Jul 5 2011 10:57am

True Blood Episode Review: “You Smell Like Dinner”

True Blood episode

In this week’s patriotic episode of True Blood, Eric tells Sookie that she smells like sunshine and freedom in a pretty blond bottle. There’s really nothing more American than that, is there? Also, the people of Bon Temps celebrate the holiday weekend by taking their clothes off. Except for Lafayette and Jesus because two men in a committed relationship having normal old sex like any other couple is totally un-American.

Fairy-Sookie has a dirty mouth, which Eric likes. I like that Sookie, too. The way she yells “Motherfucker!” when something annoying happens is totally relate-able. Except that she’s still mad that Eric bought her Gran’s house and even built himself a place to sleep during the day while she was at work. Just how long are shifts at Merlotte’s anyway? Again, not exactly seeing the problem with the extra room. It’s for Eric. But Sookie tries to take control of her life by... going to ask Bill for help. I can’t tell if that’s empowering or not. Maybe just level-headed.

Bill’s got a rebound girlfriend. And she kinda looks like Sophie-Ann in sexy librarian garb. Poor Sookie. Even if you ended things on good terms, no one wants to see their ex with a new “security team member” and find out that they’ve become royalty. But Sookie takes the high road and seems remarkably nonchalant about the whole thing. She kind of has seen it all. And she gets in one last little zing.

It’s so weird seeing Bill dressed as Sid Vicious. When Spike on Buffy did it, it was hot, but I can’t buy Bill as a punk for even a second. I love old fuddy-duddy Bill. I mean, he’s still under that spiky hair, preaching the importance of vitamin supplements, but why would you speak in that stilted Southern accent when you can do such a great Brit one? But really my favorite fashion choice in this flashback was Nan Flanagan’s gigantic earrings, like she’s wearing two crystal doorknobs on her head.

But in this decade, Pam’s still the most stylish vampire, especially with Queen Sophie-Ann gone.

While Bill is trying to take care of his territory, Pam’s trying to appease the American Vampire League and not eat the human protesters in front of Fangtasia. Hearing them chant Steve Newlin’s name fills me with glee. I can’t wait to see the return of the dorky preacher and his wife, she of the tasty pudding.

But, you know, while True Blood’s making this great metaphor of vampires as social outsiders, really comparing their fight to that of today’s gay rights activists, it sure does make me scratch my head that Lafayette and Jesus get to share one little chaste kiss while Bill’s sexing up his coven spy and Sam’s putting the moves on his “anger management” buddy. This is a show by Alan Ball, the man who gave us David Fisher and Keith Charles, one of TV’s best couples of any sexual orientation. This seems to happen to gay characters on TV a lot. But it’s kind of crappy that Ball can go there with his metaphors on the one hand while adding to the lack of equal representation with the other. I just wouldn’t expect that from him. And I’m a bit disappointed.

Maybe if all things were equal, Sam would get less romantic screentime, too, because he’s so awkward at it. Sam uses lines on women that may sound all flowery and nice when said in the moment, but thinking about it afterwards, they make no sense. “People don’t get to be as beautiful as you without having a story to tell,” he tells Luna, his new love interest. Uh, they were born genetically blessed? End of story? But I suppose he means her inner beauty because she’s oh so mysterious, as any woman named Luna must automatically be. Also she’s part Navajo, so that’s TV-shorthand for being mystical in some way.

Some questions:

Why is Crystal even more nonsensical this season? Last time we saw her, she did have some dignity and sacrificed her freedom to keep the kids of Hotshot safe. Now, she’s just all gung-ho about having permission to have a panther baby with Jason. Jason sure can pick them.

Was Jason more disturbed by the fact that there was only one girl in the threesome scenario he found himself in or that they were were-panthers? Jason totally seems the type to get squicked out by the former.

Doesn’t Arlene have two other kids aside from her demon baby? I bet that cute little redhead girl aged too fast for the show’s timeline. She must be living on an island with Walt from Lost.

Can we have an episode without Jason, Sam, and Arlene so we can just focus on the good storylines? Please note that I’m keeping Tara included in the good storylines. I’m surprised, too.

Did Marnie have a specific dead body she wanted to raise or is she just looking to flex her necromancy muscles? Whose face was that flashing by during the dark spell? To me, it almost looked like Sookie.

Why did a newly-amnesiac Eric take off his shirt before wandering in the woods? Do I care? Hell no. Did Eric forget what shirts are for? I sincerely hope so.

How long until a very vulnerable Eric makes Sookie fall in love with him? How long will Eric have no memory? Give me more of Sookie and Eric and throw in some Alcide (I saw a flash of his big plaid shirt in the preview for next week’s episode. Finally!) for good measure, add a creepy witch to screw it all up, and I’m happy. True Blood’s got its fangs in me.

True Blood airs Sundays at 9pm E/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is still Team Direwolf.

1. Edgewalker
The actor that plays Bill is English. Hence...the ability to put on a great English accent.

As for Lafayette and his BF, they had serious love scenes last season. Maybe you didn't see it, but your criticism is lacking in awareness of that and is perhaps unwarranted.
2. UrsulaMinor
If everyone I wanted to see have steamy scenes in True blood actually had them, I don't think there would be room for plot.

I think we are almost one to one, this season for straight up explicit scenes, between completely hetero and not, what with Tara(Tony?) and her new girlfriend. I don't think the impending Crystal/Jason panther babies count yet, as it mostly involved him getting mauled by panthers.

