Season 3: Episode 5 – Trouble
Trouble was a somewhat troubling episode. After a strong show last week, True Blood seems to be struggling, once again, under the weight of all the new characters it’s introducing. There’s just far too many vamps, weres, and other enigmas to get to know, much less get invested in, for the plot to move along at a lively, even pace. Sorry to start off with a critique as opposed to a rundown but post-show, it’s the first thing that sticks out.
The first thing that happened on True Blood this week is another story. Talbot’s stuck at Mississippi’s Vamp Versailles entertaining Franklin, who he obviously dislikes, and Tara, who he obviously wants to eat, when the King returns with Lorena and Bill. At first Tara is stoked to see Bill but she knows something’s amiss when she sees that all three are still nonchalantly covered in stripper blood. After the credits roll, everyone wants to know why Tara’s there. She’s there because Franklin wants her there. Tara, however, is in restraints, as Talbot snarkily points out. She calls out to Bill for help who lets her know he’s a changed dead man by refusing to come to her aid. And wouldn’t you know it, fucking Lorena is right by Bill smirking at her with a look that says, “you’re so dead.” Russell’s right, she’s totally unsophisticated.
Russell’s also right that Franklin dragging Tara back to his supernatural crime syndicate headquarters will come to no good end. He scolds Franklin about this in private, reminding him about the time he had to slaughter a group of elderly church women during a gambling trip gone wrong. Franklin confesses that he’s really falling for Tara. Her crazy fits with his crazy. And he’s totally fucking crazy so this is a rarity for him. The King is willing to allow it because Franklin’s been such a good gumshoe for him. Franklin turns over the Stackhouse genealogical charts he found at Bill’s and the King says they need to find Sookie. Franklin, one step ahead, lets him know she’s in Jackson.
She’s actually driving away from last episode’s near mass were shift at Lou Pine’s with Alcide. Alcide’s going on about Debbie’s drinking, drugging, and other were-dude doing ways while Sookie’s focused on finding Russell, as she rightly believes this will lead her to Bill. Eric’s thinking the same thing. Much to Talbot’s delight, he shows up at the manse asking permission to search for Bill in Mississippi territory and again, throws Bill under the bus as a known V seller. Talbot calls bullshit on this, saying Bill’s far too square to sell V and he’s also not missing – he’s right fucking here. Just then Bill walks in and the King proceeds to play Bill and Eric against each other to glean more info about Sofie Anne’s vulnerabilities and Sookie’s powers. Eric quickly confesses all, throwing Sofie Anne under the bus as he goes. He also tells the King about how Pam’s being held captive by the Magister. The King goes off. He does not think highly of the Magister, saying that he only has power because they (the vampire community at large) give it to him. He says there may be a way to solve all their problems and insists Eric stay as his guest. Russell is at all times playing all the angles and enjoying it. I like this about him. If I was a shifty, politically motivated southern vampire, I’d for sure be pledging my fealty his way.
Debbie Pelt isn’t even a southern vampire (she just likes to drink them) and she’s pretty much sworn her loyalty to him for all of her wanton redheaded life. She’s over at Alcide’s saying as much when Sookie walks in on the two of them arguing. As Alcide holds Debbie back, Sookie tells her off and tries to read her mind to find Bill but turns up empty.
Tara’s text message inbox is not empty. It’s filled with messages from Lafayette saying, “Bitch where are you?” This sends Franklin into a jealous rage. He demands to know who Lafayette is and seems pleased (or at least stops choking her) when Tara says he’s her gay cousin. He’s also pleased to show off his super fast vampire texting skills to Tara. And while I’m not pleased about all the new characters on True Blood and how they’re slowing down the plot, I’m liking how Franklin’s getting fleshed out as a psychotic stalker vampire boyfriend with an abandonment complex. I just wish they would stick to three to four characters per episode to move the plot forward instead of throwing so much at us.
Like how Jason’s been given a crappy desk job at the Sheriff’s office after bribing Andy Bellefleur last week. And how elsewhere in Bon Temps, Sam’s moving his no good shape shifter family’s white trash trash bag luggage into one of the shabby apartments he rents out to lowlife waitresses like Arlene. We know this because Arlene lives in the house next door and is excited that Sam’s dad will be available for handyman duties once he puts the contents of the family’s trash bags away. Another thing that’s happening is that Terry’s moving into Arlene’s place also. See? Too many things are happening that are extraneous to the primary Operation Werewolf plot.
