20 April 2010

True Blood S2 E3 "Scratches"

Spoilers Ahead

You know what you shouldn't do when you're an unarmed human in a world of vampires, werewolves, and monsters? Storm out of your boyfriend's car in the middle of the night and attempt to walk home through the woods by yourself. And yet, that's exactly what Sookie does. The girl's got guts... and we nearly get to see them.

After leaving Jessica's family (unharmed, but glamoured to "within an inch of their sanity"), Bill is still pissed at Sookie and Jessica, and he's not exactly bothering to hide it. Refusing to accept any of Sookie's many apologies, Bill reams her out for her thoughtlessness and irresponsibility. So Sookie finally does what I think she should have done last episode--tells Bill off before leaving. Unfortunately her timing leaves something to be desired.

As she's walking home through the aforementioned woods, Sookie hears weird noises and heavy breathing. At first she thinks it's Bill trying to scare her into going back to the car, but when he doesn't respond she turns around and sees what looks a hell of a lot like the Minotaur standing in the road. She later calls it a "bull-person," but at the moment she's concentrating on running as fast as she can. The bull-person easily catches up with her and rakes its massive claws across her back. Sookie screams and falls to the ground.

By the time Bill gets there, the bull-person is gone and Sookie can't move. When he tries to heal her by giving her his blood she starts convulsing and foaming at the mouth. It's not a pretty sight but Bill is too terrified to notice. He gets Jessica to drive them to Fangtasia before sending her home. Inside the club, Sookie opens her eyes to see an odd woman standing over her. It turns out Dr. Ludwig has some experience treating paranormal maladies. She claims Sookie has been poisoned the same way a Komodo dragons poisons its prey--with bacteria that slowly destroys the nervous system so the predator can track the prey and eventually eat it alive. Nice.

Sookie's fading fast so Dr. Ludwig sends the vampires out of the room. While they're out, Eric orders Pam and Chow to go investigate the area where bull-person was. So far it seems that no one has any clue what the thing really is, or what it's capable of (beyond gouging people with toxic claws). Meanwhile, if the pain of the wound was bad, it's nothing compared to the pain of the cure. Sookie screams bloody murder as a sizzling blue potion is poured into the gashes. Bill has to come in and hold her down it's so bad. And then the doctor starts digging into the raw wounds to pull out a disgusting-looking gel-like substance (presumably the poison). This scene is not for those with weak stomachs. Seriously. When it's finally over, Bill can give Sookie blood to finish healing her (Eric "valiantly" offers his own, more potent blood, to which Bill replies "Never"). This is a much pleasanter scene. The way Bill and Sookie look at each other reveals a deep connection that's beyond mere romance or lust. No wonder Eric watches them wistfully (hey--he almost displayed an emotion there!) Pam and Chow return and inform Eric that bull-person's tracks are human but its smell is distinctly of a filthy animal. I'm still thinking Minotaur.

Sookie and Bill have to spend the night (or in Bill's case, the day) at Fangtasia, which is convenient as it gives Sookie a chance--via Ginger's thoughts--to discover that Lafayette is being kept in the basement. He's not a vampire but he's still alive, if only barely. Since Eric is the only one with a key to the lock on Lafayette's chains, Sookie waits until Eric gets up.

You have to admire Sookie's courage, if not her intelligence. She's not only unafraid to tell Eric what she thinks of him, and to threaten him if he doesn't release Lafayette, but she smacks him one while she's at it. At no point does she back down, even when Eric hisses and looms over her threateningly. Poor Bill is off to the side looking like he has no clue what to do about any of this. But Eric's apparently intrigued by Sookie and is willing to make a deal. She'll go to Dallas with him to help him find Godric in exchange for Eric letting Lafayette go. Eric will also pay all her expenses and--after a little bargaining--$10, 000 (what--she needs new driveway). Bill's not too happy about it but he feels a little better when Eric allows him to tag along.

