Happy Tuesday, fangbangers. With the penultimate episode of this season now under our belts, Sally and Thomas and I get together to discuss the latest from the hellmouth at Bontemps.
Season Three is almost over, but dry your bleeds, kids. You know we love you more when you’re cold and heartless.
LAUREN: PAM FTW. Pam calling Bill an infatuated tween. Pam spraying Bill in the face with colloidal silver. Also the Emmy-style tribute to those who met the “true death” on the show, including Gram, Franklin, Eggs, and “Vikings.”
THOMAS: Eric’s human companion refused to be summarily cut loose, and Pam probably shouldn’t have insulted her. I suspect Eric was … less than clear about the terms of their relationship. Good for her.
SALLY: Jessica and Hoyt. That is all. Oh, and Pam. Oh, and Sam and Tara.
After tricking Russell into drinking Sookie’s diluted fairy blood and going out into the sunlight, Eric’s plan to take down Russell Edgington appears to have done in Eric himself. While Eric said his goodbyes to Pam and Sookie and proceeded with his suicide mission, Sookie is left for dead — again — and Bill whines about Sookie’s well-being — again.
THOMAS: Sookie said flat-out that she would be a fool to trust either Bill or Eric again, immediately after Eric showed her that was true, and immediately before Bill did the same. She’ll end up trusting both of them again, but at some level she knows she’s playing a sucker’s game. Eric has the courage of his convictions; he’s not kind to anyone, even those he loves the most, but he is loyal to them, even willing to give his own life if that’s what it takes to fix the mess he made. He won’t die; they can’t lose the most popular character on the show immediately after the Rolling Stone cover. But he doesn’t know that.
LAUREN: I’m tired of Sookie being relegated to a passive character when she — her story, her history, her literal blood — is the center of the show. The only real power that she has is the power to reject a lover, or so you’d think after Season Three.
SALLY: Yeah, I can’t understand why they bother with the level-headed “I won’t trust again” thing if we all know that won’t be the case. It makes her character rather boring, so I don’t see how this is a good strategy at all.
LAUREN: It really is boring, and it’s a letdown for the audience to pin their good feelings on this character just to have her manipulated by forces largely outside of her control. Right now her role in the story is to be an available bag of blood while a bunch of high-powered vampires enact their revenge fantasies on one another.
Thumbs down to the Rolling Stone cover, by the way. With an ensemble cast like this, they settle for this awkward, blood-spattered menage a trois? No offense to Alexander Skarsgaard or anything, but this love triangle is the least interesting facet of the show. Boo to RS’s creative team.
THOMAS: Cheap, obvious, conventional.
SALLY: I too found it cheap and obvious, but their hotness was still kind of awesome. I didn’t find it particularly provocative though, so I thought it was surprising that people took it that way. We’ve seen much more interesting stuff than that on the show, so they’ll need to work harder to get a rise out of fans.
LAUREN: So, one might say that the RS cover lacked teeth? Har har.
Wiccan Holly performed an herbal abortion on Arlene this week, and after a false alarm, it appears the abortion didn’t “take.” Arlene is horrified that she is giving birth to a serial killer’s baby, while her boyfriend Terry is overjoyed at becoming a father. It isn’t often that we see abortions handled this way on television — or at all. What do we think about this scene?
THOMAS: Is it cynical of me to believe this whole thing was a long way around to avoid a surgical abortion, either because it remains such a taboo, or because it would be harder for the audience to buy some magical superfetus-survives story with modern medicine than a magical ritual, or both? Also, is Arlene wrong, or will Rene’s evil be reborn?
SALLY: At this point, they’ve set this up so much that the baby kind of has to be evil, no? Otherwise, Arlene’s instincts are wrong and she’s just the horrible character that tried to kill her wonderfully pure baby. I wouldn’t like that. Like, at all.
LAUREN: Maybe I’ve seen too many zombie movies, but you can’t beat the creepiness of a glowy-eyed evil baby.
SALLY: Nothing beats creepy kids or evil babies. Nothing.
