21 August 2009

True Blood, S1 E2 "First Taste"

Spoilers Ahead

I'm finding myself already in the thrall of True Blood. Barely into season 1 and I'm in love. Now I'm trying to hold back from watching every episode one right after the other in a compulsive orgy of bloody good television. Because this is a show that needs to be savoured slowly, basked in and reflected upon. Besides, if I watch it all too quickly I'll just end up going crazy waiting for season 3.

Episode 2, "First Taste," picks up right where "Strange Love" left off, with the Rattrays whaling on Sookie and revelling in the hurt they're inflicting. When the dog that seems to watch over Sookie shows up, growling, Mack Rattray prepares to shoot it. Animal lovers (and Rattray haters) everywhere get the satisfaction of watching as Mack is thrown into a tree before he can pull the trigger, and then finished off by someone or something too blurry to recognize (but, of course, is Bill). Denise is granted a moment or two more of continued existence before being put out of her misery as well. Then Sookie passes out as we see someone kneel next to her.

Cut to the sex tape Jason unknowingly made with Maudette, as he, Sheriff Bud Dearborne, and Detective Andy Bellefleur watch. Jason is visibly shaken, knowing that the tape will soon show him strangling Maudette. I love that the director uses flashbacks/memories to show scenes that couldn't possibly be on the tape. It's a personal peeve of mine when shows include "hidden camera" footage that contains close-ups and multiple angles. Making sure the small things are realistically portrayed definitely helps keep the entire show believable--a necessity for a show about unbelievable things. Anyway, after Jason flees on the tape, Maudette suddenly starts laughing, gleeful at his stupidity for believing he'd killed her. Jason is ecstatic he didn't kill Maudette, but as Det. Bellefleur points out, someone did. Someone also removed every other tape in Maudette's apartment, leaving only the one of her and Jason. We're left with more questions than answers (good), including whether Jason actually did it (cleverly leaving behind the one tape that would make it appear as though he is innocent). Hmm...

Back to Bill and Sookie. Realizing she's dying, Bill bites into his own wrist to give Sookie blood to heal her. At first she resists, unwilling to drink vampire blood/V-juice. But once she starts drinking she clearly doesn't think it's so bad. Apparently neither does Bill, judging from the look on his face as she clutches his wrist to her mouth. There's a slightly weird moment as Bill licks away the blood from the wound in Sookie's forehead, but, hey--he's a vampire. Head wounds are like soda fountains to them. As things start getting a little intense, Sookie suddenly claims she should get home. Bill makes sure she gets there safely, the perfect gentleman (which, I must admit, is not at all unappealing). He already seems devoted to Sookie, agreeing to talk to her grandma's "Descendants of the Glorious Dead" group only if it'll make Sookie happy.

The next day Sookie notices she's experiencing some odd sensations (being able to taste the soil in which the herbs in a piece of sausage were grown, smelling a minuscule piece of old food hidden under a chair...) She also seems a lot less sweet than in the first episode. When she goes to look at the Rattrays' trailer (apparently overturned by a "tornado" with the Ratts being crushed to a pulp underneath) she's not shy about telling the sheriff and the coroner off when she thinks they've crossed a line. It could just be her natural sassiness coming out (Southern girls are sassy, right?) Or it could be the ample quantity of V-juice she sucked out of Bill's wrist. Her attitude isn't commented on, but Bill reminds her that V-juice will heighten her senses and her libido. I guess that's why she pounces on him later as they're out for a walk, initiating a kiss that seems as though it's long overdue--until you realize it's only the second episode. I think I mentioned last time how good the chemistry is between Bill and Sookie. The kiss is cut short when Bill's fangs pop out and he pulls away, hiding his face, before saying he should take her home. With remarkable self-control, Sookie agrees.

Jason, meanwhile, celebrates his release by the sheriff (actually, it's more an obliteration of the previous day than a celebration of freedom) by hooking up again with his former ex, Dawn. In an unwelcome instance of deja vu, he notices--while they're having sex--that Dawn has been bitten by a vampire. He's not too happy about it but she doesn't think it's a big deal. Of course, neither did Maudette. He's even less happy when Dawn leaves him tied to her bed as she heads to work for the night ("consider it foreplay").

Cliffhanger endings are apparently par for the course with True Blood (not going to be as much fun when I have to wait longer than a couple of days between episodes!) When Sookie arrives at Bill's house she's greeted at the door by three menacing vampires (including the nameless tattooed vamp from Maudette's other sex tape). As the episode ends, they've bared their fangs and circled Sookie, clearly in the mood for a snack.

There's a lot going on in this episode. We gain insight into Sookie and Bill's pasts, as well as Tara's current unhappy circumstances (including her unrequited feelings for Jason). We also learn a lot about vampires. Besides Bill's cover-up of the Rattrays' (deserved) deaths, Sookie is upset when she finds out an outspoken anti-vampire crusader, the Reverend Theodore Newlin, has died in a "freak" car accident, along with his wife and 18-month-old child. It's apparent that vampires might not be just like everybody else, after all. And they're definitely not all like Bill. There's also the mystery of Maudette's murder. (True Blood actually reminds me a lot of Twin Peaks. Both shows feature the bizarre happenings in what, on the surface, appears to be a quiet town. In this case the question is who killed Maudette Pickens.) We're still left wondering what exactly Sookie is (she apparently even tastes different than other people, not to mention that she can't be hypnotized/glamoured). And some pretty huge hints have been dropped that Sookie's protective mystery dog might, in fact, be Sam. The plot thickens...

Fang Files

Appearance/Physical Characteristics: Their fangs seem to unsheath now, rather than fold out.

Powers: Super speed, super strength. They get stronger with age. Their blood is healing to humans. Hypnotism (called "Glamouring"). Bill confirms some vampires can shapeshift/transform.

Weaknesses: Don't want doctors to know how healing their blood is.

Mythology: Vampires need to be invited in to a mortal's home in order to enter. If the invitation is revoked they're compelled to leave. Once a mortal has drunk their blood, a vampire will always be able to "feel" them and find them fast (at least, that's the case with Bill and Sookie).

Sound Bites

Headline on a tabloid: Angelina Adopts Vampire Baby

Bill: May I ask you a personal question?
Sookie: Bill, you were just licking blood out of my head. I don't think it gets much more personal than that.

Sookie: Can you turn into a bat?
Bill: No. There are those who can change form, but I'm not one of them.
Sookie: Can you levitate?
Bill: No.
Sookie: Turn invisible?
Bill: Sorry.
Sookie: Well, Bill, you don't seem like a very good vampire. What can you do?
Bill: I can bring you back to life.

Bill (in awe): I can smell the sunlight on your skin.

True Blood, Season 1, Episode 2 "First Taste." Written by Alan Ball and Charlaine Harris. Directed by Scott Winant. From HBO.

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