Mon
Jul 23 2012 10:30am

Shiny Unhappy People: True Blood, “In The Beginning”

We saw a lot of familiar faces on True Blood tonight, old friends and not-so-loved ones, ancient vampire goddesses and brujo spirits. Sookie learned something about herself and we, the audience, were treated to some vintage Sam investigative techniques and the final nail in Hoyt’s character.

The episode would’ve been tighter than Alcide’s bandana, if not for all of the vampires.

This was a good night for character moments big and small, something that True Blood can do well when it wants too. I wouldn’t be sticking with this show through the ornery parts if I wasn’t invested in the people of Bon Temps. Well, most of the people of Bon Temps.

SOOKIE
Our favorite occasional tavern wench got some interesting news: her magical abilities are finite and will diminish if she doesn’t control them soon. So naturally she stands outside her house and tries to use it all up. Were the fairies telling the truth or is there some way to mystically charge Sookie like an iPhone? Most superheroes seem to go through this choice and as a mere mortal, I have to wonder for a minute if they’re freaking nuts. Who doesn’t want superpowers? Sure, the downsides are being a pawn in dangerous supernatural wars and your love life basically sucks. But it’s not monotonous. Being normal is overrated. But it’s the one thing Sookie thinks she wants. I hope she comes to accept who she really is on her own, not with the help of some insanely hot man.

Bonus points to this week’s episode for more Jason and Sookie interaction. Jason is such a great guy. Most of the time. When he’s not shooting his kinda-girlfriend in the head, I guess? That fight... escalated quickly.

SAM and HOYT
Good boy, Sam! He’s certainly doing a good job sniffing out the shooters, who are just the assholes we expected. What I had a hard time believing, however, was that this repugnant, ignorant hate group would see Hoyt getting his neck sucked in an alley by a male vampire and not kick his ass for a) being a fangbanger or b) maybe being gay. Vampire bites are mostly inherently sexual on some level and I was a bit surprised to see a straight frat boy like Hoyt getting bit by a man. So why would these super-phobic guys let him into the fold without any issue?

If I was hating Hoyt in his Hot Topic-designed angst phase, I’m really not enjoying him as so vehemently anti-vampire as to consider murdering them, including the woman he still probably loves. Unless he really doesn’t love Jessica anymore and the show is turning him into a villain. If it’s the latter, I hope they kill him off because I have no more sympathy left for this jerk.

But who (or what) is the Dragon?

ALCIDE
What. The. Hell. Karate Kid bandana. Even those abs couldn’t distract much from the bad accessorizing. Much. Glad that Martha finally sees JD for who he is and can focus on being a good grandmother. She’s a tough old broad. She should be training Alcide to fight.

LAFAYETTE
Oh man, poor Lala can’t catch a break. How’s he supposed to make snappy retorts when his lips are sewn shut? Why is he getting tortured again? Out of all of the special cameos tonight, Jesus’ grandfather was the scariest. Can Lafayette save himself just once? He seems like such a strong guy. Let him be strong again.

ARLENE
I actually was surprised to find myself enjoying Arlene’s wedding video. It reminded me of something you’d see on Six Feet Under. In fact, it was exactly something that happened on Ball’s first HBO show. Just a nice little snapshot of people during better times, or people pretending to be having a happy time. Little moments of tenderness, full of meaning in hindsight.

BILL and ERIC
Oh, this Authority story feels so all over the map in tone. But now things are becoming clear. Bill and Eric are very pretty, not very smart. But they finally put it together that Salome was the mastermind behind freeing Russell and staging the coup. I’m sorry, but Nora never seemed clever enough to pull something like that off.

But you know who’s clever? Alan Ball. He teased interviews that Russell would fall in love with someone who saved him, but I wasn’t expecting him to mean it so literally. Is anyone buying this transformation? Can’t wait to see the great plan behind this act. Loved the slo-mo walk down Bourbon Street (Bill riding on Eric’s shoulders! Russell in a Heisenberg disguise!) but hated that all Lilith’s blood seemed to do was turn the vampires into a bunch of surly drunks. Oh, scary. But the Emmy’s have certainly given Denis O’Hare accolades for the wrong show. That karaoke scene was gold.

The ending was just so over the top and self-aware and exemplified everything right and wrong about this show. Goofy special effects, boobs, gore, and way-dramatic cliffhanger music for an ending that didn’t exactly scream “Tune in next week to see more vampires on bath salts!” But we got to see Jedi-ghost-Godric! Seem’s Eric’s old master broke Lilith’s spell and now it’s up to him to get his bro Bill back and stop this vampire crusade.

