I’m Thinking More MEAT!: Some Thoughts on True Blood, Episode 10

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True Blood seems to get better with every episode that airs. When it premiered last fall I was unimpressed and was close to giving it up. My new Southern friends here in North Carolina assured me that Sookie Stackhouse’s (Anna Paquin) accent was laughable (what did I know?) and the series’ vampire plot seemed like Buffy-lite. But slowly the show found its footing. And now I’m obsessed.

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I attribute much of the show’s allure to its mastery of the slow burn. What I mean is this: while many programs with rich, soapy plots (The O.C., Desperate Housewives, Gossip Girl)) rush through their storylines, anxious to bring them to a climax before audience interest wanes, True Blood is a true tease. Mysteries remain mysterious and flirtations go on and on and on (I am particulary taken by the brewing attraction between Sookie and Eric [Alexander Skarsgard]). Furthermore, we are always finding out something new about the show’s characters–they evolve and become more complex with each episode.

Maryann Forrester’s (Michelle Forbes) story arc is another great example of True Blood‘s deft storytelling technique and character development. Maryann first appeared at the scene of Tara’s car accident at the end of Season 1, cradling a pig and looking devious. The writers made us suspicious of her character then, but buried her secrets behind Maryann’s sweet, disarming demeanor. In this way we were much like Tara (Rutina Wesley); we know something isn’t right about Maryann, but what is it? That she smokes too much weed, buys too much delicious fruit, and parties too hard for a woman in her 40s?

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It is not until almost halfway through Season 2 that we find out that Maryann is an immortal supernatural being and somehow tied to the god, Bacchus. She thrives on unfettered human drives like hunger, lust and violence. The scene in last night’s episode (“New World in My View”), where Maryann crafts a pyre of meat and flowers while the sounds of buzzing flies fill the air was the apotheosis of the excess she had been slowly and cannily directing all season long. It was a satisfying moment.

The best scene of the evening, however, had to be when Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) (who really deserves an Emmy for his work this season) and Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) (who will always be Frank Sobotka to me) outwit Maryann’s angry mob by outfitting Jason as the “God who comes.” These two characters are consistently portrayed as the biggest morons in the town of Bon Temps, but they are able to (momentarily) save Sam Merlotte’s (Sam Trammell) life by using their wits. So there’s something else rattling around in Jason’s brain besides the drive to drink beer, screw and kick ass? Good to know.

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An honorable mention goes to Lafayette Reynolds (Nelson Ellis) (any scene with Lafayette is a great scene as far as I’m concerned), who banded together with his estranged aunt (Adina Porter) to yank Tara free from Maryann’s spell. At one point Lettie Mae prays for her daughter’s salvation but trails off in despair and, without missing a beat, Lafayette finishes her prayer. Lettie Mae turns, looking surprised. “Jesus and I agree to see other people. That doesn’t mean we don’t talk from time to time” he responds in his usual deadpan manner. So Lafayette has religion? Yet another nuance we can add to his already rich character.

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And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention “the Queen” (Evan Rachel Wood), who Bill (Stephen Moyer) visits just before the episode ends. We see only her white leg, covered in a stream of blood, before the screen fades to black. As always, True Blood, like any good tease, leaves me wanting more.

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8 thoughts on “I’m Thinking More MEAT!: Some Thoughts on True Blood, Episode 10

    Kelli Marshall said:
    August 24, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    I’m actually from the area of Louisiana where the show supposedly takes place–near Shreveport in “Monroe parish,” right? (I’m from the town of Monroe, but sadly, there is no Monroe parish in LA.)

    While I haven’t watched TRUE BLOOD, my brother and sister-in-law are quite into it and, like your friend who found the lead character’s accent “laughable,” they report incongruities, the funniest one regarding a plate of crawfish. Apparently one character was at a crawfish boil and put only 3 little crawdads on his plate. No one in (north or south) LA would do such a thing–it would be more like 20-25. Despite such trivial things, it appears that my family is also obsessed because of the show’s “slow burn,” as you call it. I’ll pass on your piece to them. And then maybe, like PRISON BREAK, I’ll get to it eventually. =)

    princesscowboy responded:
    August 24, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I think people really picked the show apart during Season 1, particularly the details of Southern living. But, now it seems that fans are more forgiving and willing to look past those details because the show is so compelling.

    Definitely give this one a try, Kelli.

    Annie Petersen said:
    August 25, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I love that you touch on the ‘slow burn’ — which is EXACTLY the phrase I used in a recent article on Twilight. (And ‘that teenage feeling,’ to steal from Neko Case). I’ve been pretty enthralled by this season — admittedly because of the recent super hot scenes Eric/Sookie ‘dreams,’ but I also think it’s ratcheted up the high camp elements, including the bit with Jason and Bellefleur and everything that happened at the church, which had be in stitches.

    I’m interested, however, in its divisive power — a lot of men I know are particularly frustrated with the second season, while most of my female friends find this season’s developments compelling. Thoughts?

    princesscowboy responded:
    August 25, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    I’d like to read your Twilight article (because I HATED watching Twilight but LOVE reading about it). This season definitely surpasses the first–I think its because the writers have figured out who these characters are and why they’re compelling (a naked Eric lying on a bed doesn’t hurt–Good Lord!).

    I had not heard any complaints from male fans, though. All of the men I know who watch it are really loving this season (including my husband, though he also likes NYC PREP, so take that with a grain of salt). I wonder what their complaints are? Are Eric and his naked torso just fooling us into thinking this is great television? If so, I don’t mind. More Eric, please.

    Matt said:
    August 26, 2009 at 12:34 am

    I’ll stick to the novels for now, the first season wasn’t good enough for me to foot the bill for HBO.

    Anna said:
    August 28, 2009 at 9:05 am

    We’ve loved the show’s development of the Maenad/Dionysius mythology. The meat pyre was fantastic. (And yes, we’re getting over Paquin’s accent.) I’m quite stoked to learn that Evan Rachel Wood is the Queen. It seems that the show only lags when it does the drawn-out romantic discourse between Bill and Sookie (only when they’re alone onscreen). Other than that, we’re completely hooked. I’ll eventually catch up on season one….

    Anna said:
    August 28, 2009 at 9:17 am
    princesscowboy responded:
    August 28, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Anna you are so right–the lamest parts of the show are when Sookie and Bill are making kissy faces at each other. This seems to happen with a lot of shows actually–the worst parts of Gossip Girl are the scenes where Dan Humphrey and Serena (the show’s central couple) are happy and in love and I always hated the Ryan/Marissa pairing in The O.C. When two bland people get together and are happy, the show’s momentum just seems to stop.

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