Fri
Jun 19 2009 12:06pm

“You are my miracle”: True Blood’s second season premiere

Lindsay Ribar starts us off:

Come on. After the hour-long season premier of True Blood on Sunday night, is there any other line of dialogue that I could possibly use as a title? “You are my miracle,” uttered by a completely straight-faced Bill Compton to his pissed-off lover Sookie Stackhouse, embodies nearly everything I love about this show. It’s shamelessly, hilariously campy, but the camp is delivered with such sincerity that you can’t help going “Awww” while various sets of characters (mostly Bill and Sookie) trade lines of dialogue fashioned out of pure cheese.

It also helps that said cheese often leads directly to some really screwed-up (yet somehow hot) sex scenes. But anyway.

The last episode of season one, despite leaving the Bill/Sookie relationship on a positive note, left us with a vast array of loose ends. Is Jason Stackhouse really going to become an anti-vampire fanatic? What is Bill going to do with Jessica, the teenager that he was forced to turn vampire? Who is that creepy Maryann, and why is Handsome Broody Sam Merlotte scared of her? What happened to Lafayette, who is the body in Andy Bellefleur’s car, and are the two connected? And, perhaps most importantly, will Eric and Pam continue to be as ridiculously fabulous as they were in the first season?

If we’re going in order, the first answer is: Yes. Jason Stackhouse was an idiot last season, and it looks like he will continue to be an idiot this season. Episode 1 gives us a peek into the Fellowship of the Sun, a church notorious for its anti-vampire sentiments. (But it’s not just about hate, Jason insists, with all the passion of someone who might someday blow up a building and say that it was for the greater good.) Jason, who has never been part of anything bigger than the occasional drug-induced trip with his now-dead ex-girlfriend, thinks he has found his true calling. This can only lead to bad things. Which will lead to drama. Which we love.

The Jessica plotline is already incredibly entertaining. She is adjusting to vampire life a little more quickly than Bill is comfortable with, and as a result, we get to witness Bill’s very rusty parenting skills, which involve: (a) setting a strict 4am curfew, (b) using the word “slattern” with complete sincerity, (c) delivering an unnecessarily menacing speech about recycling, and (d) finding Jessica the perfect cocktail of True Blood. It’s funny, and oddly sweet.

Then Sookie enters the picture. Bill, passive-aggressive guy that he sometimes is, has not yet told Sookie about Jessica, and Sookie is understandably upset about the little surprise. (Well, two little surprises. There’s also the thing about Bill having killed Sookie’s lecherous uncle in the previous season. More lovers’ spats! Bring it on!) But Sookie, by the end of the episode, decides to give Jessica the benefit of the doubt, and makes a deal with her: give me some alone time with my 140-year-old vampire boyfriend, and we’ll totes have a super-duper girls’ night tomorrow! Jessica agrees, but I can’t decide if that was “Yay, I have a friend!” agreement or “Yay, there will be no witnesses when I eat her alive!” agreement. Time will tell.

So, who is Creepy Maryann? Well, we still aren’t sure. (Those of us who’ve read the second book have a pretty good guess, as Nina will detail below, but nothing is official yet.) What we do know is: (a) she gives Tara’s crazy mother the telling-off she has long deserved, (b) she knocks people unconscious for bringing towels out at the wrong moment, and (c) she likes to do her weird vibratey thing while she’s going all Mrs. Robinson on underage shapeshifters.

Which brings us to Handsome Broody Sam, who is my person favorite piece of delicious eye-candy on this whole show. Through a series of flashbacks, we find out that seventeen-year-old Sam once broke into Maryann’s house to commit naked acts of thievery. Maryann caught him in the act, but took him to bed rather than calling the cops. See above re: screwed-up (yet somehow hot) sex scenes. And at the end, he ran off with about a zillion dollars in cash, which was lying conveniently in a dresser drawer, and presumably never saw her again until now.

But when she appears in his office at Merlotte’s and he offers her a giant sack of cash, she laughs at him, saying she isn’t here for him. Which means she’s after Tara for completely different, and completely unknown, reasons. More drama!

And speaking of drama, there is another killer on the loose! Remember the end of last season, when something came rushing at Lafayette, and the next thing we knew, a dark-skinned, toe-polished foot was hanging limply out of Andy’s car? And everyone assumed it was Lafayette (mostly because Charlaine kills him in the beginning of book two)? Well, SPOILER ALERT, it’s not him. It’s Miss Jeanette, the debatably-fake exorcist from last season, with her mouth frozen open and her heart missing. Hurrah, we have a mystery to kick off the second season!

But where, then, is Lafayette? The answer is both disgusting and awesome. Disgusting: he is being kept, with several other people (including the AIDS-burger guy from last season, and some chick in a dress), in a creepy basement, chained to a slave-wheel, which they have to rotate so that they can take turns reaching The Bucket. Awesome: the last minute or so of the show, where they show us who is keeping these people prisoner. It’s Eric! With a black wife-beater and tinfoil in his hair! Apparently he’s keeping them for questioning, re: the vamp-killing fire from last season. I am maybe a tad suspicious of his interrogation method, but at least this answers half of my last question: yes, Eric is as ridiculously awesome as he was last season.

