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The Cruelest Cut: Betrayal, Sacrifice, and Blood Debts on "True Blood"

"Betrayal is the only truth that sticks." - Arthur Miller

I raced back from San Diego's Comic-Con last night to catch the latest episode of HBO's seductive and slick drama series True Blood ("Hard-Hearted Hannah"), written by Brian Buckner and directed by Michael Lehmann, and I'm glad I did as the installment featured several betrayals that had me gasping for air, even as some of them seemed rather obvious from the start. (Cough, Daphne, cough.)

Throughout the season to date, various factions have been moving into place and this week threats to our protagonists made their moves, with Daphne betraying Sam, Sookie and Hugo being taken by the Fellowship of the Sun, Eric luring Lorena to distract Bill, Sarah making her choice to betray Steve, Eggs learning a truth about his past, Pam forcing Lafayette back into the game, and Maryann, oh, pushing everyone into a frenzied state in the woods behind the Stackhouse place.

"Hard-Hearted Hannah" offered one of the most shocking and twisty episodes of the second season of True Blood and made me wonder just how dark things are going to get in Bon Temps before the end of the season. After all, this episode was just the half-way point for Season Two and I have a sinking suspicion that things are going to get very grim for Sookie and her friends.

You can read about my recap of the True Blood panel at San Diego Comic-Con here and then let's discuss "Hard-Hearted Hannah."

Daphne. As I mentioned in last week's write up, it was way too coincidental that two shifters should just happen to be Bon Temps at the same time... and that Miss Daphne showed up at just the same time that Maryann did. This week, we learn that Daphne's go-to form is that of a pig... right before she betrays Sam for good and turns him over to Maryann and her frenzied minions. Is this the payment that Maryann was after before? The forfeit of Sam's life to repay his debt to her... or is she willing to trade his life for servitude?

The wicked looking knife that Carl is holding is clearly meant to reference the remains of the ritual sacrifice that Eggs and Tara discovered in the woods, which would lead me to believe that Maryann wants to make a blood offering of Sam Merlotte himself. But there's no way that Alan Ball and Company are killing off Sam like this so I imagine that something must give.

As for Daphne, did her shifter nature render the maenad's scratches less poisonous than they would have been to a normal human? Is Daphne acting of her own accord or did those wounds enable Maryann some control over her? And if not, why has Daphne willingly joined up with Maryann after she was so savagely attacked? Curious.

Eggs. Poor Eggs gets the shock of a lifetime when he and Tara head out to pick up a spare part for the Stackhouse's old water heater and he experiences a strong sense of deja vu while driving. Drawn to a spot in the woods, Eggs leads Tara to the aforementioned sacrifice site. While Eggs can't remember anything, he knows something awful happened there--the blood on the rock and the torn clothes were a clue--and he's deeply disturbed by what he sees. Could it be that Maryann's glamour over her victims is fading? Or that Eggs is somehow growing less susceptible to forgetting what he saw/experienced?

Sadly, Eggs and Tara discover what Maryann is up to in the back of the house and are sucked into the spell, becoming a part of the dark orgy that Maryann has unleashed. I'm hoping that the duo remember something afterwards about what they saw as someone has to put a stop to Maryann before she destroys Bon Temps or has her followers turn on each other in a blood-fueled rage.

Hugo. I loved that Isabelle (Valerie Cruz) also has a human lover and that she made it clear to Bill right away that he belongs to her. Given their relationship, it seems as though the logical traitor in their midst would be Stan but this could be a red herring. Could it be that Hugo has infiltrated the Dallas vampires just as Sookie plans to do with the Fellowship of the Sun? (Yet Sookie read Hugo's mind and discovered that he was madly in love with Isabelle but that could have been trickery. After all, Steve Newlin seemed to know that she was a telepath.)

Sookie. I'm actually quite terrified to know just what the Newlins have planned for Sookie Stackhouse. Sarah seemed quite upset when Steve wanted Sookie to participate in the lock-in; it's not a good sign that they have Godric chained up somewhere in the basement and then dragged her downstairs. Gabe seemed to think that Sookie's, uh, decolletage would be a plus. I'm not sure if they mean to incite Godric or the Light of Day soldiers. Whatever their intent, it's not good and Sookie is dragged, kicking and screaming, down the stairs while Sarah watches, helpless and crying.

