Mon
Jun 25 2012 3:00pm

Toughen Up, Tara: True Blood, “Whatever I Am, You Made Me”

True Blood, please stop teasing me with promises of Russell Edgington and not delivering. You need to give it up to get my premium cable subscription money, hookers. If he doesn’t show up by July 15th, I’m permanently dedicating my Sunday nights to Breaking Bad alone.

In lieu of Russell, we got to see Tara come out to her coworkers, the vampire mainstream movement getting a new figurehead, and Jason’s not-so-hot for teacher. You know it’s a wheel-spinning kind of episode when Sookie provides the most highlights. There were also some laughs, like Sam literally thinking that Sookie’s boobs provided a safer thought than hiding Tara in the freezer Also: Mac! From Veronica Mars, not Predator. Just to be clear.

As many suspected, Steve Newlin is a really influential vampire with a highly desirable audience for an Authority looking to present a more family-friendly vampire movement. Loved the blocking on the scene with Steve standing before the chancellors. The round overhead lamp looked like a glowing halo. And Steve seems awfully sure that Elvis is dead for a vampire that’s only been on the scene a few months. I haven’t read the Sookie Stakehouse novels, but even I know about Bubba.

It’s a little sad how little I care about Bill and Eric. I just can’t believe for a second that they’re getting iStaked any time soon. And even if there was a chance, I’m not feeling this forced buddy cop turn in their relationship right now. Why are they still hanging around the Authority’s lair with Russell on the loose? I think the idea of Salome is more intriguing than her execution. Bill and Eric are on the rebound after being dumped by Sookie. Any girl will do. I just didn’t get how Salome was some master manipulator by sleeping with them both and somehow knowing they were not Sanguinistas. But Christopher Meloni is captivating as Roman. He seems to be so pro-mainstream, he’s got to be the leader of the Sanguinistas, right? It’d be kind of boring if he wanted what he says he wants. Am I missing something?

Of course, Mac from Veronica Mars as the Authority’s gadget expert would be a bright spot in the Authority storyline. Wish she could go with Eric and Bill.

Back in Bon Temps, we see the world through a newborn vampire’s eyes. It’s pretty damn sparkly and cool. I think Tara’s going to come around to liking it eventually. She’d really better because it’s extremely annoying watching Tara try to commit suicide again. Toughen up, hooker. Why does everything turn her into a heap?

This episode was largely about maker-child relationships. We learned something very pivotal about Pam’s history with Eric. He never wanted to make her. Is that why it’s so easy for him to be distant from her? To keep Nora a secret? Because Pam forced his hand all those years ago? Of course Pam has a tragic story underneath all that ice. When she describes what mortality holds for a woman in her position in 1905, you can’t blame her. In fact, good for her for taking charge of her destiny. Pretty sure Pam is going to high-tail it to the tanning salon to save Tara. I hope Pam will impart some “suck it up”-style wisdom in her own inimitable way. Maybe she can build something with Tara that fills the Eric-shaped hole in her heart.

The flashbacks are more interesting than the present-day show. Enjoyed the surprise appearance by Bill and Lorena. My, how far Bill and Eric have come since their first meeting. And by that, I mean that now they make me yawn.

I like this new Sookie. She doesn’t need Bill or Eric to make everything in her life a mess. She’s doing a bang-up job on her own. Killing Debbie, turning Tara, lying to Alcide. Good on Tara for calling out Sookie on her boy-crazy bullshit that kept her from telling Alcide the truth about his ex. Sookie wants to look cute to everyone. Is it any surprise a lot of people don’t take her seriously. (I think Pam might take Sookie a bit more seriously now, thanks to her encounter in Fangtasia.)

My favorite Joe Manganiello performance this week isn’t True Blood — though he was really great at expressing Alcide’s betrayal and fighting to keep his wolf temper under control — or his stripping in Magic Mike, but this clip from The Soup where he lets pop legend Kylie Minogue eat Doritos off his stomach.  Also on The Soup this week: Fox News anchor Shepard Smith would rather talk True Blood than Lance Armstrong. I seriously love The Soup because it watches Fox News for the good bits so I never, ever have to.

Then there’s Jason still having a crisis of conscience about his promiscuity. Okay, we got that last week. Move on. Take Hoyt with you. Sorry, Hoyt. You have to be an undefeated Dothraki warrior to pull that look off. And Andy is cute with Holly, but I just don’t need this weak comic relief in my True Blood on top of everything else. Grumpy blogger is grumpy.

It’s been two weeks since something fucked up’s happened to Lafayette, so right on cue, it’s time for the reappearance of rubber demon mask. Grumpy blogger is even grumpier.

Terry and Arlene fridge run report: Trader Joe’s Vegetable Pakoras are awesome if you like eating crunchy, spicy things.

