Skip to main content

Mysterious Ways: The Nature of Good and Evil on "True Blood"

"Don't you like vampires, little girl?"

This week's episode of True Blood ("Frenzy"), written by Alan Ball and directed by Daniel Minahan, marks the penultimate installment of the second season (though we'll have to wait two weeks for the season finale) and consequently ramped up the tension, bringing us several new alliances, the deepening of a personal vendetta, a possible romantic split, and the fragmentation of several long-standing friendships.

And, oh, a giant egg.

So just what did I think about this week's episode of True Blood? Pour yourself a Tru Blood, strap on a bandolier, gather up some feathers and yarn, and let's discuss "Frenzy."

Bon Temps has literally gone to hell, thanks to Maryann's influence and this week we finally got an answer as to why Maryann happened to stumble in the backwoods town in the first place. While it seemed as though Maryann's arrival in Bon Temps with her murderous retinue was centered around shifter Sam Merlotte, his presence in the town was purely coincidental, as we learn that Maryann herself was summoned unwittingly by Tara Thorton back in Season One when she was tricked by Miss Jeanette into believing that she was slaying her inner "demon."

While Miss Jeanette was a sham, her use of ritual was powerful enough to bring Maryann to Tara like a beacon in the night, luring her to Bon Temps via Tara's vision of her black-eyed younger self. After all, Maryann and the pig (read: Daphne) were seen by the side of the road shortly thereafter. As for Sam, his coincidental appearance amid all of this mess is a blessing in disguise for Maryann: she can get revenge against the thieving shifter and use him as a sacrifice to the god who comes. Unless, that is, she decides to use Sookie as a substitute...

Tara was a means to an end for Maryann, just as Eggs was in the last location the cannibalistic nomads traveled to. I knew that letting Tara go try and save Eggs was a terrible, terrible idea. There was certainly no guarantee that she wouldn't fall right back under Maryann's spell again (though the shuttering spell didn't quite work on her this time) and sure enough within seconds of going back to the Stackhouse place, Tara falls right back into Maryann's thrall and ends up smashing up Gran's things and building a nest for...

Well, I don't rightly know what she and Eggs are building a nest for. But there it was: a huge white egg bigger than an ostrich's. (Should we view it as ironic or fitting that Eggs himself is building a nest to house an egg?) Just what is lurking underneath that shell? I have absolutely no idea. Is it connected to Maryann's imminent sacrificial offering? Quite probably. But it freaked the hell out of me regardless. Any thoughts?

I loved the reluctant partnership between Jason Stackhouse and Andy Bellefleur, one of the most unlikely friendships ever seen on the small screen. The scene where they carbo-load before going into battle was absolutely hysterical and there was some brutal honesty in the scene where Jason acknowledged that, despite appearances, he hasn't ever had it easy in life. It's fascinating to look at Ryan Kwanten's performance here as Jason and how much he's grown as a character since we first met him at the beginning of Season One. The self-absorbed sex addict has become a Hero with a capital-H. His speech about saving his town from what it's become--and how sometimes you have to destroy something in order to save it ("it's in the Bible... or the Constitution")--is so far removed from the selfishness he's displayed in the past, yet Ball and the writers have done a remarkable job at slowly transforming him into a complex and fully realized avenger... for whom sex is just one weapon in his arsenal. He may be just as dim-witted and hormonal but clearly he means well these days.

Likewise, my favorite scene last night had to be that between Sam Trammel's Sam, Alexander Skarsgard's Eric, and Arlene's poor, neglected kids ("teacup humans") at Fangtasia. (Hell, we even got some much needed Pam in the mix as well.) The creepiness with which Eric toyed with the children ("Don't you like vampires, little girl?"), baring his fangs and making references to draining them of their blood with a playful glee was a thing to behold. Skarsgard has excelled this season at bringing Eric to the forefront of the series and at portraying him as a vengeful, quixotic, and dangerous being with an inner soulfulness. This scene brought back Eric's darker side as well as his inherent arrogance (to wit: his use of the word "tribute") but he does agree to help Sam locate information about the maenad, though once again his motivations seems to be based around his interest in Sookie.

And Eric can fly, as we learn. That sound you heard? It was thousands of True Blood fans swooning and hitting the floor as Eric leapt into the air outside Fangtasia into the dark sky.

