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A more methodical episode that develops the main plotlines introduced in Bad Blood, whilst introducing some new characters that bring a few fresh twists to the tail. Even if slightly lacking in the ‘crack like’ addiction of the first season, it’s still infused with dark comedy and there are some very strong hints that there may be more to Bill’s attachment to Sookie than we were first led to believe.
As always, we begin right where we left off, with Bill’s battle with the same Werewolves that kidnapped him. Well, it wasn’t quite a seamless progression of the action, as we disappointingly skip the entire fight, only to see Bill chewing on an ear and surrounded by a couple of eviscerated corpses. The whole Bill kidnapping was a little lacklustre in its portrayal; the second season ended with this huge cliff-hanger that has been pretty much resolved within just 2 or 3 short scenes. I know True Blood is more character and story led than most Vampire books/shows/films, but a little action is always welcome, especially when we are teased frustratingly with the promise of bloodshed. (Disclaimer: I am not a sociopath, I only ever torture small animals and it’s not stalking if you shout ‘SUPRISE!’ when you jump out).
Regardless, Bill is fine and we learn that the Werewolves were merely pawns of the King Mississippi. The King is what my Dad would describe as ‘pretty light on his feet’ and lives in flamboyant luxury with his camper-than-camp man-slave, Talbot. This storyline is interesting, if not that exciting, but it does pose some interesting questions as to what exactly Bill is doing living in Bon Temps. This, I think will prove to be the major plot within season three and I’m under the impression many people may have missed it. Bill seems to have ulterior motives for his fascination with Sookie and relocation to the sparsely populated town. His dismissal of the accusation was convincing but there was one major hint later in the episode that blew a massive hole in his story.
Near the end of the episode we see a pair of weathered cowboy boots snooping around in Bill’s house and uncovering a secret compartment in his study desk. In it, is a dossier containing a Stackhouse family tree with both Sookie and her grandfather circled, along with what look like surveillance photographs of his future bride, from childhood to present. So wow, major twist in the narrative. Bill is suddenly not the wandering loner we thought he was, he has a motive for his connection with Sookie and everything that has existed between them, may suddenly be no accident at all. When the other major character is introduced, a quick glimpse of his shoes confirms that he was the one rummaging through Bill’s things. Franklin Mott appears to be a Bill clone with a British accent and penchant for saving damsels in distress (the ever irritating Tara). So what is his connection to Bill and how is it he seems to know exactly what he is looking for? Another interesting development lies in the disappearance of the body Jessica has been harbouring in her sleeping chamber. It’s pretty obvious that Franklin Mott must have removed it on his stealthy visit, but why exactly he would do that, is a total mystery.
Sookie’s investigation into the Nazi Werewolves (that could only be more awesome if they were also from outer space), reveals that Eric and Godric are well aware that there is a Vampire who controls these creatures and it appears they have been hunting them for decades, maybe centuries. We don’t yet know whether they know of the King’s involvement, or if he sits at the top of the pyramid; there is plenty to work with there. Sookie and Eric’s interactions are amusing and if I was female, would probably make my knees quiver, but I’m not, so I just wanted him to bite or punch something. The episode ends just short of fulfilling my wish, as Eric confronts a Werewolf that has been stalking Sookie; the closing shot showing the petite blonde firing a revolver. This was possibly supposed to draw uncertainty over whom she blasted, but I doubt there will be many in much confusion over the intended victim.
Other developments of note are Sam’s introduction to his real family, two of which are also shape-shifters. It’s an expected development that is predictably going to lead to Sam developing his gift. Tara and Lafayette take a little road trip after the suicide attempt, of which yes I am aware I predicted wrong. But in my defense, having Lafayette use the V stash he was under orders to get rid of, is a far better idea than her simply throwing up all the tablets and be absolutely fine within minutes. They go to see Lafayette’s mother, who is more abusive but significantly more likable that Tara’s and this gives her a little kick up her backside to stop feeling so sorry for herself. The problem is, Tara is just tiresome to watch and even though Lafayette is a constant amusement and one of the most colourful individuals on TV, he is far too closely anchored to her monotonous character and it’s quite frankly a waste.
The main source of intrigue is Bill’s ulterior motives and the King of Missisippi’s impending play for power. The story needs a little jump start as I don’t feel myself quite as compelled to watch as I was in previous seasons. The background characters, such as Jason and Jessica, still work well to give us some light relief from the conspiracy and suspicion, but some of the story lines also seem to be absent, like the Queen and her underground V business.
My major criticism is that the action is either cut short (I know I haven’t mention Lorena’s torching, but it was so brief and teasing I’d rather have left it till next week), or skipped altogether. I like character driven stories, but please don’t deprive me of my adrenaline fuelled violence; it’s the contrast of aggression and sensitivity that gives the Vampires their depth.
However, I was still glued to the TV from start to finish and there aren’t many shows that can do that, especially for nearly an hour. Bill has suddenly become infinitely more interesting and I can’t wait to find out the real reason for his obsession with Sookie. Plus, if all else fails, the episode contains a scene of Nazi vampires stabbing Nazi Werewolves and that in itself is TV at its very, very best.