True Blood – 3×04: Mississippi Burning

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! I just sat through an enjoyable episode of True Blood. No, I have not been hacked. ‘Tis me! And this was uber surprising considering my anger over True Blood Season 2 having somehow crept it’s way into the Outstanding Drama category on the 2010 Primetime Emmy Ballot last week. (Thankfully there were no writing nominations — phew, someone over there has some sense! — but more on the Emmys in a few days.)

In typical True Blood fashion, the episode opens with nudity and violence. Thankfully, it was Alcide’s flesh and blood this time, a new character whom I’ve lovingly dubbed Wolverine because he’s giving Hugh Jackman a run for his money in a “huge” way (; Now here’s where I would normally complain about the overtly gratuitous sexual imagery on the show which overpowers every other plot element, but this time the scene wasn’t gratuitous at all as it was coupled so well with Alcide’s revelation of a deeply wounded heart. We learn a little more about his former fiance, Debbie, who left him suddenly and with little to no explanation (ouch!) for a pack of inbred werewolves, and like him we cannot understand why. Sookie’s compassion for him mirrors ours, and the fact that he’s shirtless and literally bleeding out as she tends to his wounds from the fight earlier that night, created a fragile and rare moment of sympathetic connection between these characters, and for us with them.

But it doesn’t end there. Just as soon as we’ve been softened up and are feeling sympathetic to the plight of a lover’s loss, Sookie’s cell phone rings and here comes irony to rear its ugly head (you can rarely go wrong with irony, take note). It’s Bill (Finally! He’s alive!) calling to tell her: “I’m leaving you.” A thought so immediately absurd that Sookie replies with, “Huh? Shut the fuck up!” And then we feel it, because so did Alcide, and now so does she: The sting of getting left suddenly and with such little reason that you get the wind knocked out of you. Talk about sympathy now. (P.S. Props to Anna Paquin for a devastatingly prefect reaction to the news; she’s got crying down in a way only rivaled on by Evangeline Lily). Oh, and here’s even more iron and add salt for that wound: Bill thanks her for not immediately accepting his marriage proposal on the night he was kidnapped, deflecting the cruelty of his own decision on two minutes of hesitation on her part so she can kick herself over it for the rest of time. Love sucks.

Of course, this leads to a scene in which shirtless Wolverine consoles and holds a crying Sookie at the foot of the bed, signaling a new, tangible bond and a romantic tension to their relationship as it had been built up only minutes before the phone call. I’ll be honest, I had a strong desire for these two to rip each others’ clothes off and make love over their lonely and broken hearts on that sleazy motel bed right about then. It also felt like she wanted it more than he did, which was extra refreshing considering all the horny men on this show. “You’re so warm. I’m just not used to it”, Sookie says, and just when they would have kissed he gets up and offers her some privacy which she does not care for. Uh oh. “Well, let me at least put on a shirt.” And Sookie-Alcide shippers are born all over the USA. Haha. But let’s be real, it was a moment of weakness, and no one fell in love. At least not yet…

Alright, as usual we’ll look at what other goodies (and not-so-goodies) we got, and what further plot development the episode provided. I dare say there was quite a bit of movement in ‘9 Crimes’, which is leaps and bounds from what we got out of the last episode.

