True Blood: “Me and the Devil”

Dream Lovers

True Blood
“Me and the Devil”
Sundays, HBO, 10

Written by Mark Hudis

Directed by Daniel Minahan

“I will never hurt anyone as beautiful as you.” — Eric

Now I know why the first few episodes of this season not only introduced us to Luna but gave us more information than I needed about the rules for shifting. We’re told more than once that if a shifter kills a member of his or her own family, he or she can then transform not just into animals, but into human beings. In the opening scene of this episode, Sam Merlotte’s brother Tommy Mickens (Marshall Allman, The Defenders) kills not only his father but his mother (accidentally); I foresee some very interesting and disturbing transformations in Tommy’s future. Personally, I’m grateful to him for taking Joe Lee (Copper Huckabee, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior) off my screen, but then again, in a series as supercharged with supernaturals as this one, there’s every chance Joe Lee and his baggy underwear will, so to speak, resurface. I shudder with anticipation. I liked our glimpse of Sam’s  darker side, both when he was menacing Sheriff Andy and when he confessed to his brother that he had killed people before. Sam’s a good guy, but he’s been through some bad times, which makes him the shiniest bad-boy in this bunch, at least among the living.

“There’s more to you than your worst self.” — Sookie

Of course the real bad-boy-we-love is Eric Northman. This episode locked in the storyline some viewers have been waiting for since the blond giant first walked onscreen in Season One: a romance between Sookie and Eric. I must confess that this combination makes far better sense to me than Sookie and Bill, and I have long suspected that their creator feels the same. Judging by the books, Bill has lost Sookie for good and all, with excellent reason: he has yet to do her more good than harm. Eric, on the other hand, has never hurt her, has acceded to all her demands, and has stood up for her when everyone else thought she was dead. If he was at times manipulative, he was never malicious to her. Now he wonders aloud whether he is worthy of her. In any event, this new Eric is most endearing: gentle, sweet, sexy, playful. Was that Eric there before? Or was he created by the witch who bewitched him? Either way, this enchanted prince is honestly falling in love with Sookie, who is fast falling for him. And why not? Bill Compton lied to her and used her; Eric asks for nothing but speaks to her more poetically than that Southern gentleman vampire ever did. Bill was ordered to seduce Sookie; Eric woos Sookie directly from the heart. How can she not love him? When Sookie finally calls Eric into her arms, we get a passionate lip lock that sears the screen as ardently as any we’ve seen in four seasons. High time, I say.

“I can put up with a lot, Bill, but when you @#$ with my face, it’s time to die.” — Pam

Passion of another sort simmered in every scene with Pam, Eric’s scion. Vampire Pam (Kristen Bauer, The Secret Life of the American Teenager) has always been the fashion touchstone for the series, snarking at Eric when he makes her ruin a good pair of shoes by trekking through woods. I look forward every week to her outfits, which she wears with the panache of a goddess. But last week, Marnie the witch (or at least, the witch possessing Marnie) hexed Pam with a rotting-corpse spell. I cannot imagine a better way to, er, get Pam’s goat than to attack her vanity. Now we get hilarious scenes of her demanding permission to kill Marnie, complaining to Bill of her appearance, dismissing his amateurish attempts at conciliation. This sideshow reaches a crescendo at a meeting where another vampire hints discreetly to Pam that her ear is falling off. Pam’s annoyed reaction puts a new spin on the concept of vampire glamour.

“Insanity comes with the job.” – Bill

Speaking of glamour, Bill gets in some equally hilarious face-time (ahem) with his erstwhile lover, Portia Bellefleur. Having discovered that she is his great-great-great-great-granddaughter, he ends their sexual relationship. She is not content to be dismissed, and attempts to persuade him to change his mind. Like the good lawyer she is, she has done her research, lined up her arguments, rehearsed her presentation. And rather than reason with her, Bill simply stares into her eyes and glamours her. What a perfect way to end an argument—where can I learn this trick? Portia runs screaming out of the room, while Bill smirks with self-satisfaction. I love seeing Bill as King; he’s a better ruler than lover by far. We see him struggling to balance the demands of his subjects against the iron dictates of the Vampire Authority; he has become the perfect bureaucrat. In contrast to his muddled affair with Sookie, he is very clear-eyed when it comes to vampire realpolitik: he reminds his surviving sheriffs that vampires have always infiltrated human power structures. Where it used to be the Church, now it’s Google. This is the aspect of Charlaine Harris I have always loved: the ancient creatures (vampires) adapting, or failing to adapt, to a world of Facebook and fake blood.