As for the other half? Well, we didn’t get to see Pam, but I think it’s safe to assume that she’s off somewhere being awesome too.

Nina weighs in:

I’ve been waiting impatiently for the season 2 premiere of True Blood, not in the least because I’ve been seeing their amazing ad campaign on every bus stop recently. Not only is it light years improved from the horrific phallic-tongue ads of last season, but the variety and humor have had me eagerly looking out for these ads, which are scattered throughout this post. According to the internet, they’ve also been putting signs on vending machines saying that they are out of Trublood, has anyone seen one? I would love a picture.

So about 90% of me was ecstatic to watch the premiere and loved everything that Lindsay described above. The other ten percent was still grumbling over one scene from last season. The vampire tribunal of episode 10 and stupid, stupid Jessica who resulted from it. I’ve been really interested in seeing how, freed from the necessity of sticking to Sookie’s perspective, the TV show would handle scenes that couldn’t have been in the book and generally I think they’ve done it awesomely. The Tara storyline from last season rocked my flip-flops off, but all I can say about the vampire tribunal is that YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. By turning the vampires into stupid gangs of thugs in parking lots who growl and snarl, you cheapen the actual fear they should induce. This leads into my two big problems with last night’s episode.

1. Jessica. Really. She’s so annoying.
2. Oh dear lord Erik, you also, are doing it very wrong. In a drastic departure from the book, Erik has apparently lost all reason and common-sense and is now chaining people to a torturous wheel o’doooom.

If the vampires are out of the closet and trying to mainstream—admittedly some more intensely than others—then surely it would be common sense not to kidnap a bunch of humans and keep them in a basement? Or kidnap and turn 17-year-old girls? Especially insane, dumb ones! What I loved about the books was Sookie’s slow discovery of just how very scary the vampires can be; their complete lack of morality, human emotion and their lethalness are all slow reveals partially because her, and consequently my, human mind just isn’t trained to accept it. We have to, on some level, see them as humans because they look just like us. Is there anything really scarier than someone who looks like you but just isn’t? If they are snarling dogs in the street, no matter how violent they may be, it’s just not as emotionally engrossing to me. Not to mention that I was really looking forward to seeing the hierarchical structure of the vampire politics and then the Queen of later books.

I’m not a book-purist at all, though, as evidenced by how ecstatic I am that Lafayette isn’t in the back of Andy Bellefleur’s car. At least for now. Which leads into the storyline for the second season. Now assuming they’re following the book pretty closely, Maryann (played by the delightful Michelle Forbes who has stolen just about every scene she’s been in so far) may well end up being the awesome instigator of great madness. (How spoiler-y should I get for the books? If you want to know who I think Maryann is, ask me in the comments.) I love that instead of having Sam go crazy for Maryann currently, which I always thought was a weaker part of book two, he had sex with her years ago. It adds a dimension of back story to both of them that fleshes it out so much more while explaining why Sam is occasionally dumb in this story arc. I’m so impressed that while they expanded Tara’s character so much, and introduced her so much earlier, they’re still managing to weave her into the Eggs/parties drama.

In the books I never thought all that much about Bill killing Sookie’s uncle. She very briefly freaked out on him about it, but that’s understandable because a) it’s murder and b) she’d just recently found out that he could simulate a tornado, so he was just a little scary. But honestly? My main reaction was “good.” Good riddance. He abused and traumatized a little girl, psychologically scarring her. There seemed to be much bigger things to get upset about than getting rid of scum. This episode made me reconsider just how callous I can be about that. By placing it towards the beginning and not in the middle of a dramatic plot, I had more emotional energy to expend on it and having actually seen the uncle through Bill’s eyes, it all became much more real. I don’t condone the death penalty, so how can I condone Bill’s actions? Because I know he does it out of a sick sense of affection for Sookie? Bill’s actions, thought processes and emotions became just a tiny bit more alien to me in that moment, which achieved what all the stupid growling in a car park couldn’t do; it made him intimidating. Which is great, because most of the time I think he is the most adorable that ever adorabled and I really want the next episode to show him playing Wii tennis again, although True blood cocktail hour would suffice instead. I enjoy confused daddy!Bill almost as much as Sam breaking wood over his leg last season.

I am really glad, at least for now, that Bill and Sookie are working on their relationship, but I can’t help feeling like she’s taking the whole Jessica thing very calmly. I almost hope that, unlike the books, this Bill doesn’t have to betray Sookie down the road, but weighed against that is that then there will be more Erik and Pam. Provided, of course, that Pam wears a twin-set, which is possibly my single favorite visual from the books.

I’m really excited for this season; they’re keeping the Dallas trip, which means we will soon meet Barry, one of my favorite characters ever, and I assume we’ll begin to see more of the vampire politics that I was ranting about missing. Plus we’ll get to meet the crazy Newlins of the Fellowship of the Son and I bet Jason will get to be even more of an asshole, especially to his sister, than I had thought possible.

