Tuesday True Blood Roundtable: Bad Blood

Spoilers Below

Sookie, wearing a white dress, and Bill, wearing a gray shirt and dark slacks with fangs out, are standing next to each other in front of a house.

After the demise of the Thursday Lost Roundtable, Sally and I decided to open up the floor to our undead friends for a weekly roundtable discussion of Feministe’s vampire show of choice: True Blood.

There is a lot going on, so to do our very best to figure it all out, the vamp-obsessed members of the Feministe team will be having a discussion every week. Sally and I will lay out our analysis and predictions, whatever they may be, and take turns introducing and moderating the discussions.

To recap: The season opener picked up where we left off last year and began several new story lines: The maenad is dead, thus so is the killing and chaos that took over Bon Temps, but Bill has been kidnapped, Sam is off getting in touch with his roots (and his innermost desires?), opportunistic Lettie Mae is manipulating her way back into Tara’s and Lafayette’s lives, and Jason is trying to reform his evil ways.

Before we get started, let’s get one thing out of the way. Do you read the Sookie Stackhouse novels or are you just a fan of the show?

LAUREN: I started one of the novels, but found that it fiddled with my enjoyment of the show. I know what the differences are between show and novel, and I’m aware of some of the plot points that may be coming down the pike, but I’ll try not to spoil anything. I’ll just talk dirty about Eric Northman.

SALLY: I have never read any of the books. I know some people who have, and sometimes they’ll mention something from the books and explain it to me – but it’s usually in one ear and out the other. I’m not generally a big vampire fan, and I feel that it’s easier for me to get wrapped up in the show than stay committed to a book.

LAUREN: Yeah, I’m a little flummoxed by the vampire trend that’s happening right now. I wonder if the decadent, sexually-charged vampire thing is a cultural pushback against the conservative Bush years. It’s interesting to me that neither of us are huge vampire fans in general. What’s the appeal, do you think?

SALLY: No clue, really. This is the only vampire-related thing I’m a fan of, so I can’t understand it. I know some people love the sexiness and/or sexual tension in Twilight and the Charlaine Harris books, but there must be more than that, no? Maybe they give off some sort of forbidden love/sex appeal?

LAUREN: I don’t know, but I feel the need to remind readers of prior show-related posts on Feministe, posts that did not rely solely on objectifying fictional vampires (like ERIC EFFING NORTHMAN). Check out this one by Aunt B, who has valid issues with representations of Southernness on the show, and this one by Renee on depictions of femininity, masculinity, vampire sex, and ravishment fantasies in True Blood.

Vampires, werewolves, gratuitous nudity, rampant drug abuse? Oh, True Blood, how we’ve missed you! What did you think of the opening episode?

LAUREN: I think Eric was dressed by Jean Claude Van Damme’s stylist circa 1989.

SALLY: HAHAHA! True as that may be, he certainly was hot! I forgot how entertaining this show is! I thoroughly enjoyed the nudity in the episode…

LAUREN: Yes! Usually I’m annoyed with it, but I love the campy approach the show takes. LIKE THE SCENE BETWEEN BILL AND SAM. Sally, I just want you to know that the water in Arkansas is VERY HARD.

SALLY: That scene was INCREDIBLE! My guy and I were like “what on earth is going on?!” – incredibly intrigued and confused and all sorts of other things at the same time. Great scene, that one! And one that might live in my memory for longer than I’d like to admit…

LAUREN: Word to that. And at risk of over-promoting the show, I do love the queering of the narrative space. It’s been discussed into the ground, and I agree that vampires “coming out of the closet” is a bad analogy to the gay rights movement. But that said, there are enough ways in which sexual attraction is toyed with on the show to end up with mostly queer-friendly camp. What the show usually gets right is the power of desire, the ugliness of intolerance, and the danger of fundamentalism. It’s an imperfect show, sure, but it’s great popcorn TV for absurd, horny feminists. *cough*

Vampire politics took the forefront in this episode. The Queen is responsible for putting V on the black market through Eric and Lafayette, and due to financial issues, wants the V to be sold as soon as possible, despite having the creepy magistrate breathing down her neck. It looks like Pam may break her loyalty and defect from Eric over it, too. This can only mean danger.

