jason Stackhouse with a flamethrower. Yikes.
Of course, Steve isn't the only Newlin interested in our favorite shirtless dim bulb. The lonely Sarah finally tries to consummate their chemistry during a bathtub scene both erotic and wonderfully awkward, thanks mainly to the terrific work of Ryan Kwanten. Kwanten is often overlooked, partly because the character he plays is such a dolt. But he does a good job of finding the confusion, conflict and vulnerability under Jason's thick skull. The expression on his face when Sarah offers to come in the bathroom to bathe him is priceless.
Here are some more thoughts on this week's episode:
* Having read "Living Dead in Dallas," the Charlaine Harris novel on which this season is based, I can tell you that the Dallas vamps in the book are much smarter (and more interesting) that the blood-thirsty bickering characters we met last night. But it does kind of work. I like the contrast between the violent yahoo Stan and the more practical Louisiana vamps. Also, we got a little more of Eric's background last night, and I can never get too much Eric.
* Can I say how much I love the tender adolescent romance between Jessica and Hoyt? The phone conversation between them was so sweet and adorable, I just wanted to hug them both. Also, I love that Hoyt's ring tone is "When the Saints Go Marching In." Little details like that really make this show worth watching, don't they?
* Also loved Jessica's line to Bill after he scolds her for eating off the hotel's "menu": "You're going to be sooooo sorry when I develop an eating disorder!"
* Is it just me, or is Barry the telepathic bellboy a bit more interesting (and less annoying) than Sookie. I'm thinking spin-off!
* OK, must discuss the opening scene, when Sam learns Daphne is a shifter. I usually like Sam Trammell's performance, but his reaction shot when he sees the doe turn back into Daphne was waaaaay over the top. Sam would be surprised, but, considering he's a shifter, he wouldn't be THAT surprised.
* On the other side of the coin, I'm loving the layers that Lafayette's ordeal have brought out in Nelsan Ellis's performance. No longer just a clown, there's a real sadness to the character now. More of him, please.