I personally am not loving Lafayette/Jesus right now, but mostly because I had harboured this hope that Jesus would be a stabilizing influence on Lafayette's life, not a "let's get mixed up with wiccan cults" sort of influence. At the very least though, these boys have their eyes on the prize of advancing the plot quickly, which is for the good I think.
Theresa DeLucci
3. theresa_delucci
@1 This is my third year doing episode reviews for True Blood. We did get a nice scene with them last year, but Ball made those recent comments about throwing hetero male viewers a bone this season and I don't want to see Lafayette/Jesus get short-changed because of that. (And yeah, girl-girl scenes are kind of throwing hetero males a bone, too, but it's not nearly as extraneous on True Blood as the prostitutes in Littlefinger's brothel were on Game of Thrones. I mean that's all about the male gaze.)

(And I know Moyer is British, but I was wondering why the character Bill wouldn't affect that awesome Brit accent all the time. Because I'm biased towards Brit accents.)

@2 I know! I wanted Lafayete and Jesus to be that nice, sweet, stable couple because Lafayette deserves some nice. And Jesus, for all of his bad witch tendencies, does still encourage Lafayette to take down his defenses and open up his soul. But I guess if they were all light and good, it's make for boring TV. I love the witch coven; they're definitely shaking things up so well.
4. HeWhoComesWithTheNoon
Nonplussed doesn't make sense how you've used it. It means "confused."

If a male reviewer spent multiple paragraphs writing about how he wanted to see more of Sookie's boobs, would he be given any respect? I mean I know it's True Blood, not Mad Men, but come on. Also, I'd like to see Christina Hendricks' boobs.

You can't really compare showing a lipstick lesbian love scene to showing a gay male love scene. It doesn't have the same stigma against it and isn't nearly as daring. I'd hesitate to even say it's any more brave than showing a straight love scene.
5. HeWhoComesWithTheNoon
Didn't mean that to sound as douchy as it did. I don't think there's anything wrong with reviewing True Blood that way, it's kinda part of the fun of the show. Just making a general observation. The nonplussed thing I really can't say without seeming pedantic, so I'm just gonna go with it. Pet peeve of mine, that word.
6. James Davis Nicoll
getting mauled by panthers is like Jell-O (tm ); there's always room for more.

1: As the Kitchener City council found out in the early 1990s when they tried to ban Jell-O wrestling in the city's premier theatre venue , Center in the Square. The makers of Jell-O do not recognize Jell-O wresting as a valid use of their products name and had a cease and desist order in Kitchener within 25 hours. The correct term is "flavoured gellatin wrestling".

2: All part of a convoluted attempt to make it possible for the CinS to put on a play with nudity in without permission being taken as permission for the CitS to start holding orgies as people do whenever social restrictions are loosened even a little.

It still makes more sense than Waterloo, Ontario's ban on owning blue whales, which was a side effect, IIRC, of someone discovering there was a pack of dog/wolf crosses in town.
Ashe Armstrong
7. AsheSaoirse
I really...really...reallyreallyreally REALLY hate Crystal and anything to do with her and her family. So much.
Theresa DeLucci
8. theresa_delucci
@4 Thanks for the clarification. I meant nonchalant.

True Blood is a soapy, b-movie TV show, so, yeah, the sex scenes are pretty crucial to the show. To be honest, one of the main reasons I watch the show is to see attractive people have messy but hot love lives. It's certainly not for a plot that hinges on any logic or the promise of delivering on some timely social commentary. Not anymore, at least. Shows evolve, and this is how I approach True Blood now.

And as a female reviewer with a strong interest in how women are portrayed in the media I consume, I am fighting for equal sexual objectification for men and women and will call out the show when it fails to deliver. Because True Blood is one of the few shows where the men are trumped up for their looks way more than the women. It's a refreshing change of pace. (I'm a big gamer. If you think I'm tough on TV, you should hear me tear into female video game characters. Or not. Because it's probably obnoxious as hell.)

@6 I have no idea what's going on here ( I am nonplussed!) but I love it.
9. Edgewalker
Ah, I see. Yeah, Ball's comments are welcome, for me, as a hetero, but I don't think it will mean he is going to short change the rest. It was one episode. I'm sure their time will come.
Theresa DeLucci
10. theresa_delucci
@7 I kind of wish I could just skip mentioning that storyline in my reviews at all. Crystal has zero charisma. I miss crazy Amy from the first season. She was Jason's best girlfriend.
Ashe Armstrong
11. AsheSaoirse
@10: Aaaah, crazy Amy. She was fun. She made me interested. She was even fun to watch die. But Crystal? Dear god, every time...EVERY goddamn time I see her or one of her inbred, backwoods, "look at us, we're so pathetic and stereotypical that we dealt meth for a while," werepanther family, I want to headbutt a baby. Especially when Crystal comes bursting in going, "WE'RE GONNA MAKE WERE-RAPE BABIES NOW, K?" So much awful. And I like Jason. As dumb as he is, I like him but he gets the most ridiculous subplots.

Is this whole thing in the books too? I'd have skipped over that. Does anyone even like Crystal? I heard she's worse in the books but I can't recall who told me that or the details as to why.

Also, I completely agree about this show being b-level, cheesy, smutty fun. Yay for that.

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