I’d be content to have just seen more of Franklin and Tara interacting. But for the time being I’m happy the action’s shifted back over to Jackson. It’s daylight and Tara is slowly biting her way out of her restraints. You go, girl! That hooker’s a fighter. Sookie’s also a fighter. She’s fishing through Alcide’s mind for information about the pack and werewolf politics even though he’s not allowed to tell her anything. She tells him she can either read his mind, which she doesn’t want to do, or he can tell her what he knows. He tells all – specifically that the pack is not a democracy. It’s teeth, fighting and sex.
Before we can get to more of that, we’re treated to an 80’s movie style montage of Jason Stackhouse in office job hell. Wouldn’t it be timelier to have him surfing internet porn? Or checking out a hot piece of tail’s Facebook profile? Or taking sexy face pics of himself with a cellphone camera? Maybe I’m overestimating his technological savvy. Tara’s been putting her captive downtime to productive good use though. She’s out of her restraints and escaping! Unfortunately, she gets out the front door of the manse a little too easily and, as she’s running across the lawn, she gets chased by a wolf who tackles her and shifts into a naked Coot slobbering all over her. Fucking werewolves.
If only Tara’s bad assmutherfuckin’ cousin, Lafayette was there to save her. At some point this season I predict he’ll take a mangy werewolf hooker out but now right now he’s out in front of Merlotte’s with Tommy (who now also works at Merlotte’s) smokin’ cigarillos. At least until his mother’s orderly, Jesus, shows up, looking and acting all dreamy. He’s come to ask Lafayette to the movies! Lafayette’s perplexed by this and while I’m happy Lafayette has a solid, hot love interest that I look forward to watching him make out with, again, I’m feeling a bit adrift with this whole new character coming in to get to know. At least anything related to Lafayette winds up circling back to the central plot though.
The same goes for Alcide, who’s decided to go to his Packmaster, Colonel Flood (yet another new character!), with everything he knows about the King supplying werewolves with V. The Packmaster says that Alcide will be punished for telling Sookie, a human, about were goings ons. Sookie puts on her extra intense super mind reading face and reads the Packmaster’s thoughts. He’s scared. Sookie tells him she knows he’s a huge pussy. The Packmaster tells Alcide that according to Pack bylaws or whatever, he must obey him but after he drives off, Alcide tells Sookie he’ll put his trust in her instead.
Back in Bon Temps, Jason is now shirtless and washing police cars. It seems like he’s finally doing some competent office maintenance work until the blonde he saw out in Hot Shot back when he tackled the meth dealer drives by. Jason drives after her (still shirtless) in a police car and True Blood fans the world over go keeeraaayzay! I didn’t give a shit about this scene and this new character and all the many new things we’re bound to learn about her in painfully long stretches of expository dialogue but I guess I’m in the minority. Clearly the fans just want to see hot, shirtless pieces of meat because last night Jason Stackhouse was the #1 trending topic on Twitter for 12 hours. Anyhoo, he begs her to meet him at Merlotte’s later. She demures but we all know she’ll show up. Where the hell is she gonna go? I’m convinced there’s literally nowhere else to go in Bon Temps. Jessica still has nowhere else to go. She’s still hostessing over there; bickering with Arlene and mooning over Hoyt who’s come in with possibly the most boring date in the world.
Tara’s unexpectedly long date with Franklin is many things but it’s definitely not boring. In a highly amusing and disturbing scene, Franklin (looking very much like a tortured Nosferatu) is inconsolable that she tried to escape. His face is bloody with vamp tears. He feels like he’s been staked in the heart. Tara takes advantage of his feelings and engages in subterfuge to gain his trust. She apologizes for leaving him, telling him it’s the other vamps she’s afraid of, not him. Franklin vows to protect her. But as he cradles her in a semi-suffocating embrace, she looks determined to get the fuck out of this freakshow as fast as possible. And while a lot of True Blood fans have been saying that it’s time to give Tara a break, I have to say it’s nice to see her getting her spunk back and fighting for her life when just a few episodes back she was trying to off herself.