“You are incapable of love. You are damned!” — Godric

Dreams dominate the storyline of this episode. We begin with Eric’s nightmare about his maker, Godric (Allan Hyde, Frankly, Frankly), forbidding him to love Sookie. We end with Jason’s nightmare about bedding Jessica (who turns into Hoyt). Both nightmares are about inappropriate loves, forbidden feelings, and sex. The first is poignant and sad, with the ghost of Godric warning Eric that as a vampire, he is incapable of love or human emotion. Eric doesn’t want to believe this, but all the feedback he hears about his former self (notably from Tara) is that he was heartless and vindictive. He wonders if this is his true nature, if he can overcome it, if perhaps he cannot be redeemed. I found this aspect ironic, in view of the many times Eric sneered at Bill for acting “too human”. Can it be that, deep down, Eric always envied Bill his remaining shreds of humanity? The logic of dreams tells him that if anyone can save him, it will be Sookie. No wonder he wants that connection. Jason, on the other hand, is just trying to recover from the living nightmare of his captivity. Clearly he is ashamed, feels violated, wants to conceal the entire episode from everyone, including his sister. Like Sookie, Jason finds that vampire blood gives him erotic dreams about the donor, only Jason’s are enlivened by the dream-presence of Hoyt, kvetching from the sidelines while Jessica does the succubus routine. Jason is so distracted by guilt that he eventually transforms Jessica into Hoyt, and wakes in a hilarious blind panic.

“You keep your ghost hands off my baby!” – Arlene

I am done with Arlene and Terry and the Baby From Hell. While I found Terry’s devotion to his family touching and real, Arlene’s nonstop hysteria in regard to baby Mikey is exhausting. Her panic reaches a crescendo this week as she nags Terry into calling a priest for an exorcism. Terry winds up calling in Reverend Daniels, who brings his new wife along – none other than Lettie Mae, Tara’s mother. Their version of an impromptu, one-size-fits-all exorcism combines gospel singing with saging. While it was nice to see Lettie Mae (Adina Porter, Private Practice) again, as I said, this whole story arc is becoming tedious. I hope the writers either close it off or hook it into the other storylines as soon as possible. I recognize that the underlying theme – possession – matches that of the Marnie storyline. I get it, already. So let’s move on. Lafayette and Jesus’ story matches up more directly, but is becoming equally tiresome. The one good scene they had in this episode was the quasi-fight over going to visit Jesus’ goat-sacrificing grandfather in Mexico, which was a touching reinforcement of their close relationship. I always like Jesus and Lafayette, if only because they seem to be the only genuinely happy couple in Bon Temps. But I don’t need this much of them.

“Get off my porch.” — Alcide

Certainly the Alcide story has nowhere to go. I honestly do not care what happens to the beefy werewolf with such atrocious taste in girlfriends. Nor am I much concerned over the fate of Marnie the witch, as colorless a dupe as ever graced a vampire dungeon. I realize that hers is the major story this season (apart from Sookie and Eric) but there’s really nothing interesting about her. That’s no smack at Fiona Shaw, a fine actress, but at the writing, which reduces her to a cipher speaking for others. If Alan ball could see fit to kill off the fairy godmother Claudia, why can’t he do something about Marnie? Seems to me that a witch powerful enough to reach across the grave and the centuries to bespell Eric Northman wouldn’t need some puny human to do her work for her. Likewise, the subhumans of Hotshot do nothing for me; can we skip that whole storyline? Ditto for Tara, who has become a one-woman soap opera, who has not significantly grown in three seasons, and who now functions mostly as an angry sounding board for the other characters. I could do with a lot less clutter on my Sunday nights; it would make room for more shirtless Eric, at least. Now there’s a dream lover.