Mon
Jun 18 2012 11:00am

Christopher Meloni Gets Fangs: True Blood, “Authority Always Wins”

This week’s episode of HBO’s True Blood gives us our first look at vampire Chrsitopher Meloni. I never watched him on SVU, but I enjoyed him on Scrubs and the bits of Oz I peeked at when I wasn’t covering my eyes because, damn. That show was crazy even for HBO. Though his time onscreen was brief, I’m already interested in the threat he poses to Bill and Eric if they don’t make good on their promise to bring in Russell. Plus he’s got an actor from Spartacus on his council; I’ve seen him use a sword and no one wants to be on the pointy end of that.

Also: Sookie is a selfish idiot. But that’s not really news.

It’s going to be a long season.

(Apologies for the lack of episode review last week. I was buried under cement moved to a new apartment and was without cable.)

I can’t say I was nuts about the premiere. I hate it when characters don’t talk to each other. This is True Blood, not Lost. You just know Sookie’s all set up to get horizontal with Alcide and then either he’ll find out or someone will tell him that Sookie killed Debbie Pelt and a boring dramabomb of angst, and betrayal will explode and make me find Alcide as boring as Bill. But I hope I’m proved wrong.

The premiere was heavy on exposition (and bare butts) but low on real excitement. Normally, seeing Eric Northman naked is cause for celebration, but watching him hook up with his “sister” seemed strangely perfunctory. Nora just showed up. There was no story to her, so I didn’t care that she can fuck like a champ. And I can already tell which storylines are ideal for making a fridge-run. (Hint: it’s Terry and Arlene. Again.)

But I do love the can of worms that’s been opened by having Tara turned into a vampire, by Pam no less. I understand why Lafayette wanted to turn her. He said it himself in last night’s episode. But for Sookie to allow it? That’s crazy. At least now Tara has a good reason for being pissed off all the time. She’s still a victim of circumstances beyond her control, but maybe being a vampire will make her stronger in more ways than one. If she is indeed in that insane vampire body.

And for Pam to be Tara’s maker? Awesome. Anything that gives us more Pam is a good thing. I had hoped that Pam and Jessica would have more of a relationship when she was first turned, but that never happened. And perhaps it won’t click with Tara either, seeing as they hate each other. But making someone is clearly bringing up past issues with Pam, especially while her own maker has been either missing or distant the past few weeks.

I love flashbacks on vampire shows. No main cast vampires ever get turned in aesthetically dull time periods like, I don’t know, 1970s Salt Lake City. It’s always corsets and top hats and prostitutes in glamorous cities. And sometimes horrific, hilariously awful accents. Pam’s flashbacks were brief and didn’t quite fit with the flow of the hour, but getting to see what she was like as a human gave me a lot to think about. She was protective of the girls in the brothel. As one could have guessed, there was a time when Pam had feelings for others.

The show could really use a good storyteller. And a better editor. Wouldn’t it be nice to get some high-concept episodes every now and then? I’m hoping for more flashbacks to San Francisco 1905 juxtaposed with Tara struggling with her own new reality as more of a mirror reflecting Pam. This is where the show should be more like Lost. Devote a whole hour to just Pam and Tara. Never gonna happen though. We wouldn’t get to see thrilling things like Sam argue with his suddenly unreasonable girlfriend or Alcide’s emotionally conflicted abs.

Why is Luna so pissed? Marcus is dead, it’s time for her to party. If you ignore that whole wolf-law thing. I love the actress playing Marcus’ mom. She speaks with the same inflections he did and she was great in Winter’s Bone. And she made one hell of a disgusting methhead on a really disturbing episode of Breaking Bad. I don’t think Emma is a wolf. I think she just shifted to one because her father was on her mind. How can Luna tell the difference?

And also Arlene and Terry are so boring, I’m not even going to discuss them further. Who let these side characters get their own storyline? They were great in the background. Should’ve left them alone to appear in funny small doses.

Aside from Pam and Lafayette, Jason is more interesting to me than any other character on the show. I like this new Jason, trying to make some amends. Maybe I like it so much because we have no clue what’s going to happen to him this year. Will Jessica be his only partner? What kind of thank-you pie will Maxine bake him?

Bill and Eric’s story didn’t heat up until the last ten minutes when we finally got to see Christopher Meloni for the first time and then the vampire we’ve really all been waiting for... Russell. Seriously. The whole Bill and Eric story bored me to near-tears. There’s just no danger of either Bill or Eric getting staked this early in the season. Where’s the suspense? I never cared about Nora. I would like to know more about the council members. Is turning children against the vampire law as it was in the universe of Anne Rice’s vampires? Will Peter Mensah get more than two sentences this season? It was weird seeing him in modern clothes.

Most importantly, will Russell save True Blood from becoming a snoozefest?