RANDOM MOMENTS OF AWESOME:

  • Love an episode that opens with chaos. Love that Russell stapled Eric to that pillar while still wearing his pajamas.
  • That was a ton of cameos! Retired Sheriff Dearborn was my favorite, with his mistress and his beer. Then, as mentioned, Godric. But we also got to see Jesus on the wedding video, Tara’s mother, and Maryann in a flashback.
  • “I never fucked a cow!” Classic Jason line.
  • “Never, you Bible-banging cunts.” Whoa, Eric. That was some Deadwood-worthy cussing.
  • If Tara is a better pole dancer than a bartender, I can only imagine how awful her drinks must have tasted. They have classes at the gym for that now, hooker.
  • Awkward Pam-hug.
  • “Suicide is for Muslims.” Die in a fire, Felicity guy. We’re supposed to want to see him die screaming, right?

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

2 comments
Gardner Dozois
1. Gardner Dozois
Did I miss a recap? If there had been one of last week's show, I'm sure it would have been full of wails about Roman's sudden demise--the reviewer over at 1o9 nearly went crazy with rage--and I don't remember any. For the record, although I've never been as big a Christopher Maloni fan as many others seem to be, I do think he was largely wasted here, and that he died much too soon--they should have stretched out the battle between him and Russell for much longer, perhaps even until the season-ender. Now, with Roman gone, there's really nobody who would make a worthy opponent for Russell.

I enjoyed this episode overall, as I have most of this season's shows, and the presence of Russell gives things an enormous boost. I wasn't quite sure I followed the logic of why Salome couldn't kill Roman herself, since she was sleeping in the same bed with him, but had to engineer Russell's return in order to get the job done. For that matter, if she's really the Biblical Salome, wouldn't she be thousands of years old herself, and so perhaps strong enough to even fight Russell? If Roman was really only 500 years old, you'd think she could have polished him off without difficulty.

And yes, Russell's new-found piety is obviously faked, so obviously--he barely makes an attempt to conceal his eye-rolling and smirking--that you wonder how dumb Salome and Nora would have to be to be fooled by it...although maybe now that he's seen Lillith come back, he'll be converted for real.

Something about the rebirth of Lillith reminded me strongly of the birth of the female god/creature in the penultimate season of ANGEL. Except that I'm not convinced that she's real. When Godric's ghost shows up to snap Eric out of the spell, Eric looks over to where Lillith was standing next to Nora just a moment before, and Lillith isn't there anymore, and Nora is looking worshipfully up at empty air as if she's still seeing her.

Which leaves me boggling at the idea of the ghost of a vampire. I'd love to have that one rationalized for me.

Sookie, although she's sometimes resourceful, doesn't really seem to be very bright--it's hard to see otherwise how she thinks that giving up her superpowers is going to take her out of the game and off the wheel and back to normal life (and when did she EVER have a normal life?) since all the players in the game already know who she is and where she is, and could at the very least menace or hurt her to threaten or distract or blackmail other players in the game. All she would really be doing is giving up the ability to defend herself, so that the next time someone like Russell lunged at her to drain her, she'd be helpless.

The Terry line is still boring, in spite of the smoke monster from LOST chasing them around. I was boggled by Arlene's refusal to even consider that Terry might really be cursed rather than off his meds--this is a woman who had a ghost kidnap her baby, who works with a witch and a mind-reader, and had a vampire at her wedding, and she can't credit the existence of the supernatural?

The stupidest thing in this episode, though, and one of the dumbest things the show has done in some time, is the miraculous recovery of Sam and Luna from being shot. Luna was shot at least twice in the upper body, and she's lying there a day or so later lusting after Sonic cheeseburgers, rather than comotose and gurgling with tubes running in and out of her body. Sam was shot in the abdomen, and not only is he already OUT OF BED, he's moving around with no difficulty at all, and even rolling around on the floor sniffing out the bad guys. And all without even a lame line about a shifter ability to heal fast to cover all this, and without even being given vampire blood. Give me a break. Shot at that distance with a high-powered rifle, the shock to the nerves alone ought to have been enough to kill them. They really should both be dead, especially Luna, with Sam, even if he did survive, having months of painful recovery to look forward to.

"I never fucked a cow!" Good to know that Jason has SOME standards.

Liked Lafyette spitting on the old guy and giving him the finger, but he still needs to be played tougher and more assertive. You do wonder why he would have gone to rescue Jesus's head without arming himself. And I wondered why the old guy's wife picked that particular moment to kill him? You'd think she would have had plenty of opportunities before now.

Last week, I caught an old production of ONCE UPON A MATRESS on TV, which featured Denis O'Hare singing and dancing, and that made me immediately think how great it would be if they had Russell break into a song-and-dance routine. His karoke routine wasn't quite that, but it was still pretty good.
Gardner Dozois
2. Petar Belic
Well this episode is the kind of one that makes me think to myself: this is a terrible show, full of plot holes, crazy rationalising and other issues, but I am never, ever bored watching it!

What more can we ask for, really? I mean, a show about vampires and fairies that is fun, modern and engaging... If you can buy that, you just have to sit down and go with it. I know I do!

Oh, and Eric carrying Bill during the streetscene, both looking happy? Priceless!

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