I don't usually start my reviews--especially my True Blood reviews--with a rant, but I'm afraid you'll have to bear with me today. "Release Me" is my least favourite episode of an otherwise fine show, all because of one scene between Daphne and Sam. After confronting Daphne about her betrayal last episode, Sam and Daphne have a conversation about Maryann. We finally find out what she is: a maenad, or a "hand-maiden" of the god Dionysus. Basically back in the day maenads (human women) would honour Dionysus with ecstatic frenzies of song, dance, and music. Doesn't sound too bad, right? Well, the show has a different interpretation. Daphne claims the maenads were "a lot" more that simple worshippers. She says Maryann is immortal, that she channels wild energy and brings it out in people. Okay, fine. But my problem occurs when Daphne claims Dionysus, being a "horned god," is just another name for Satan. What? Okay, for one Dionysus is not a horned god, but that's not really the point. Note to Alan Ball and the writer(s) of this episode: pagans really don't like it when their gods are likened to the Christian devil. Want to know why there are occasional similarities between pagan gods and Satan? Because Satan is a construct, designed to resemble certain pagan deities in order to demonize the old gods and acquire converts for the Church (the same way the Church appropriated pagan holy days and built churches on the old sacred places). The old gods are not evil and their followers are not devil worshippers. There's enough misinformation out there as it is and I'm really disappointed with the show for perpetuating more of it. I was hoping the conflation of Satan with Dionysus would end up being attributed to Daphne's ignorance, but nothing is ever said otherwise. So I'll just go ahead and tell you that Maryann is not a true maenad, and whatever she worships has nothing to do with paganism or the old gods. Okay? /rant.
Other than that, it's a pretty good episode.
"Release Me" starts off almost where "Hard-Hearted Hannah" ended. We follow Andy as he stumbles onto the orgy/sacrifice in pursuit of the pig. There's a great "WTF?" look on his face as he takes it all in. A moment later (and just in time for Sam) he shoots into the air, disrupting everyone's good time. Sam starts running with Maryann in hot pursuit, but as she's getting close he shifts into a white bird and flies away. Meanwhile, Andy gets a broken arm for his troubles, courtesy of his black-eyed cousin Terry.
The next day, after retrieving a gun from the safe at Merlotte's, Sam finds Daphne on the dock and they have the little talk I already mentioned. Sam is beyond hurt at the way Daphne used him but he still can't bring himself to shoot her, even as she goes on about how wonderful Maryann is and how much she loves her. (She also mentions that Maryann can't control supernaturals the way she can control humans.) Sam asks if Maryann will leave everyone else alone if he gives himself up, but apparently the pseudo-maenad is having too much fun in Bon Temps. Sam walks away, scared for what's going to happen and disgusted with Daphne. Not to worry, though; Daphne gets her own taste of betrayal when Maryann shows up and has a black-eyed Eggs stab Daphne in the chest. Looks like Maryann is done with her biggest fan, and she looks pretty darn happy about it. So what's she going to do to Sam, then?
Surprisingly, after the orgy no one remembers what happened. No one other than Andy, who--drunk and dishevelled--tries to tell Bud what happened. When the Sheriff, big surprise, doesn't believe him he heads to Merlotte's where he destroys his credibility beyond redemption by calling everyone devil zombies, and swears he'll stop them if it's the last thing he ever does. Welcome to being the laughingstock, former detective Bellefleur. Tara and Eggs attribute their lack of memory to too much pot. But when Arlene tells Tara that she doesn't remember anything from the night before, something clicks in Tara. It looks like she's starting to realize that badness is afoot in Bon Temps.
There's also an odd moment at Merlotte's when Lafayette meets Eggs. At first he flirts with the good-looking guy at the bar, but when he finds out he's Tara's Eggs, Lafayette is suddenly less than impressed. It's like someone flicked a switch. He doesn't get a chance to elaborate because that's when Andy shows up, but why the sudden change? Curious indeed.
Back at the Fellowship church, Sookie and Hugo are still locked up. Sookie's calling for Godric but Hugo, who it turns out really is claustrophobic, is starting to panic. She manages to calm him down for the moment, and then she brings up the certainty of a traitor in Godric's ranks, the likeliest suspect being Stan.
