True Blood Episode S3.01 Review – “Bad Blood”

WARNING! This article contains major spoilers of events in the first episode of Season 3 of True Blood. If you have not seen the episode and do not want it spoiled for you, then I recommend that you do not read this review.

There have been indefinite rumours that the eagerly awaited third season of supernatural drama True Blood will premiere in eight weeks time on FX, so really, around late August. However, with no guarantee of a new series coming soon to UK and Irish viewers and with the thought of eight weeks to wait, I couldn’t fight the urge to watch my favourite TV show on television and hence searched the net for the season premiere of the smart, sleazy drama, which premiered on HBO last night to US and Canadian viewers.

From the moment the first minute starts, Alan Ball and co. have plunged us right back in where we left off from Season 2’s finale. The cliffhanger from that episode is quickly resolved as we know Bill has been kidnapped by a bunch of sadistic, V-addicted creepers known quite subtly as the “Fuck You Gang”, who are speeding off in Bill’s car, slashing him open and drinking his blood. Meanwhile, a frantic Sookie, who had a delayed reaction to Bill’s marriage proposal, has the police involved who aren’t really taking Bill’s disappearance seriously. Jason is freaking out over shooting Eggs in the head while Tara cries over his bloody bodybag whilst being comforted by Lafayette, Sam is driving around his pickup truck looking for his biological parents and Jessica is having to deal with chomping on that trucker, whose losing a lot of blood. And this is all before the much revered title sequence begins. Phew!

Unlike, the opening episodes of the first two seasons which were relatively slow paced to begin with, the third season of True Blood travels at a break neck speed and is filled with action sequences and fast paced dialogue. The camp meter has also being raised up considerably for the season opening which provides numerous laughs for some of it but also affects the drama a bit.

Take for instance, Sookie’s storyline. Many have disagreed with me but I think Anna Paquin is a fantastic actress and for me suits the role of Sookie perfectly. Rather than exploring the emotional intensity of discovering “the love of her life” has been vamp-napped, the writers spend too much time on the comedy, showing off a spunky Sookie but with no emotion displayed at all. Her character kind of descended into caricature in this episode, which I don’t think is great for the lead role. I’m not saying Sookie has to be serious all the time but I would have liked to see her character play a straighter role and leave the witticisms to supporting characters such as Jason and Lafayette. No doubt we’ll explore the emotional intensity of Sookie losing Bill in later episodes but for this now, Bill’s capture lost any sense of urgency.

The only character to show any drama at all in this episode was Sookie’s pal Tara Thornton. Rutina Wesley captured Tara’s heartbreak in finding Eggs dead perfectly and for a moment I felt really sorry for her until I remember I was tired of Tara being such a miserable whiny bitch. At the end of this episode we see Tara attempt suicide and I really don’t think I can put up with any more episodes of the girl’s vulnerability being put on show. Bring back the spunky cynical Tara from Season 1.

Also in need of a good character shake-up is Tara’s mother Lettie Mae. I found the character appealing initially as she’s not necessarily a bad person, just an incredibly weak-willed one. I liked the exploration of the character and how she used spiritualism as a misguided way of solving everything but now I don’t think I can stand anymore proclamations of “Praise the Lord, my baby girl loves me!” I’m starting to wish Alan Ball would just kill her off like Charlaine Harris did long before Sookie’s story began. Thankfully though, Lafayette is on fine form this episode, having regained his “pizazz” (to use Andy’s word) which was missing for most of last season. I don’t think the character had any hugely funny one liner’s but Nelsan Ellis’ flamboyant portrayal of the gay African American drugdealer is somehow really comforting and relaxing to watch. Which is a credit to him as an actor, considering on paper, Lafayette’s character doesn’t seem so likeable. Lafayette also gave Lettie Mae a good tongue lashing for her stupidity too, which made me applaud.

Meanwhile Sam, as specified last season, is looking for his biological family. Not much plot is uncovered here, we only meet Sam’s unknowing brother Tommy Mickens, who on first glance, appears to be a smart mouth mechanic. This is True Blood, however, and there’s always more to characters than meets the eye, especially as Marshal Allman who plays Tommy, is a series regular so his role should be big this season. I’m interested to know what will happen with Sam’s storyline this year, it’s quite different from the books so I’ll stay tuned. The most notable talking point about this episode will probably be Sam’s sex dream about Bill (after he drank Bill’s blood in the season finale last year, hence bringing about sexual attraction). The scene doesn’t get too graphic but – boy! – is it cringeworthy. Stephen Moyer and Sam Trammel looked like they enjoyed doing the overly camp homoerotic scene though.