Bill is hanging out downstairs in what looks like a 70’s retro tracksuit jacket when Russell confronts him about the dossier he has on the Stackhouses. Mr. Compton has been lying to him. He clearly knows that telepathy runs in the Stackhouse family. The paperwork before him clearly suggests he’s been trying to discover the origins of said telepathy. Before Bill can answer Coot barges in and insists to speak to the King in private. Before we can find out WTF Coot wants, we’re back at Merlotte’s where Jason’s getting stood up by Crystal but is also getting good news from Andy that he can be real police if he can just pass that durned written exam.
I guess Lafayette’s shift has ended because he’s now playing pool with Jesus and they’re being all cute and sweet with each other. In spite of what I think about the influx of new characters, I do like a lot of them and Jesus is a nice addition. It’s an interesting notion to pair Lafayette up with a seeming nice boy he’s instinctively on his guard around. “Listen to you, talkin all that bullshit to me,” he says to Jesus who just smiles sweetly back at him. And since this is Merlotte’s and Bon Temps proper, who knows what the story behind that smile is?
There’s definitely a bigger story about Sam’s trash bag luggage carrying family. Sam can feel it and he lets Tommy know as much when Tommy asks if he can stay at Sam’s because his dad’s being such a dick. Later Tommy’s Dad tells Sam he owns Tommy and there’s ominous music and such but, like I said last week, I’m phoning those scenes for the time being.
Mostly so I can focus on scenes like Coot showing up in Bill’s room at the manse to taunt him about Sookie and Alcide. At the very mention of Sookie’s name, Bill starts wailing on Coot. There’s a vamp/werewolf throwdown that Bill wins easily. Aferwards, he shoves Russell’s vamp guard’s face into the silver door of his room and escapes to save Sookie.
After a tediously long scene of Crystal and Jason running into each other in the Merlotte’s parking lot, making enigmatic conversation, then making out - it’s back over to the manse where Eric is imploring that the King help him free Pam from the Magister. The King tells Eric to be patient and leaves him in Talbot’s company. Down in the dining room, Tara’s crying and telling Franklin they need to talk. Franklin tells her not to say that. Whenever anyone says that to him, everything goes black and he wakes up surrounded by body parts. She says it’s not like that. She’s into him. It’s just that she’s human. She needs to eat. Franklin says that won’t be the case for long as he’s going to make her his vampire bride. Tara looks appropriately terrified but I’ve got a feeling she’ll get out of this one stronger than ever.
In some weird antechamber of the manse, Talbot’s got the gay turned up to 11 as he shows Eric Russell’s collection of Japanese Vampire Erotica. He’s putting the moves on Eric. Eric, ever the smooth operator, is going along with it, until he unexpectedly goes into a Viking Era Related Flashback when Talbot shows him a Norse headdress adorned with runic lettering. Way back when, much to his Viking parents’ dismay, Eric was a lusty, boozy, brawling Viking Prince! He spent all his time boning the redheaded girl who fed the goats in the barn when he should’ve been preparing to take over state affairs. AND, this one time, when he was boning her, a pack of fucking werewolves stormed the Northman Keep and the boy who would be King’s parents were attacked and killed. When the young human Northman went after a strange hooded figure presiding over the scene (who was completely and totally, obviously Russell Edington in a ring wraith get up) he was told he couldn’t win, and thus a vampire’s centuries old vendetta was born of his human pain.
As Eric shakes out of the flashback, he plays it cool but Talbot looks like he knows something. Or like he wants to get to know Eric better. But not right now because the final scene’s shifted over to Alcide’s where Bill’s shown up to tell Sookie to get the fuck out of dodge. As he begs Alcide to take her to safety, Russell shows up with Coot and the vamp guard. The vamp guard restrains Bill as Russell and Coot go after Sookie. It looks like it’s all over for Sookie when Coot tackles her to the floor but she unexpectedly psychically mind wallops him across the room. Russell yells,”Fantastic!” and the episode closes on a surprise, sorta whacky cliffhanger.
I watched this episode twice. I enjoyed it much better the second time when I got the full impact of Eric’s vengeance origin story and what’s at the root of Sookie’s psychic powers. And while I’m loving Franklin, Russell, and Talbot, I still stand by my initial annoyance that there’s just too many fucking characters doing too much of nothing unrelated to the central plot. What do you think?
Please note: This recap will be late next week due to Comic Con. However, you’ll get an extra special treat for waiting an extra day. I’ll be attending the True Blood panel at SDCC and reporting about it (and other things) here.