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Haunted by Death: Hearts Aflame (and Missing) on the Season Two Premiere of HBO's "True Blood"

Lick the blood off of your lips, it's time to talk True Blood.

I reviewed the first four episodes of Season Two of True Blood last week, but now that the season premiere ("Nothing But the Blood") has aired, we can actually talk specifics about the episode. (Which is a good thing as knowing certain plot twists without being able to talk about them has been actually quite painful.)

The sophomore season begins with a hell of a bang, revealing the fate of much beloved character Lafayette, deepening the relationship between Bill and Sookie (along with throwing a spanner into the works in the form of Jessica), and giving major storylines to each of the supporting characters. It's a fantastic start to what promises to be a gripping and gruesome season overflowing with murder and mayhem.

So what did I think of the season premiere of True Blood? Grab yourself a bottle of Tru Blood O Positive, get out your silver chain, draw the shades, and let's discuss.

While I've already seen through the fourth episode of the season, the usual rules apply: I won't be spoiling anything from that episode below and will keep my thoughts and comments restricted to "Nothing But the Blood." (So spoiler-phobes, nothing to fear.)

The Red-Toe Nailed Corpse. I can't even say how happy I was that we started Season Two by learning who the leg in the backseat of Andy Bellefleur's car belonged to... and that it wasn't Lafayette whose corpse was laying there. The reveal that it's actually the body of fake exorcist Miss Jeanette rather than Lafayette was a brilliant bait-and-switch on the part of the writers. Given that we saw Lafayette get taken at the end of the first season by some persons unknown (more on that in a bit), it was a stroke of genius to end the season with the discovery of a leg that could most definitely belong to Lafayette himself.

Instead, it's pharmacy checkout cashier Miss Jeanette who was executed in an extreme state of shock (and had her heart torn out of her body in the process) and who was left for Andy to discover. It's interesting that it's Miss Jeanette, given her history with Tara and Lettie Mae but also the fact that the discovery of her corpse--a taunting gesture if there ever was one--is juxtaposed with the imprisonment of several individuals who have each seemingly perpetrated crimes against the vampires.

Now Miss Jeanette was a two-bit fraud who was running a highly successful scam against gullible types who needed to cast out some sort of demon. But she was also appropriating a bit of magic she certainly didn't have. Tara's exorcism was nothing more than some ipecac and peyote, a little bit of theatrical emesis that was a convincing trick. However, as we saw in the pilot episode of True Blood, vampires don't like people pretending to masquerade as something they're not. The removal of the heart, the look of abject fear on Miss Jeanette's face, all point to murder by vampire. So why kill her? Other than to send a message, that is...

Lafayette. Fortunately, Lafayette is alive but he likely wishes he were dead after being forcibly imprisoned all this time in a contraption that seems like something from a Saw garage sale. Lafayette hasn't perpetrated any crimes against vampires directly, but one vampire that he was involved with (Stephen Root's Eddie) did go missing under most mysterious circumstances. (Thank you very much, Jason Stackhouse and Amy.)

And yet, Lafayette's jailers do keep him alive longer than anyone else trapped down in that hellhole... including that redneck from last season who caused a ruckus at Merlotte's when he refused to be served by Lafayette (in "Sparks Fly Out"). Coincidence that these two would end up here together? I don't think so, especially as said redneck is believed to be involved in the murder of three vampires in Bon Temps. And just when you thought things were going to maybe go somewhat better, said redneck has to attack his jailer with a concealed piece of silver and go and get himself killed. Or, well, ripped apart while still alive, with his blood splashing right on to poor Lafayette. Ick.

Sookie and Bill. The two lovebirds meanwhile have had their honeymoon derailed by the appearance of Bill's vampire spawn Jessica, who isn't taking too kindly to Sookie being around the Compton place all the time. As for Sookie, I don't blame her for being livid about Bill keeping Jessica's existence a secret from her. Bill has proven time and time again to believe that protecting Sookie means lying to her about the things that go bump in the night instead of believing that she can handle the truth. For her part, Sookie has grown and changed since we first saw her in the pilot (witness the way she dealt with Gram's death head-on in this episode by packing up her belongings) and I couldn't help but cheer when she delivered her "I'm stronger than you think" speech to Bill.

