Hungry For Something Different: “True Blood” S4:E3, “If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin’?”
While promoting "True Blood's" second season in 2009, star Anna Paquin shut down a reporter who asked if the actors ever stopped to discuss the underlying messages the series presents. No, she said, because it's not an English lit class. But has anyone told that to the writers? Because they love, and will frequently overuse, metaphors. For three seasons viewers have been treated to dialogue likening vampire rights to civil rights - "God hates fangs" signs, Evangelicals feeling called to condemn and fight their depravity, etc. Sunday's third episode of Season Four, "If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin'?," even went Tea Party-esque with its use of dumb activists entrapping and catching vampires attacking humans on tape, not to mention one Wiccan wondering if a vampire he views as stomping on his American freedoms came from Nazi Germany. Sigh. But the writers' favorite exercise is examining the role blood, and more importantly, nature plays in everyone's life, be they human or supernatural. Episode Three, engaging but in no way thrilling, presented a tableau of characters fighting for control over their natures and their situations. Their struggles are mostly futile, though. Nature will win.
With his memory wiped clean thanks to a spell from the witch Marnie in Episode Two, Eric doesn't know who he or anyone is, and he definitely can't tell what Sookie is. His boyish innocence gives her pause, though, and seeing his helplessness, she agrees to take care of him. The episode's highlights came watching Alexander Skarsgard clearly relish the chance to play a softer, if no less deadly, character. Because Eric is still a monster, and in a nice reverse on the nature theme, we see that he may be more dangerous to Sookie than he was when he had his wits. That Eric knew Sookie's uniqueness and controlled himself around her. This Eric is trying his best to maintain control, but Sookie's pleas couldn't stop him from killing her fairy godmother, Claudine. At least, we're left thinking she's dead, but that would be a serious and upsetting waste.
The episode saw the return of Alcide, and that werewolf is still trying to control his feelings for Sookie even as we see he has returned to supposedly reformed Debbie Pelt (Brit Morgan). Sookie's attraction to Alcide must explain her reasoning for bringing him into her mess - just as she explicitly tells him her mess isn't his problem - by asking if he can look after Eric. Sookie can't turn to Bill, who has his own vampire PR nightmare to worry about with the undercover vampire video. Besides, he agrees to Portia Bellefleur's (Courtney Ford) notion that they add friends with benefits to their relationship. (The two are related in the books. Just sayin'.) Pam also would rip Sookie to shreds if she brought the king into the matter, and she's the only one who seems to understand the danger in having a sheriff without a memory. She immediately guesses the witches are involved and only has patience to listen to the Lafayette's pleas for mercy once Tara has a gun filled with wooden bullets pointed her way.
Jason, perhaps, is the most helpless of the bunch. Tied to a dirty bed in dirty Hotshot, he's at the mercy of the clueless Crystal, who along with Felton is trying to turn him through bites and scratches into a were-panther. She feeds him Viagra and has her way with him, hoping he will help her conceive and reignite the diluted panther bloodline of her family. Other Hotshot women look on, waiting their turn to take advantage of the body and its abilities Jason has been so proud of. He's been missing for 48 hours now and without him Andy, still dropping V, has no one to rein him in. Over a made-up problem Andy even recklessly points his gun at Sam, who is busy trying to control his anger with Tommy but finds a minute to flirt with Tara. Tommy simply wants control of his destiny, not to mention the love of his brother, and an opportunity to swindle Maxine Fortenberry seems too good to pass up. Her son, Hoyt, meanwhile is upset to learn Jessica fed on another human at Fangtasia - upset until she glamors him and makes him forget it ever happened. The creepiest plot development of the night, however, has to go to the beaten-up baby doll that came with Hoyt and Jessica's house and apparently can't be disposed rid of. Both have tried to throw it away, but it keeps reappearing. Jessica gives the doll to Arlene and Terry's creepy baby, Mikey, and it's clear no good will come of this.
We've jumped a year in time, but "True Blood's" stories are the same - all creatures are at the mercy of nature, however you define it. And fans, well, we're at the mercy of the writers. How they'll interpret and build upon Charlaine Harris's world (And yes, that was a Harris book Sookie was reading at the kitchen table - not cool) is anyone's guess, and of course it's their prerogative. The books and the series should be examined separately. But in their obsessive exploration of nature, they've changed the very nature of the stories. They've upped the fantasy, weirdness and soap opera aspects and added overwrought political undertones, and by cramming so much in they leave so much out. I'm talking better character development, not plotlines. Season Four is entertaining and yet, something is missing. Whatever "it" is, it must have disappeared with Eric's memory.
Sarah Carlson has a front-row seat to the decline of the newspaper industry and lives in Alabama with her overly excitable Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
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