Monday, June 14, 2010

True Blood - "Bad Blood"

Review by Paul Steven Brown

True Blood
Season 3 - Episode 1
"Bad Blood"

Last season's 'True Blood' started off strong but really fell apart during the sprint towards the finale. I love Michelle Forbes, but the Maryann plot got repetitive rather quickly and had very little to do with any of the more interesting vampire politics of the first half of the season. There was a few really empty scenes with vampire queen Sophie-Anne, but they were weakly played by Rachel Evan Wood. The last episode of the second season at least delivered a number of enticing cliffhanger and subplot elements that made me hopeful that season three would be more exciting than the end of the second.

"Bad Blood" picks up right where "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" left off. Bill has gone missing while Sookie was in the restaurant restroom. Tara is a wreck over the death of Eggs, that Andy is secretly covering up for Jason. Sam is on the road trying to find his real family. Jessica's momentary blood lust has left her with a body to dispose of.
Bill is a lot more interesting when Sookie isn't around. Last season his best moments were when had to play vampire father to his protege Jessica or his struggle to get out from under the thumb of his maker, Lorena. Despite the topic almost always revolving around Sookie, Bill's conversations with Eric were usually entertainingly intense.

Bill's predicament this episode gives us a more resourceful and exciting Mr. Compton. His dispatching of his captures was ruthless and daring. He's smart enough to bury himself over day until he can feed and figure out where he is. Also, he continues to be a very compassionate vampire in his dealings with the old woman that he fed on to regain his strength. He ends the episode in bad ass mode as he pops fangs and stares down a pack of wolves. This will lead to the much ballyhooed introduction of werewolves to the 'True Blood' mythos.

This more assertive Bill may be a reaction to amount of attention Eric has received from the creators and the fans last season. Eric doesn't get to do too much in "Bad Blood", but he makes the most of his few minutes. Team Eric should be very happy with the lingering shot of his naked derriere followed by his cocksure alibi to Sookie. Other than that, Eric is there to facilitate the meeting between the Magister and Queen Sophie-Anne. I'm glad to see Zeljko Ivanek back as the dark and creepy Magister, instead of languishing as Danko on the recently cancelled (thank God) 'Heroes'. Even Wood steps up her game as Sophie-Anne. She seems older and more confident, plus her demonstration of power to Eric was startlingly effective.

However, when it comes to pretty, red-head vampire girls, I'll take Jessica over Sophie-Anne any day. Forget Team Eric or Team Bill, I'm a member of Team Jessica. She's the one character gets my blood pumping (though even as a heterosexual male, I cannot deny the awesomeness of Eric). Last season we got to witness Deborah Ann Woll's character go from bratty teenage vampire newbie to lovestruck girl trying to make her relationship with the very human, but good-hearted, Hoyt work. Without Bill around this episode, she's forced to figure her way around the predicament she landed herself in at the end of the last season. So far, she still hasn't gotten rid of the body. It's still great to see Jessica get slightly freaked out about her powers, like last night's display of vampire GPS that she uses to help Sookie find Bill.

Another great vampire lady to watch is Eric's right-hand, Pam. If the third season promotional posters are any indication, it looks like we'll be seeing a lot more of her. I consider this a good thing, since Pam is snarky and, as she demonstrates to Lafayette, not to be trifled with. Kristin Bauer plays her with absolute relish and I can't wait to see more of her.

As for the remaining threads of the episode, the only one that seems remotely interesting is Sam's quest to find out about his past. Trammell is one of the better actors on the program and it's probably a good idea to explore shape-shifters in a season in which werewolves will be playing a large role. There is a chance of confusion when you have two sets of people that can transform into dogs.

While Tara's grief over Eggs' death is understandable, but I'm not really invested in this subplot. This may be due to it's connection to the lackluster Maryann storyline from last season. This also leads to Andy covering up Jason's shooting of Eggs, which already feels like an unnecessarily complicated situation. Eggs was brandishing a big, scary knife in Andy's face. Jason literally jumped the gun in his defense, but Andy's word would have gone a long way at clearing up the situation. This lead to Jason's failed threesome with the girls from New York and the imaginary bullet holes in their heads due to his guilt, which was weirdly funny.

Last season saw Jason really become a hero, whether it was his rebellion against the vampire hating church or his attempts to save the citizens of Bon Temp. His current situation feels too much like his starting point in the series. He's been reset back to the dumb, horny guy that's over his head and connected to some murders. If not for his apparent guilt over the Eggs murder, it would feel like a reset.

Oh, and Sookie is running around trying to find Bill. Funny how I almost forgot about her.

The return episode kicks in with a number of interesting subplots, plus a few I could care less about, but in general this was good episode of 'True Blood'. It was a really strong one for Bill and I'm looking forward to more Eric, Pam, and Jessica. Looks like the vampires won this hour.

No comments:

Post a Comment