Tuesday True Blood Roundtable: 9 Crimes


Screenshot from True Blood. Bill is topless, holding a cell phone and standing in front of a mirror. In the mirror, we see Lorena in the background laying on a bed.

This week on True Blood, it was violence galore. Bill breaks up with Sookie, Eric’s club gets raided, blood (vampire and human) is all over the place, everyone’s basically miserable.

The episode starts with Sookie getting a call from Bill to let her know that it’s over. He tells her he had sex with Lorena and says they were doomed from the start anyway, blah blah. Do we still care? Did we ever?

SALLY: Sookie boohoohooing about Bill was one of the funniest things ever. Topped only by Alcide pretty much mocking Sookie the next morning for still wanting to find Bill.

LAUREN: There were indeed a lot of good one-liners this Sunday. I liked the formality of Bill breaking up with Sookie, and Sookie’s, “Shut the fuck up.” Also, crying, “I don’t have a nutsack!”

SALLY: Also, when Alcide is comforting Sookie and she’s all “you’re warm,” it was much funnier but also less hot than when they do that in Eclipse. (Which I saw. Don’t judge me.)

LAUREN: Not a Twilight fan, I have to say. Apparently I prefer my vampires EXTRA VIOLENT??? Was this episode not the most violent one we’ve seen yet (forgetting the one where Sookie chops off someone’s head with a shovel)? Or maybe I should just say that this is the episode in which we are meant to be reminded that OUR vampires and werewolves are not sparkly, love-obsessed teenage ancients, OUR vampires and werewolves are fucking animals.

SALLY: It really was quite violent! What is up with this dark turn we’ve taken into vampire-dom?! Calm down, True Blood, calm down.


Tara is being held captive by Franklin. He uses her to try to find out exactly where Sookie is and what she’s up to, but doesn’t get enough information. He kidnaps Tara and brings her to Russell’s mansion. What is Franklin up to and how will Tara get away?

SALLY: Sooooo, this storyline is starting to make me really uncomfortable. He keeps getting increasingly violent with Tara and at this point she’s just a vehicle for him to get what he wants, presumably Sookie.

LAUREN: I’m also made a little uncomfortable with these scenes, and I feel like to talk about them on a feminist blog is to first issue a serious trigger warning. We talk about this show because we like the show, but to watch it is to jump in knowing the show walks the edge of sex and violence, something that can be deeply disturbing to trauma survivors. This particular storyline is very creepy, very disturbing, and will be very triggering for people who have been in claustrophobic, manipulative, abusive relationships.

I don’t really know what to say about this storyline, but so far the tone it’s setting is uncomfortable and not in a good-television kind of way. Rutina Wesley is a friggin’ scream queen (in the good-television kind of way) but the storyline is still edging around some bad territory. I need to see where it goes to comment further.

SALLY: My hope is that she’ll escape soon. That must be what’s coming, right? Please let that be so, because I don’t want it to keep going down this road.

Sam’s family is still around. He has a heart to heart with his brother who feels responsible for his parents and can’t get away to live his own life until they’re dead. Sam confronts his parents and says he’ll give them a place to stay if they stop stealing and drinking. Where’s this storyline going?

LAUREN: Sam has to choose whether to be tied down by his history or whether to set down his baggage. I think he sees his baby brother as a way not only to connect with his history, but to redeem himself, but the bad, drunken parents, unfortunately, come with the brother. I’m still willing to bet Sam’s going to come out with the shit end of the stick on this one.

SALLY: Yeah, I can’t help but feel like he’s getting set up in a major way. Mostly because I still find the brother weird as all heck. Oh, and the fact that his parents are clearly untrustworthy.

LAUREN: There’s something going on there, but this thread is just inching along. In due time?

Jessica becomes the new hostess at Merlotte’s, where somebody recognizes her from bible study. She takes him outside to glamour him so that he forgets seeing her or stopping there. Is this a sign that Jessica’s finally maturing and taking care of herself?

SALLY: I was really happy to see how Jessica handled this. Considering that the whole killing a man and then hiding him thing only happened, like, two days ago or something like that in t.v. time, I wasn’t sure what she’d do. To see her trying a more rational approach this time around was nice.

