Thursday, July 7, 2011

Review: True Blood "You Smell Like Dinner"

Non Spoiler Review:
True Blood returns to form with the second episode of the season that focuses a lot on Bill and his rise to power, with some cool flashbacks to the 80s and the missing year gap. Tara returns to Bon Temps, Sam gets a new flame, Jessica gets a wandering eye, Crystal (ugh) returns to Jason, and Eric is charged with dealing with the witches. Another jam-packed hour of plot and character.

The witches continue to be the highlight and show a lot of promise for the season. Bill's new kingship really works well for his character, providing some welcome focus post-Sookie. What doesn't work is the whole werepanther plot line, and Terry and Arlene's ongoing evil baby problems. These parts just slow down the whole show.

Sookie was actually the least interesting character, wandering from Bon Temps to Fangtasia with her hopelessly inadequate I was away on vampire business shtick that's already grown quite thin. It also looks like we'll be getting another dump of new characters given Sam's shifter friends and the introduction of the coven members.

While it's not clear yet what the overall arc of the season will be, a mystery begins to unfold with Eric after a fantastic scene with him and the witches. A very good episode, which could only have been made better with werewolves.

Spoilers Now!
Jason wakes up tied to a bed with Timbo licking the gash on his head. He convinces him to untie him, but Filton comes in and shoes them off. Guess what—Crystal is back, and they're going to get her pregnant.

Sookie tries to get away from Eric, but given he's the new owner of the house, any power she had over him is gone. Apparently he just wants to talk, though, and offers her some advice. Other vampires will find out how sweet her blood is, and he can provide her the protection she needs. He bought the house because he cares. He asks her to be his. He knows she'll come around and leaves, promising to fix the front door.

Sookie walks over to Bill's house, and is stunned to see it's also gotten a facelift—renovated back to its former glory. But she's abruptly surrounded by armed men who demand to know what she wants. No one sees the king unless they're on the manifest, but when they guess it's Sookie, Bill has left instructions she can pass. 

Bill has been filled in on the witches' coven by his human agent, Katrina, whom he proceeds to drink from and have sex with. Sookie comes right up to their old bedroom to find them post-coitally freshly dressed. She notices the bite marks on Katrina's neck.

Sookie didn't want to come there but she's scared of Eric. Even though he's king, Bill says Eric has friends in high places, but he'll see what he can do. It will take time, so he suggests she seek shelter in another human's home. She begins to ask how he became king, then decides it's best she doesn't know and manages to insult him before she leaves.

Bill has a flashback to Britain 1982, when he had an outrageous Cockney accent. Before Tru Blood, he drank from humans, but left them alive, glamoring them to forget their encounter and sending them on their way with some nutritional advice. That brings him to cross paths with Nan, who is a forward thinking vampire suggesting that they might soon reveal themselves—their scientists (including Louis Pasteur) are close to synthesizing a blood substitute, and she needs like-minded people to infiltrate the monarchies in order to progress their agenda and plant the seeds of discord.

That leads to a flashback of Bill's encounter with Sophie that ended last season. He gets thrown across the room pretty easily but has help—human agents armed with wood/silver bullets. They zero in on Sophie, who realizes she's doomed, and kill her. Nan arrives to congratulate Bill for fulfilling his part of things, and declares him king of Louisiana. She wonders what the fuss was about Sookie, but he assures her that was all a dead end. With a warning not to ever lie to her, Nan leaves him with his new position.

Fangtasia is being picketed by human protesters. Pam comes out with Jessica and Hoyt, who gets insulted by one of the men. Hoyt defends Jessica's honor. Pam sends them both home to avoid a ruckus, but Hoyt gets into a fight with the guy anyway and is beat up by the men as the others film it, preventing Pam from getting involved. In the post-Russell world, the vampires must behave themselves to avoid further media scandal.

Sam and Luna have a nighttime chat after their run, but when he flirts and wants to know more about her, she runs off. In the morning, Sookie apologizes to him for leaving, and promises him that when it's safe, she'll reveal the truth what really happened over the past year. 

Arlene and Terry come in with the baby to introduce to her. Arlene freaks out at the suggestion the baby is an old soul. Later on, she stares into the baby's black eyes and breaks a blood vessel in her own eye. She's certain her son is evil.

Andy shows up at the hillbilly farm, so Filton sends Timbo out to deal with him. Andy says he's sure they're dealing V again and has a warrant to search the place. Filton can see he's going through withdraw from V, so gives his uncle Luther a vial to give to Andy and just walk away. Andy accepts the evidence, and leaves with his new fix.

