“Everything is Broken”
HBO Sundays 6PM
Written by Alexander Woo
Directed by Scott Winant
“Just once, I’d like to not find a dead body in my house. Is that too much to ask?” —Sookie Stackhouse
Boy, doncha just hate it when that happens? Sookie’s carpet cleaning bill must be a bitch by now, what with the Maenad mud still in place, and now two werewolves killed in her house. The fun part of our opening scene, however, was with Bill asking Sookie—as they nonchalantly wrap a corpse in a tarp for transport/disposal—whether she’d rather be sitting on a couch, watching television. Yeah, I can see Sookie settling in for a marathon weekend of Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns.
The end of the last episode was fast and furious, with a Sookie/Debbie smackdown, Eric killing Talbot, Bill and Jessica taking out a couple of werewolves, and a pretty pointless fight between Bill the Helpless and Russell the Vampire King. (Seriously, where is Roger Corman when we need him?) We open with the aftermath: Bill and Sookie clean up her house, while Eric returns to Pam and Fangtasia, ready to make his getaway. Too late—Nan Flanagan of the Vampire Authority (is that a band name, or what?) is already there with her Imperial Storm Troopers in nifty sunglasses (at midnight!). Eric attempts to explain himself and his motives to a faceless VA webcam, but it’s not going over well. Nan can barely restrain her contempt for Eric and Pam; her whole focus is on convincing America that vamps are harmless and benign. She boasts of drinking TruBlood instead of human blood even when she is among her own kind. Russell, meanwhile, after writhing around on the floor scraping up handfuls of the late Royal Consort, caches Talbot in a sparkling crystal vase which he carries around with him. I’d call this macabre behavior, except in the context of this show it’s almost sappy sentimentalism. He’s out for, er, blood, and finally decides to get his revenge not only on Eric, but on the Vampire Authority he despises, which he believes is protecting Eric. Russell turns up in a studio during a live news broadcast, takes out the anchor on camera, and sits down to have a little heart-to-heart with the audience. Despite his apparently cool demeanor, the mask of insouciance slips now and then, and we see the snarl of the beast:
“We will eat you, after we eat your children.” —Russell
The best part of Russell’s rant was its context: we were flipping back and forth between Russell’s rage and Nan Flanagan chowing down on a willing human in the back of her SUV. The poster girl for TruBlood, the one who goes on national TV to talk about how peaceful vampires are, shows herself to be just as bloodthirsty as Russell, just as callous in her treatment of Eric as any Magister. I had to ask myself: which one of these vampires shows us the true nature of the breed—the hypocrite playing politics, or the autocrat declaring unilateral war? Because if Nan Flanagan is anything, she’s a hypocrite. Nor is she the only one; after taking Eric’s “deposition”, she comes back with the VA’s ruling—which is to say nothing, do nothing, admit nothing. The VA is fine with Eric continuing his vendetta, as long as they don’t get their hands dirty. The VA is happy to throw their half-million-dollar-contributing king under the bus, as long as Eric is the bus driver and the whole thing is kept quiet. I cannot wait to see Russell and his Cup-o-Talbot take on Nan and the VA. I’m actually rooting for the King of Pain in this one—he may be a bloodthirsty monster but by Jiminy he’s an honest one.
The secondary stories are far less compelling this time around, with the exception of Tara. We knew Franklin wasn’t dead, right? Because even when Tara smashed his head in, he didn’t turn into Vampire Jell-O. So when he comes back tonight, it’s not much of a surprise to anyone but her. Thankfully, Tara finally puts that famous temper of hers to work. Pushed beyond endurance by Franklin, she spits out her rage and defiance in his face, daring him to kill her, denying him the satisfaction of further terrorizing her. If Franklin had been sane, this tactic might have worked, but I doubt a psychopath like Franklin can hear anything over the noise in his own head. It’s up to Jason to once again come to someone’s rescue with a gun. This time, it’s a shotgun loaded with wooden bullets. The Reverend Steve Newlin would have been so proud.
So Tara’s going to be all right, yes? She’s free of Franklin, she’s got family supporting her, her friends like Sookie and Sam to lean on, and she’s re-claiming her power. No, Tara’s gift for trouble leads her right back into chaos. She takes Sam’s advice and finds a rape crisis support group—but Holly (Lauren Bowles, Cold Case) is part of it. Of all the characters we’ve seen in all three seasons, Holly is the one who gives me the creeps the most. There’s something about her feline demeanor that screams “wrong!” to me. The screaming gets louder when Holly tries to “comfort” a distraught Arlene. Granted, Arlene is becoming a major pain in the tuchus, what with the whining and the nagging and the crying and the whining. And Arlene once again shows her lousy judgment of character when she confides to Holly that she does not want her baby. Arlene being, of course, both a hypocrite and a dunce, rejects the logical conclusion to this (abortion) because “that’s wrong!” When we’ve had three seasons of rape, necrophilia (vampires are dead, Jim), violent death, cannibalism, and drug abuse, not to mention the deaths of innocent victims of vampirism, to draw the line at abortion because it’s “wrong” seems more than a little hypocritical.
The Sam Merlotte story got a little hotter this time around, with Sam completely losing his cool with Calvin, Crystal’s father. Sam’s been hit with Tara’s troubles, his brother’s rebel attitude, an hysterical Arlene, and Lafayette dreaming his way through the kitchen. Now Jason’s storyline with Crystal intersects with Sam’s when Crystal’s relatives track her to the bar. Calvin makes the mistake of threatening Sam, and lays hand on the frail-looking Crystal, whereupon Sam lets slip the dogs of war. Sam has literally died for “his people” before; now we see that he’s willing to kill for them as well. I don’t know why women are not simply hanging off this loyal, devoted, brave, and selfless hero. But it seems they would rather hang off of Jason Stackhouse, who is brave enough to kill Franklin but not smart enough to stay away from Trouble when it looks like Crystal. I swear, Jason has managed to tangle with the only citizens in Louisiana stupider than he is.
As far as the supernatural elements of True Blood go, probably the most intriguing new element is the introduction last week of “Faerie”, or something very like it. Bill wakes up (or has a waking dream) in Faerie, confronts Claudine and nearly bites her, whereupon she hits him with some lightning and knocks him silly. Bill, too dense to realize what this implies, asks her who she is, and when Claudine says she is protecting Sookie, Bill is astonished:
Bill: “How have you ever protected her?”
Better than you have, Bill my boyo. If Claudine is the source of Sookie’s lightning-powers, powerful enough to knock a full-grown werewolf or maenad across the room, then she’s a lot more valuable to Sookie than Bill. So far, Bill has protected her from… a werewolf. Which Eric and Jessica have done, as well. Which Alcide can do. In fact, when confronting Debbie Pelt, a werewolf, Sookie proved plenty capable of holding her own. Sookie the Werewolf Slayer has no need of Bill Compton. I wonder when he’s going to realize that?
I wonder when she is.