Which brings me onto Bill and the rest of the vampires. Ladies reading this blog entry will probably want me to talk about their favourite Viking Eric! You’ll be happy to know that the first scene he appears in, he’s butt naked and banging, vampire style, an Estonian lapdancer who is also naked. Some eye candy for both the boys and the girls! Yay! The character, whilst with Sookie, continues to provide a few innuendo filled witty lines but we see more to the Swede as he interacts with Pam, Queen Sophie Anne and The Magister. We’re seeing more angry, passionate sides to Eric which will probably be explored more this season and establishing more complexities in his character, beyond his usual calm and collected exterior. I like Evan Rachel Wood as the Queen and she displays a more powerful presence than she did in the final two episodes of the last season but she still lays on the campness a bit too thick in this episode. When her and Eric are questioned by The Magister, played by the brilliantly menacing Zeljko Ivanek, Sophie Anne’s mock exclamations of sympathy at the amount of V-Blood being sold in Area 5 of Louisiana were just a little to hard to swallow as real.

Eric’s protegé Pam has been bumped up to season regular this year and its great to see her get more screen time. Pam really does steal every scene she’s in, both in the books and the show. We also saw a more dramatic side to Pam in this episode, compared to the usual snarkiness we seen in the rest of the episode. Also getting more screen time is Bill’s teenage protegé Jessica, who also steals every scene, she’s in. Screenshots have shown images of Pam and Jessica together. Hopefully the show will lead them to becoming the female and vampire equivalent to the male and human Andy and Jason.

Although Andy and Jason’s scene together is fairly brief, it throws about plenty of laughs and I can’t wait see what the two will get up to as the season progresses. Bon Temps locals Arlene, Terry and Hoyt are also very much welcomed back to our TV (or computer screens) though their scenes are slower paced than the more major characters.

Which brings me to the cliffhanger. After Bill, having escaped the “Fuck You Gang” several miles from Bon Temps, shows a more darker side to his personality by feeding off a feeble old lady, he runs out into the woods only to be surrounded by a pack of wolves. But these wolves are wolves with shiny orange eyes, and he’s also talking to them as if they are human beings. Or at least part human beings, if you get my drift. Perhaps their werewolves? Anyways, Bill bares his fangs and the credits flash up on screen. Bit of a disappointing ending really compared to some of the others but a nice taster of what’s going to be happening in Bon Temps (and the all new location of Mississippi) this year.

Anyways, the good points about this episode is that it’s come back with its usual raunchiness (to please both sexes and sexualities) as well as a nice dose of fun one liners. I can see I’ve rambled a bit as there is so much going on but he huge number of characters in the show now all get a chance to shine and screen time is nicely balanced between the five leads, other major characters, vampires and Bon Temps locals (although no sign of Maxine Fortenberry, Mike Spencer or Jane Bodehouse yet). The make-up and special effects have also improved. Vampires fast movements now appear more fluid and Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skarsgard no longer look like they’ve rubbed flour on their face to pass off as vampires. Although, Eric’s hair is considerably darker than it last season (continuity error?). I’ll also add that Deborah Ann Woll and Evan Rachel Wood make ginger look extremely sexy.

The bad points is that some of True Blood‘s subtle humour has been sacrificed for more outright laughs. It sort of affects the tone of the show and it can often come across as more of a parody than a satire at times. I also felt a lack of tension because of the overuse of comedy. This is partly my own fault but the trailers for Season 3 have spoiled much of this episode for me. Thankfully, most of the trailer footage is displayed for this episode so there should be plenty of mystery left.

Overall, “Bad Blood” was a decent opening of what is sure to be a thrill ride around Bon Temps, Shreveport and Jackson, Mississippi. It was by no means perfect but from viewing this episode, I have full confidence that the season will progress at a thrilling rate. See you next week for my review of Episode 2 of True Blood Season 3. I can hardly wait! 😀

P.S. Apologies for my rambling.