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


Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com. She covers True Blood, Game of Thrones, and is also an avid gamer. She has also covered tech and TV for Geektress.com and Action Flick Chick. Follower her on Twitter @tdelucci

23 comments
Iamme
1. Iamme
"Most importantly, will Russell save True Blood from becoming a snoozefest?" Truer words were never spoken. Although I liked the opener of season 5, I was less than thrilled with the follow-up - episode 2. Tara flying around Sookie's house smashing the hell out of everything really got on my nerves. Finally at the end of the episode, she speaks and her words resonate - Sook and LaLa will not be forgiven. Good 'cuz they never should've turned her in the first place!

I was more than excited to finally see Christopher Meloni's "Roman". Said excitement quickly turned to eyerolling what with his overly verbose descriptions about The Authority and the vamp-Bible. Good Lawd! The older Authority vamp reminded me of Sharon Osborn and the little vamp Authority dude just gave me the willies.

Seeing Pam's past was the most interesting aspect of the show. Did anyone else catch a "Jack The Ripper" tone in the exchange between the man and Pam in the alley, you know, before Eric ripped his throat out and then licked his fingers? Cracked me up and reminded me of his use of someone's heart like a sippie cup.
Mordicai Knode
2. mordicai
Well, Angel did flashbacks to boring time periods-- Angel singing "Mandy" for instance-- but then, that was part of the genius of that show, managing to be a genre show & a genre spoof at the same time.
Theresa DeLucci
3. theresa_delucci
@2 I specified getting turned though. If Angel got turned after singing Mandy at that diner, it'd be different. Instead we get his hilarious Irish accent and Spike's bloody awful poetry. Which I loved. It makes me effulgent.
Mordicai Knode
4. mordicai
3. theresa_delucci

For some reason The Master turning Darla always got me right in the heartstrings. I dunno why. But see, I guess that is the thing; here we are in the comments of a True Blood post & we've already found something better to talk about. I said it before, but it remains true: I don't care about anything on this show except Jessica & Russel...& I get enough of them in gif-sets.
Iamme
5. Gardner Dozois
So far, I've liked the first two episodes of this season better than I liked almost anything about LAST season, although I agree that the Arlene and Terry line is boring, although so far not quite as stupid as last season's trash baby line was. I also don't like what they've done with Lafyette--he used to be tough and sassy, able to cow a table full of rednecks with his physical menace while taunting them and jeering at them at the same time, and now they're playing him as frightened of everything, and more squeamish than Sookie when it comes to dealing with cleaning up after dead bodies. This is a mistake, and I hope that the more cocky, flamboyant Lafyette comes back at some point.

Somebody said on a thread elsewhere here that Sookie never changes, but I'm not sure I agree with that. I thought that her admiting that she'd killed Debbie because she WANTED to, when she didn't have to and it would have been more convienent not to, along with the practiced, almost casual, way that she now disposes of dead bodies (which Lafyette was being very squeamish about) were hopeful indications that the character was toughening up. After all she's been through, she ought to be tough, practical, and fairly ruthless by now, and the character really needs to be that, as well as more vivid, if she's going to reclaim the center of the show--which is really where she needs to be, if the series is going to work correctly.

Can't wait for Russell to start chewing the scenery again.

And I wonder what happened to the body of Lafyette's supposedly dead boyfriend...? I just hope he doesn't come back as a zombie, although I fear that he might.
Iamme
6. Gardner Dozois
Oh, and one reason why BUFFY and ANGEL keep coming up in comments about TRUE BLOOD, is that all three shows share a very important characteristic--as mordicai said in mesage 2, they manage to function as genre horror shows and spoofs or satires of genre horror shows all at the same time.
Shoshana Kessock
7. ShoshanaK
The best part of this past episode was:
a) Emma turning into an adorable puppy
b) Tara being the best crazy new vampire ever (can that girl perch creepily or WHAT?!)
c) the new council characters being interesting except Nora (who honestly was just written in I believe to give Eric something else to pine over and emote at, rather than just be a blank slate).
d) More Pam please. Less of her weepy over Eric, more take-charge Pam.
Iamme
8. Blend
I was most excited about all the cameos. The female vampire authority chick is Barb from Cougar Town, and Chris Meloni from SVU, as well as the guy who plays Jack the Ripper from Sanctuary as the one questioning Bill Compton. It was neat to see a bunch of characters from some of my favourite shows pop up on True Blood.

Otherwise, I pretty much fully agree with you. I'm already sick of Terry and Arlene, Tara's story has potential, but I've been sick of her since like Season 2. Russell Edgington has potential to be awesome sauce, but from everything I have heard/read, he's not meant to be around for the whole season, so that's too bad. Sooki was extremely selfish in this episode, which is totally like her, I guess... Lafayette better get a chance to be the witch that he is, cause he's awesome when he's actually using his magic, and I'm certainly holding out for more ghost Jesus.
Theresa DeLucci
9. theresa_delucci
@5
I agree re: Sookie's admission that she wanted to kill Debbie. That was huge. Sookie's appeal is that she's largely a very sunny personality, but now there's this fundamental change in her because of all of the things that have happened recently. I thought it was nicely handled. I want more character moments like that for Sookie. She needs more of her own story.