5 comments
Cat  Rambo
1. Cat Rambo
Bill's parenting moments - like the recycling bin! - are my favorite bits so far, although I like poor sluttish Jason having found the light as well.
Cat  Rambo
2. KatG
I've only gotten to read the first book in the series, so I'll bite -- what is the deal with Maryann? I'm assuming she's some sort of were leopard or snake power crazy leader, or possibly a voodoo priestess, but don't really know.

I don't expect the series to stick that close to the books either, but I was deeply disappointed that my favorite part of the first book -- vampire Elvis -- was completely cut out of the series. Given all the camp, I don't understand why they didn't go with it in some capacity and can only hope that they bring him on for later storylines. I was pretty pleased that Lafayette isn't yet dead, though, as the actor who plays him is terrific.

I agree that making the vampires like animalistic street gangs instead of Mafiosa was not the best choice, but then, that seems to be the operating bar for t.v., which doesn't want to have complex vampire lore to deal with.
Theresa DeLucci
3. theresa_delucci
I loved the season premiere. So worth the wait. This show is one of my favorites. I was so glad they answered the Lafayette question right away - I was worried! AIDS-burger was probably the most hilarious scene from any TV show last season. For such a background character, he stole all his scenes and I'm glad we'll get to see more of his this time around. I hope.

Eric's foil highlights vs. his arm-ripping Viking berserker performance was another highlight for me. My eyes about rolled out of my head when he first showed up at Fangtasia, but by the end of season one, he had a lot more depth in his tenuous friendship with Bill. And now he seems to have more to do this season, too. But it's those little touches of humor that make me love True Blood. Even 1000 year-old vampires can be slightly ridiculous and vain.

I hated Jessica last season, but I'm more willing to give her a chance after the premiere. She's still major trouble, but she brings out the parent in Bill which was funny. Bill is sooo dull. He's lucky he's got that mysterious Southern vampire thing going on for him, because otherwise... snooze. But I like that Ball actually realizes it and so we get other characters mocking his stick-in-the-mud ways.

I don't know how Sookie could pick Bill over Sam, other than that Sookie is an idiot. She's the most self-righteous character on TV since Buffy Season 7. And Anna Paquin is not the best actor on this show, I'm afraid. (Right now, Michelle Forbes is, no contest.) But in fairness Sookie also gets the cheesiest lines. Yet, her sex scenes with Bill are extremely hot. And sometimes simultaneously off-putting. (I just read that Paquin and Moyers date in real life!) Sookie and her brother always make my eyes glaze over just a bit.

Can't wait for the next episode.
Nina Lourie
4. supertailz
@1 - Yes to Bill's parenting! Plus such a sanctimonious would have to get stuck with such a terrible child:) Worse punishment, I could not imagine you. I wonder how long Jason's light-finding will last? :)

@2 You suuuuure you want the (I'm assuming) spoiler? I'm pretty sure she's based off the Maenad in book two. The Maenads were ancicent greek followers of Bacchus who were infected with some of his godlike powers and also a complete dose of the crazy. She demands tribute - sacrifices, orgies, drinking, those kinds of things - and can incite great crazies in other people. She also has a big affinity for wild animals and woods. The difference is that in the book she's only in the woods and only a couple people ever see her and there's no way she could pass for even vaguely normal, which is why I'm still hedging my bets and saying I assssssume that's her:)

You are completely utterly right about Bubba. I wonder if there're issues in terms of getting the rights to Elvis Impersonators? I can't imagine it, but why wouldn't they use Bubba? It's such a brilliant character. Unless they were just trying to be nice to my sensibilities because omg the cat stuff upsets me. I'm something of a major crazy cat lady. Mafiosa is the best way possible to describe it. I'm totally stealing that for my future rants; thank you muchly:)
Nina Lourie
5. supertailz
@theresa You watch too?? YAY.

1. Omg, I kind of hate Anna Paquin. I have done ever since X-men and she just hasn't stopped annoying me since. And yes! to Michelle Forbes. BUT here's my thought as to why I'm ok with the Bill relationship. At least in the books, Sookie is really young and inexperienced - not just physically - but emotionally, at the start of the books. She's pretty much never dated before. So of course her "first love" has all the hallmarks of teenage romance, including being angsty and boring and cheesy and how many of us actually pick the interesting ones to date in highschool? (I picked the crazies, but that's something else entirely:) Plus, we need to save Sam on the show. Once Bill stops dating her, at least in the books, he pretty majorly fades out - he hangs around and wants to get back with her, but he merits about 5 pages a book - and THAT CAN'T HAPPEN TO SAM EVER KTHX.

In the same way, Sookie *does* get less self-righteous and irritating as the books go on and I have a hard time imagining Alan Ball *not* capitalising on that. He's so good at making characters grow, yanno?

YAY for more. I didn't get out of rehearsal in time last night to watch the next one, so that's part of my plan for the day. Then we must discuss all over again!

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