Jessica, meanwhile, wakes up to an empty house. You'd think she'd be concerned about Bill and Sookie, but I guess her indifference (actually she mostly looks annoyed that she's on her own with nothing to do) is indicative of her lack of humanity (what Bill said). But Jessica's a resourceful girl. She dolls herself up and heads over to Merlotte's (although she looks super cute, she's still wearing the same dress she slept in... in Bill's crawlspace. Um, ew). While most of the other patrons stare at her in a not overly friendly way, Hoyt is completely enamoured. He tells her she's got a beautiful smile and thinks her being a vampire is cool. She takes him back to Bill's place where she proceeds to kiss him as he's trying to teach her how to use the Wii. Ah, young love. When Hoyt proves to be a total gentleman, Jessica pushes him down and jumps on him--fangs out.

After dropping Lafayette off at home, Bill and Sookie have a talk about Eric and vampires in general. She's starting to question whether she was right to ever defend them because the more open her mind gets, the more evil she sees. Bill tries to defend Eric, and also points out that humans are just as capable of evil as vampires--just as vampires are equally capable of good. The lighting in this scene is brilliant, alternating between dark and light as the car passes under street lights. Very well done. Sookie ultimately reassures Bill that although she's scared of the darkness she knows is in him, when she looks into his eyes she only sees his goodness. I like the deepening of their relationship; maybe the bickering will finally end.

When Sookie and Bill get back to his place they get all flirty talking about, of all things, petticoats and start the preliminaries to another bout of make-up sex (or maybe it's grateful-that-Sookie's-alive sex, or even we're-going-to-Dallas sex. Like anyone on this show needs a reason). As they enter the foyer they're distracted by the sound of Hoyt gasping. Looking over, it appears that Jessica is feeding on him. Bill throws Jessica across the room, not interested in her protests that she wasn't going to bite him. When Hoyt says it's okay and tries to stand up, Bill pushes him back down and growls. So, what do you see now, Sookie?

Back to Lafayette for a second, once he's released we finally get a sense of the trauma he's suffering. Although he's unafraid enough of Pam to call her a bitch, he's clearly terrified of Eric. He swears he's done with all things V, that he's retiring. Outside his house he tells Bill and Sookie that, as far as he's concerned, he's spent the last weeks at Club Med--and he'd really appreciate it if Bill let the other vampires know that's how he remembers it (in other words, he won't be retaliating. At all). And when he gets inside his house, he locks the door then wraps himself in an afghan (looks like something his mom or grandma would have made him). He curls up almost into a fetal position and starts weeping. He might be alive, but Lafayette is anything but well.

And surprisingly, there's still more that happens this episode. The producers are definitely giving us our money's worth--normally I take about three pages of notes. "Scratches" left me with seven pages of notes. I had writer's cramp. HBO should put me on their payroll.

Jason is still at the Light of Day Leadership Conference, and he's still being plagued by visions of Eddie. He's starting to be unsure of what's right or wrong anymore, and he feels lost. At a group session (more like a confession), Jason admits he's got nothing against vampires and that they've never done anything to him. He points out that his best friend (Rene) killed his gran and girlfriend (Amy, not to mention Maudette and Dawn) just because he hated vampires. He gets up and walks out, and almost--he's so close--gets away from these fanatics. But Sarah follows him out, claiming that Jason is special and the Lord sent him to her because they're so much alike. When Jason breaks down because he feels responsible for all the deaths in Bon Temps (he thinks he should have done more), Sarah tells him the deaths of his loved ones won't have been for nothing if they can save even one family (she doesn't elaborate but I guess the saving would be achieved by wiping out all the vampires). Then she urges him to give himself to God's Light before getting him to pray with her. If Jason's still conflicted after that, it's taken care of over dinner with the Newlins. Reverend Steve expounds that "Hating evil is really loving good," and that hate is simply a survival skill. He calls vampires baby killers and claims that if you're not with us, you're against us. Finally, they ask if Jason can feel that God's got great things in store for him. And he does--he does feel it. Hallelujah! God: 1, Evil: 0.