SALLY: I thought it was interesting to see Pam push Eric like that – I really liked it. This whole vampires selling V thing creeps me out, but is generally hot-ified whenever the Queen interacts with Eric. The scene last night when their fangs came out and she pushed him up against the wall – Loved! I do have to say, though, that I’m surprised this story line is being set up as one of the prominent story lines of the season. I kind of hoped it’d just go away, but I’m sure they’ll make it work in a way that lessens the creepiness for me.

LAUREN: See, I’m really into this storyline, because it’s all The Thin Blue Line but with vampires, werewolves, and bad Southern accents. Notice how the fundamentalist magistrate got Eric and the Queen both to spout off some shit about the sacredness of vampire blood while obscuring corruption in the vampire Sheriff department, inspiring fear and reverence in the two baddest badasses on this show? Yeah. There’s potential there.

SALLY: True. The potential is definitely there, for pure campy entertainment if nothing else. Can’t wait until the truth comes out and all hell breaks loose.

Poor Tara lost Eggs and isn’t yet aware that her past crush Jason is responsible, or worse, that there is a police cover-up of Eggs’ murder. Her opportunist mother is using this as a way to get to Tara, and Lafayette has too much on his own plate to manage his cousin’s grief. Can Tara handle any more personal tragedy?

SALLY: While I get that she loved him and all of that, I was annoyed by her this episode. It’s fine that she was all “no, he’s not guilty” at first, but then attacking Sookie when she told her what happened, not cool. (Though I did love Lafayette in that scene.) That said, this season is going be hell for her. This cover-up is bound to fail, her mother’s still as screwed up as ever, and she’s lost one of the only people who cared about her. Sadness. =(

LAUREN: This is a hard one because Rutina Wesley is such a great actress who is given such shallow material to work with.  How long do you think Tara and Eggs knew each other — like, a month? Six weeks? Tragic, sure, but not something to swallow a bottle of Oxycontin over. I do think the abilities of the actor have surpassed the angry black woman bullshit the writers are heaping on the character — they need to find a way for Tara to express feelings that doesn’t involve telling someone off.

SALLY: That’s the thing, really, is that I guess I get so caught up in her acting that I believe everything she says and does to be completely plausible. In reality, of course, she didn’t really know him that long – a fact I completely forgot until now. I don’t know, maybe it’s supposed to be the last straw kind of thing? Though that wouldn’t make all that much sense either considering all of the other crap she’s been through.

Bill is missing and Sookie needs to find him. Are we on the edge of our seats or are we yawning?

LAUREN: I… don’t care about Bill and Sookie. All TV shows I follow (a number that increasingly embarrasses me) kind of lose me on the primary relationship we’re all supposed to be rooting for, a la Jack/Kate/Sawyer, Susan/Mike, Buffy/Angel/Xander/Spike, Sookie/Bill, etc. When the plot doesn’t allow them to be or do anything else other than love one another or miss hir beloved in hir absence, I stop caring. I liked Sookie until she latched onto Bill exclusively, and now I’m kind of hoping Eric scores a romantic coup.

SALLY: I care about Bill and Sookie, yet I totally didn’t care about them in this episode. I did think she had some of the funniest moments of the episode when she was looking for him, but, yawn. The thing is, I like them as a couple and they’re both good characters so it makes me at least somewhat interested in what happens to them. But the way this episode was trying to draw out the drama just bored me. Usually their relationship-related plot points have some other element to them – they’re tied to other characters (Eric), or have some sort of greater purpose. This one did too, but I guess I would have preferred it if they’d just shown Bill’s side of things rather than Sookie randomly running around town asking “have you seen Bill???” It was sad (in a pathetic – and not boo hoo – way) and boring.

LAUREN: Yeah, the show loses inertia when Sookie and Bill are standing around making moon eyes at each other. I will admit that this is the most badass we’ve seen Bill. Up to date, he’s kind of been the vampire version of The Nice Guy, but here he fucks up The Fuck You Crew (and what was that?!), feeds off some poor woman and then glamours her into forgetting he was there, and wanders around being shirtless and mean somewhere in the rural South. Dude was full-on vampire.

