By Sarah Carlson | TV | June 27, 2011 |
By Sarah Carlson | TV | June 27, 2011 |
(Note: Episode 2 of “True Blood” Season Four is now live on HBO GO, but it won’t be recapped here until next Monday.)
“It’s a post-Russell Edgington world,” to be sure, as the American Vampire League’s Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck) told us in “True Blood’s” Season Four premiere. But did Edgington take all the fun to his concrete grave in the Season Three finale? Judging from previews of this season, I think not, but Sunday’s episode, “She’s Not There,” was more focused on tricks than treats. Alan Ball and Co. must have been in the mood for a gamble: They jumped in time a year. This device has been deployed plenty on TV, to both great and detrimental ends (“Battlestar Galactica” may have done it best in recent fare). It’s a big risk for “True Blood” because the time from of its first three seasons has only been a few months, with each season picking up exactly where the other left off. Only one episode into Season Four, it’s tough to tell if “True Blood” made a smart or a cheap choice by having telepathic heroine Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) visit Fairyland with her godmother, Claudine (Lara Pulver), for what seemed to her a few minutes but in actuality was a year. But now we’re just as out of the loop on the goings-on of Bon Temps as she is. It’s both intriguing and frustrating, and at least for this season’s opener, not quite as fun. Because in this world, everyone is a bit darker, a bit colder, and none of us has our bearings.
Sookie wasn’t fooled into eating “light fruit” along with the other humans present during her brief trip to Fairyland, and seeing her grandfather, Earl Stackhouse (Gary Cole), dead 20 years, present furthered her suspicions. Being part fae herself, Sookie has brought on a world of trouble to the fairies through her run-ins with vampires, who crave fairy blood and its ability to let them walk in the sun. Vampire Bill’s (Stephen Moyer) visit set them off, and soon Sookie realizes the fruit is being used as a sort of reaping to disable humans with fae blood from leaving Fairyland. The fae don’t want any more vamps or humans knowing about them, and this includes Barry the bellboy (Chris Coy) from Season Two. Sookie and Earl escape, though not before the fairies let down their beautiful facades and resemble a cross between Orcs and Anjelica Huston a la “The Witches” and provide a chase scene straight out of B-movie heaven.
Because he ate the fruit, Earl dies again back in Bon Temps, and Sookie is alone. And from that point, the hits just keep on coming as she learns what happened during the past 12 1/2 months. To move the plot along, “She’s Not There” has to catch viewers up instead of flesh stories out, whether it’s by showing Arlene (Carrie Preston) had her potentially-evil child, Mikey, or that Tara (Rutina Wesley) is now living in New Orleans and … working as an ultimate fighter? Sookie herself kind of gets the shaft.
Because everyone is in a different place from where we left them, here’s a brief rundown of how things stand:
“Everyone who claims to love you, they all gave up on you. I. Never. Did.” That’s how Eric welcomed Sookie back to the land of the living, a rude awakening for a woman who, in her time frame, had just had her heart broken about an hour previously by Bill. While all are surprised to find she’s returned, none really deliver the kind of breakdown the situation deserves. They’ve mostly moved on. Sookie seems as alone as ever now, but she’s grown stronger during her supernatural shenanigans. She’s handling the I-missed-a-year-of-my-life discovery rather well, and viewers don’t have much option but to also take it in stride. “She’s Not There” was a reintroduction both for her and viewers on the Bon Temps world — engaging, but not thrilling. Just a necessary study session for a season that promises more twists. Here’s hoping they pay off.
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.