And Jessica smelled a delicious and cute guy. Is he a fairy? The music that played during her chase was similar to Andy’s theme. Coincidence? Do fairies even smell awesome or it is just their blood that tastes so great? No one smells fairy on Sookie. So what kind of supernatural being is mystery dude? Maybe he’s a unicorn in disguise. You just never know with True Blood.

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

17 comments
Gardner Dozois
1. Gardner Dozois
Of course he's a fairy. He's even in the credits: "Fairy Claude."

Jessica's reaction to him made me wonder why Sookie, who she's been around for years, never elicited this "Wow! Yummy Yummy!" reaction from her. Doesn't Sookie smell superdelicious to her? She does to other vampires; in fact, the first thing Amnesia Eric says to her is how delicious she smells. Can it be as stupid an answer as girl fairies smell good to boy vampires and boy fairies smell good to girl vampires? I hope not, especially as sexually ambiguous as Bill and Eric seem to be.

To be fair, Bill and Eric aren't out hunting down Russell because the Authority still has them imprisoned. I agree that this episode was largely a wheel-spinner, although I enjoyed it, and there were one or two important things set up for later episodes. Now that Sookie and Alcide are fussin' and fightin', it's almost inevitable that they'll end up in the sack before the season is over.

They made the world through a newborn vampires eyes look pretty cool, and now Tara's superstrong and superfast and nearly invulnerable and could kick the ass of most things she meets, and will "live" forever--and she's STILL whining and pissed off about everything. Being a vampire doesn't really sound like that bad a deal, especially when compared when being permanantly buried underground and having worms and bugs eat you, and nowadays, with True Blood around, she doesn't even have to kill humans to survive if she finds it morally objectionable. Actually, Sookie made the right choice for her, one you have to wonder why they didn't make for Sam's brother last season, which they even mentioned on this episode, but I suppose it's too much to expect her to be grateful. I hope she toughens up and learns to enjoy being a vampire, like Jessica did, but considering that she's been pissed off and whining about everything since the beginning of the show, I doubt that she will.

They're still playing Lafyette as too weak and too scared by everything. I want the tough, sassy old Lafyette who was able to cow a table full of rednecks with his physical presence back.

I did very much enjoy watching how easily Eric was able to defeat Bill, more or less with one hand, all the while smiling a contemptuous little smile.
Chuk Goodin
2. Chuk
I think Sookie's only part fairy -- if this guy is 100% pure-blooded fairy, maybe he smells way better.
Gardner Dozois
3. Dirtycelt
I'm fairly certain Bill's commented on Sookie's scent before...so it seems to be a fairy thing.
Gardner Dozois
4. ViewerB
I know this is usually how the seasons go, but I really wish at least one of the stories in the present would pick up some steam.

Here I was, all hopeful that Tara wouldn't be annoying now that she's a vamp. WRONG!

Can we get more nekkid Christopher Meloni? Everyone else on this show has been bare-assed, why not him? The viewers (well, this one anyhow) demand it!

My favorite scene this week was actually that really sweet moment between Jessica and Jason when she came to sex him up and he just wanted to talk. They're really cute together, I hope neither one of them dies...

No comment on the Terry/Arlene story because DON'T CARE.

My prediction for the end of the season is the rise of Lillith and the arrival of the Faerie hordes. If next season really is the last, having an all-out vamp-faerie-human war would be awesome! Too bad all-out wars tend to break the budget and never happen. Oh well. *grumble*
Gardner Dozois
5. Iamme
Honestly, I have nothing to add except ... yes, yes - More nekkid Chris Meloni! That man's always made my knees weak.

Well, actually I do have more to add. I did like this episode better than last weeks despite another attempt by Tara to take her own life and Jason's "I'm only good at the sex" lament. No yawning by me this time around.

And I too like this side of Sookie. Her 'I'm a good girl' routine was gettin' lame.

I'm kinda liking the Bill/Eric bromance although like Eric's amnesia, I have a feeling it's fleeting.

I remember Tina Majorino as Molly in 'Corrina Corrina' with Whoopi Goldberg. Never watched 'Veronica Mars'.
Gardner Dozois
6. Gardner Dozois
Both Bill and Eric have commented on Sookie's scent, and how "delicious" it is, although Russell didn't notice it when he was interviewing her in his den, and you'd think he would have. Poor story continuity--or perhaps a three-thousand-year-old vampire gets so old that he loses his sense of smell, like an old man needing false teeth or a hearing aid. Although baby vamp Jessica never noticed it either, and Pam never commented on it, so my money's on poor story continuity. Unless it really is as stupid as girl fairies smell good to boy vampires, and boy fairies smell good to girl vampires. (But that still wouldn't explain Russell.)

