Alan Ball, creator of True Blood, must have a lot of story to share with us this season. The second episode of the third season, “Beautifully Broken” was as fast-paced as the season opener, yet without feeling too rushed. There wasn’t even time for more than a little blood onscreen.
Thanks to Lafayette, Tara may finally be finding herself again. Last week, I’d decried the gutting of this tough, but brilliant character; this week brought her back a little. It’s good to see that the real Tara is still in there and still throws a mean right hook. It never made sense that she was heartbroken over Eggs considering how little she’d known him, but realizing that the happiest time of your life is when you had no free will has to feel pretty low. Kudos to Rutina Wesley for helping me see that Eggs’ death alone wasn’t what had her so down. Darkness may run in their family, but Lafayette’s and Tara’s familial love is radiant despite it; I love seeing them together despite their poisonous mommy issues. Maybe Wesley will have a meatier story line this season, especially with a vampire admirer of her own.
Speaking of which, Franklin Mott, the mysterious vampire rocking the cowboy boots, promises some exciting intrigue. Who does he work for? Why is he in Bon Temps? Is he a good guy, a bad guy, or something else entirely? Is he the one who cleaned up poor Jessica’s mess? What’s the significance of all that information Bill has on Sookie, and just how long has the the genteel Mr. Compton been watching her? Given Sookie’s powers and those cryptic family trees, is it possible that there’s more to Bill’s return to Bon Temps than he’s let on so far?
Bill was in rare form at the opulent home of the vampire king of Mississippi, who himself was played to perfection by Denis O’Hare as an aristocratic roué who has fearsome power of his own. Writer Raelle Tucker must have had a blast coming up with clever ideas for elegant blood-based dishes at the king’s dinner party, though I doubt any will find their way onto an upcoming episode of Iron Chef. For once, even Mariana Klaveno as Bill’s maker Lorena was on fire tonight–and I don’t mean her brilliant acting. She’s far more bearable when we only have to see her for a few seconds, especially when she’s aflame for most of those brief moments.
Speaking of acting, Rachel Evan Wood could learn a few tricks from O’Hare; the king of Mississippi seems much more formidable than the financially desperate and rather coarse queen of Louisiana. The king’s connection with werewolves looks intriguing, too; vampires alone are powerful enough, but a vampire who controls a highly organized pack of werewolves is more dangerous still.
Eric knows all about these werewolves, as we got to see in his World War II flashback. The flashback was more tease than satisfaction, though; Eric doesn’t share his secrets quickly, neither to Sookie nor to us. We’ll just have to wait to find out more about the pack with the mysterious rune on their shoulders. Now that Eric’s secured an invitation to chez Stackhouse, it’ll be interesting to see just how he makes use of it. It’s obvious his interest in Sookie is more than academic.
Sookie seems just as aware of it, too; turns out she’s really “not that blonde” when it comes to reading people even if they’re supernaturals whose minds she can’t see. It’d be easy to play a human (albeit one with powers of her own) amidst so many vampires and werewolves as just a damsel in distress. She’s anything but a passive character, though, and handles chasing werewolves through the woods with as much practical-minded fearlessness as she does kneeing a possible attacker in her home.
Anna Paquin’s Bon Temps accent may be a little shaky sometimes, but her characterization of Sookie is always spot-on. Loved her impression of Bill Compton’s “Sssookehh!” as she talks to Jason about how much she misses him; given how many YouTube compilations there are of Bill’s comical rendition of her name there are, it was a nice nod to fans to add that line of dialogue.
Sam’s story with the Mickenses feels a little dislocated compared to everything else, but I’m willing to give it some time and assume that Ball and company are laying the foundation for more late-season activity there. Like good red beans and rice, some things need to simmer a while before they reach their full flavor. In the meantime, Tommy Mickens promises to be an entertaining addition to the cast; seeing him shapeshift into a hulking pit bull to Sam’s lovable collie mix was a deft and telling bit of characterization.
Pam fans will be delighted to know that she’s now a regular on the show. With any luck, that’ll lead to more of her ascerbic wit and more scenes with Jessica. If ever a vampire needed a mommy figure, Jessica does; watching the two of them staring at themselves in the mirror and discussing how to stop from killing victims was priceless. The supporting cast of True Blood is one of its greatest strengths; between Pam’s wit, Terry’s stoic recitation of his list of ten reasons why Arlene should trust him with her kids even as she’s suffering morning sickness with another, Andy Bellefleur’s friendship with Jason, and Hoyt’s sweet adoration of Jessica, Bon Temps is just as charming even when featured players aren’t onscreen.
The third season of True Blood may just be the best one yet.