Monday, September 13, 2010

True Blood - "Evil is Going On"

Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Sookie (Anna Paquin) still have issues.
Photo Credit: HBO
Review by Paul Steven Brown

'True Blood'
Season 3 - Episode 12
"Evil is Going On"

'True Blood' has never been highbrow television. Honestly, if it were not for violence, sex, and the beautiful people causing the violence and having the sex, I really don't think this show would be the sensation that it has become. At times, 'True Blood' has felt like 'Heroes', a tangled mess of too many characters and unrelated plot threads. This wouldn't be so bad if most of those character arcs were either interesting or had some sort of natural progression.

Yet, I can't help but continue to watch this show. What it lacks in storytelling finesse, it certainly makes up in popcorn entertainment. There were a good number of cliffhanger or shock moments throughout season three. There were also those characters that were fun to watch like Eric, Pam, Lafayette, Alcide, and Jessica. There is still the few storylines that are generally smart and engaging.

The main arc for season three, centered on Russell Edgington, was probably the best of the series so far. Through this story we actually got to see a more proactive Bill Compton, a more compassionate Eric Northman, the true nature of Sookie Stackhouse, the introduction of werewolves into the show's mythos, and a charismatic, but competent villain. Unlike Maryann last season, Russell appeared to have goals well beyond the local surroundings. Russell had a potentially rich history and felt more realized than Maryann ever did, despite the wonderful job Michelle Forbes did with the character.

Even with Russell being put on ice for about 100 years, there's still the threat that he is powerful enough to come back in a season or two. I certainly hope so, because he is the sort of character that all the mystical characters on the show could rally together to battle. I could really get behind an all-out supernatural war at some point in this show, especially now that so many of the main cast have been revealed to be shapeshifters, faeries, and witches.

I'm glad that Lafayette may be on the road to controlling his visions and newly evolved magical nature. This could have been drugged out way too long, but it appears that Jesus will be guiding our favorite short order cook down the road of shamanism. I didn't want to see Lafayette endure even more emotional stress, since he already had a post-traumatic storyline last season.

Speaking of emotional baggage, Tara's exit from Bon Temp actually made a lot of sense. Given all the pain that she had gone through and the manipulation and abuse from both Maryann and Franklin, the young woman needed a break from the supernatural. Maybe she'll go off and learn to be a badass vampire slayer. Maybe she's leaving Louisiana and the show behind for ever. Either way, Tara did look great with the new haircut.

I don't understand or like the direction that the writers took Sam in the last three episodes of this season. It really didn't play with what had already been established on the show or even the beginning of this season. He was suddenly given a backstory more appropriate for Sawyer from 'Lost'. While there were some hints to his more established kind nature with his apology to Terry, as soon as he realized that Tommy had robbed him, Violent Sam resurfaced. I don't think he shot to kill his younger brother, since we don't see the bullet hit Tommy. More than like, and I hope, that shot the kid in the leg.

So, am to understand that Jason Stackhouse's desire to feel important and to do something with his life led him to become the King of the Inbred Werepanther People? Most of season three felt like a backslide on any character development that he had over the first two seasons. Suddenly, he has been thrust into a position of great responsibility, but it doesn't seemed earned. Also, if Felton is cold-blooded enough to shoot one of his brother-cousins and his uncle-daddy, he certainly wouldn't be so patient while Jason was arguing with him. In fact, he'd probably just shoot him out of spite.

It looks like Hoyt and Jessica are really making an effort at building a life together. I'm glad she didn't get cold feet when he gave her a tour of the house that he's going to buy for them. However, the abandoned doll on the floor was a fairly ominous shot to end the scene on. Hoyt's mom is certainly going to be a threat. Not an emotionally one, since Hoyt made it clear that he wants nothing to do with her if she can't accept Jessica. However, her rifle purchase does not bode well for the future for the young couple. Hopefully, the tricked out hidey-hole Hoyt plans on building Jessica will be very secure.

There's a lot of potential in the Jessica and Hoyt story to explore marriage law issues between humans and vampires. If handled properly it could work as an allegory for the same-sex marriage controversy that is happening in the U.S. Even Mrs. Fortenberry and Summer's confrontation of Hoyt at work felt like some sort of "don't be gay" intervention. Unfortunately, Hoyt's mom is really cartoony which could kill some the story potential here.

As with the rest of the season, the best material centered around Bill, Sookie, Eric, and Russell. It was nice to see that Sookie can potentially control her faerie powers. I also enjoyed the emotional dilemma that Eric was having over whether or not to spare Russell after seeing visions of Godric. Bill made some bold moves in his attempts to eliminate anyone that knew of Sookie's true nature. I was happy to see that we didn't have to wait until next season for Eric to crawl out of the cement. He was certainly going to be back next season, so why manufacture suspense?

While the revelation of Bill's original mission concerning Sookie made a lot of sense, it also served as yet another wedge between the two. The repetition of the on-again-off-again relationship between the two has gotten old. Also, I doubt that we'll ever see Bill leave the show for any long period of time, since Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin recently became a real life married couple. If anything, maybe we can get some extended time without the two in the same room for a while. Their separation really helped the first half of the season and made the two characters, particularly Bill, more interesting. Besides, Sookie seems to have some good chemistry with friendly werewolf hunk, Alcide.

'True Blood' remains a guilty pleasure for me. I know that it really isn't a masterpiece of television, but I can't help but tune in each week. There is still a playful, al beit gory, irreverence that draws me in. Plus, everyone just looks so damn pretty. There's also the potential that they writers could really make it into something bigger, better, and more tightly written. Maybe next season?

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