LAUREN: Yes, it was definitely a coming of age moment for Jessica, where she problem-solved without flailing around and causing a scene first.

SALLY: But, of course, we can’t really talk about this scene without mentioning Hoyt. Was I the only one slightly bothered by him creeping around spying on her? I get that they’re basically the young love on this show, but still.

LAUREN: No! I had a similar thought. Yes, their missed connections are bittersweet drama, but it’s ironic to me that it’s Jessica’s evolution of maturity that Hoyt sees as a betrayal. Yeah, for all he knows she is sweet-talking another dude. Sure. But in this moment Jessica is also becoming more self-reliant and that is part of Hoyt’s personal tragedy.

SALLY: Exactly, and I think it’s also interesting to consider Hoyt’s resistance to taking Jason’s “sleep with another woman and you’ll forget it” attitude. Is it possible that Hoyt might end up bordering on Nice Guy TM? I hope not, cuz he’s cute as a button with Jessica and I still want them to end up together.

Eric’s off having fantasies about Sookie, but soon he’s got other things to worry about. Bill tells Russell about Eric selling vampire blood for the Queen and the Magister raids the club. Eric tells the Magister that Bill’s setting them up and Eric’s looking for him. Will Eric really look for Bill or do you think he has another plan in mind? And do we have more Eric/Sookie fantasies to look forward to?

LAUREN: Nooooooooooo. I don’t want them to actually do it and ruin my badass Eric Northman (Eric Northman doesn’t have feelings for HUMANS), I want them to have witty banter about doing it or not doing it for another three seasons, thank you.

SALLY: Does the actual touching ruin it? I can see that…

LAUREN: Let’s just say I like the running theme of pining for a rejecting humanity in the vampire community, and Pam and Eric have been so compelling in part because they love being blood-drinking, speed-fucking vampires. And speaking of which, was it just me or was this episode heavy on porn-like music?

SALLY: Particularly at strange moments, from what I remember (except, of course, I deleted the episode from my DVR already so can’t check).

LAUREN: Basically whenever there was a musical score it was all Bow Bum Bum Chicka Bow Bowm interspersed with buckets of blood, hair and/or clever dialogue.

SALLY: Basically!

Sookie distracts herself by playing Ms. Fix-It with Alcide and his ex, Debbie. She learns that Debbie is being initiated into the vampire blood-drinking gang and go to save her. There, they discover that Debbie’s fiance was one of Bill’s kidnappers and Russell is feeding them blood. Will Alcide and Sookie turn to Eric with what they’ve learned? What will he do now that he’s got other problems of his own?

LAUREN: Vampire politics, who knew? It’s interesting that the warring king and queen are corrupt drug dealers — of a drug considered sacrilegious to sell by an even greater moral-political power. One side is depending on Bill, and the other side is framing him, and this can only be resolved by whomever can manipulate his or her power and influence the best. Seeing that the queen is erratic and unreliable, it’s going to fall back on Eric and company. This season is going to be all about nepotism and corruption. And it’s going to be awesome.

SALLY: The moral of the story is basically “most people in power are equally corrupt and more alike than you realize.” Or perhaps that was just me thinking about the general “Democrats & Republicans are basically the same” argument… Either way, I’m confident that Eric will take the lead in this situation and hopefully work closely with Bill in one of those moments where they put aside all the other problems to get rid of the baddies.

LAUREN: Indeed! They will have to Put-Aside-Their-Problems-And-Work-Together, and then Sookie will have to Make-A-Choice between her moral/life saviors, but there will be another Powerful-But-Sensitive-Dangerous-Man-Character with whom she will have Very-Marketable-Sexual-Tension. Wherever will this go?

SALLY: This is starting to sound like an episode of Lost…

LAUREN: Then on the flip side there is another corruption tale taking place on the human side of Bon Temps, where one of the deputies points out that all Andy Bellefleur had to do to make Sheriff is to “drink like a fish, hallucinate farm animals, and kill a black man.” Notable, too, that Jason is going to blackmail Andy into making him a police officer.

