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Sex and Candy: Life, Death, and Dating on "True Blood"

"And then there she was/Like double cherry pie..."

I had the opportunity to watch the first four episodes of Season Two of True Blood a few weeks back but I've been rewatching the episodes as they're airing on HBO so that I don't forget any of the plot twists.

I don't know about you but I thought that last night's episode of True Blood ("Scratches"), written by Raelle Tucker and directed by Scott Winant, was the best of the season so far.

It's a good thing I did tune in again as it contained one of my favorite scenes of the first four episodes, the sultry entrance of Jessica (the intoxicating Deborah Ann Woll) at Merlotte's to the delicious tune of Marcy Playground's "Sex and Candy," one of the most seductive and memorable sequences to unfold on the series to date.

Woll's Jessica is a sight to behold. Other actresses may have made her little more than a spoiled brat turned nocturnal killer, but Woll infuses her with equal parts churlish spite and intoxicating innocence, making Jessica one of the most compelling and unpredictable characters on the series.

That Jessica is so quickly drawn to the sweet sincerity of Hoyt Fortenberry (Jim Parrack) is just the icing on the cake. Jessica is a creature of extremes. Freed from the cloistered morality of family life and from, well, the mortal coil as a whole, she's experiencing sensations she's never felt before. Did she go to Merlotte's to feed? Perhaps. More likely, she did it because there was no one--no parents, not her maker Bill--to tell her not to. The petulant pounding on the sitting room piano becomes a full-blown act of rebellion: a girl in a yellow dress walking into a bar looking for something.

Is it trouble she's after? She won't find it with Hoyt. She's initially drawn to the throbbing vein in his neck but something else takes over: the teenage girl inside of her who's never even been kissed. Thrust into the vampiric demimond, she's running before she can walk. And then there's Hoyt. He's just looking for a nice girl and he's attracted to her smile. So much so that he can't help but walk over to her and sit down at her booth.

And, after watching them meet cute at Merlotte's and then move on to some heavy petting at Bill's house, something tells me we're seeing the beginning of a full-out vampire/human Romeo and Juliet-style love story that's different from that of Bill and Sookie. Could Jessica's rebellion be to follow in Bill's footsteps and fall in love with a human? Or is there nothing but heartbreak ahead for Jessica? Bill's anger at her (he does throw her across the room) after discovering her with Hoyt speaks volumes about their relationship. Is Jessica his rebellious daughter that needs to be controlled? Can he keep her from harming the residents of Bon Temps? Or does he need to let her make her own decisions and mistakes?

Bill and Sookie have problems of their own, of course. Not least of which is the thing that attacks Sookie in the woods and rips open her back. Just what is this thing? Was it stalking Sookie or was it just a case of Sookie being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Hmmm... As for what this bull-headed creature is, it not only mortally wounds Sookie but also poisons her with a paralytic drug (rather like that of a Komodo dragon) that will enable the creature to track her down and wait to strike.

Those gashes of course look rather like those on Daphne's back in fact. And Daphne did arrive on the scene very unexpectedly, showing an interest in Sam Merlotte that goes beyond that of the professional. As we saw in last night's episode, she follows him to the lake and then prepares to jump into the water (right after Sam's transformation from dog back into naked man). So are we meant to believe that Daphne was also a victim of this creature? And, if so, is she marked for death or has she escaped its clutches? Or is she in its thrall?

As for what the creature is, I think we only need to look at that sculpture in Maryann's house, which rather resembles the horns of the creature in the woods. Maryann has a marked interest in Tara, an interest that is threatened by Sookie and her influence over her friend. Could it be that Maryann is removing the competition? Hmmm...

And what is up with the disappearing pig? Tara saw it by the side of the road before her car accident and Andy Bellefleur saw it in the doll's house at Maryann's Bacchanalia before it vanished seconds later. So what is the pig? And how is it connected to Maryann's abilities? Is it a sort of viral attack, making the viewer more susceptible to her powers? Or something else altogether?

I was equally enthralled and grossed out by the scene in which the diminutive Doctor Ludwig (Marcia de Rousse) treated Sookie's condition and pulled out the nail from her back. Utterly, utterly disgusting, no? But it showed some real physical stakes here for Sookie and further developed the underworld that are characters live in. That there is a human doctor who treats vampires and others is an intriguing concept that further pushes the world of True Blood into new directions.

I figured that Sookie would owe Eric for his hospitality and, you know, saving her life and all. Still, didn't think that Sookie would stand up to Eric after reading Ginger's mind and learning that poor Lafayette was chained up in the basement. (I love that Sookie didn't flinch when Eric came at her all fanged out.) Nor that she would demand five thousand dollars (which Bill then doubles) and Bill as her traveling companion if she goes to Dallas for Eric, along with Lafayette's release. This girl has tenacity and grit, something Eric seems to admire "in a breather."

As for Lafayette, he wants to try and forget that his imprisonment ever happened, something that's easier said than done. The look of horror and dawning realization that passes across his face as he enters his home after his ordeal is heartbreaking. It's as though a shadow has been cast over Lafayette and I wonder if he'll be able to truly recover from what he's experienced the past few weeks. Certainly, it will make him think twice about getting involved with vampires again...

And then there's Jason, whose inner conflict about his beliefs is severely tested by the Fellowship of the Sun and the Newlins. After coming clean about what happened to Eddie and Amy, Jason wants to leave, believing that God doesn't have a purpose for him after all, but he's stopped by Sarah (Anna Camp), who reveals that she too once sided with the vampires, even marching for their equal rights. Very interesting... I can't help but feel the sexual tension between Jason and the Newlins, particularly in that dinner scene, and wonder just what they have in mind for Jason Stackhouse.