Sookie has demonstrated that she's willing to forgive Bill all manner of sins, including the murder of her despicable Uncle Bartlett, which she learns about in this episode as well. Despite the fact that she's shocked to learn that Bill murdered her great-uncle (as punishment for his mistreatment of Sookie as a girl), she is willing to forgive him this... and the two end up making love in one of the series' most sexy sequences yet.

Jason. I'm not surprised that Sookie didn't want to keep Bartlett's inheritance but I didn't expect her to turn it all over to Jason... who had been looking for a divine sign about whether his destiny lay with the Fellowship of the Sun and the leadership conference overseen by Steve and Sarah Newlin. While Jason was dismayed to learn that the conference cost $12,000, he gets his answer when the funding literally falls in his lap. Still, Jason tells Hoyt that the Fellowship is about more than hate and is about something bigger, something he couldn't find at their local church. Jason quotes Reverend Newlin's book and talks about stepping out of the darkness into the light and it's quite easy to see just how prison can bring about a spiritual conversion. If anything, Jason is the newest zealot to their cause and that worries me quite a deal.

Maryann. Loved the scene where Maryann picks up Tara after she's been questioned by Bud and Andy about Miss Jeanette's murder. Just when when you think she's going to be cordial and sweet towards Lettie Mae, Maryann unleashes one of a truly vicious, poisonous verbal attack against Tara's mother. Absolutely awesome, even if Lettie Mae still scares me more than any vampire on this series.

As for Maryann herself, she appears to draw power from the physical and sexual frenzy of those around her... hence the decadence with which she lives: the endless supply of tropical fruits and pot, the enormous culinary spreads, the way she pushes everyone else to divest themselves of their inhibitions and give way to their desires. (Which could be why she clobbers servant Carl when he breaks the moment between Tara and Eggs.)

And it's now clear that she shares a past with shapeshifter Sam Merlotte. As we saw in the season opener, a seventeen-year-old Sam encounters Maryann when she breaks into her house in the guise of a beagle and then tries to make way with her possessions. Once she starts flapping like a hummingbird during sex, Sam makes his escape, taking a large quantity of cash with him. So what does Maryann want with Sam now? It's certainly not money, given her amusement that he tries to buy her off. Hmmm...

Eric. Just when I thought we wouldn't get to see Eric Northman this week, he appeared out of thin air to walk downstairs to that subterranean dungeon (his hair in tinfoil wraps, obviously in the midst of highlighting) and revealed that Lafayette's kidnapper and jailer is none other than himself. And just like that, Eric's involvement in this series takes a major twist... and he takes a big chomp out of the mouthy redneck before ripping him to shreds. Ouch.

Best line of the evening: "Nobody needed towels!" - Maryanne

What did you think of the season opener? Were you surprised by the reveals about Lafayette and Eric? Did you predict that it was Miss Jeanette in the back of Andy's car? What does Maryann want from all of them? Talk back here.

Next week on True Blood ("Keep this Party Going"), Sookie must deal with Bill’s obligations to Jessica; Jason makes a favorable impression on the Fellowship of the Sun's leaders, Steve and Sarah Newlin, though not on his jealous roommate Luke; Maryann casts her spell on Merlotte’s patrons, and Sam proves helpless to stop the revelry.


Skitty.jann said…
Great episode and excellent review! So glad Lafayette is alive! In the books he's the one in Andy's car. Also didn't see Eric as dungeon master coming. It is a true pleasure to be surprised in a TV show these days. Can't wait until the next episode.
Banshee said…
VERY happy that Lafayette is still around and excited for this season. And I really enjoyed your review!
Unknown said…
I don't believe for a second that Miss Jeanette was killed by a vamp. Since when do they rip out hearts and not leave fang marks?

On the other hand, Maryann strikes me as a real possibility...
Ally said…
Loved the opener. Agree w/cferry that Maryann should be a person of interest in poor miss J's demise. So glad the show is back!

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