SALLY: I completely forgot about this scene! And yet I remember watching it and thinking “ohhhhh snap.” This is one storyline I do want to see continue. The others are letting me down on multiple fronts.

LAUREN: Yeah, I just realized there isn’t one relationship on the show that is up-front and honest. Not one! And it’s bittersweeet that Sookie believes that her relationship with Bill isn’t colored by underhandedness and manipulation.

SALLY: On a final note, dude, can Sookie just mind her own business for once?


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21 comments for “Tuesday True Blood Roundtable: 9 Crimes

  1. Nicole
    July 13, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Gotta say I had a TOTALLY different reading of the Jessica scene. It didn’t occur to me that she was showing “maturity” (although she’s certainly more knowledgable and confident now than she was before). I was just thinking wow, she can’t get through one day at a normal job at Merlotte’s without having to brainwash/glamour someone. I found it pretty sad to see her confonted with a reminder of her pre-vampire teenage life. Yeah, she didn’t *kill* the guy, but she’s still not quite able to get along in the human world without hurting anyone.

    And here on this feminist blog, I’m gonna voice something I’ve been saying to everyone — the violence and victimization of women is COMPLETELY off the wall this season, and I’m almost ready to quit watching the show if it continues this way. Lorena, Tara, Pam, Debbie, Ann the stripper: cringey and gratuitous on their own, overwhelming when you put it all together.

    Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck of Battlestar Galactica) was offered the role of Debbie, and I could not be happier that she turned it down.

  2. CuteRedHood
    July 13, 2010 at 11:54 am

    “You smell like the ocean in winter!”

    Best. line. ever.

    This episode was super violent. It made me uncomfortable to watch, esp with my friend’s dad. I’m tired of Sam’s plotline, its just too corny for me.

    Also, why does Alan Ball act like Lafayette can’t take care of himself? The man has been dealing drugs for a long time, he would know how to handle a bad deal. I guess maybe if this season is all about exposing everyone’s weaknesses, it might turn out ok.

  3. MEATY-E
    July 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Does anyone actually think about things before they type them? Sure, they are portraying Tara in an abusive relationship (complete with the guy bringing her flowers after) – but this not does mean it somehow perpetuates violence against women, as this discussion implies. Should we not have books and films that chronicle abuse? I don’t get your point here. Most of the show is about strong independent women. The non-human characters being punched and having their necks twisted is fine, because they aren’t human – a female vampire is just as strong as a male vampire. Sorry, feminist principles are great in the real world, but to try and apply them to a vampire show on HBO is ridiculous.

  4. July 13, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I think the promos and interviews deliberately misled the audience regarding the interaction between Tara and Franklin. They kept referring to “relationship,” “ally,” and “boyfriend.” From the few eps that have aired, it is definitely not a “relationship” in my opinion, not even a “dysfunctional relationship.” Right now, it’s a hostage situation. And I definitely can’t see it morphing into a romantic relationship from that or otherwise Tara has more issues than has been dramatized. After the biting and kidnapping, it should be a downward progression from there.

    What really disturbs me about one of the clips I saw from an upcoming ep is that Franklin and Tara are in a bedroom together with her tied to the bed (or it seems) and Franklin leaps on top of her. The look of pure fear on Tara’s face makes it obvious that any interplay between them will be non-consensual. I know there was much ballyhoo about Bill’s attack on Lorena and whether that was rape. At least there was ambiguity there. I’m not seeing that ambiguity in a situation where one party is much stronger than the other and the weaker party is apprehensive about what is to happen. If Franklin glamours Tara, it will be rape. If he forces her, it will be rape. If it starts off as an abusive situation, and she suddenly capitulates out of “passion,” it’s a disturbing trope.

    My estimation is that Franklin will be around for only 4 or 5 eps before Tara has to dispatch him, so that isn’t much of a “relationship,” although I could be wrong. However, one of the ep synopsis says that Tara takes desperate measures to avoid Franklin’s advances. Could that be a stake through the heart or immolation by exposure to sunlight? Then there’s the promo showing Tara running away from the mansion, so it seems she does escape.

