Jun 27 2011 12:00pm

True Blood Episode Review: “She’s Not There”

True Blood episode review of She’s Not There

HBO’s True Blood is back in all its soapy, vampy, Southern-fried glory. When last we saw our resident damsel in distress Sookie Stackhouse, she had sworn off her vampire boyfriend Bill and allowed herself to be whisked away to Fairyland. Yeah. It’s that kind of show. You either love it or you hate it. I’m deciding to at least start off the fourth with some cautious love. The set-up is has never exactly been True Blood’s problem. And this was a great season premiere.

Maybe because it reminded me of a few other shows.

In typical True Blood fashion, we pick up right where last season left off, with Sookie arriving in the feminine hygiene product commercial that is Fairyland, where everyone’s all in soft focus and eating lightfruit. How is it that only Sookie, never known for her great intelligence, is the only person not drinking the Kool-Aid? Barry the bellboy from Dallas is there and so is Sookie’s grandaddy, who could swear he’s only been gone a few hours. Thankfully, in addition to being a telepath, part fairy, and a bit of a Mary Sue, Sookie also has the innate ability to turn everything around her to shit and our time in Fairyland is short.

Don’t piss off fairies. Queen Mab lookis like a member of a Norwegian black metal band when angry.

When Sookie jumps through a portal back to Earth she learns that she’s been missing and assumed dead for a year and a) Jason sold their grandma’s house and b) everyone has new hair. But no one’s hair is as great as Lafayette’s mohawk. I’m a big fan of the time shift on one hand because it was weird to think that Bon Temps was stuck in 2008 or so. But it’s also a bit of a cheap way to reinvigorate a show with new mysteries. But True Blood’s a little bit cheap, too. I loved the time jumps on Battlestar Galactica and especially on Lost and I love it here. We’ve bypassed a lot of boring.

I’m sure that Queen Mab will be back and Sookie’s probably going to want to rescue her half-fey counterpoints down the line, but for now, it’s time to revel in vampire boy problems. The vampire dick-measuring starts immediately. Like sundown the same day. Damn, I missed Eric. And even Bill. That damn Bill-Sookie guitar love theme swells and I remember how much I liked them as a couple. There’s a lot of similarities to the Buffy/Angel/Spike love triangle going on. I loved Buffy, but I’m hoping that True Blood keeps it feeling fresher. Bill is about as boring as Angel ever was. I’m interested in seeing where his Bill’s new position as King of Louisiana takes him while he works on the Bon Temps city council, too. I just hope it includes plans for a flashback to Sophie-Ann’s death.

Eric Northman is definitely taking a page out of Spike’s big book of rapey courtship, which is not a good thing. He can now come and go as he pleases in Sookie’s house, since he owns it. He’s already tricked her into drinking his blood, all the better to keep tabs on her and give her sex dreams. This is predatory, not roguish and charming. Imagine if Eric wasn’t preternaturally gorgeous and instead looked like Clint Howard. Eric would be a villain. I like Eric more than Bill because he’s got a sly sense of humor, lots of confidence, and awesome track suits, but he’s skirting a very creepy line.

Give me Alcide. A psycho ex and a case of werewolf-ism seems comparatively mellow. Also, it’s not like Sookie would be lowering her standards because Alcide looks like this. (Borderline NSFW.)

Elsewhere in Louisiana:

Jessica and Hoyt are marginally less adorable because of very real relationship problems. I’ve never seen anyone sarcastically eat before, but Hoyt did a bang-up job. Jessica’s very young and never got a chance to really explore her vampire desires before playing house. Nothing good can come from the way Jessica’s flirting with strange men, especially with Pam acting as her mentor.

I knew Sam couldn’t be at a real anger management group because there were way too many hot people. Wine and shapeshifting are very therapeutic. But I still sense some major tension with his brother Tommy, who I don’t really buy as being reformed. A doofy haircut and saying grace over meals with Hoyt’s mom can’t hide that perpetual smirk.