If only Jason knew his sister was imprisoned just downstairs from where he and Sarah are going at it in the church balcony. Oh, Jason, your abstinence pledge lasted all of two hours or so. Sigh. I'm beginning to think that Steve Newlin knew all along just who Jason Stackhouse was--and his connection to Sookie--and that he's been maneuvering him into place all along. This does not bode well.

Bill and Lorena. We got a lovely flashback to Bill during Prohibition Days when he and Lorena posed a sexually adventurous Parisian couple and then murdered their party hosts in their bedroom. It's clear that as Bill's maker, Lorena holds much sway over Bill and physically she is much, much stronger than he is. As for why Eric summons her to Dallas, I'm not sure. The logical reason would be to distract Bill so that Eric can swoop in and possess Sookie for himself... but if that's the case why send Sookie into danger and make it impossible for Bill to rescue her? Surely, Sookie is more valuable alive than she is dead....

Jessica and Hoyt. But among all of the betrayal and animosity and evil, there was one flickering sign of hope this week: the burgeoning romance between Hoyt Fortenberry and baby vamp Jessica Hamby. After Maxine cuts off Hoyt's cell phone access, Hoyt drives out to Dallas to be with Jessica (with flowers no less!) just as she awakens at dusk (and pours out two very expensive bottles of Tru Blood into the sink).

The look of surprise and love on Jessica's face as she hears Hoyt at the door was absolutely beautiful and a testament to the redemptive power of love. She's walking a fine line between innocent girl and cold-blooded vampiric killer and Hoyt could keep her on the straight and narrow. These two might just be the most adorable couple on television and once again I have to give massive kudos to Jim Parrack and Deborah Ann Woll for playing it just right, imbuing their interactions with a sweet innocence laced with the slightest edge of simmering sexuality.

But my favorite scene of the episode has to be the one between Todd Lowe's Terry and Lafayette after Lafayette freaks out when Andy badgers him about his disappearance and Lafayette, clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, cowers in the corner. That Terry--who, more than anyone would know what Lafayette is experiencing--stands up to his cousin Andy was a testament to how far Terry has come as a character. That he would then comfort Lafayette and hold him was a brave and truthful scene about kinship and understanding. And, yes, I'll admit that I did get more than a little choked up. Just a beautifully understated scene that spoke volumes about both Terry and Lafayette.

As for Lafayette, his troubles are just beginning as Pam turns up at Merlotte's to call in a favor. (We didn't really think that Eric offered Lafayette his blood without any strings attached, did we?) It looks like Lafayette is going to be dragged back into the V game whether he wants to or not. But I can't quite figure out why Eric would want Lafayette back in business selling vampire blood. Just what does Northman get out of this arrangement? Hmmm....

Just what will happen next? What are the Fellowship of the Sun's plans for Sookie? Is Godric the vampire they intend to roast in the sun? Why did Eric bring Lorena to Dallas? Who can stop Maryann? And how am I going to wait until Sunday for another installment without going insane? Discuss.

Next week on True Blood ("Release Me"), Sam finds himself in a predicament at the hands of Maryann and her wild-eyed minions after Daphne's betrayal; imprisoned with Hugo by the Fellowship of the Sun, Sookie attempts to telepathically reach out to Bill, who’s being detained Lorena; Jason tries to sever his ties with the Fellowship of the Sun, but gets plenty of resistance from Steve and Gabe.


Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jace Lacob said…

Your comment has been deleted. Once an episode AIRS, it is fair game for review and discussion. Not sure what you thought this article would be but it's clearly indicated in the opening paragraphs that it's about last night's episode.

Not sure what your problem is. There's no need to put spoilers in the title, as you demand, as the episode has already aired.

Seriously: calm down.
Bella Spruce said…
Great review! So much happened in this episode. I loved the scene between Jason and Sarah. Jason is hilarious with his good intentions and his short-lived abstinence pledge. He truly is the blonde bimbo of the show!

And Hoyt showing up at Jessica's door was so sweet. Ah, young vampire/human love.
Ridolph said…
That was a great episode! Really ratcheting it up. Everything was spot on.

But how come Isabelle can't tell that Hugo is in trouble?
Anonymous said…
There are people who work out there in the world, and sometimes can't catch the show when it airs and DVR it or something. Then, there are a a few like me, who have to download this show because it's airing a season late my country, so who haven't watched it the moment it is on.

I didn't not search for your expert review and end up here, I got a snippet off IMDb, and I thought, hey, this looks nice, might as well read it.

The words "Review" and "Preview" do serve a purpose, can't you use them? Would it hurt your pride so much that you can't put this on the begining -

Review of True Blood - 206

Or maybe some other words but those which warn users that I'm reviewing it.

