14 October 2009

True Blood, S1 E7 "Burning House of Love"

Spoilers Ahead

Talk about an afterglow; this one comes complete with raging inferno.

"Burning House of Love" begins like every other episode of True Blood, picking up where the previous episode (in this case,"Cold Ground") left off. We start with a shot of Bill's mouth lapping at Sookie's bloody neck, then move on to action of a different sort. The sex scene this time is less romantic and more graphic (and I thought nearly naked Spike having sex with invisible Buffy was risque...) It's all tasteful, though, as well as nicely shot and edited. And it's kind of sweet that there's still something in this world that can make me blush.

As Sookie and Bill recover in the bath afterward (I so have to get a bathroom like Bill's), she tells him about Uncle Bartlett's abuse when she was a girl, lamenting that even though the experience with Bill was "so, so perfect" she hates that she can't not think of Bartlett. Bill responds that it's okay to think about whatever she thinks about because she's safe with him. But as she leans back against him, the look on his face makes it clear that Bartlett is not so safe.

Jason spends the episode behaving like a typical junkie, showing up at Lafayette's and making promises and threats (unsuccessfully) to get Lafayette to sell him V. When that doesn't work he tries stealing his Gran's heirlooms and jewellery, only to be confronted by Sookie (he derisively calls her a fang-banger, then takes off with a pair of candlesticks that were a wedding gift to Gran from her mother). Later he shows up at Fangtasia looking sickly and shifty, catching Pam's attention both from his appearance and his name (she quickly surmises he's related to Sookie). Suspecting his motives, she glamours him and finds out he's there for vampire blood. Unimpressed she waves him in, wishing him luck on getting out again. Inside he's about as subtle as you would expect, clumsily asking the bartender (Long Shadow) if they serve anything harder than Tru Blood... no, harder than whiskey... you, know...a little darker in colour... Long Shadow's getting annoyed and Jason's on the verge of saying something really stupid when he's saved by a hippie girl with her own stash of V. My initial reaction is to like hippie girl (Amy) for saving Jason. That instantly turns to loathing, however, when she calls his truck "authentic." My revised opinion is confirmed when she proves herself a pretentious twit, but Jason likes her so she'll likely be around for a while. I'm curious, though: are the rest of us supposed to like her? Something to ponder as she and Jason get all religious with their V consumption, communing with Gaia and watching the sparkly lights flow between their connected bodies. There's also a very pretty shot of the blood seeping into a pair of aspirin tablets.

Tara is dealing with some fun problems of her own. Her mother, Lettie Mae, insists her alcoholism is caused by a demon, and that she needs $445 for an exorcism. Tara is understandably dismissive. But when her mom, in desperation at being denied a loan, makes a scene at the bank, Tara finally gives in. The exorcism scene is pretty convincing. Taking place out in the middle of nowhere in a crumbling old bus, Miss Jeanette--the exorcist--knows how to create an eerie mood. As Lettie Mae convulses and shouts, I can believe she's possessed. And when the nearby caged possum suddenly starts shrieking and going wild, I can even believe the demon has moved into it. Those of you who are animal lovers might want to avert your eyes for the next few seconds, as Miss Jeanette dispatches the possessed possum. Demonic or not, you have to feel sorry for the little guy. As Tara and her mom are leaving, Miss Jeanette claims there's still another demon to get rid of: the one inside Tara. Scoffing at the audacity, Tara nevertheless shuts up when Miss Jeanette starts describing her perfectly (no friends, no boyfriend, can't hold down a job...) Miss Jeanette tells Tara to find her when she's ready.

Back to Sookie and Bill. Reacting as we knew he would, Bill pays Uncle Bartlett a visit. When Bartlett sees Bill standing at the top of his wheelchair ramp, he stammers that he doesn't keep cash in the house. His fear is palpable as his wheelchair slowly rolls backwards. It comes to a stop and Bill is suddenly behind him. Out come the fangs and out goes Uncle Bartlett. No sympathy whatsoever for the child molester, but I have to wonder how Sookie's going to react when so far she hasn't exactly been comfortable with Bill's vampire nature (e.g. when he menaced the cop who pulled them over. Details) Hope this doesn't cause trouble down the line.

Sookie, meanwhile, is acting all kinds of weird. At work she's uber peppy and hyper, which would be understandable given the fantastic night she never thought she'd be able to have (sometimes, being able to hear exactly what people are thinking is a serious detriment). But considering she just buried her Gran the day before--after finding the woman's mutilated body in her kitchen--I'd expect her mood to be a little more muted. Maybe she's just in serious repression mode. But whatever the reason, something about it doesn't ring quite true.

