TRUE BLOOD - Season 2 Review, Episode 3 & 4 Preview
TRUE BLOOD was one the biggest surprises for genre fans last year. While vampires are a genre staple they'd stuck in the teeny-bopper crypt. The vampire genre got Buffy'd, it got Cullen'd, relegated to the domain of sad, awkward fangirls and the shower-deprived boys that love them. Who would have thought TRUE BLOOD would be any different? Not if you've read the novels. The Charlaine Harris penned books are remarkably silly as I discovered when I tried to read one after falling for the series. I remember the moment I knew TRUE BLOOD was something different. It came when I asked a young TWILIGHT fan if they were following the show. "Oh...I watched it once, but...my mom...my mom won't let me watch that show anymore." Thank you Alan Ball, the talent behind AMERICAN BEAUTY and SIX FEET UNDER. Finally a show about vampires that's not just super sexy and adult oriented, but also a lot of fun without being irritating. So, how's it holding up in it's second season?
If the first 4 episodes are any indication, we're off to excellent start! The show is expanding beyond Bon Temps, building surprising back-stories for supporting characters such as Jessica Hamby and Sam Merlotte. I'm especially intrigued by Jessica Hamby, played by Deborah Ann Woll. This young vampire Bill Compton was forced to turn wasn't seen much in season 1, but what I saw was annoying. She was grating and I loathed the idea of us having to spend more time with this her, especially when she was returned to the care of Bill. Maybe it was viewer feedback but she's got a lot more to do this season than just pout, whine, and look cute in a mini-skirt. It's a good thing too because by fleshing out the character we get to see more of Deborah Woll, an obviously talented young actress who has really helped me garner a strong sympathy with Jessica. It's a real testament to the strong writing on this show when a character can go from aggravating to arresting over the course of just four episodes.
Bill and Sookie (Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer) are back, of course. Episodes 3 & 4 are going to take them both out of Bon Temps for a bit. As I watched these episode I became a little concerned. The Bon Temp setting is so crucial the feel of the show. Don't you just wish we all had a place like Merlottes to go hang out in? The look and feel of TRUE BLOOD is all Bon Temps, and we rarely ventured out of the town in season one except to do a little detective work and for the occasional visit to Fangtasia. So...Bill and Sookie are off to Dallas on a bit of business for Eric. We'll see how things work out, but the first stop once they arrive is a vampire run hotel that has more than a few surprises (like vampire escort service anyone. Blonde, brunette, type-A positive...). If they can take them out of Bon Temps but keeps us entrenched in the weird vampire world I'm all for it.
Expect things to start to get a little wacky and lot weirder over the next two weeks as more and more of Maryanne (Michelle Forbes) strange motivations are revealed. What's she up to? Not sure yet... The first two episodes have made it clear she has a weird past with Sam Merlotte, and she reveals that she has some kind of power over him. It's not clear yet, but it's getting interesting.
The only aspect of this season I'm not quite sure of yet is Jason Stackhouse. He's involved in this evangelical anti-vampire Christian cult run by a Ralph Reed look-a-like. I know we got to know these people in season one, but we got to know them in the background, on TV, in the news. One of the aspects I liked so much about this show was that we were always aware of the politics of the world where the undead have come out of the closet. Having it the background added to the richness of the show, and really gave life to the world we were being introduced to. With these characters now in the foreground I hope the show can avoid the temptation to become preachy or overtly political. Besides, having Jason Stackhouse in Christian camp means he's wearing far more shirts than usual. For shame! More Ryan Kwanten, less clothing please.