One mystery lurking in the shadows: the identity of the father of Arlene's kids. We're told very specifically that the children have never seen him before and Arlene cut his face out of all of the pictures she has of him... but he has her name tattooed on his stomach. Could we be seeing Arlene's ex turning up at some point in the future. I definitely think so, though just who or what will he be? Hmmm....

Likewise, we're introduced to Sookie's cousin Hadley (Lindsey Haun), a consort of Queen Sophie-Anne (Evan Rachel Wood), the Yahtzee-loving Vampire Queen of Louisiana. While I suspected we'd meet her soon enough (tip-offs included that mention of her back in Season One and the use--twice, no less--of that brief mention in the "previously on" montages over the last two weeks), I never thought that she too would be caught up in the world of vampires and be quite so close to their nexus of power in Louisiana. While Hadley is startled to hear Bill and Sophie-Anne mention Sookie (the fact that Sophie-Anne knows about her at all concerns me to no end), I couldn't quite be sure whether Bill knew of Hadley's familial relationship to Sookie or not. Regardless, he's clearly intending to keep it a secret from Sookie and tells Hadley not to get in touch with Sookie. Ever.

As for Sophie-Anne herself, I thought that Wood pulled off the petulance, spite, and spoiled air required of a centuries-old vampire but lacked a certain presence on screen to warrant her role as this much-discussed royal. (It's hard not to compare her slightly predictable performance with that of the other flame-haired vamp on the series, Deborah Ann Woll's Jessica Hamby, who literally ignites the air every time she appears on camera.) I loved her day room with its faux beach backdrop and St. Tropez-style lounging but I just wanted a larger, more impressive royal presence from Wood as it felt like she was a bit swallowed up by the opulent surroundings instead of commanding it.

Loved Bill and Eric's little showdown on the steps outside Sophie-Anne's as the two continue to duel over Sookie, a battle that's more than likely to continue into next season, unless Eric is able to sway Sophie-Anne to his side of things. Which makes this viewer very, very nervous indeed.

Is it curtains for Hoyt and Jessica? It certainly looked that way after Jessica bit Maxine after losing patience with the black-eyed mother from hell but I am hoping that there is some way for the two to reconnect once all of the craziness is past. But I have to say that I am getting very worried about Hoyt; as long as he was locked up with Jessica at the Compton house, I thought they'd see the coming war through from the sidelines but with Hoyt in Bon Temps and highly susceptible to Maryann's spell, I'm worried for him. Especially now that the frenzied Maxine has unleashed not only a torrent of insults but also the truth about Hoyt's father's death. He didn't die defending his family against an intruder but took his own life. Poor, poor Hoyt.

Hoyt wasn't the only one fighting off ghosts from the past as Lafayette had to contend with the return of his post-traumatic stress disorder, triggered by Lettie Mae holding him and Sookie at gunpoint in order to free Tara. And sure enough, Lafayette was so terrified that he imagined that Lettie Mae was Eric himself come to kill him and punish him for everything he's done. But if that weren't bad enough, Lafayette quickly also falls under Maryann's frenzy at Sookie's house. I had been hoping that Eric's blood would give him some level of immunity against her spell but alas he quickly succumbs to the darkness, spurred on by his efforts to shoot Maryann... An effort that results in the unintended death of Carl when Maryann deflects the bullet.

Bill, meanwhile, may have gleaned the only way to kill the maenad: to strike her when she believes her summoning of the god who comes has succeeded, the only point in which she'll be vulnerable to attack. Sophie-Anne indicates that the only reason why Maryann is immortal is because she believes herself to be and that our ideas and beliefs not only give us power but enable us to create something out of nothing.

Whether this can in fact be turned on its head by Bill and Sookie to take down Maryann and save Bon Temps remains to be seen but I for one and going to be on pins and needles the next two weeks until True Blood's season finale.

In two weeks on the season finale of True Blood ("Beyond Here Lies Nothin'") Maryann prepares for her ultimate sacrifice, forcing Sookie to be the Maid of Honor at her bloody nuptials; Sophie-Anne warns Eric to control Bill's inquisitiveness; Jason leads Andy into battle; Hoyt struggles with Maxine's endless stream of insults; Sam places his trust, and his life, in a most unlikely ally in order to save Bon Temps and Sookie.