I'm liking where they're going so far with the Jason/Jessica storyline, and the Andy/Holly line is rather sweet, although a little of it goes a long way. On the whole, I'm enjoying this season so far much more than I enjoyed last season, although, yes, the Terry and Arlene storyline is already boring, and I'm really tired of Hoyt, and hope that somebody will eat him soon.
Shelly wb
7. shellywb
Actually I think that Jason was realizing, after his being raped by the weres, that what happened between him and his teacher was a kind of rape too. What it seems they're doing is making it real to him, and I'm glad to see that. It shouldn't be something that he just moves on from after a week or two.
Theresa DeLucci
8. theresa_delucci
@1 I didn't get to see the credits last night, so I didn't see a name listed. In fact, I was only able to watch the episode once. And I was unusually grumpy and haven't been liking the season at all thus far. But it's only three weeks in; things can turn around. They often do. Russell's going to have to be extra charismatic and gleefully evil to perk up this show.

I don't know that Lafayette and Sookie made the right choice in turning Tara. It wasn't their choice to make. Their decision came from a place of love, but it was also incredibly selfish and not natural. I wouldn't mind being turned -- because like you said it sounds like a pretty sweet deal -- but I shouldn't force my choice onto someone else. But the deed is done. Tara should now live it up.

I loved the scene in Interview with a Vampire when Louis was first turned. Seeing the world with his vampire eyes was handled so well. Subtle, but really cool.

Yeah, the writers are very inconsistent with their rules. Maryann knew something was different about Sookie right away, but Russell didn't. Whatever the story needs at the time, I guess.

I like Andy and Holly the same way I used to like Terry and Arlene, so I think I get nervous we'll see them too much.

@4 Those big battles can happen if the showrunners prepare carefully, as they just did for the Battle of Blackwater in Game of Thrones. True Blood, for all of its flaws, never ends a season where you think it will so I rarely make predictions. They really do cliffhangers right. But if next season is the last, your guess does seem pretty plausible.

No comment on nekkid Christopher Meloni. I only have eyes for Alcide.

@7 I agree that the horrors Jason had to suffer last year shouldn't be glossed over. That was seriously disturbing. I'm just impatient for an arc to find him.
Gardner Dozois
9. Gardner Dozois
I dunno, if you find a friend unconscious and quickly bleeding to death on your kitchen floor, do you wait to ask their permission before trying to stop the bleeding? If they'd been able to ask Tara whether she'd prefer to be turned or to die, they probably wouldn't have needed to turn her in the first place. Their action may or may not have been ill-advised, but it doesn't strike me as "selfish." Would letting her die have been non-selfish? The right thing to do? I suspect that once Tara gets to like being a vampire--if she does--that even she wouldn't agree with that. In the real world, would you rush your dying friend to the hospital or let her die because you hadn't asked her permission to try to save her?

Has it been officially announced somewhere that next season is the last season?
Theresa DeLucci
11. theresa_delucci
I think in a world where vampires exist, there should be a sort of living (or undead) will where you make your final wishes known. It's not the same as going to the hospital; you're turning your best friend into a supernatural, blood-drinking, immortal creature. They will not be the same person when they wake up.

I've since had two friends tell me to never let them be turned if that situation happened. It's good to know your loved ones' positions. If I didn't know someone's position and I had access to a bunch of vampires, then, yes, I would act the same as Sookie. But not if I knew they felt about vampires the way Tara does.

I think Sookie and Lafayette were first motivated by their love of Tara. Of course no one wants their best friend to die. But I also think Sookie was motivated by guilt. That bullet was meant for her. And if she was able to make such a quick, conscious decision to kill Debbie who's to say that Sookie didn't debate turning Tara and picked the choice that was best for her own feelings and not her friend's? (Not to mention the option conveniently didn't require calling an ambulance and cops to your crime scene, but I don't think Sookie thought things through that far.) And Lafayette lost Jesus earlier that day and didn't want to be all alone. He knew that about himself and that's possibly why he was prepared to stake Tara before she woke and Sookie was not. So maybe their decision wasn't entirely selfish, but once the heat of the moment passed, it wasn't entirely altruistic on their parts either.

Re: season 6. Alan Ball leaves at the end of this year, and season 6 has not officially been picked up, but cast members were talking about how Anna Paquin's baby is due before filming would begin. People are assuming that without Ball, the show won't go on much longer. Not sure if it's true. The ratings are down since last year, but it's still one of HBO's biggest shows.
Gardner Dozois
12. Iamme
@Theresa - I think you've hit the nail on the head. Love of Tara and the unbearable thought of life without her motivated their first thought to turn Tara after Pam came to the house looking for Eric. That said, I believe it was selfish inclinations that propelled Sookie and LaLa to beg after Pam declined.
Gardner Dozois
13. Gardner Dozois
You can turn me if I'm in that position. In fact, although they've only skimmed the surface of talking about this on the show, it's hard to think of anyone who's old and sick who WOULDN'T want to be turned (unless perhaps they were intensely religious)--they'd be lined up around the block waiting to be turned.