In New Orleans, Tara is finally putting her jacked arms to good use as some kind of MMA artist. Awesome scene. Oh, she’s got a girlfriend now, too. So, yeah, that happened. She seems calmer, so good on her. Let’s try to hold off the tears and trembling lower lip for a few episodes, ’kay? (But it’s Tara, who am I kidding.)

Jason (with a mustache) is officially a cop and got locked in a cooler by the meth addict were-panther hillbillies he’s charged with protecting. Meh. It was good to see him with Sookie again, like old times. That reunion was short-lived.

The real highlight of the show was Marnie, leader of the local coven. Wow. Harry Potter’s Aunt Petunia is bugfuck looney. I love her already. Maybe it’s because she called back to Eddie, the most pathetic vampire ever, who spent his Monday nights paying Lafayette for sex and watching Heroes. (To think, Heroes was once the highlight of anyone’s Monday night.) Fiona Shaw pulled some impressive faces as she raised the dead. She looks so unassuming, but those are usually the scariest kinds of Big Bads. (See: John Lithgow in Dexter season four.)

Finally, the cool end credits cover of The Zombie’s “She’s Not There” was performed by Nick Cave and Neko Case. Class act.

So, the puzzle pieces are all arranged in very interesting ways. But how will it all come together? That’s always the problem. They usually don’t. But maybe this season will be different. And if not, I’m in the mood for fun and snark. On Game of Thrones, winter may be coming, but I’m ready to enjoy the summer with some guilty pleasures.

Theresa DeLucci is still Team Direwolf.

Susan Davis
1. sue
Well, that answers fairly conclusively the question of whether they were going to return to the novels' story line or not.
2. sofrina
way to diss clint howard. and after all the memories he's given us.
3. N. Mamatas
I was confused by the scene where Jason is transformed into a werepanther. Crystal does so so that she can breed with him, preserving her inbred bloodline and guaranteeing to give birth to a "panther" (I presume a werepanther). But if she can transform Jason into a werepanther by biting him, but doesn't she just bite whatever child she has?

Or does she really mean giving birth to a panther, rather than a human?
4. James Davis Nicoll
Maybe born-panthers are more truly panthery to the werepanther community than made-panthers? It wouldn't be the craziest breeding-related idea to gain hold.

Also, not that I've seen the episode but I remember her from the books; is she really someone who could be trusted to bite a child just hard enough to make them a panther but not so hard the kid dies? It seems to me successfully biting the kid could rquite hitting a narrow window of violence.
5. N. Mamatas
She can wait till his bar mitzvah, surely!
6. sofrina
at no point in this episode did crystal appear, nor anyone attempt to turn jason. he simply fell for a basic rodent trap in which a box was propped open and, once he came to investigate, the lid was dropped to trap him inside. with a few details involved.

if jason does not suffocate, i will be very surprised.
7. N. Mamatas
Whoops, I skipped ahead to episode 2, which I watched on the computer right after episode 1.
8. Edgewalker
@N. Mamatas,


9. James Davis Nicoll
he simply fell for a basic rodent trap in which a box was propped open and, once he came to investigate, the lid was dropped to trap him inside.

By any chance, are Jason Stackhouse and Kim Bauer cousins?
Theresa DeLucci
10. theresa_delucci
Revealing my age, I flashed back to that Very Special Episode of Punky Brewster where Cherry hid in a fridge and needed CPR.

Also -- SPOILERS. For real. In no way does this post discuss next week's episode because Time Warner sucks and I don't have HBO GO.

At least I know @sofrina reads the actual posts. Ha. I said nothing negative about Clint Howard as an actor. He's a fine actor. I was merely illustrating the unfair correlation between ugly=bad in mass media.
11. sofrina
i'll see your age and raise you a few years: i flashed on the episode of "the waltons" where the little red-haired sister hid in an old trunk and couldn't get out.

and i'm dissing you dissing clint's looks. nobody thought he was ugly in "gentle ben." or "star trek: tos."