    In the episode entitled “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” I wonder if one of those bodies will be Franklin.

  5. Xamonia Zish
    July 13, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I have enjoyed reading all of the comments posted on Season 3 so far. It is apparent that the sex/violence factor has been amplified in order to deliver (for better or worse) on all the hype the show has generated. Now it seems as if they’re cutting corners, i.e., every time you turn around, a stripper’s getting tortured, drained or fang banged. It’s wearing a bit thin for this veteran viewer. I have also noticed that while there’s more male chest-bearing this Season (for which I am grateful), it seems to be in proportion to more aggression displayed toward women. While it is continually refreshing to see the display of the male body on the show, True Blood is still not nearly progressive enough in its portrayal of women. Alas, poor Lorena! That missionary-style neck twist position had to hurt.

  6. Beth
    July 13, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Sookie disappointed me this episode. Her desire to get more information on Bill led to manipulating Alcide (I thought) with little respect or concern for his safety, even after he and his sister (who I loved) said that being around Debbie was dangerous for him.

    The violence against women in this episode was tough for me, too; I was going to say especially the violence directed at Tara and Pam, but Anne’s murder was hard to watch as well. (As per usual, Lorena appeared to get off by the punch she sustained to her face.) But Franklin getting off on Tara’s fear and the utter lack of consent when he finally bit her (when she offered to let him when they hooked up and he denied her because she ‘wanted it’) makes him my least favorite character right now.

    I think Eric is going to get out of the charges against him by outing Russell. I’d imagine it’s a worse offense to supply werewolves with V than humans. But who knows.

  7. July 13, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Completely forgot to discuss the whole stripper death scene thing, which actually really bothered me. I was bothered that Bill was sent to look for “ethnic” blood. And then the scene itself, of course, was incredibly awful. An already violent episode ending with the death of an “ethnic” stripper… this is definitely not going to make my list of favorite episodes.

  8. GinnyC
    July 13, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    I some ways I actually appreciated that we were shown Anne’s death and Franklin’s treatment of Tara. It is triggering as fuck and that is a problem, but it also underlines how terrible and corrupt vampires actually are. So I’m ambivalent about this direction I guess.

    There is also a lot of potential for really non consensual things that makers do to their children. One of my big problems with a lot of vampire fiction is that it makes being a vampire seem glamorous. If True Blood is implying that not only are vampires nasty and corrupt but also being turned has major nasty implications then I think it is a good addition.

    The problem is that the show tends to get too close to making violence and those who deal in it sexy for my taste. Somehow Deadwood manged it better, and it dealt with extremely triggering themes.

    It also really bothers me that Tara is getting brutally victimized over and over. Why couldn’t the storyline happen to someone else?

    That Bill participated in a murder didn’t really surprise me. I’ve always found Bill slimy, especially considering that he was from a slave holding family and has never addressed that or tried to atone for it. He is also a really nasty combination of self righteous and self loathing. Him killing Anne cemented what a nasty man he actually is. Of course if Sookie doesn’t find out and isn’t absolutely appalled, I will re-evaluate the whole story line.

    Also it would be nice to have a major character who is a stripper, considering Fangtasia and all. It would help balance out the fact that vampires, like serial killers, apparently target sex workers.

  9. Beth
    July 13, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Frau Sally- agreed. Lorena and Russell’s disdain for humans in general allows them to look at humans in the manner people view where to go for dinner (Thai or sushi?).

    Bill (I think) screwed himself, though. When Russell asked him what he did for Sophie Anne, Bill said he was a procurer, which apparently means procuring humans for meals. I doubt that was true. When returning to Bon Temps, I think Bill was really trying to reclaim his humanity (based on the flashbacks to his life with Lorena in the second season), so I doubt he served in that role for Sophie Anne. I think he said he was a procurer to protect Sookie and that his original role for the queen had something to do with Sookie.

    I’m so glad I can nerd out about True Blood here.