Still think Sookie made the right decision, considering the circumstances. At least if you turn her, she has the option of deciding that she doesn't like it/want it later on; she can always walk into the sun or have somebody stake her if she really can't stand it. With NOT turning her, there is no option--she's just dead. She doesn't get the chance to decide if she'd rather be dead or not.

Of course, it would have been better if they'd just had a vial of vampire blood on hand to pour down Tara's throat, as Lafyette did with Crystal's father. This is such a simple solution that it's hard to believe that Sam and his brother wouldn't have taken that option.

As far as the show being cancelled is concerned, money talks. If the show is still making a lot of money for HBO, there'll probably be another season. If it isn't, then there won't be.
Gardner Dozois
14. Petar Belic
Gardner, one thing the show hasn't explored - which relates to your first para - is the downsides of being a vampire.

Within this universe, I can't see any. You get health, you get nightlife, you get power, you get everything. Oh, so you're unpopular with some humans, yawn. And occassionally some one has power over you - but these usually get dispatched quickly, so it's no real issue!

I think there's rich veins to mine here. I wonder if the show will go there though.
Gardner Dozois
15. Gardner Dozois
You're right, Petar--it's hard to see any real downside to being a vampire in this universe. Hard to see why most people would resist being turned, unless they were really religious, maybe, or thought it would keep them away from or alienate them from their family, or were really enthusiastic sun-worshippers. Even the moral grounds to refuse, that you don't want to prey on or kill humans, has been eliminated by the existence of True Blood. Old, sick people like me would be lined up around the block. And that IS a rich vein to mine--but I doubt that the show will mine it. It's not that kind of a show.

In fact, vampires on this show are SO powerful--they are superstrong, they are superfast, they're nearly invulnerable, they heal with lightening speed, they can hypnotise most people in to doing anything they want them to do, they can FLY--that it's a wonder they haven't conquered the world centuries ago. The only advantage the humans have developed since finding out that there really are vampires is wooden bullets (which I don't think would actually work, in the real world--but I'm willing to give that to them for story purposes), and the only real weakness the vampires have is their vulnerability to silver.
Gardner Dozois
16. Iamme
Giving up the sunlight forever would be a MAJOR drawback in my mind. I love the nightlife as much as the next person and would adore zipping around at the speed of light, but no more sun? Ever? I'd resist for sure. That and being turned into a pile of gelatinous goo from some unhinged, stake-wielding person or vamp who didn't like what I'd said or done. No thanks! Oh and no more ingested food....ever? Hookah, please.
Theresa DeLucci
17. theresa_delucci
That'sthe thing that would really bother me -- no more real food! The day bacon tastes bad to me is truly the day I'm dead.

Agreed on the lack of sun, but I think I'd get used to that. I don't know that immortality seems like such an attractive deal. On the one hand, you get to watch the progression of history which gives you an amazing perspective. But then I think that I very rarely see happy portrayals of immortals. Maybe Hob Gadling from Sandman but even he has periods of really bad fortune and loneliness. Literal bad fortune, too. But I guess when you have so much time, you can really invest in real estate or something. In other words, I'd have to become way smarter with my money to fund immortality.
Gardner Dozois
18. Gardner Dozois
I think the fact that immortality is often portrayed by SF writers as a bad thing that makes the immortals unhappy is a lingering, disapproving, moralistic shadow of Puritanism. People aren't supposed to live forever! There are things that Man is not meant to know! You shouldn't meddle with God's Plan! I suspect that if you really did become immortal, you'd find ways to deal with it and learn to enjoy yourself, just as you've (presumeably) already come to terms with living twice as long as most people in the Middle Ages did on average, and found ways to enjoy that most of the time, and probably don't think of that extended lifespan as wrong or immoral.

Besides, "immortality" is a very slippery term. How long can even "immortals" last, in a universe where species die, planets die, suns die, galaxies die? Most likely what we're talking about when you become "immortal" is a few hundred years of extended life at best, and I could deal with that. Even the oldest of vampires, like Russell, have only lasted a few thousand years--there are TREES growing today that are older than that!

Perhaps because my extreme vulnerability to sunburn has always made me careful about staying out of the sun, I don't think I would miss daylight all that much. Solid food would be something I'd miss. But on BUFFY and ANGEL--most of the time, anyway--vampires COULD eat solid food if they really wanted to, and even on TRUE BLOOD, there was that elaborate meal that Russell served in his mansion, which featured things like blood sorbet.

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