At home, SookieSookie feeds her the vampire business excuse again. They go inside and Sookie finds a new door and new microwave from Eric, and brings Tara up to date on her situation with Bill and him. She also finds a wardrobe which conceals a crypt for Eric to sleep under the house, to further infuriate her.

Tara then goes to see Lafayette just as he and Jesus are going to their wiccan thing, so she comes along. Jesus is still in awe of the resurrected bird, but Lafayette suggests it could be black magic. Jesus doesn't believe in such things. However, Marnie announces she wants to try their trick on a human, and everyone there, including Lafayette and Tara, have a big problem with that.

Jessica comes up at night to find Hoyt nursing his bruises. She offers to heal him but he doesn't want her to, which prompts another argument, so she drives into town to get him some Advil, but instead goes to Fangtasia where she picks up a guy. 

Sookie goes to Fangtasia, as well, to plead for Pam's help to convince Eric to let her go. But Pam won't side against her maker and urges her to take him up on his offer for protection. Sookie then overhears Jessica feeding in the bathroom and asks what she's doing there. Jessica doesn't want to be judged, considering how Sookie broke Bill's heart and sends her on her way.

Eric is summoned by Bill, who wants to convince him to sell the house back to Sookie. But he won't. Bill advises him there's a new coven in town—and they're necromancers. If they control the dead, they can control vampires, so he puts Eric on the case.

Luna has a change of heart and apologizes to Sam for brushing him off, so wants to try again with him. Later, as Sam's anger management group are commiserating in the woods, Luna admits she shifted into her mother's form, who died in childbirth. She's Navajo, and they believe that shifters, or skinwalkers, are evil. They gain their powers only from killing a shifter of their own family—like a mother dying in childbirth. Apparently regular shifters can't do that.

They suddenly sense another shifter nearby. Sam realizes it's Tommy and takes off in pursuit. He catches up and realizes Tommy has been faking his limp all this time. Tommy followed him so they could be brothers and start over again. They agree to start slow, given it won't be easy to regain all the trust they lost.

Tara phones her girlfriend from outside the coven, just as Eric makes an appearance inside. He wants to talk to Marnie. He says this is the last time their coven convenes. Lafayette advises her to listen. Tara walks in. Marnie refuses the terms, so Eric sets upon her. Holly steps forward and tries a spell, as they all join hands, and Tara makes an attempt to stake him. Eric brings her down. 

Then Marnie seems to feel what Tara's feeling and the lights go out. She rises and speaks in Latin and scares the hell out of Eric as her face seems to shift to another woman's. Eric flees, much to everyone's shock, and Marnie doesn't seem to remember what happened.

Crystal is going to make a baby with Jason, which somehow means an animal threesome with Filton. Jason has to be made a panther first, so both she and Filton transform and begin chowing down on him.

On the drive home, Sookie finds a shirtless Eric walking in a daze. He doesn't seem to know her, but he asks why she smells so good.

The Verdict:
I really enjoyed all the Bill background material and his associations with Nan. It's a fantastic new dynamic to introduce to the series, especially now that Eric is his sheriff and he's Sookie-less. His mansion looks amazing, too—the flashbacks offering a great contrast to its new appearance.

The witch plot line is equally compelling. Marnie's character continues to grow on me and create new questions, as well as the mystery of who and what she was channelling that managed to freak out and confound Eric so much. However, Holly needs some more focus, as right now she seems to be there just to be the bridge between the regulars and the witches.

The new and improved bad ass Tara was a pleasant surprise, given how her character has been treated last season. Her new confidence and take-action attitude made for some nice scenes. She seems to have no compunction about killing any vampire at this point. But were we to read anything into Sookie seeing Tara first as a fairy attack—and later on at the coven the weird transfer that seemed to go on between her and Marnie? Is Tara going to exhibit some supernatural tie?

Luna is undoubtedly harboring more sinister secrets if her tale of skinwalkers is any indication—plus the added element that she can shift into other people. Is she really who she seems? Another round of reconciliation with Sam and Tommy could prove tiring, though, so I hope it sticks this time. Then again, if a skinwalker is created when a shifter kills one of their family, could Sam take out Tommy once and for all and gain some new abilities?

Sookie was one of the least interesting people in light of all that was going on around her. I have a real problem with her vampire business routine and how easily she seems to brush off her friends' questions. She doesn't really have a sense that a year has passed for everyone else, and it's starting to come off as pretty insulting to them all. 

Terry and Arlene's baby is just plain boring, it makes me cringe watching it. But even that doesn't compare to the horrible werepanther storyline. I really hope this doesn't consume a lot of screen time this season. Hopefully the next thing on Bill's agenda is to cull the werepanther community so we can get to what really matters—werewolves.

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