  • I said in the last post that Bill would most likely tell Sookie that he had sex with Lorena. Check! But he went one better and told her: “We fucked in a way only vampires can because I don’t have to be careful about hurting her like I do with you.” Can you hear the knife turning? Sheesh.
  • What did you think about Eric’s new fantasy with Sookie? It was pretty cool, but not great. I must admit, I believed it to be real for maybe 20 seconds until they did a close up on Sookie’s face as she invited him in through the window and I realized: “Oh wait, she’s not crying, she just looks bummed. Dream sequence!” Eventually it becomes clear that its not real regardless, but I didn’t know whose fantasy either. Was it hers, Bill’s, or Eric’s? The moment she says “You smell like the ocean in the winter. You swam in the North Sea as a child” and he gets that look in his eyes… yeah, its his dream alright. It made me pretty sad to see how much he wants her to know him, completely, with a line like that. He actually wants to make every part of him known to her, right down to his humanity, which is the kind of memory a two-thousand year-old vampire would guard above all others. Broke my heart a little “/
  • I’m still hella annoyed at Sam’s parents and think that whole storyline is a waste of time as it is right now. We find out they lost their home and that’s why they came to visit in last night’s episode… sure, alright, big surprise! Who are these random people? If they want to do something with this story they need to give us more redeeming qualities as to who they are and turn this into some meaningful conflict about… I don’t know: What makes a family? Blood or nurture? Things like that! Don’t just have them camp out and annoy us, and watch Sam scratch his head over it.
  • Franklin and Tara. Good God in DVR heaven, if I had an option to omit any scenes involving these two from an episode it would make for such a better experience. He’s the least interesting and scary bad-guy vampire of all time. No one has any clue what he wants and that’s not “mysterious”, it’s boring. But to top it all off is that we are only on season 3 of this show and we are already rehashing conflicts. Didn’t we just spend and ENTIRE season watching Tara turn into a mind-controlled freak of nature? Now this Franklin dude has glamoured her into the same position? Seriously?!? I was so annoyed watching them I still don’t understand where he took her? Was it to Russell in Mississippi? Ugh.
  • So Bud retired from the Bon Temps Sherriff’s Department and gave responsibility to drunk-ass Andy? This has got to be one tiny fucking town. Anyone else would have done a better job, and Bud had taken Andy’s badge and gun away only a week ago. Who understands these crazy hicks, anyway.
  • But there’s more. Jason Stackhouse took 2 steps forward and 10 steps back this season in mental maturity. I thought the whole point of his experience with the Fellowship of the Sun last season was to teach him a humongous lesson about misguided purpose, but here he is again. This time blackmailing Andy into getting him into the Sherriff’s Department AND drunkenly harassing  high school football players simply for playing football as good as he did. Stupid scene, btw.
  • Bill revealing to Russell that The Queen of Louisiana has been selling V through Eric. HUGE. What happened in regards to this whole conflict in last night’s episode is the perfect example of what this show needs to do more of. First, this bit of information is used by Russell (King of Mississippi) to get the Magistral to raid Fangtasia in order to find proof of the V sales there and then have the Queen executed under the Magistral’s orders so that Russell may take over her area, right? This actually happens IN the episode. We don’t have to wait another week for the raid, which is something that True Blood is notorious for: dragging on conflict. It gets even better though because not only do we get the raid, but we get it backfiring on Russell… and Bill. Eric is not particularly fond of the V sales himself, and has been following the Queen’s command because he must as Sherriff (in the same way that Lafayette must follow Eric’s command to do so if he wants to live… it’s a chain.) Pam, little genius that she is, decides to tell the Magistral that it is Bill Compton who has been doing all this V dealing and links it to his disappearance. Whoa did that blow up in Russell’s face or what? We need more of these evolving conflicts in a shorter span of time more often.
  • P.S. Bill offering up that bit of information about the V on the condition that Russell finds a way to kill Lorena was sweeeeet! Remove her please!
  • My favorite couple, Jessica and Hoyt, get at least a little something when Hoyt see’s Jessica with her old bible study friend behind Merlotte’s and mistakes her glamouring him for flirting. Poor thing. That being said: Jessica waitressing at Merlotte’s — what do we think about that? I hope something interesting can arise from it, but maybe all we’ll get is more frequent run-ins with Hoyt. I can deal (:
  • Finally we’ve got the werewolf drama at their bar. You know I’m not fond of this at all which is why I left it for last, but anyway. I was surprised at how gross and un-cool Debbie was when we finally met her. I thought she’d be a bit of a mess but not so skanky and disrespectful, and quite honestly just unattractive as she was. What was wrong with you Alcide? Okay, fine, she’s hooked on V and getting inducted into the Werewolf Hall of Hoes, but it doesn’t change things all that much. I’m confused about Russell’s appearance there and him providing the werewolves with his V. If you recall we saw that he was somehow affiliated with them in the season opener when he saves Bill from them, but to feed them vampire blood? I can only assuming this falls into his grander plan of taking over both Mississippi and Lousiana. Is he perhaps prepping a war under which the werewolves would side with him if need be?

All in all a decent episode. A lot more ambitious than most and a lot less unnecessarily campy. It had just enough camp by being the kind of show it is, which in my opinion is always enough. If they keep the conflict at high intensity like this then the season could end well. However, if they keep all these characters separate and living in mostly meaningless dramas which don’t come together at all then they’ll fail yet again. [Fingers crossed]



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