After long months punctuated with little teases from HBO, True Blood launched its third season Monday night and showed just why it is an addictive water cooler show. The show is an unabashed soap, but a soap with strong writing, many strong actors and just enough of a social conscience peeking through the fun to give it some heft. Not that Ball leads with the social conscience. Instead, he takes delight in raising all kinds of stakes (heh), including the one asking his actors to be comfortable with nudity. Very comfortable—and his audience is not complaining, especially since this season's involves more Skarsgard and fewer citizens of Bon Temps.
Season three picks up almost exactly where season two left off, which means the writers have some 'splaining to do in regard to some of the actors' haircuts (Hoyt and Eric seem to have run to the salon for a quick look update), but also means we can easily pick up with the regular characters. In some cases, that's all to the good, and in others, it raises a few red flags. And the first red flag for me is Tara (Rutina Wesley).
In season one, I liked Tara very much. I liked her sass and take no prisoners attitude. She made me laugh, even though she clearly had a trunkful of issues, starting with her alcoholic mother. But by the end of season two, I was very tired of Tara. It's difficult to look forward to a character you spend an inordinate amount of time wishing you could tell to wake up and smell the coffee, especially when the character goes from sassy to whiney. It's not that the writers have failed to set Tara up for feeling badly, but I've lost sympathy for her. And I didn't care for Eggs and therefore am not devastated at his death, so I will have limited patience watching Tara scream at her friends and make stupid decisions. With any luck, her story line will take a left turn and we get something resembling season one Tara back. Right now, I'm hoping Lafayette (Nelson Ellis) gets a lot more screen time for his own story, rather than Tara's.
Lafayette is one of the best arguments for Ball following his own muse rather than strictly following Charlaine Harris's books (Jessica is the other). Ellis makes him an addictive delight and I was happiest with his story when he oversteps himself and calls Pam "hooker." Lafayette plus vampires is a winning combination and I hope we see a lot of him as the V investigation unfolds.