This week’s episode ratchets up the drama as season two’s storylines all head in the same direction at breakneck speed. From the opening sequence to the closing cliffhanger, I was on the edge of my seat, aghast at what was being threatened or revealed, as the case may be.
"Hard Hearted Hannah" helps us get to know Eric and particularly Bill a whole lot better, and as good writing should, what we learned made each character a little harder to categorise. At Comic-Con’s True Blood panel, Alexander Skarsgard (Eric Northman) said that he enjoyed bringing different layers to Eric this season, so he is more than just a bad ass vampire, though he is certainly that, and noted it would be boring to play the same note for two years.
This episode we get to see several different notes, as Eric shows his boredom with feeding off a willing working girl, but still sends her away by telling her she can report to her manager she was wonderful with him and he’d back her up. Watching Eric get huffy because his snack calls him “baby” was amusing enough, but when he requests that she only pretend to be an unwilling victim if she’s good at it, her horrible acting had me chuckling out loud. The tone changes quickly, though, as Eric reveals he was the one to invite Bill’s estranged maker Lorena to town, knowing that situation won’t go anywhere good—for Bill. He, on the other hand, will have more opportunity to get closer to Sookie, bringing his interest in her out in the open. Eric and Lorena’s conversation also allows us another look at how loyal Eric is, once he cares about someone, the someone in this case being Godric (and obviously not Bill).
Bill’s scenes illustrate different notes even more dramatically—and in the nick of time, too. Though Bill and Sookie strike sparks together, with a sexy vibe, the scenes between the two of them in bed mushily bonding have reached their "sell by" date with me. But just as I was feeling their dynamic—particularly Bill’s as the unwilling vampire so sensitively trying to be the perfect lover—was getting a bit stale, Lorena enters the picture, complete with a flashback that changes my view of Bill considerably.
Bill’s story to Sookie was that he became a vampire unwillingly and has been missing his family and love ever since. While no doubt true, he edited out a few particulars which Lorena’s memory reveals in gory but ever so stylish detail. In a scene showcasing Stephen Moyer’s musical abilities, we follow Bill and Lorena as they entice a swinging couple of the '20s into an orgy—of blood, complete with sadistically forcing the injured man to watch his girlfriend being fed upon before killing him. The truly disturbing part, though, is watching the two vampires having sex on the blood-soaked bed while the girl lies dying beside them, still bleeding. This Bill is not fighting his vampire nature or being forced into committing atrocities by his maker. He’s fully complicit. I understood even more why Bill was so uncomfortable with Sookie’s judgment of Eric as evil for his treatment of Lafayette. His argument that everyone has good and evil in them, vampire or human, resonated all through this scene. It is masterfully placed to soften our judgment of Eric’s ruthless interference in Bill’s life and to emphasize Bill’s capacity for darkness he has alluded to.