Comments

Eric in Lettie Mae's dress? Creepy.

Eric having a conversation with two "tea cup humans?" Hilarious.

Eric flying off into the night sky? Awesome.
Bella Spruce said…
I thought that Evan Rachel Wood looked amazing and I loved the set design of her "day" room but she couldn't quite carry off the old soul (or old soulless?) part of the character. The actor who played Godric was very young but you believed that he'd been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. Not so much Sophie-Anne. Of course, this is just her first appearance so I'll keep an open mind for now.

Was anyone else bothered by Sookie's line about how seeing her Gran's house defiled was worse than almost getting raped? I just thought that it was such a weird thing to say--especially to Lafayette who doesn't even know that she was almost raped. I get how traumatic it is for her to see the house in that state but the line just felt very forced.

Otherwise, I really loved the episode. And I thought this review was great!
ewench said…
Sorry I just don’t know how a show goes from utterly awesome to a train wreck in two weeks time.

Yes, black eyes, everyone is crazy – WE GET IT! It’s boring, we’re over it. Way over.

I know one has to suspend belief to a certain extent to enjoy this show, it’s not as if vampires are out of the closet for real. But a world had been created I could imagine really existed, it made sense. This world does not make sense, it’s just getting ridiculous. Why aren’t they calling in the army or something?

I can’t even find humor in the Jason & Andy antics, they have devolved in a cartoonish joke that is no longer funny, just stupid.

I didn’t like Sookie laying down on the floor with the man in the kitchen, it seemed wimpy and out of character. I didn’t like the scenes with the kids, it didn’t feel right and seemed pretty pointless except to make a few jokes that didn’t make me laugh anyway.

SophieAnn is a big disappointment too. As both you and Bella Spruce pointed out, she does act like a very old vampire and I think portraying her as an icy, sophisticated bitch rather then a childish, petulant one would have been a lot more interesting and believable. That said, she is pretty and I also liked the aesthetic appeal of her slaves and day room etc.

And the egg, I mean really – did Tara lay it?

In the books there is a vamp called Bubba who is supposed to be Elvis – I remember reading Alan Ball said he couldn’t think of a way to portray him without it being cheesy but gosh, this last installment was one of the cheesiest things I have ever seen.

So soooooo wish the church/Godric storyline had been the main one and Maryann a 3 episode side story instead.

I will definitely hang in there for season 3, everyone has a bad patch but I really hope this show gets it’s mojo back next year!
rockauteur said…
How come Sookie didn't "cure" the coroner while he hugged her on the floor? I suppose she could have used an ally, but I guess she figured Maryann would just turn him back at some point... Great episode though! And loved when Andy and Jason loaded up on carbs!
Katie said…
Yeah. Stupid. Read the books people. They're actually good. So why do we keep having faith in the series? I suppose the characters bring it to life.

But I'm getting sick of them "mocking" the original, by Charlaine Harris. Adding this and that, subtracting others. Seriously, the books are great! Why can't they try to stick to them just a tad bit?

And I do not appreciate a few appearances of Eric's character that are just ridiculous! In a dress now, not to mention season 1 when he chomped down on the guy in the basement. Seriously, wtf?

..yes. WTF?
Zazazu said…
It's an adaptation. It's going to be a bit off. For the most part, it doesn't bother me because I like being a bit surprised.

The egg is Carl. Maryann made a comment about his not progressing much "in this life" and we see the egg right after.
Violhaine said…
I realize the series is an adaptation, but honestly, did it have to elevate two minor characters in the books, Jason and Tara, making them the focus of the series? Why couldn't we have seen more about the Great Revelation? Vampire Culure? The rise of the American Vampire League? That would have been far more interesting than this flat story about the taking of Bon Temps by a manead. This particular plotline has been so tiresome that it has only served to show how much potential has been squandered by not following the books more closely.

Last night's episode:

1. Why does the queen come off as a dumb airhead instead of true royalty? Even if she was turned as a teenager wouldn't she have matured in a few centuries? Makes you wonder what could have made her so powerful if her antics remind you of the newly turned Jessica? Also, Evan Rachel's over acting left much to be desired. Also, what's up with the messy eating by vampires on this show? They waste so much blood and it just doesn't come across as sexy.