After spending the night locked up, Hugo and Sookie have mixed emotions when Reverend Steve and Gabe show up to have a chat. Steve boasts that the Fellowship is prepared for any vampires that might show up and try to rescue them, and then tells Sookie that the vampires have got her "all twisted up" with glamouring, empty promises, and blood. She tells him that the Fellowship will get themselves killed (fact not threat), but Steve laughs it off. He then promises to feed them a nice hot breakfast and let them go if they only answer a few questions. Sookie's not about to cooperate but Hugo is suddenly in the mood to share. He tells Steve their real names, and Steve's face drops when he hears "Stackhouse." Jason is busted, even though he's got nothing to do with Sookie's mission or the vampires. After Steve leaves, Sookie reaches out telepathically to Barry and begs him to go tell Bill what's happening.
Later as Hugo is panicking again, desperate to get out, Sookie gets mental images of him joining the Fellowship, and realizes he's the traitor. Hugo doesn't deny it--instead he tells her that vampires only care about their own kind and will never let humans be their equals. Sookie points out that if the Newlins cared about him then he wouldn't still be locked up, same as her. She says he'll never be anything but a fang-banging traitor to them. He's had enough. He calls for Gabe to let him out and yells that Sookie knows everything. No one comes for him.
Upstairs, Jason and Sarah are resting after their tryst on the church's balcony. Sarah starts crying because she's so happy; she tells Jason she never even knew what loves was until he just showed her. Oops. From the look on Jason's face this is obviously not what he bargained for. It only gets worse when she suddenly jumps up and declares they have to go tell Steve right now. He manages to convince her it's not a good idea to tell gun-toting Steve about their affair right before the lock-in (funny enough, he mistakenly calls it a lock-down, just as Sookie did). Sarah agrees to put it off until immediately after the ceremony since God's interests have to come first. I'm sure God is relieved to hear that.
Jason decides it's time to get the hell out of dodge, so he packs his stuff and tries sneaking away. Unfortunately Steve and Gabe drive up and forcefully insist that he get in the car. Jason is terrified, sure that Steve found out about him and Sarah. So he's more than a little confused when Steve tells him he knows who he is and who he's working for. Of course Steve doesn't believe him when Jason says he's made a mistake. He tells Gabe to take care of Jason, and then he leaves.
Back at the church, as people are arriving for the lock-in, Steve tells Sarah he needs to talk to her in private about Jason. She looks thoughtful but not too worried as she follows him. Meanwhile Jason is still trying to tell Gabe there's been some kind of mistake, but Gabe couldn't care less. He mentions Jason's "whore" sister and that's all Jason needed to hear. He starts wailing on Gabe, getting his knife away from him before leaving him crumpled on the ground. Jason walks away. As night falls and he's jogging along the road (presumably heading for the nearest town), an ATV drives up to him. He's beyond relieved that it's Sarah, and tries to tell her that Steve and Gabe have gone crazy. But not being overly sane herself, Sarah pulls out a gun and shoots him. Jason drops. We don't see him again.
Through all this, Bill is fighting and begging Lorena to let him go save Sookie. She's not budging. In a flashback we see they've been through this before. It's 1935 in LA and Bill has already decided to stop killing people for blood. Lorena seems to think this is cute, almost like a toddler wanting to dress himself. But indulgent amusement turns to anger pretty quickly and they erupt into a vicious argument. Bill can't stand the sight of Lorena anymore and he wants out. She isn't so ready to let him go. Back in the present she's just as condescending and controlling, laughing at him for being in love with a human. Talk about a possessive ex.
For some reason neither Bill nor Lorena will allow themselves to sleep, which is only making them sick and weak. Lorena claims she doesn't want Bill to run out and roast himself in an effort to get to Sookie. I'm not sure what his reasoning is, but he really doesn't look like he's in any shape to go anywhere. And even when blood starts dripping from their ears and noses, they still won't let themselves get any much-needed rest. Stubborn bloodsuckers.
When Gabe finally makes it back to the church he clearly feels he has something to prove. He heads straight for Hugo and Sookie, and when Hugo tries to tell him to let him go since Sookie now knows everything, Gabe just beats him up and proves Sookie's earlier statement right. When she tries to intervene to help Hugo, Gabe chokes her and threatens to rape her.