ETA: I hope former Lafayette returns too, after an appropriate mourning period. Where's the guy who served up AIDSburgers?!
Ashe Armstrong
10. AsheSaoirse
Sookie WANTING to kill someone who had been threatening her AND tried to kill her three times off the top of my head is just bleh. In this world, it seems like her getting to the point that she did, of blowing Debbie's head off, is just not a big deal. But it will probably be, as was said, "a dramabomb" for Alcide and his abs.

Luna going apeshit when Sam mentioned them wanting what's best for Emma was just weird considering that SHE FUCKING TOOK ALCIDE TO ADMIT WHAT HAPPENED SO SAM WOULDN'T DIE PROTECTING LUNA AND EMMA. You literally bring your boyfriend back from what was going to be his death, a death he willingly went to to protect you and your daughter, and that's how you act? What are you even?

Bill & Eric Bromance. Could be fun.

I was wishing like crazy that they would've kept Tara feral for a while longer. That could've been fun.

Jason is an idiot but he's an idiot who's good deep down. Hoyt, however...what happened to you, man? I mean, I know that breaking up with someone sucks but Jess was honest and grown up with you and you're a decade older than her (or thereabouts). She was 17 when you met, why are you acting like you're the 17 year old?

Fang-boner + real boner = comedy gold.

And finally, yes, Russel...get healed, sir. There's scenery that needs fanging.
Iamme
11. Gardner Dozois
Have to agree that Luna's sudden outrage at Sam is unconvincing and rather puzzling, especially as, as AsheSaoirie points out, Sam had only hours before allowed himself to be tortured and came very close to sacrificing his life to protect Luna and Emma. Were I Sam, I'd have to wonder at this point if she was worth bothering with. Certainly seems ungrateful and unstable, and willing to dump him at the slightest provocation, no matter what.

I'm also tired of Hoyt, who spent almost all last season sulking and whining, and is still doing it this season. A good candidate for a character for them to kill off, as far as I'm concerned. I think they're doing interesting things with Jason this season, though, as long as they don't bring the methhead werepanthers back into the picture.
Iamme
12. Iamme
Sweet mother of gawd do not bring back the werepanthers - dumbest storyline ever!

My thought with Luna is she's protecting her child - from everyone - by cutting all ties.
Iamme
13. Gardner Dozois
You'd still think she'd cut Sam some slack, since he just got severely beaten and almost killed and eaten to protect her and her child.
Iamme
14. Iamme
It could be she's trying to protect Sam too. If he's no longer associated with her and Emma, the weres will leave him alone.
Iamme
15. Gardner Dozois
It's too bad there isn't more TRUE BLOOD merchandising. How many of you would run out and buy a stuffed wolf cub in pajamas right now?
Theresa DeLucci
16. theresa_delucci
I don't normally like many child actors, but Emma is goddamn adorable.

I totally would buy a wolf cub in pajamas. Much better than the boring MAC makeup eyeshadow palettes. Have any of you tried the Tru Blood soda? It's pretty foul. As with Red Bull, vodka helps.
Iamme
17. Gardner Dozois
Producers miss these merchandising opportunities all the time. How many people would have bought a stuffed Woola doll?
Mordicai Knode
18. mordicai
17. Gardner Dozois

I think if we're going to start looking at marketing mistakes in regards to John Carter, this list is going to get long...

(& I will again note that we've gone off topic, only because I think that is indicitive of the state of the show; we'd all like to enjoy it, we're all still here, but we've finding anything else to talk about except the show itself.)
Iamme
19. Gardner Dozois
I haven't given up on TRUE BLOOD by any means. So far, making the usual allowances for a few dumb things, it's been a much better show this season than it was last season.
Ashe Armstrong
20. AsheSaoirse
That's easy to say two episodes in though. Though, I'm going to count victory for this season as long as Hot Shot and fairies don't show up again.
Iamme
21. Gardner Dozois
For what it's worth, though, I was LESS impressed last season two episodes in. In fact, a gnawing feeling that something had gone wrong was beginning to seep in.
Iamme
22. Gardner Dozois
There are going to be fairies. You can see them in the coming attraction clips. I'm hoping we don't get werepanthers, though.
Theresa DeLucci
23. theresa_delucci
The show hasn't lost me yet, but if I wasn't doing these episode reviews, I might have less incentive to watch. Especially once Breaking Bad returns in July. Luckily it airs at 10pm, so it'll be interesting to go from a Southern-fried romp to one of TV's most gripping dramas. And I hate the overuse of the word "gripping" in promotional copy, like on the back of novels, but that show really grabs you by the collar and just doesn't let go.

Also luckily, loving True Blood and loving Breaking Bad aren't mutually exclusive. But maybe expect more use of the word "bitch" in the reviews here.

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