SALLY: I know, I thoroughly enjoy this new side of Bill. Even when dealing with Eric and all of that “oh no don’t steal my girl” stuff, he wasn’t this badass. I like it, Bill, keep it coming!

Hoyt and Jessica, the cutest couple on the show, are having some difficulties. It appears sweet Jessica has a skeleton in her closet, or, uh, a corpse under the floorboards. Any predictions on Hoyt’s and Jessica’s abilities to maintain a cross-species relationship?

SALLY: I really hope these two find each other again and love each other forever and whatnot. They’re ADORABLE! I can’t wait to see how that all plays out; I definitely would not have minded seeing more of Jessica with the dead dude and having Hoyt and her interact some more.

Also, love the haircut, Hoyt!!!

LAUREN: Agreed, it took me a long time to remember where she got the dead guy and how. It’s kind of sad to see Jessica fumble with her vampire abilities while her teacher, Bill, is off having adventures. A metaphor for adolescence? Or are they setting Jessica up for very sensible, valid reasons to reject Bill’s Good Vampire gig?

SALLY: Ooh, I hope it’s the latter! That would certainly make for more interesting television. Somehow, though, I think it’s probably more the former…

Werewolves? Werewolves???

LAUREN: Werewolves!

SALLY: Werewolves! (Real ones! Did you see the clip after the show about using real wolves? So cool!) Those werewolf dudes were hella weird, I must say, and I can’t help but wonder how many different types we’ll see in the coming weeks – sexy female werewolf, scruffy old werewolf, etc.

LAUREN: Thankfully they’re using real wolves. I can’t stand having the narrative broken by bad CGI *cough* LOST. Regardless it looks like we’re in for some serious vampire versus werewolf action this season.

SALLY: I’m ready for it!

LAUREN: Me too! And it’s going to be a long week, but in the meantime, conscience off, dick on, and everything is going to be all right.

Similar Posts (automatically generated):

20 comments for “Tuesday True Blood Roundtable: Bad Blood

  1. KJ
    June 15, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Love True Blood. Love Eric SO MUCH. SO SO MUCH. Don’t care so much about Sookie and Bill, but I agree that he was much more badass in this episode than he has been to date (though I do think he showed hints of it before, in the first season, w/ Sookie’s uncle and the drug dealers who tried to drain him in the first or second ep). Overall, super excited about the season. AND OH MY GOD THE BILL/SAM SCENE. Absurd horny feminists, indeed.

  2. June 15, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    It’s interesting how hit-and-miss the show can be regarding race. There are some familiar and unpleasant tropes at work, but then there will be a clever scene like the one with Tara and Arlene. Tara insists that Eggs’s actions weren’t his fault — presumably because of Marianne’s control — but Arlene decides that Tara must be making excuses based on race. Because black people totally use racism to get out of responsibility all the time, amirite? Arlene says “I hate it when they make it about race!” but she’s the one doing that. Which white people actually do all the time.

  3. Roxie
    June 15, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Oh, I am sad to say the bad times are not over for Tara. Probably not for the entire season.

    I’ve been running into a common theme in a lot of TB recaps where the comments talking about annoying they find Tara & they wish she’d just go away. Has anyone else seen this? It honestly mystifies me, as I see Tara as one of the most interesting & complicated characters. I know a lot of my fellow analytical types agree that she’s a stereotype, but I’ve never seen her that way.

    It’s true, in her first scene is angry & sassy, but she is also shown reading a book. She talks about furthering her own education by reading. She shows tireless compassion & love by trying to take care of her drunken mother even to the point of paying for an exorcism she doesn’t believe in.

    She’s there when Sookie needs her. She says the things that need to be said (usually question the audience would ask) and does anything she can to protect those she loves–even if she comes off looking like a loud, angry black woman.

    Even though Jason doesn’t seem to see her, she comes through for him when he needs her. Realizing that he won’t ever see her that way, she tries to claim her own bit of happiness. The only thing is that her heart is big blind spot. She has no idea how to go about it. She is shown to be vulnerable in several situations. I find her to be a very nuanced character and I Just love her to pieces.

    Am I missing something?