On top of that, just after telling Arlene she doesn't want to talk about personal business at work, Sookie admits she slept with Bill and might just be in love with him. Then, after Arlene blabs and Sam reacts badly (tearing off the scarf she was cunningly using to hide the bite marks), Sookie tells Sam off before announcing to the entire bar that she slept with Bill and loved every second of it. Telling Sam off was the right reaction. Even telling the bar she's with Bill makes sense (it's a small town; they're all going to be talking about it anyway). But is it just me or is it a little TMI to be going on about how good it was? And for someone who claims not to want to get personal at work, she doesn't hesitate in describing to Lafayette how it felt to be bitten. I don't know--Sookie's behaviour seems a little all over the place and not necessarily logical. Hope she evens out by next episode (she should see Lafayette about getting something for that).

And just when I was wondering when we'd see the trio of scary vamps again (Malcolm, Liam, and Diane) they show up at Merlotte's. Since vampire-related tensions are already heightened, thanks to Sookie's bite marks and earlier announcements, it's no surprise people react negatively to the new arrivals. Not that they make any effort to put people at ease. When Sam refuses them service, Malcolm reminds him that it's against the law to discriminate against vampires, and then also points out that they just bought a house down the road, thereby making them locals. Thirsty locals. Sam tries to uninvite them but it turns out vamps don't need invitations to enter public places (and so can't be uninvited). Malcolm threatens to feed on Sookie, first prompting her to respond that she is Bill's (Sam is not impressed to hear this) and then, when he decides to ignore etiquette and feed on her anyway, snapping that she'd never let anyone like Malcolm touch her (we've got to hand it to Sookie--the girl's not lacking in guts). Violence ensues.

As Bill dumps Bartlett's body in the bayou he senses Sookie's fear, and a moment later he's at Merlotte's. Malcolm claims they were trying to get his attention all along. Bill, realizing the only way to get rid of them is to go with them, tells Sookie he should be with his own kind. He tries to signal to her what he's doing and, luckily, she gets the message. But if anyone else realizes what's going on, they don't care. Some rednecks in the bar (the same ones who got into it with Lafayette over the "AIDS" in the food he'd made) are all riled up about the uppity vampires. While they plan on getting back at the vamps, Sookie is the only one who cares that they're going after them--including Bill. Arlene even claims she doesn't care if they kill all the vamps. Sookie desperately calls Bill, frustrated that she's only getting his voicemail. She leaves a message warning him there's a lynch mob coming.

Arlene is another character I'm not sure whether we're supposed to like. Sometimes she's lovely--like when she's comforting Terry as he's breaking down over his "failure" to help fight the vampires. Other times she just seems like a judgmental bitch. I think maybe she's supposed to represent the "everywoman" of Bon Temps. I'm still not sure if I like her or can't stand her. I do think she's the perfect example of why redheads should not get tans, though.

Sookie spends the night at Bill's, waiting for him to return. He never does. Meanwhile the rednecks have outfitted themselves with Molotov cocktails (or napalm, as one of them puts it) and proceed to set the vampires' house ablaze. One of the rednecks also sets his arm ablaze, but they put it out and run as screams emanate from within the house.

While Andy and Terry Bellefleur are fishing, Terry spots a naked man running through the woods. It turns out to be Sam. As Andy ponders this he gets a call ordering him to the scene of the fire. When Sookie arrives at the burned-out remains of the house, a crowd has already gathered. She's just in time to watch as four charred coffins are removed from the house.

Not good.

Fang Files

Strengths: Super strength, super speed. Ability to hypnotize ("glamour") humans.

Weaknesses: Vampires need to be invited in to enter a private residence, and their invitation can be revoked, compelling them to leave (but they don't need invitations to enter public buildings). Can't go outside during the day/can't tolerate sunlight.

Mythology: Vampires have reflections, holy water is "just water," crucifixes are "geometry," and garlic is "irritating," but that's it; Bill explains that vampires invented most of the myths about themselves as a way of confusing humans and, if necessary, having ways of proving that they aren't vampires. Sookie tells Lafayette being bitten felt like all her unhappiness and worries were flowing out of her and into Bill, and that once she relaxed it didn't even hurt. There is a bond between vampires and the humans who have drunk their blood; they can always sense and easily find the humans afterward.

Sound Bites

Tara: (trying to apologize to Sam) I don't know how to be with somebody. I never... maybe I'm unboyfriendable.

Lettie Mae: (attempting to entice the bank manager into lending her money) There may be snow on the mountain top but there is fire in the valley!

Uncle Bartlett: I don't keep cash in the house.
Bill: Oh, I'm not here for money. [Reappears behind him] I'm here for Sookie.

Malcolm: (to Sookie) I'm going to drain you so slowly you'll beg me to kill you.
Iraq-war vet Terry: (defending Sookie) Jihad this, motherfucker!

Andy: (watching the naked man run through the woods) That was Sam Merlotte!
Terry: Yup. I've done that before.

True Blood, Season 1 Episode 7 "Burning House of Love." Written by Chris Offutt and Charlaine Harris. Directed by Marcos Siega. From HBO.

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