LAUREN: The rule of onscreen pregnancies, though, is that there has to be a point to the pregnancy to include it in the story. A completed pregnancy means a baby story, preferably a glow-eyed evil baby story, whereas an aborted pregnancy means a show generally has to take a hard political stance on abortion, a stance that most shows don’t have the ovaries to take. What True Blood did in this episode that does make a more nuanced political point was having Arlene, the self-righteous bigot, claim outright that abortion is bad as she’s having one while appealing to God as she does it. A female god. Was it a cop-out? I would argue not because of the way Arlene was given agency to feel and act as she wished. It was less a condemnation of her hypocrisy, which would have been legitimate by itself (but preachy), and more an acknowledgment that unplanned pregnancy is politically complicated and emotionally messy. Humanizing women’s fears and desires is a good thing.
Lafayette is getting hints that things with Jesus might be heading down a dangerous road. Don’t mix V with magic?
LAUREN: Lafayette’s hallucinations are a pretty good sign that Alfre Woodard is going to get more screen time here in the near future. Either LaLa is checking into a mental hospital or we’re going to discover that his mother isn’t a madwoman, she’s a shaman too.
THOMAS: First I thought Lafayette was a danger to Jesus and he was going to have to do a lot of work to make his life safe for a good man to share. Now it looks like it’s the other way around. Jesus has brought some scary elements into the mix and he’s going to have to be careful not to bring Lafayette more pain than peace. But hey, anything that gives Ruby Jean more screen time. Can she cast out the demon that is Tara’s mom?
SALLY: This was an interesting turn in the story and kind of goes with my whole “don’t trust Jesus” thing this entire season. He gives me the creepy creeps and it seems that at this point, he’s definitely supposed to. I definitely do hope this means that Alfre Woodard will be a more prominent figure and it certainly would be interesting given how her mental illness has been treated this season.
LAUREN: And as skeptical as I was of this storyline last week, I will admit that the quick flash to Jesus’ glowing painted face made me jump out the couch.
SALLY: That was so scary! I did not expect that!
LAUREN: Jesus may be good now, but the V is going to do a number on him and on his relationship with Lafayette. I wonder, even, if they could end up as rivals, or whether Lafayette is going to have to take Jesus down.
Jessica reveals to Hoyt that she is a vampire that drinks human, not synthetic, blood and that she murdered an anonymous trucker in her recent past. Hoyt seems to be okay with this revelation, and allows Jessica to feed on him, a dark turn for what has been a lively romance to date. In the meantime, Hoyt’s mama is trying to bait Hoyt into a relationship with Summer.
THOMAS: Hoyt’s evil shit of a mother will try to kill Jessica. It will not work, but she will harm Summer or Hoyt in the process. It’s not inconceivable to me that we’ll watch Hoyt die. That would make me sad, and would drive Jessica into an amoral dark night of the soul that could last a while and have a significant body count next season. Or not, in which case it will finally cement Hoyt and Jessica, possibly with her turning him.
SALLY: Hoyt’s mother annoys the crap out of me. She deserves whatever is coming her way.
LAUREN: I dig a vampire Hoyt. He and Jessica would made a formidable team. Their first act should be an organized takedown of Hoyt’s mean, overbearing mother.
SALLY: I totally back this! It would certainly make his character a bit more interesting, he needs some oomph, no?
THOMAS: Hoyt offering himself for Jessica to feed? Hot. What was the last mainstream media portrayal of m/f sexual submission as both masculine and proud that you can think of? Yeah, I’ll get back to you on that.
After Jason sicced the DEA on Hot Shot for their drug violations, Crystal convinces Jason to go back with her to save Hot Shot from a Waco-style resistance. Jason thinks he’s a hot shot himself, but this time he’s up against a bunch of were-panthers.
THOMAS: Could they possibly have done more to make the Hot Shot population loathsome: incest, drug-dealing, domestic violence, dogfighting … some folks wondered last week why the werepanthers were white; I think it’s because if they have made the Hot Shot werepanthers people of color, all the other things they’ve done to heap execration on that community would have been racist. But then, the result is a fucked up heap of propaganda against rural Southern white poor folks. Also, Jason’s career as a cop ends in a fiasco next episode.