  4. Beth
    June 16, 2010 at 2:34 am

    Roxie, I’ve been pretty disappointed with the writing for Tara. In an interview with Alan Ball during the first season, he made it clear that she’s one of the smartest characters on the show. It drove me insane when her character took the ‘save-Eggs-at-all-costs’ turn at the end of season 2, putting herself, her family and friends in danger, too. Sure, a plot device to get Sookie back to the house to face MaryAnne, but not true to her character (or at least how I had seen her up to that point).

    Regarding Sookie and Bill… I don’t really care for Bill. He’s lied to Sookie throughout their relationship and, based on some of Bill and Eric’s conversations, I question his motivation for pursuing a relationship with Sookie in the first place. Also, if Eric and the Queen (love both of them!) weren’t behind his abduction, who was? There’s going to be a lot to this story (I hope), and I think it’ll speak to more of Bill’s darkness.

    I CANNOT WAIT to see how this season plays out. And I’m absolutely thrilled that Feministe tapped True Blood for the next roundtable. I’m completely on board.

  5. CuteRedHood
    June 16, 2010 at 8:55 am

    I was wearing my Merlotte’s shirt on Sunday for this very occasion :-)

    I think the dream scene between Sam and Bill is one of the most memorable in the series so far. I’m excited to see where they’re going to take this, and deal with other queer attractions/relationships in the future (if Ball stays true to later books).

    I’m glad I’ve read the entire book series (just finished a week before the season premier). It’s like watching two alternate realities of the same story. The show is already so divergent from the book that I feel like I can appreciate both on their own terms, like a visual fan fiction tribute instead of an accurate rendering.

    Can’t wait till next week! Great idea for a roundtable, ya’ll.

  6. June 16, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I guess I presumed Tara suicidal deression over eggs was tied to the maenad’s magical whammy. The connection simply feels stronger and more intense than it would have been had they had a natural progression in their relationship.

    Hot Tramp…I thought writers were poking fun at white folks’ tendancy to accuse people of other races of playing the race card by pulling the race card first. I thought they were presenting Arlene as the idiot.

  7. EDZ
    June 16, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I’m interested to see if there’s anything more that comes from the Bill / Sam interaction from this episode. I had almost forgotten that at the end of last season Bill saved Sam by having him drink quite a bit of his blood, and just like Sookie had that intensely sexual dream about Eric(k?) after she drank his blood, will Sam start to have uncanny desires towards Bill? (remember how Bill warned Sookie that she should be wary of some level of subconscious desire for him?) Interesting that this is the first time we’ve seen the increased desire from drinking vampire blood between two “people” of the same sex.. it kinda made me wish they had done the same thing with Lafayette gettin’ all hot with Eric after their interaction last season! (LOVE THEM BOTH). I am hoping, though, that the Bill / Sam scene wasn’t just to “shock” value in the season opener and will actually pan out to be meaningful in the context of the season. Although, perhaps I shouldn’t hold my breath… the show isn’t exactly known for its demure approach!

  8. June 16, 2010 at 10:39 am


    That is all.

  9. Beth
    June 16, 2010 at 11:43 am

    EDZ, I’m curious to see if the attraction is one-sided (the people who drink a vampire’s blood and have the wicked hot sex dreams) (and wow, yeah… I guess I am pretty nerdcore when it comes to True Blood) or if it’s a mutual attraction.

  10. June 16, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I believe Layfayette has said he indeed has dreams about Eric…but he was understandably traumatized by the events of being kept locked up and tortured in season two, he finds the dreams pretty painful.

    I suspect it is a one way desire in some cases and two way in others(Eric doesn’t seem all that interested in Lafayette, but he really digs Sookie. Sam loves Sookie, but has been less than enamored with Sam).

  11. June 16, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Jill, I embrace that description.

    To me, it’s a show carried by the supporting cast. Jason is comic relief and eye candy, but Tara, Eric, Sam, Pam and Lafayette are the show for me. I don’t particularly like Bill and I keep waiting for Sookie to dump his ass and get serious about partnering with her formidible soulmate, Eric. If this does not happen than I will think less of the writers.

    Rutina Wesley is wonderful, but the character started off as such a hamhanded collection of stereotypes that I very nearly gave up after the first couple of episodes. I think Ball just does not have his footing; he’s trying to be good, but he isn’t conversant in the stereotypes of black representation so he tries to steer away from one and blunders into another. Nelsan Ellis is also really good and has created a character I can’t take my eyes off of, while I think others working with the same script might be unwatchable. After his ordeal at Eric’s, when Lafayette played strong right until he got in the door and then the facade dropped, I thought, “wow, that’s real talent.”