All in all, a fantastic installment that allowed the supporting characters some major growth as their individual plotlines flourished. I can't wait to see just what Alan Ball and Co. have up their sleeves for Jessica, Tara, Sam, Daphne, Lafayette, and Maryann, not to mention a riveting plot with Sookie, Bill, Eric, and what is going on in Dallas. Looks like there's a storm brewing on the horizon, folks...

In two weeks on True Blood ("Shake and Fingerpop"), Bill, Sookie, and Jessica reluctantly head to Dallas to carry out Eric’s vampire-reconnaissance mission but encounter a surprise at the airport; Jason is annointed by the Newlins for a higher calling; Maryann throws Tara a birthday party at Sookie’s house; Sam postpones his departure and connects with Daphne; Lafayette finds himself drawn back into Eric’s orbit.

Comments

Unknown said…
Great write-up. And I'm not the squeamish type, but yes - pulling the nail out of the back was "utterly, utterly disgusting!" But I loved every second of the episode. Loved Dr. Ludwig; very happy that Lafayette is free (though not sure you're ever really free from a vampire that has a serious interest in you) and had the same reaction when Sookie didn't flinch with Eric's threat. Good stuff!

I was also curious as to why Tara didn't seem to be falling under the spell of Marianne like everyone else was at her party. She was a bit giddy, but snapped out of it when it got to be a little more over the top. Perhaps it's this "ability" that has Marianne focused on her?

Just wish I didn't have to wait two weeks for the next ep!
I'm not a big fan of the show but I did really like this episode because it focused less on Sookie and Bill and more on the other characters, like Jessica (who I think is fantastic) and Eric and the Newlins.
Lisa said…
OK, so this was a great ep - but not one of my faves so far in the series. That said, I'd rank it like, a NINE out of TEN instead of a TEN out of TEN, so, well played nonetheless!

Bill/Sook/Eric:
*pshew* THAT was a tense scene. As much as I admired Sook for not backing down from Eric, I found Bill's reaction to be surprising, thinking he would have intervened when Eric 'threatened' Sookie. I've read every one of the books, so I'm familiar with the storyline (won't spoil here), and I can see how Bill's allegiance to Eric would mandate such ... submissiveness on his part ... I find the dichotomy of their relationship very intriguing and can't wait to see how Alan Ball plays it out in comparison with the books. Hoping with Lorena coming in later in the season that it'll heat up more on the Eric/Sookie side of things!

MaryAnn/Tara
Another great dynamic to watch. I wasn't a big fan of Tara's in the first season's arc - but - she's endeared me this season, and I'm looking forward to seeing if Eggs is the good guy he's coming across to be. Something tells me anyone that close to MaryAnn couldn't POSSIBLY be.

Jason
GET IT ON WITH THE PREACHER'S WIFE AND GET IT OVER WITH ALREADY. I liked you better when you were shirtless and ordering every special of the day that walked through the door at Merlotte's.
Lisa said…
ps ~ This is a great blog. Really enjoy your TB related content every week. Thanks!
Mazza said…
LOVED this ep. Am totally into the whole Sookie/Bill/Eric triangle and I thought this made it really interesting w/ Sookie standing up to Eric the way she did. THAT'S WHY HE LIKES YOU SOOKIE!!! Jessica & Hoyt were adorable together. Hope Bill doesn't freak out @ Hoyt. WHY DO WE HAVE TO WAIT TWO WEEKS????
Martina said…
Love the use of the song Sex and Candy in the episode. This gets better and better every week. And, seriously, Jason and Sarah-- GET A ROOM, a confessional, whatever. I mean, not like her nerdy husband could beat you up... ;)
Lisa said…
Mazza - cracking up. Only in HBO land can a bitch slap earn you a place in someone's heart. TEAM ERIC ALL THE WAY.
Mazza said…
Only in HBO land can a bitch slap earn you a place in someone's heart.

@Lisa YES!!!!!! Clearly we are on the same team. Moar Eric!!!!!
Ally said…
Definitely my favorite episode of the young season. Great from beginning to end.

I, too, was wondering why Tara doesn't seem to fall under Maryann's spell. And like another commenter, I was definitely not a Tara fan last season - she is one of my favorite characters this season.
Annie said…
Thanks for mentioning Deborah Ann Woll. I was blown away by her performance last night. It could have been cheesy but instead she nailed it.

Great ep all around but I loved the stuff with Eric. No way is he going to just let Lafayette go like that!
Julie_from_SoCal said…
Perhaps Tara didn't get the black-oil eyes because she didn't have the special soup that the rest of the partygoers consumed.
Lisa said…
Oooo ~ good call on Tara not having the soup. Eggs didn't either from what I recall, and he was 'fine' (ha; isn't he ALWAYS) too. There was something on one of the threads somewhere that said if you click on Eric's character on HBO's site, you can get some previews. Well, I did so, and it (seemingly) showed Lafayette feeding from Eric's outstretched arm (wrist). That, coupled with the clip from the upcoming episode where they show Eric standing outside his window (how come this never happens to ME I want to know), makes me think there's more in store for those two. Did I mention? Team Eric?
Mitch_B said…
When i got divorced it seemed that i would never met other woman to fulfill my life... Never was the type of going to bars and i was to old to go to discos, so i discovered a wonderfull thing that changed my romantic life: dating websites. First tried one or two that were payed, but soon i discovered that they were a lot of dating sites that were free and they were as good or better that the payed ones. Made a free registration at skipthebar and passionsearch and so far ive met 5 wonderfull people and one is starting to be more than just a date :)

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