SALLY: If it was possible for Jason’s character to annoy me more, he certainly did it with this episode. I still have no idea why he’s so in love with Crystal, and I don’t understand why he does anything he does, really. I guess I should be happy when it’s motivated by a woman, because at least then there’s a (stupid, stereotypical) reason, but yeah no. Not digging Jason. There was hope for him after last season, but he’s quickly become my least favorite character on the show.
LAUREN: I’m annoyed that Crystal can both be doing everything within her power to get away from these people, and doing everything within her power to save these people AT THE SAME TIME. We don’t know enough about Crystal, Hot Shot, or were-panthers to give a shit. If it’s not adding to the story, it’s taking away from the more worthwhile parts of the story.
On a side note, Jason also finds out that everyone in Bontemps appears to be on V.
LAUREN: I’m amused that Jason’s moral righteousness is offended by the revelation that everyone and their mother is on V. V is like the ultimate ur-drug, you think better, throw better, and fuck better when you’re on it, and nobody can seem to say no to V once they’ve had it. Even baby-faced Hoyt and just-say-no Jesus feel like better men when they’re on it. It’s like all the “positive” effects of cocaine, Viagra, steroids and LSD are all in one.
THOMAS: You say moral righteousness, I say fast-fading football glory. Jason is a failure in every sense of the word. He’s not even funny. If the writers can’t think of something to do with his sorry ass, can they trade the character to Showtime for a recurring role in Weeds, where inept and useless characters don’t stand out so much?
LAUREN: *snort* Yeah, Jason and Uncle Andy would make a dynamic pair if Jason was bright enough to get Andy’s jokes. Which he’s not. /weedsreferences
SALLY: I agree, I think it was a lot more “my record will be ruined” than actual moral concern. File this under Jason annoyance mentioned above.
Sam’s guilty conscience catches up with him and he’s tired of pretending to be a nice, helpful, untroubled guy when he’s actually feeling angry and ashamed at his life’s lot. In turn he alienates everyone who loves him, except Tara. Tara calls out Andy Bellefleur’s plot to cover up Eggs’ murder, and cries at Eggs’ grave. Then Sam and Tara bone. What?
SALLY: Sam and Taraaaaaa! I’ve been waiting for this because all of their tension is awesome and I thought it was going to happen earlier in the season when Tara was hanging with Sam all on the verge of a breakdown. Sam and Taraaa! Tara and Saaaaam!
THOMAS: The downside of Sam being passive-aggressive is that it tends to build up pressure that explodes, often immediately upon contact with a disinhibitor, like a quart of whiskey. And that can be a lot tougher to fix that letting it out a bit at a time. The harm to his relationship with Tommy cannot be fixed, and will reverberate through the rest of the show. For all his rebelliousness, Tommy put his trust in Sam in a way he never will have the capacity to do again. Terry and Arlene are grown-ups and will put this in context and move on even if they don’t entirely forgive it, and maybe Holly will, too. Tommy won’t.
I do love the Sam/Tara relationship. They’re good for each other because they think they’re bad for each other. They expect so little that when it’s anything but a complete disaster they both feel a little more okay.
LAUREN: I enjoy the Sam and Tara relationship too. Sure, it’s not going to lead to a lasting romance, but it does satisfy their desire for belonging and camaraderie and comfort, and the chemistry between the characters is easy but deep.
My beef is primarily with the writing that has both Sam and Tara whipping around between high and low, victim and victimizer, do-gooder and drunk. Their roles change from week to week. This season has Tara trying to make out with anyone that looks at her to get through her grief, but the handling of her coping is so meat-handed that she looks heartless and horny rather than emotionally empty and desperate, or even sympathetic. Sam, who has mostly been an easy-going and level-headed character, an anti-Bill if you will, is suddenly revealed to be a slimy jewel thief? And you know he’s a bad guy because of the hair grease. Really? A lolsob if there ever was one.
At this point last season we were ramping up to a demonic orgy that, at the very least, held some narrative tension. In this season we’re still muddling around in infodumps and dream sequences and make-out scenes. This is the penultimate episode. Where is my excitement?
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