  10. July 14, 2010 at 3:02 am

    I thought this episode was really well-made, but didn’t enjoy it. I admire the craftsmanship that went into it, but the overall vibe was way too creep-tastic, even for me. I loved the actress who played Anne & loved the dialogue there. I just wish it had somehow ended differently. I didn’t think it was gratuitous – just darker than I was prepared for.

    I will also have it be known that I am sick of the stupid Magister. Someone please stake his smug ass.

  11. Jennifer
    July 14, 2010 at 4:38 am

    I appreciated the references to discrimination in promoting Andy Bellfleur to sherriff instead of his African American female colleague. She’s right – all one has to do to get a promotion is be part of the ol’ boys club… despite his recent alcohol problems, getting his badge taken away, and killing a suspect, he was given the promotion instead of her. It could have been glossed over, but her comment brought this issue to the fore. I wonder if it will be further explored…

    I don’t get all the love here for Eric, or the rooting for Eric and Sookie. In Season 2, Eric held several humans captive in his dungeon and murdered and tortured them – he is a psychopath with no humanity. I hate how the show is trying to imply that his “love” for Sookie could somehow redeem him – what a clichéd Harlequin fantasy that is (that the abusive psycho can be redeemed by his love for a good woman). These are the fantasies that accepting abusive relationships are made of.

  12. July 14, 2010 at 7:17 am

    To be fair to Eric, the only captive we *saw* being murdered was the one who took silver to him. Though I don’t think that certain readings of the relationships on this show always work. I mean, it’s a show about vampires (werewolves, and shapeshifters, and so on). A lot of is metaphor.

    I don’t know how I feel about Eric, to be honest, but I have faith in him though, as a character. I don’t know if he’s good or bad, and I am not sure if I care. I want him to remain compelling. It would be interesting to see if he and Sookie wind up together, one way or another. I liked his comments about her ruthlessness, in the dream sequence in the second season, too. I think there’s something to them.

  13. Niki
    July 14, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Thank you Jennifer! I am flabbergasted by all the desire to see Eric and Sookie hook up. I mean, yes, it would be hot, I get it, but Sookie is a strong, powerful, smart character and why oh why would we ever want her to succumb to the charms of a manipulative, dangerous, horrifically evil vampire like Eric? A man who locked up and tortured her friend for half of the second season? It’s insulting.

    I dunno, sometimes I see the feminist commentary on this show and I think it completely misses the mark. I’m with Natalia who said that the violence this episode was a little creepy but not at all gratuitous. There is a very specific reason that Bill helped murder a stripper; I think it’s pretty clear by now that the third season is going to be all about him testing his own humanity and skirting the line between his violent urges and his desire to be good. So why a stripper? Because it’s a cliché. Treating strippers/sex workers like the expendable tenets of humanity is something that Bill is above, but he’s reduced to these actions while being stuck with these other vampires, who are terrible influences on him, and who are specifically seeking out to tempt him to act on his scary urges. That was an important plot device in demonstrating how far he is sinking into darkness.

  14. Agnes
    July 15, 2010 at 6:09 am

    True Blood is definitely getting more violent – and yeah, all the violence is directed at women.

    One thing that really made me think ‘wooaaahh’ though was when Bill was talking to Anne in the strip club. The whole point of that conversation basically seemed to be to show that she had no family – specifically no husband and no children. That, coupled with the fact that she was a stripper (which was framed as something that only completely desperate women with a death-wish would do) appeared to be being given as mitigation for the fact that she’s torn to death in the next scene. The message I took was ‘well, Bill is instrumental in brutally murdering a woman, but she takes her clothes off for money and she doesn’t have a husband or kids, so it’s not too bad and we will be able to forgive him in a few episodes.’

  15. July 15, 2010 at 7:22 am

    I actually took that whole conversation that Bill has with her as a subtle indictment of his own fucked-up tendencies. When Bill was turned, he had a wife and children, and it seems as though this is where his logic stems from – “it’s unfair that this nasty thing happened to me, because I had something to live for!”