Or you can request IMDb to take you off their list.

There's not a slightest hint of WTF you're going to be talking about here, neither in the title, or the header, so you might have a few wanderers end up here hoping to know more about the context of the show before they get it spoiled from you.
Mazza said…
Wow, people are idiots. If you haven't seen an episode of a show, why are you clicking on things about True Blood? Jace says in the first sentence that this piece is about "the latest episode of HBO's seductive and slick drama series True Blood ("Hard-Hearted Hannah")". I've been a reader of this site for years and if he talks about something I haven't seen yet, I just avoid reading it until I have. If I miss an episode of a show, I try to avoid going to sites that, you know, talk about that show. Or going to IMDB pages for that show! The world doesn't revolve around you nor should it play by YOUR rules.


I thought this was a great ep and loved the scenes you mentioned. Terry's scene w/ Lafayette was such a nice surprise because it came from left field. I am glad the writers are dealing w/ Lafayette's mental state after his ordeal and that things aren't just OK for him now that he's safe again.

Hoyt and Jessica are the cutest couple. I'm worried that Bad Things will happen to them but I really want them to stay together.

I am worried about Isabelle more than I am Hugo. What if she and Stan WANT to start a war with the humans and let Godrick (sp?) get captured? And she is just faking her love for Hugo????
Anonymous said…
"I raced back from San Diego's Comic-Con last night to catch the latest episode of HBO's seductive and slick drama series True Blood..[....].."
Yeah, it's a regular "Here is my review of the last episode of TB."!

I've been a reader of this site for years
Exactly, and I am not, so I didn't know what it deals with. And it's not even as if I searched for it like I said.

If I miss an episode of a show, I try to avoid going to sites that, you know, talk about that show. Or going to IMDB pages for that show!
Except, I went there to read about it's Comic Con events and Sam's interview about how he wants Twilight's actress there and how Ben of LOST wants to be on the show, not to read about what happened on the episode.

And suddenly, in between all of it, there was this -

A simple graze on it shows - "Betrayal, Daphne", and I stopped there, otherwise a whole lot of it would've been spoiled.

And it's stupid to lock yourself in in case you haven't watched an episode when there is a simple solution to all of this, which is a common sense as well.

The world doesn't revolve around you nor should it play by YOUR rules.

My rules? These are not my rules, take a look out side, people are not running around saying omg don't spoil, don't spoil, because people who review movies/T.V. use words like SPOILERS, REVIEW, PREVIEW in the title. Professionals do at least.
Jace Lacob said…

This site is geared around US AIRINGS. If I write an advance review of something, I clearly indicate it in the title (as in "an advance review of...").

If it has aired in the US, I don't as it's blatantly obvious that it's a review or will contain spoilers.

Your tone and recent comment are offensive and will not be tolerated. I am not forcing you to keep returning to this site, so please by all means go elsewhere.
Barbara said…
What I originally loved about True Blood was that it could shock me. Over the course of the season and a half, the shock has worn away---until the most recent episode! It was frightening to see flashback Bill so bloodthirsty, and to realize the power of that urge which he has trained himself to overcome. Although I knew Daphne wasn't on the up and up, my heart still began to pound as her betrayal was revealed. (And I appreciate your saying that it's crazy to assume Sam is disposable, Jace. I'd hate to see *that.*)But maybe the scariest bit of this episode was the down-the-stairs shot that we get, as the door to the church's depths is revealed. What's down there? What will Sookie have to face? Is she bait? Is there some grotesque play that will be acted out, where Sookie is the victim of a horrifying vampire who will then "deserve" his death by exposure (and the Fellowship will rid themselves of a dangerous vamp sympathizer, in the bargain)? Yikes! I love this stuff...
Lisa said…
Guess it would really "SUCK" (pun absolutely intended) if I decided to drop some SPOILER PREVIEWS from say, Book 8 or 9, huh? ;)

Awesome blog, Jace. Look forward to it every week. Thanks for all your hard work!!!
Anonymous said…
"As for why Eric summons her to Dallas, I'm not sure. The logical reason would be to distract Bill so that Eric can swoop in and possess Sookie for himself... but if that's the case why send Sookie into danger and make it impossible for Bill to rescue her?"

Why, that's easy! So Eric can swoop in and save Sookie, thus appearing to be her hero and making Bill look bad all at the same time! Oh, the lengths Eric will go to for some Sookie Nookie...

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