As Sookie screams, Bill becomes alert. Lorena is going on about nothing, and probably has been for a while (poor Bill), but when she notices the change in his demeanour she tells him she'll end him if he tries to go. Back to 1935 and the argument between Lorena and Bill has escalated. She uses some classic abuser lines on him "I've given you everything"; "if you leave me you'll be alone forever"; "you belong to me." He's not buying it. She pushes him down and he uses a splintered piece of furniture to make a stake. She still refuses to let him go--until he threatens to stake himself. Finally she relents and releases him. In the present again Bill reminds her of that, but Lorena responds that he has no future with Sookie. Then she holds a stake to his chest and tells him that someday he'll see this as the "act of love" that it is. I'm not sure whether she's actually going to stake him or if she's just using it to keep him in line. Either way she's interrupted by a knock at the door. Barry relays Sookie's message to Bill, which Eric overhears before taking off in a blur. Barry telepathically responds back to Sookie, telling her that this is the last time he helps her and her vampire buddies so she'd better leave him alone. Then Lorena reaches out and pulls him into the room.
Back at the church, Gabe is busy illustrating that humans can be monsters too as he prepares to rape Sookie. She's still screaming, which is a logical response but I kind of wish she'd be more stoic, especially when Gabe tells her to scream for him. Just when it seems as though there's no hope, he's suddenly gone. Relieved and confused, Sookie sees that he's been pulled off by Godric, himself looking preternaturally calm. He' still cute, although not quite as cute as when he had his messy dready hair the last time we saw him. Gazing back at Sookie Godric doesn't even notice the squirming, gasping Gabe as he holds him off the ground by his shirt collar.
In the one happy situation of the show, Hoyt and Jessica have spent the day getting closer. He admits to her that at 28 he's a still a virgin. The scene is very sweet and only solidifies my liking of Hoyt (he might just be the most sensible person in Bon Temps). Jessica wants to be his first and he's not arguing. When she wakes up on the second night, Hoyt has strewn the room with rose petals and filled it with blood-scented candles from the gift shop (he claims they smell like tomato soup to him). "Day Too Soon" by Sia plays during the scene, and it works particularly well. Hoyt says he wants their first time to be as perfect as she is (what girl could resist?) Jessica tells him to take off his pants. My one problem with this scene? Jessica hasn't changed her bra/underwear in three days, nor has she showered. Um, ew. But maybe vampires don't need to shower or change their clothes, being dead and all (and Jessica seems to have a habit of not changing, like when she went to Merlotte's in the same dress she'd slept in). Still, I kind of wish someone had paid a little more attention to this.
As usual there's a lot going on this episode. Clearly something's got to give soon with Maryann. And why is Godric running around loose in the Fellowship's basement (why not save Sookie and Hugo earlier)? It'll be interesting to see where all the threads are going. I should also mention that at the beginning of the flashback, Bill was reading Gods & Monsters of Ancient Greece. Convenient, considering they've got a rogue pseudo-maenad on their hands. A little too convenient (I guess I should cut them some slack since they're dealing with time constraints in the mere twelve episodes per season they're given). Oh, and this episode's title song, "Release Me," is performed by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn as Lafayette starts selling V again.
Strengths: Super speed, strength, hearing. Ability to glamour humans.
Weaknesses: Sunlight, stakes. A vampire that doesn't sleep during the day gets sick and eventually starts bleeding from the nose and ears.
Mythology: The older the vampire the stronger they are. If a human has consumed a vampire's blood the vampire can then always sense the human and locate them.
Lorena: (to Bill) You smell like her. Sweet... and cheap.
Bill: (to Lorena) If Sookie is hurt in any way because of you, I will not stop until I drive a stake through whatever semblance of a heart you have left.
Hoyt: I ain't never done it. With a girl I mean.
Jessica: (apprehensively) What have you done it with?
Maryann: Feeling sorry for things is just an excuse not to celebrate your own happiness.
Lorena: (flashback) You disgust me.
Bill: Then let me go.
Lorena: No. I made you, and you are mine.
Bill: You know I don't love you.
Lorena: You have never tried.
Bill: I have spent decades trying!
True Blood, Season 2 Episode 7 "Release Me." Written by Raelle Tucker. Directed by Michael Ruscio. From HBO.