2. Eric is a 1000 years old and he's never come across children? At the time he was turned he would have probably been a father himself. It's a tribute to Alexander Skarsgard and Kristin Bauer's skill as actors that they still managed to pull this scene off. Why would a badass vampire like Eric even bother scaring children? The scene just served to belittle this magnificent character unnecessarily.

3. Sookie on the floor with Mike Spencer. Can you say ugh? Is it my imagination or is she getting weaker by the moment? This was creepy and disgusting and added nothing to the story.

3. Eggs making a nest for an ostrich egg? Really? Of all the things we can come up with...we turn to an egg? *rolls eyes*

You know what? This show has only served to make me really appreciate the books more. It seems as if the writers are using the Cliff Notes version of the books to write these insipid storylines. This series has so much potential and as long as it keeps trying to remake the wheel that's all we'll get, potential, not greatness. That's so sad.
I love the series, but I agree there were a few off notes in last night's episode.

I thought the Louisiana queen didn't quite achieve the dramatic weight we would expect.

I was put off by Sookie's "worse than rape" comment (I actually kind of cringed), and offended by her lying down on the floor with the coroner. She can face down Maryann, but this local yokel gets to humiliate her?

But overall, it's a great series, and I'm certainly looking forward to years and years of True Blood episodes.
Annie said…
I'm glad people are bringing up the rape comment b/c it was so out of nowhere and so out of character and seemed like lazy writing from Ball. I get that Sookie would be upset but is seeing her house rundown worse THAN ALMOST GETTING RAPED BY GABE? Really? Why would she say that to Lafayette? Made me so angry.
Harleypeyton said…
It's the usual entertaining mixture of great and stupid. (Ball is very very good at executing half-baked or trite ideas. The execution is therefore deceptive, however.)

A stunt casting effort that rewires the hierarchy -- now we have a Queen?. Several characters who behave in a manner -- which is to say stupidly -- that seems cribbed from a bad teen horror movie. And yes, a big egg. A big egg.

Oh, and a moderately loopy description re Maryann. Basically, you can become a God (immortal, etc.) when and if you believe you're a God.

Hunh. Didn't see that coming. But again, very entertaining.
gmr2048 said…
Sadly, I'm right there with pretty much everything ewench and Violhaine said above. I really like this series, but this ep in particular was hard to watch. I'll tune in for next season, but I'm not promising I'll make it all the way through.

Guess it's a good thing we've got ~12 vampire-free months ahead. I'm gonna pick up the books and see how they stack up.
Harleypeyton said…
Worth a read, particularly about The Vampire Queen.

http://io9.com/5349797/in-which-true-blood-ruins-my-vampire-yahtzee-fantasies
Ally said…
For me the biggest off-note/distraction of the episode was the scene w/Tara, Laf, Sook and Lettie Mae. I'm sorry - I don't care how desperate LM is to get her daughter back. I don't buy for a second that she would decided to force Sookie and Laf into letting her go back to Eggs. They all saw her and her black eyes. Also, it totally negates the importance (and greatness) of last week's intervention scene. Sookie risked her life to get the black out of Tara's eyes. This isn't some small thing they were dealing with. I understand they had to get Tara back to Eggs, but there had to be a more organic way.
Old Darth said…
Glad to see I am not the only one utterly dismayed on how badly the show has done since Goderich`s death.

To play the Bon Temps storyline straight and creepy until the Dallas is done and then shift it over to comedy was a big mistake.

A disappointing turn of events since Dallas.

Popular posts from this blog

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous seas

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

Me Want Food: Jenna Gets Famously Fat on "30 Rock"

I don't know about you, but I've already ordered my "Me Want Food" t-shirt from the NBC store. Last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Jack Gets in the Game") was, in my opinion, one of the strongest of the series and has officially pushed the zany comedy into the realm of Arrested Development : deftly plotted and intricately layered, with so many jokes piled atop of jokes that it requires several viewings in order to catch them all. While at its heart, 30 Rock is a workplace comedy, it's left that narrow pigeonhole behind to become a witty example of how intelligent and taut humor can work (and flourish) on television... and exist in harmony with hilarious throwaways like the Thriller -inspired Werewolf Bar Mitzvah music video that would have done the AD crew proud. I want Will Arnett to appear on this series whenever possible. His gay exec Devin is hilarious, manipulative, and has an inexplicable weakness for Kenneth the Page, but he claims to have