  12. hlynn
    June 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Was I the only one who didn’t like Sookie’s “Lesbian weirdness” line to Pam? It was supposed to be funny, but it was meh. I also was very bored with Rachel Evan Wood’s performance as the Queen. I know she’s supposed to be glamorous and powerful, but she just comes off as wooden to me.

  13. Astraea
    June 16, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Is there anyplace to watch this show if I don’t have HBO? I thought it would be available on iTunes or Amazon and I’ll be really disappointed if I have to wait until the season is over to see it. I hated the first season, but I recently watched the second and was looking forward to seeing this one weekly along with other people.

  14. June 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Astraea, I don’t know. I keep reading on forums things like “most people who watch the show don’t even have HBO, they watch it online” but then whenever somebody asks “where can I watch online?!” nobody responds… Most links I’ve found through searches are bogus or have some sort of subscription or whatever in order to access it.

    Does anybody know?!

  15. June 16, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Was I the only one who didn’t like Sookie’s “Lesbian weirdness” line to Pam?

    I was more… confused by this line then anything else. I don’t know, it seemed out of place is all.

  16. June 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    You can watch True Blood for free online.
    I finally managed it the day after the first episode of the 3rd season aired.
    Go to Bit Torrent and through them you can download Vuze with two clicks and then load up the show. I’m now working my way through season 2 of Nurse Jackie.

    I’ve read all 10 of the True Blood books and think they’re swell. People connected to the show keep saying in interviews how great Alan Ball is when Charlaine Harris created the series. She packs the books with plenty of twists, hot sex and dynamic character development. At the end of the first book, Sookie killed Rene on her own, without the help of Bill or Sam, as they re-wrote it for the television series. Worth the time.

  17. June 16, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    @ Roxie, I see a lot of boards where one of the primary female characters is dubbed annoying and the fans go on and on about it for the duration of her tenure on the show. To be fair: there ain’t a lot of good roles for women on television, and many of the roles that are out there that are more complicated than The Girlfriend do rely on cliche, and ofter on bad writing. But then, there’s a lot of sexism informing the Annoying Girl Character trope too. Why, exactly, is Tara considered annoying? Is it because she isn’t topless enough? Because she has complicated, intense feelings? Because she’s smart? I do think the general audience some unarticulated sexism informing their annoyance.

    Like Thomas upthread, for me it’s these characters that drive the show. Terry and Andy, Tara and Lafayette, Jason, PAM AND ERIC, and the set of seasonal characters that have come and gone so far. Not Bill and Sookie.

  18. June 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Jill, meet Alexander Skarsgard.

    Now call me a nerd again. I dare you.

  19. Roxie
    June 17, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Lauren, thanks! I’ve wondered about the sexism implied in so many of the comments on other blogs. I’ve also wondered about racial undercurrent. I see most of Tara’s outbursts as completely justified, however, if one didn’t see that, they’d just think she was annoying. And possibly in the same way Arlene sees her.

    Thom, that’s also how I saw the interaction with Arlene. She was so very clearly in the wrong. My mother even shouted out, “Hey, YOU brought it up first!”

  20. fuzzytheory
    June 18, 2010 at 2:42 am

    I find Bill/Sookie marginally more entertaining than Buffy/Angel, and less entertaining than Buffy/Spike. What True Blood is amazing for is the one liners… how about Pam’s “You pickin up what I’m puttin’ down?” or Abbot and Costello’s: “dick on, conscience off”? come on… that sums up Jason to a tee. Honestly, what got me through the second season was the . So good. Take this line of Meredith’s: “Sookie there is ALWAYS time for more of Pam’s lesbian weirdness, shut your mouth” or “Jason’s penis apocalypse.” Pure Gold.

    Anyway, so many good things back on track… Pam in all her glory, Man-bums, Jessica-Hoyt (squee!), Lafayette is always the best (though I want to see him get less PTSD and back to his strutting self), Sam/Bill, and, of course, Eric.

Comments are closed.