's all relative...
Ashe Armstrong
12. AsheSaoirse
My response to the intro was, "Light fucking fairy" and then promptly, "Holy shit, Gary Cole, SAY I'LL TAKE THE CASE!" I was very pleased with the time jump because, let's be real, sticking to a plot time that would be 3 years old at this point (instead of two, herp da derp) was a bit of a relief and I suspected they would be doing that when Granddaddy Cole said he'd just seen her recently.

Bill is still boring (Angel will always be more interesting if for no other reason than he turned into a puppet once) but now he's a's not surprising. Erik skirting the creepy line is, well, he's a fucking vampire. Vampires are predators, c'mon, is it really that surprising? I mean, Spike had the excuse of lacking a soul but wanting to show Buffy he loved her and that lack of soul getting in the way (not much of an excuse but work with me here).

Hoyt and Jessica make me sad now...then again, I just want more Jessica, more more more, always more. Always. So much Jessica. She is for me what Erik is for most everyone else haha.

Jason...still dumb as ever but his heart's in the right place.

Tara...just...okay, she's all fight fighty rawr now and liking the girls because dudes were doing bad things to her, understandable, I guess. But yeah, I sincerely hope we go a few episodes without victim Tara showing up.

Seriously, more Jessica.

Lafayette's story could get real fun this season, the sexy bitch.
13. AlexisS
At first, being a big fan of the books I was getting frustruated by all the things that were new and different, but the I decided to enjoy it, as it's like extra True Blood stories that I am not spoiled for (completely).

I don't buy Bill as king of anything... but maybe this will give a boring character a little more personality, that would be good.

However, I do wish they were doing the Eric plot from Dead to the World... but maybe that's still going to happen?
14. lug
Please let them still follow through with something resembling the Eric plot from Dead to the World. I accept that the tv show is pretty much a different universe than the books, but I was so looking forward to my Eric time. Not that he won't still play a huge roll, but, well, you know. I see the Angel-Buffy-Spike triangle connection, too. But, I don't mind Eric's creepiness. He's about as vampire as they come.
William Fettes
15. Wolfmage
Generally I think the skip forward device is lazy writing, but I think it really worked for True Blood. It definitely helps that many characters and plot strands were left in a pretty big disarray last season. Despite this advancing everything 12 months, often independently, everything seemed a lot tighter and more cohesive.
Theresa DeLucci
16. theresa_delucci
@12 Well, I mean from an objective standpoint, Eric's a little creepy, but I certainly wouldn't mind if he showed up at my house unannounced.

Why are blond vampires always cooler? Lestat, Spike, Eric...
Ashe Armstrong
17. AsheSaoirse
@16: Jessica could show up at my house unannounced...right now...*listens for doorbell*

Sad face. And I don't know about the hair thing, although Spike could've had a shaved head or a rainbow mohawk and he'd have still been Spike, kicker of ass and taker of names.
Pritpaul Bains
18. Kickpuncher
Fairyland took a turn pretty quick. One that I was glad to see, though. Original Fairyland was rage-inducing. Wonder if we'll catch a glimpse of Barry's fate next epi.

@9: That made me laugh out loud.

Season's off to a promising start. Yay for contrived timeshift plot device! Cheap, but in this case I don't really care. Effective, and essentially gave the show a chance to hit "reset" and give us something different with all the familiar. I'm not familiar with the books, but I think a Russell return is in order before the season's through.
Theresa DeLucci
19. theresa_delucci
Russell was too good of a character and wasn't turned to goo. I bet he's coming back at some point. He's too good to waste.

/pours out some Tru Blood on the ground for Franklin.
Ashe Armstrong
20. AsheSaoirse
Franklin was just too intense to last long but damn it, he was fun.
21. wackyadri
Is anyone else wondering if that rogue fairy that helped sookie and her grandpa escape fairy wonderland will reappear in the human realm?

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