True Blood – I Smell A Rat (S03E10) – Episode review

Well, [[True Blood (TV Series)|True Blood]] was all over the place this week. You get this every now and then when something massive has happened, like Russell ripping the spine from a TV newsreader. It’s natural for the show to slow the pace down and give us a breather.

In I Smell A Rat, the pace is slower and there are no spectacular deaths, but there’s still a lot going on. Let’s recap, shall we?

Bill & Sookie

Mr Compton (Stephen Moyer) explains to Miss Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) that she’s part fairy. He even hints that fairies might be part alien, but that might be a tongue in cheek nod to the orgy of supernaturals coming out of the woodwork this season. Aliens might not be so unusual in this show once they’ve exhausted the other options.

Still, a dream encounter with Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) sows the seeds of doubt in Sookie – can Bill really be trusted? Later encounters between Eric and Bill suggest that Mr Compton is keeping a secret from Sookie – one which she’ll not be amused to discover. (Of course she’ll find out in the end – that’s a certainty!)

Eric & Pam

Eric’s not been the happiest bloodsucker in Bon Temps (technically Shreveport, but whatever) since he staked Russell Edgington’s lover Talbot. You’d think he’d be pleased to have delivered a touch of vengeance to the ancient gay vampire.

So, Eric calls in his lawyer to make a Last Will should he meet the Final Death. It’s all very dramatic, especially when the exotic dancer he’s been shagging finds out he’s left everything to Pam. Pam herself is unamused, because Eric refuses to sell out Sookie to save his own ass.

The thing that’s annoying me about Eric is that he sends out such mixed signals. One minute he’s saying his last goodbyes to Sookie, the next minute he’s chaining her up in his dungeon. And he’d be more than happy for Sookie to find out Bill’s Big Secret. But is that to hurt Sookie or to drive a wedge between her and Bill?

Sam Merlotte

Fresh from beating the living daylights out of Calvin Norris last week, Sam is nursing a busted fist and a heavy heart. This is the trigger for some flashback sequences that show Sam wasn’t always the cute n’ cuddly bartender he is now.

We see him fresh from robbing jewels with a hot female accomplice…until the same accomplice and her boyfriend rip Sam off. Frustrated, he uses his doggie form to track them down, and holds them up. Naturally, things take a sour turn and Sam’s rage flares, he beats the other guy to a pulp in an echo of the fight with Calvin. The girl turns a gun on Sam, gives him a minor flesh wound and he repays her by shooting her in the chest. Just to even up the numbers on this murder, he finishes off the injured boyfriend.

There’s always been a secretive streak to Sam Merlotte, so this opens our eyes to a different side to his character. I’m not sure he comes across as such a nice guy now. He seems somewhat contrite in the bar the next day, especially when he learns that Calvin survived the brutal ordeal. I’m actually intrigued to find out how Sam’s story arc for this season will wrap up now.

Lafayette and Jesus

Oh dear. After some vague mumbo-jumbo about her son having powers, Ruby-May’s predictions come true. Jesus and Lafayette take a dose of V juice together and go on an extended trip through their respective voodoo ancestors. Cheech and Chong they are not.

I suppose it’s intended to wake Lafayette up to his own unique abilities, but it doesn’t completely work. I’ll point you to this great review on LA Times which suggests that if everybody in True Blood is supernatural, then no-one is. I thought the gradual seguing from light to dark magic worked very well, but my heart did sink a little whenever I imagined Lafayette developing magical powers.

Jason and Tara

Very unsatisfying, this one. Jason starts having flashbacks to various deaths he’s caused, including Eggs. He makes the mistake of admitting killing Eggs to Sookie, who immediately tells him to come clean to Tara. This makes no sense – as Tara’s friend, Sookie should know she’s been through enough already. Even mentioning Eggs’ name will dredge up awful memories. And since Tara’s reaction to Bill has been so hostile (with good reason), what if she reports Jason to the police?

Anyway, Jason and Tara become close in his house, and he makes the mistake of confessing to her. Here’s where it gets annoying – she walks out and there’s no resolution for the rest of the episode. True Blood’s done a lot of that this season, picked up a story only to abruptly drop it and revive it in another episode. Grrr.

Jessica and Hoyt

Hoyt manages to steer himself back in the direction of Jessica after dumping the irritatingly chirpy Summer. He also manages to punch Tommy in the face, which raised a cheer from me! I don’t like that kid!

Elsewhere, Jessica has an argument with Arlene, whose growing right-wing anti-vampire stance. Later on, someone erects a flaming crucifix outside the Compton home, and I’m pretty sure they’re not filming a Madonna video there. Anti-Vampire hate is seeping into Bon Temps.

Russell Edgington

Ah, Russell. Alongside Franklin Mott, perhaps one of the best characters to grace True Blood this year. In fact, Russell’s picked up the crazy baton from Franklin and really ran with it.

