A lot of the flaws of True Blood's season opener remained in this week's episode, but with that quicker-than-expected vampires vs. witches showdown and the confirmed kill of Sophie-Anne (sorry Evan Rachel Wood, but it was high time you were dead) I'm going to call this one a modest improvement. There's still a lot of storylines that leave me cold (i.e. basically everything not involving Bill or Eric) but I'm happy to see some forward momentum anyway. Plus, Stephen Moyer got to use his real accent, or some approximation of it, in that London punk bar of the 80s scene. Pretty weak excuse to get him talking English, but it's nice to hear some character in that man's voice for a change.
I had worried that it was going to take weeks for the coven to start affecting any real change and we'd have to suffer through a lot of Lafayette's hemming and hawing and Jesus' plaintive looks. I guess I forgot I was watching True Blood. It often lacks payoff, but it can burn through plot quickly too, so we got Marnie (Fiona Shaw's character) quickly prepping her witches for raising a dead body, which unsurprisingly freaks everyone out.
Not as much as it freaks out Bill and Eric, though, who both realize the implications of someone who can control the dead. It's nice to see them rub up against each other (Eric's sarcastic bow to his king was a nice touch) because it means when Eric gets serious, we can tell how grave a situation it actually is. And how! His takedown of the witches started routine, but once Lafayette joined their magic circle and they fucked Eric up good, well, I have to applaud Alexander Skarsgard, who definitely convinced us of how real Eric's fear was.
I'm way less interested in the episode's cliffhanger, though. Amnesia is not a good TV plot twist under any circumstances, but I maybe wouldn't mind if it happened to, say, Tara. But Eric turning into a personality-lacking drone who wonders why Sookie smells so nice? Lame. Why rob the show with one of its most active characters? And if the reason turns out to be that this is how Sookie falls in love with the dude, well, double lame. I couldn't care less about the whole love triangle but if you're going to pair Sookie with Eric, pair him with the real dude.
Bill's flashbacks were a bit of an infodump but provided the final bits of shading to his character, and were certainly more interesting than all the stuff with his maker that we had to suffer through last year. The London punk stuff was quite silly, and the resolution of the Bill vs. Sophie-Anne fight was a little disappointing, but I liked finding out how Nan figured into everything and, as I mentioned, was happy to learn that Sophie-Anne won't be returning. Wood wasn't atrocious in the role, but that character's preening had definitely run its course. Just too bad Bill had to rely on hired guns to get rid of her. I'm still struggling understand how Nan exists in the same authority structure as Zelkjo Ivanek did, with all of them reporting to this council of vampire or whatever, but I'm also willing to see them sketch that out further. The vampire mythology is the one moderately well-developed thing this show has going for it.
Of course, it means we also have to suffer through the growing pains of Jessica (looks like she'll be saddled with a shitty, Hoyt-centric storyline again all fucking season) and watch Sookie bumble around town staring blankly at people like Pam and Tara while doing nothing about her life. But hell, even those kids feel more relevant to the central story than some of the other shit we suffered through.
Arlene's constant freaking out about her baby is hellish. It's a horrible story for the woman, since it just means she's hyper and paranoid and shrieky all season, just like last season. If the baby turns out to be evil, fine. But she's hardly to be commended for yelling at it all season even if it is; it's not like she's doing any major investigative work, and it's so tiresome to watch. Similarly, Andy's V addiction feels like a re-run of so many similar cases on this show, and Sam's new girlfriend in the horsey group has a dark past rooted in native American magic. Do we really need that storyline considering we're already dealing with the coven? The concept of her being able to shapeshift into people is intriguing, but the way it's being presented through her character is not at all.
I'll give Sam this — I liked his reconciliation with Tommy, and I'm glad it played out this quickly. I've always hated the Tommy character but that scene, where they decided to both just try and stop getting on each other's nerves so much, was realistically-scripted and nicely underplayed by both actors. I still don't feel too invested in Sam's character, but that's pretty much the best way that could have gone.
As for Tara (gah) and Jason (WTF?) the less said, the better. Honestly, I was so confused by Jason's storyline (Crystal is behaving this way because she's high on V? How long has that been going on) but I think that was largely because the whole thing holds absolutely no interest. I'll admit, him getting devoured by a pair of panthers is eye-catching, but just for its ridiculousness. Tara…well, at least she wasn't in a cage fight this week. Progress!
So, was Marnie's face shifting into Michelle Forbes' during that scene? I couldn't quite tell who that was, that's just a guess.
Louis Pasteur is a vampire in this show's universe. Noted!
"Go clean yourself up. You're covered in Queen."
Jason has become the master of the understatement. "Maybe it's just the stress of the situation, but I don't follow."
Also: "It's not that I don't appreciate all the lickin', cause I do, but I'm more of a band-aid kinda guy."