    The most fucked-up violence and torture has been inflicted on women, to be sure. Bill was nearly drained, and Alcide got his ass kicked recently – but it doesn’t compare. Well, except for Bill’s brutal fight with the werewolves in the second episode. And Eric killing that one werewolf in Sookie’s house. That was graphic – but at least it was FAST!

  16. July 15, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I interpreted Bill’s conversation with Ann as a “sussing out” of a victim who’s disappearance wouldn’t cause a lot of legal headaches, as in murder charges. Remember that since the “great revelation” vampires have to adhere to the laws of the lands like any mere mortals. Thus Queen Sophie-Anne’s IRS troubles. And Eric and Sookie’s need to bury the werewolf’s body b/c since he died in his mortal form, his death would have been deemed a murder. Jessica seemed to understand that also, which is why she was so apprehensive about covering her murder.

    Bill, in my estimation, was simply making sure their victim didn’t have relatives to pursue a disappearance complaint. Even though she may have friends at her job, it is really family who usually are diligent in following up on a loved one’s disappearance. Ann sealed her fate not just by revealing that she had no husband or children, but that she was estranged from her parents, as well. Thus, no one to pursue charges. And, unfairly, this is an assumption about the background of sex workers, generally.

  17. William
    July 15, 2010 at 11:51 am

    As difficult as it was to watch I really liked this episode because I think it did a good job underlining that the vampires of the show are not sexy and mysterious but sexually violent. The taking of blood, the central act of a vampire’s existence and constantly charged with sexuality in the first two seasons, is essentially rape in the vast majority of instances in which it is portrayed (with a few possible exceptions when it is portrayed as raw predation). Vampires are serial killers, they get off on murder and torture, this episode did a good job of underlining that. Russell likes dehumanizing his victims, Lorena likes fear and pain, the Magister likes psychological torture and domination, Pam is a bon vivant who sees other people as toys, Eric has a lust for combat, Franklin is rapist who imagines he is in love, and Bill likes to be forced into situations in which he has no choice but to be violent (be it “protecting” Sookie by killing people or being under Russell’s thumb).

    What I found most interesting about this episode, however, was what it told us about Bill. Bill said he worked in “procurement” which I don’t think is an accidental word. Its a old word for being a pimp and it really puts his relationship with Sookie in context. His swooping in to save the day, distancing her from her friends, getting her addicted to something (him, through his blood), his emotional manipulation of her throughout the series, his describing her as property (especially with other vampires), even his accompanying her on jobs for Eric all point to classic ways in which pimps have historically manipulated young women (especially young women who are romantically inexperienced). Also, we can’t forget that we’ve recently found out (though they’ve left bread crumbs since the first season) that Bill didn’t just happen upon Sookie, he came looking for her. Someone sent Bill to procure Sookie, and Sophie-Anne already has one of Sookie’s relatives in her court. Its not an accident that when he said he was in procurement Russell knew exactly what he meant, nor is it an accident that when Bill walked into the strip club he found someone desperate and glamoured her to make sure no one would come looking, its an old skill for him.

  18. Beth
    July 15, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    I like William’s explanation of Bill’s being a procurer better than mine.

  19. Elly
    July 15, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Has anyone here read the books? I read them all (all ten of em)way before I saw the show. The book have a warm, earthy feel about them i enjoy, (quite different that the show!) but honestly they read more like a synopsis of a story–situations and conversations are merely sketched in, and it makes me anticipate how the show fleshes-out characters and situations. Like, when I saw Franklin in the show for the first time, I was like, oh right…him. In the book he’s just a older businessman sugar-daddy for Tara. What they do with him in the show is way more interesting.

    But the Sookie in the book has a incredibly compelling voice–not a bit innocent or naive, proud of the plastic patio furniture she got on sale at Wal-Mart, loses her virginity in her favorite Tweety Bird nightshirt, that kind of thing. Totally awesome if that had made it onto the HBO show.

  20. Roxie
    July 17, 2010 at 10:58 am

    @Elly: That’s not quite all Franklin was in the books. In the books Franklin WAS an abusive, controlling vampire who Tara couldn’t escape from. The storyline about them going to Russel’s however, is entirely show written.

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