In tonight’s episode, he finds himself a rent boy who looks like his dearly departed Talbot. I initially thought that he had the chalice with him for some bizarre vampire resurrection ritual, but hope of that quickly died. Instead, he calls the guy Talbot and starts monologuing about how he should have been there at the final death, before driving a stake into the guy’s chest. He continues waffling as the man gurgles to death.

Loose ends

Oh yeah, Crystal is a were-panther. But we already knew that.

Quotes from this episode:

  1. Bill finds out that Eric killed Talbot: “That’s why he went medieval on TV. Thanks Eric, you just put our cause back a thousand years.”
  2. Jessica, pinning Arlene to the wall: “We get it, you don’t like vampires. Well I don’t like narrow-minded skinny bitches with bad dye jobs, but at least I’ve got the courtesy to keep my mouth shut about it.”
  3. Summer: “I can tell you’re a sexual person, Hoyt Fortenberry.”
  4. Tara’s finding it hard to trust vampires again: “They tie you up and duct tape you so you can’t scream.”
  5. Jesus: “It helps you connect even more to whatever magic you’re already hooked up to.”
  6. Holly gives Sam something for his rage. “Thanks. You got anything that works for nosiness and bad boundaries?”
  7. Sam’s not proud of beating Calvin: “Tommy, it’s not respect when your employees think you’re a psychopath.”
  8. Arlene reveals the baby isn’t Terry’s. “It’s gonna be evil, and I want to get rid of it.”
  9. Eric: “You know you can’t trust Bill. That’s not my blood talking, it’s your survival instinct.”
  10. Pam needs to speak to Eric: “Blah blah vampire emergency blah.” and “You’re too busy signing wills and making out with the solution instead of using her.”
  11. Bill explains why the fairies warned Sookie about him: “Every supernatural I’ve ever met believes the fae were wiped out of existence…by vampires.”

3 Comments

  1. RandomEnigma

    I’m in agreement with you. True Blood is still immensely entertaining and engrossing TV but this season, the writers have dropped the ball a little bit. As you’ve said there basically picking up storylines, dropping them and not resolving them until future episodes. There’s no build up or new plots or twists thrown in to keep it interesting, they just drop it, drag it out and it’s annoying and feels lazy.

    The pacing’s off in True Blood this year. Do we really need 10 episodes to find out Crystal is a werepanther? Do we really need to wait 10 episodes to discover that Lafayette and Jesus are witches? Why did Sam spend 8 episodes with annoying parents and then the remaining 4 as this dark character (although it is intriguing). Why did Jessica spend 3 episodes hiding a body, 5 as comic relief at Merlotte’s and now what looks like a whole her and Hoyt relationship arc? Why did Arlene fret over telling Terry a lie for 9 episodes and then he just forgives her?

    While the main plot involving Russell, Bill, Sookie and Eric seems like there going in the right direction, the rest of the plotlines look like chickens wandering around headless? The writers seem confused with sticking to a story arc. Even Freaky Franklin’s subplot felt somewhat confused – bring him in, scare Tara, make her stronger and then kill him off? *shaking my head, TB writers*

    Plus for the casual viewer of the show, its off-putting how much the writers are throwing at them. Don’t bring up the existence of fairies and witches in this episode when people are still trying to get their heads around vampires, werewolves, shifters and maenads!

    Oh and you and the LA Times are right about everyone turning out supernatural on this show. From the title sequence where the cast are listed: Sookie and Jason are half fairies, Sam and Tommy are shapeshifters, Bill, Jessica, Eric, Russell and Pam are vampires, Crystal’s a Were, Lafayette and Jesus are witches, Tara is most likely a witch too because she’s related to Lafayette. Hmmm what humans does that leave then: Terry, Arlene, Hoyt, Andy and Bud – fairly minor regular characters unfortunately.

    Oh but I will miss Summer. She had nice boobs!

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Not to keep harping on about the books, but there was some comfort in there only being vampires and werewolves to deal with, with the odd random supernatural thrown in. However, Charlaine Harris never made a big thing of it, and she slowly introduced the fairy subplot over a couple of books. However, in the series, the addition of so many new characters and species makes everything feel forced.

      Nice cameo from Steve Newlin, by the way. I enjoyed that.

      As for Summer – if it came down to a straight contest between her and Jessica, I know who I’d choose. Still impressed with Hoyt punching Tommy though – he deserved that.

      1. RandomEnigma

        I would of course choose Jessica, the sexiest ginger in all the World. However, Summer’s boobs are hypnotic! 😛

        Yeah, I was glad Hoyt punched Tommy too and Jessica flipped him in the air in dog form.

        I was glad to see Steve back too. Himself and Sarah have split up though according to this post mortem:

        I agree, they’re trying to show too much this season and its all piling on top of them. Like last week, we were introduced to Hadley and Hunter – Hunter not actually appearing until the EIGHTH BOOK!

        Seeing as there’s unlikely to be thirteen seasons of TB, I know they have to introduce characters and plotlines earlier but they’ve shown us Hunter’s telepathy and we probably won’t see sight nor sound of him until next season. True Blood will implode if it overloads the viewer with too much information.

        I know if I hadn’t read the books, I would be fairly confused!

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