Monday, August 31, 2009

True Blood recap: "The oral history of the zombie war"

Last night's "True Blood" was the penultimate episode of season two and, I must say, it was a bit of a wreck. Maybe it's because it came on the heels of last week's outstanding (if too short) episode, "New World in My View," or maybe it's because this week's was nearly all about the Maryann story, which I dislike more and more.
Maryann kills everything for me. I just think that there should be more people who can resist her power. There has to be a stronger conflict. I was excited for a moment, when her voodoo powers didn't seem to work on Tara anymore. That would have been interesting -- showing that Tara was resistant now that she no longer believed in Maryann's power. It also would have fit in nicely with what Sophie-Anne said about Maryann's immortality stemming from sheer willpower.
But no. Tara quickly succumbed, as did every other non-special who came in her path, including the dynamic Lafayette. Maryann's strength stacks the deck so much in her favor that the scenes are less suspenseful than they are merely uncomfortable. We know that every time Maryann comes into contact with a human, it's only a matter of time before their eyes turn black. There would only be suspense if there was a way to fight her influence. Now, all we can do is sigh and wait for the inevitable.
Still, the great thing about "True Blood" is that, even when the episodes aren't great, they're never boring. I won't deny that the Maryann story is creepy, particularly when Sookie wandered into what's left of her home and saw all the depravity happening inside (Jane Bodehouse slicing off her own finger was truly horrifying). And I did love last night's introduction of carnal, Yahtzee-loving vampire queen Sophie-Anne (played with wicked glee by Evan Rachel Wood). Plus, there was a nice dose of Jason and Andy, two of my favorite characters.
Anyway, here some more thoughts on last night's episode, "Frenzy." Also, next Sunday, the HBO shows are on break in honor of the Labor Day weekend, so the finale won't air until Sept. 13. Unfortunately, that's the day of my friend's wedding, so the recap won't publish until Monday or Tuesday. Friends before vamps. Sorry.
OK, on to the bullet points:
* Let's talk some more about Wood's glorious Sophie-Anne, an old, wise and very frisky vampire whose every scene injected life into the episode. From her first appearance, drenched in the blood of a willing minion (who turned out to be Sookie's cousin, Hadley), she became one of my favorite characters. Unlike the tormented Bill, Eric and Godric, Sophie-Anne seems to take great glee in being a vampire. It's fun to see someone who is so comfortable with this life. And it's even more fun to see her try to impose her vampy enthusiasm on Bill. One of the episode's funniest scenes had Bill poolside with Sophie-Anne, clad in swim trunks and vastly uncomfortable with this forced recreation. Good stuff.
* Also good: the continued intrusion of the real world on the magical one. I do like the way that "True Blood" shows the toll that living in a world full of supernatural creatures has taken on regular folks. Lafayette is still suffering from post-traumatic stress from his dungeon days, resulting in a bizarre but terrifying sequence in which the rifle-wielding Lettie Mae morphs into Eric -- still wearing Lettie Mae's clothes, yet no less frightening for that. Eek. We also saw what Arlene's descent into Maryannism is doing to her children, who are practically starving to death in the woods. It was a nice moment, especially when Sam took on the role of substitute parent, cooking for and watching the children. Though I'm not sure it was a great idea to take the tots to Fangtasia. I realize Sam didn't have a lot of options, but introducing already-traumatized children to Eric is a bit iffy. Yet, without that scene, we wouldn't have gotten the moment where Eric refers to kids as "teacup humans."
So I'm torn.
* Oh, by the way, Eric can fly. As Sophie-Anne would say, that's random.
* Speaking of Eric, I really liked the bonding moment between Sookie and Lafayette, when they talked about being forced to take Eric's blood. It was like a little support group: "Hi, I'm Sookie, and I'm having erotic dreams about a vampire I hate after he tricked me into sucking his magic blood."
"Hi, Sookie!"
* After his heroic moment last week, Jason is back to behaving like a boob again, though a well-intentioned boob. He's taken Andy with him, and they're arming themselves to the teeth, despite the fact that we know full well their efforts will likely have no effect on Maryann. Still, it was good for a few laughs, like Jason's speech near the top of the episode, which contained the title of this week's blog post. Is it just me, or does anyone else think that Jason is supposed to be a sort of parody of former President George W. Bush? The mangling of the English language, the enthusiasm for war, the blind belief in American dominance -- it all seems so, familiar.
* By the way, was it jarring to you that the show was so cavalier regarding that story about Jason having sex with an unconscious woman? His defense that she was "fine when we started" was clearly meant to be a laugh line, but that just made me uncomfortable.
* OK what is up with that egg? Is Maryann fertilizing some sort of demon baby? Where did this thing come from? And wait...has she done this before? Is Eggs called Eggs not because his name is Benedict but because he came from an egg? Sigh. I have no idea.
* Note: don't read further if you haven't read the Charlaine Harris novels the series is based on.
Fellow Harris-ites, what do you think of the way the show is condensing the books? This season is based on "Living Dead in Dallas" but, Lorena, you'll recall didn't appear until book three and the Sophie-Anne and Hadley stories weren't dealt with until much later. So why are these things popping up sooner on the show? Maybe Alan Ball doesn't want to film all the books and is giving himself options?
What are your thoughts?

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