Back in Bon Temps, Sam is in a mood. He's snappy and mean to the waitresses (especially incompetent Daphne). Finally Tara tells him he needs to offer some positive reinforcement, which just annoys him more because she sounds like Maryann. When Tara asks him why he hates Maryann so much, he won't tell her the truth but he lets her know that she doesn't really know Maryann and she should stay away from her. Later, Tara asks Maryann why Sam hates her. Maryann feigns ignorance (he hates me? Really?) and suggests that he might be jealous because he's looking for someone to blame for losing her. Maryann's a tricksy one.

Tara's soon distracted from Sam's issues by the party Maryann's having and the massive amount of pot that always seems to be around. She and Eggs have been getting to know each other better, although they haven't slept together yet. Eggs has had a difficult life, one that led him to drugs and crime, which ultimately led him to Maryann. He's sweet and I like him, although given his connection to Maryann, I can't quite trust him. Neither can Tara, apparently. When she notices the bacchanal going on around her (fuelled by a bloody-looking stew that butler Karl is dishing out, and resulting in more all-black eyes), and Eggs getting cozy with a random topless girl, she accuses him and Maryann of being into a weird scene. She wants no part of it. Now if only Tara would have walked out the front door instead of just stomping upstairs.

After his argument with Tara, Sam apparently thinks the best way to deal with Maryann is to leave town. He loads moving boxes into his truck, and asks (a highly unimpressed) Terry to take care of the bar... just until he comes back. After that his mood improves--he's actually nice to the staff again and smiles as he looks over all the photos behind the bar (Sookie's photo gets an especially long, thoughtful look). After the bar closes, Sam finishes loading up his truck and decides to go for one last run with the local dog (the one he impersonates when he shapeshifts). After their run Sam jumps into a pond, and then suddenly Daphne shows up. Sam apologizes for his behaviour toward her and she graciously accepts. Then she starts stripping so she can join him in the water. As she takes off her shirt we see three large, ugly scars on her back bearing a distinct resemblance to Sookie's earlier wounds. And cut to the title song, performed by Debbie Davies ("Who been making those scratches, all over your back?...")

Okay, so not only is Maryann still a mystery but now there's a bull-person/Minotaur in the mix. And what about Daphne? How did she survive the wounds? Is she something other than human? And that's only the tip of the question iceberg. It's amazing how this show can give you so much and yet still leave you wanting more.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale humans with snake-like fangs that descend at will.

Strengths: Ability to glamour (hypnotize) humans, although not Sookie for unknown reasons. Super speed, strength.

Weaknesses: Sunlight.

Mythology: Makers are able to command the vampires they've turned. If a mortal drinks a vampire's blood, that vampire will then be able to sense the mortal and easily find them. Vampire blood (V) heals mortals (and also gets them high). The time when vampires admitted their existence to human society is referred to (by humans, at least) as when they "came out of the coffin."

Sound Bites

Bill: (re: Jessica) She is a loaded gun, Sookie--not a doll for you to dress up and play with.

Sookie: Am I dying?
Dr. Ludwig: Yes.
Bill: No! She cannot die--you will save her!
Dr. Ludwig: Back off, vampire; let me do my job.
Eric: Forgive him. Bill is abnormally attached to this human.

Eric: She [Pam] is extremely lazy. But loyal. How's yours--Jessica?
Bill: Petulant. Dangerous. Afraid.
Eric: I am glad to see you two are bonding.

Sookie: You look awful.
Lafayette: I feel fucking worse. Guess I'm not a vampire yet.

Rev. Steve Newlin: You're either on the side of darkness or the side of light. There's no in-between.


True Blood
, Season 2 Episode 3 "Scratches." Written by Raelle Tucker. Directed by Scott Winant. From HBO.

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