Obituraries (because nearly someone always dies in each episode of True Blood):

 

  • Hank The TruckerS2.12-S3.01 R.I.P.
  • Fuck You Crew MemberS3.01 R.I.P.
Wow, two deaths. Its a quiet night in Bon Temps. Eggs doesn’t count ’cause he died last episode.

Oh, how offensive! (particularly shocking bouts of sex or violence this episode)

  • Make sure the kids are in bed when Sookie walks in on Eric and Yvetta’s marathon sex session in the torture/sex dungeon. We see all of Yvetta and pretty much all of Eric. It doesn’t help that Eric’s like a dog to a chair when engaged in the primal passionate art of ‘lovemaking’.
  • Jason’s threesome isn’t probably you’d want to be watching in the office either.
  • Bill gets tortured by the Fuck You Crew. It didn’t look as bad as I thought it would be but it was still pretty brutal.

 

My conspiracy theories and potential future plotlines (no deliberate TV show spoilers, mild book spoilers):

  • Bill will get nastier. Eric will be more humanised. Sort of a given.
  • Yvetta, the lapdancer that Eric was banging. Definitely something up with her. Why did Sophie Anne allow her to stay while herself, Eric and the Magister were having a meeting? I doubt it was lesbian lust. I think Yvetta might be connected to a bunch of supernaturals who make an appearance in Book 4 (readers wink) and that will be the end of this season’s cliffhanger. I also think the Queen and The Fuck You Crew are connected to this crew.
  • The Queen is way more devious than she is in the books and she’ll have several eggs in different baskets. I believe she’ll have a connection with a number of supernatural creatures.
  • Andy and Terry’s speech about the first kill = definitely foreshadowing something. I just don’t know what.
  • Viewers will watch their dreams come through as Jason and Andy get their spin-off cop show. Okay, not quite. But Jason will join the police force.
  • Sookie will use her radioactive hands again. She may possibly find out her true lineage too (readers wink).
  • One or both of the Newlins will return for a brief appearance.
  • Godric will reappear in a flashback related to Eric.
  • Pam and Jessica will become an all female, all comic duo similar to Andy and Jason.
  • Lettie Mae will be viciously murdered or get a personality transplant. Wishful thinking. I’m just prayin’ to Lord Jesus up there that we don’t get a sex scene between her and Reverend Daniels.
  • Alan Ball’s going to change the mythology of the books. In the books only the eldest child of a full bred shapeshifter or Were couple becomes a shapeshifter or Were also. The gene skips younger children and they remain fully human. I’m betting in the TV show, all children of a Were of shifter couple gain the gene. That’s why I’m betting Tommy, Sam’s younger brother, is also a shifter or, what will lead to Sam’s disgust, a werewolf.

 

Quotes from the episode:

Kenya (to French restaurant owner): “Merci beaucoup!”
Sookie: “Merci beaucoup for nothing!”

Pam: “Did I mention I love a lady in lavender?”
Sookie: “I’m in no mood for your lesbian weirdness tonight, Pam?”

Pam: Why did you kill that maenad? She’s quite the decorator.”

Tara: “Eggs didn’t kill those people! Not really!”
Arlene: “I’m sorry you fell in love with a serial killer, alright. But honestly who hasn’t?!” (indicates self)

Andy (to Jason): “Conscience off! Dick on!”

Lettie Mae: “I’m sorry for shooting a gun at you!”
Lafayette: “Bitch! Me and you, bridge (built between them), it ain’t ever gonna motherfuckin’ happen!”

Hoyt (to Jessica): “I got a new haircut! I think it actually makes me look kinda badass!”

Pam: I don’t know what it is that makes people think I wanna hear their problems. Maybe I smile too much. Maybe I wear too much pink”

Lafayette: “Hooker, there is no way I can sell all that V in one night!”
Pam: “Don’t call me hooker! I wasn’t one of those in a long, long time. Are you pickin’ up what I’m putting down?”

Terry: (after Arlene has outburst) “How peculiar!” (reflecting how Arlene whined about Terry being “so much more peculiar than usual he was” last year)

Andy: “Our story (about Eggs killing) has too many holes!”
Jason: “Well, why did you tell him a story with holes in it?!”

Bill (coming on to Sam – in dream!): “I hear the water in Arkansas is…very hard!

 

I’ll add more quotes when I watch the episode again!

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