It was quite a night on “Night On The Sun.” Everyone’s emotional stakes were sky high, verging on out of control, as fear and desire fought the good fight for whatever the characters have been chasing all season. It was a vintage True Blood blend of tension, eroticism, and some real WTF moments. Some of those WTF moments, of course, were directed at the writers.
Let’s start with the Bill/Sookie relationship. Last week, Sookie finally tracked down Bill, only to have Bill almost kill her when she gave him blood to heal him. Bill is a young vampire and he completely lost control of his feeding instinct because he was so badly hurt. And this week, we have a scene between Sookie and Bill in which the two of them discuss her dream of a normal life and how unlikely she is to have it with Bill. Both of them feel very badly about it, and it would be touching except Bill still feels no need to volunteer why he was keeping a dossier on Sookie and Sookie apparently feels it’s irrelevant to their relationship. Really?
This is Sookie’s first relationship and it’s only been a couple of months, so she is supposed, I think, to have a very adolescent view of love, and I suppose, though it’s more of a stretch, that Bill’s relative youth may also mean he’s inexperienced in love as a vampire, though he certainly went through enough as a human to know no one gets a free pass in a relationship. A relationship is only as healthy as the people in it, and this one is long since due for a checkup. Sookie is focused only on the trauma of being almost killed by Bill, but what he is choosing not to tell her is perhaps even more worrying, given that this decision is very much in his control. Or at least, I hope this is where the writers are going with this. Because if this relationship is not supposed to be an adolescent, passion-fueled but wisdom-deficient first love, and Ball is quite serious when he says these two are soul mates, then Bill and Sookie should move to her Tinkerbell magic land, both having the same level of cheesiness.
Tara and Alcide both give their two cents to Sookie on growing up, Alcide’s being more welcome than Tara’s because he and Sookie get their flirt on while discussing how they should have fallen for each other, their actual relationships being such disasters. Joe Manganiello finally has some good scenes as Alcide tries to convince Sookie to hide from Russell, but it’s a little disconcerting to see Sookie breathily looking up into Alcide’s face, trying not to kiss him, while at the same time telling anyone who’ll listen that poor Bill was acting according to his nature and really, the two of them aren’t so different. Again, if we’re dealing with an inexperienced adolescent who’s buffeted by every storm of feeling she has, it works. I guess I should trust the “soul mate” business is supposed to sound as silly as it does and the violent sex the V-filled Sookie initiates with Bill is supposed to have echoes of hate-sex as Sookie grabs the vampire’s throat.
Bill and Jessica’s scenes are more genuinely touching to me, though again, I have to question Bill’s take on relationships as he first tries to push Jessica out of the nest without ever having nurtured her and then confirms her self-loathing as being unfit for Hoyt. Bill’s self-loathing story line is more than enough for the show; please don’t let it infect the baby vamp, because Jessica is such a breath of fresh air. It is fun to watch Bill show Jessica some vampire kung fu moves and then have both of them put those moves to work on the werewolves Debbie brings to Sookie’s house. Except—when did Jessica get invited into Sookie’s house? Did I forget a scene? If not, the writers are playing fast and loose with the rules of the show, and the less I can trust them, the less real Bon Temps begins to seem.
Debbie has come to wreak havoc on Sookie, almost out of her mind with the need to avenge Cooter’s death. At least, I assume that’s why she never transforms into a wolf and instead lets Sookie kick her ass out of the house after cutting a new smile on her face. Apparently the wolf part of werewolf is only useful for running away. The fight was kick ass, but come on, writers. Making sense within the rules of the show in the long run is more important than quick easy thrills.
Making sense is one reason the Russell/Eric/Pam story thread is more satisfying to me—the consistently strong acting being the other. The plot has been intricately drawn as Eric has to untangle himself from Sophie Ann’s schemes while appearing to help Russell with his and actually furthering his own. It’s a delicate balance and Skarsgard shows every shift of emotion in Eric’s charged conversations with his new king. Eric knows just how to play on Russell’s desire for power and Talbot’s desire for attention and the fact that he must walk such a fine line with a vampire who is far more powerful than he showcases the mix of charm and danger Eric shares with his nemesis. As much as these two are on a collision path, Eric and Russell have a lot in common and that’s all to True Blood’s good.
Skarsgard shows that he can generate chemistry with anyone as Eric charms Russell, pounces on the comely Hadley and seduces Talbot. Eric even manages to intimate he is trying to protect Sookie after all as he tries his best to convince Russell he shouldn’t bring Sookie into the possible war with the Authority and sends a warning to Sookie not to trust Bill. But his current focus is his rage at Russell and nothing will sway him from his chess game with the king, with Talbot as the pawn. Watching Eric slowly disrobe for Talbot brings goose bumps as Talbot has no idea what he’s really unwrapping. The two actors make the scene play on every level, the sexual tension thick enough to cut with a knife and transforming very believably into anger and triumph on Eric’s part as he stakes Talbot to signal Russell he’s been put into check in a game he didn’t know he was playing. I can’t wait for the next move as Russell and Eric have to include the Authority into their high stakes match.
Despite the issues I have with some of the Bill/Sookie story logic, that plot along with Eric’s and Russell’s schemes are driving the show right now. Every time the scene cuts to Jason’s or Sam’s plots, there is a palpable letdown. Sam is still a fantastic character and actually, little Tommy with his “I’m trouble” grin shows a lot of promise, too. But enough with the horrible parents story line. It never caught fire and is unsalvageable at this point. Get Tommy involved with Jessica and Sam involved with Tara, so there’s something to care about.
I still care about Jason, but he generates such mixed feelings and not, unfortunately, in a good way. When he gives his peculiarly Jason view of the world, he’s just a hoot and I enjoy him . When he gets a plot of his own, I am not sold on it. And having Jason himself voice one of the issues—his instant falling in love with a girl he’s just met—doesn’t remove the issue. It just makes me wonder why the writers are going down that path if they know it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the character. It will take a lot in the next four episodes to make this plot worth the time we’ve spent on it, especially with so many characters fighting for story space.
Despite the issues, the True Blood writers have successfully ratcheted up the tension as the characters both position themselves for the final confrontations this season and set up next season’s arcs. I am definitely looking forward to seeing how everything plays out. I just hope the little niggles I feel in some of the story lines don’t embed themselves into season four and grow. True Blood is great fun but there’s no reason with this calibre of writers that one should stop asking it to make sense and just enjoy the ride. I’m greedy. I want both.