I'm back from vacation to catch up on two weeks of True Blood—and what a two weeks it was. With the season finally taking shape at the halfway mark and episode six having been written by master crafter Ball, I think it's also time for a six week check up on our favourite vamps, weres, shifters and citizens of Bon Temps.
Ball has already hinted that season three revolves around the theme of identity and indeed many of the characters are undergoing character-defining crises. The nature of those crises is revealed in "Trouble" and "I Got A Right To Sing The Blues," which is welcome for both character development and the tying together of several storylines on the show. The first half of the season was spent getting most of the characters to Russell's manor in Jackson, where secrets are now being revealed and alliances are both coalescing and breaking apart as everyone tries to figure out where the other characters stand.
The particular force causing the questioning of identity for so many characters is the struggle between nature and nurture. Are we a product of our genetic gene pool and our pasts or can we redefine ourselves? Russell Edgington's past as a man deeply connected to nature makes him despise the mess humans are making of our world, and he's willing to break vampire rules and redefine his own role in order to fix what he sees as broken. He wants to bring all the supernatural creatures together into a new family in order to take the stewardship of the earth away from humans.
On one level, this desire does not seem completely unreasonable. It's hard to argue humans have been taking good care of the environment. On the other hand, Russell may care about the earth's misfortunes but he's ruthless in his other relationships, with the possible exception of the one with his consort, Talbot. Russell's mixture of charm and ruthlessness, care for the earth and disdain for what he sees as lower life forms, and game playing nature mixed with care for his marriage make him very intriguing and this check up gives Denis O'Hare an A+ for what he's added to True Blood. The king's storyline has everything that makes the show work—soapy, gothic charm as vampires try to negotiate space with humans, laced with some identifiable issues floating under the surface and occasionally peeking into view. I was delighted to see the issue of the collision between vampire and human politics return to the story, as Russell plays on Queen Sophie Ann's fear of the IRS to force her to marry him.