19 May 2010

True Blood S2 E9 "I Will Rise Up" + Season 3 preview!

Spoilers Ahead (don't pretend you don't love them)

This episode made me sad and somewhat annoyed. But it also made me happy and hopeful. Basically I'm an emotional wreck now. Vampires can do that to a girl.

So "I Will Rise Up" starts off a few moments before the end of "Timebomb." Luke has just started giving his message and Bill is still outside with Lorena. There's a bit more to the dialogue between Bill and Lorena than we saw last time. Now he tells her she's dead to him, to which she replies that she wishes he hadn't said that. Then she takes off. Between the fact that these lines were separated from the rest, and that Lorena's response can be taken a couple of ways, I think we can expect this to have some future significance.

In the meantime, as soon as Lorena's gone we get what we've been waiting for: house go boom. Bill runs inside the smoky, charred mess, ignoring all the screaming and moaning as he desperately looks for Sookie. She's okay and, surprise of surprises, it's because Eric shielded her from the blast. He's alive too, but weak, and he tells Bill to go after the humans. Apparently Luke brought some buddies along and now they're running for the car. As they start driving off, Bill manages to pull one of them from the vehicle. The young guy is terrified and blurts out that they didn't think Luke would really do it. Bill snarls that it's too late and sinks his fangs in. Yeah, baby. He doesn't end up killing the guy, though. Good for him (although perhaps not as much fun for us).

Back inside Sookie pushes Eric off her and starts calling for Jason. He's okay too, giving her the thumbs up from across the room. Sounding like he's on death's door Eric tells Sookie that he can't heal because of the silver embedded inside him. There's no time to get help--he needs her to suck the silver out of him now. Yes, you read that right: suck the silver out, like it's snake venom or something. And Sookie is dumb enough to do it. This is where I get annoyed. Who would actually fall for that? I doubt even Sookie would, and she's not usually the brightest bulb. Why couldn't she just reach in and pull the silver out? I think the writers really dropped the ball on this one. I know they needed to find a way to get Sookie to drink Eric's blood, but this is just capital-L Lame. There had to be a better way. There had to be a dozen better ways.

As Jason stares at bits of Luke, Isabel reports that Stan and four others (two vampires, two human companions) are dead. Meanwhile Bill is infuriated when he finds Sookie sucking on Eric's chest. He tells her that Eric wasn't in any danger--the silver would have been expelled from his body--and that he was already healing. You mean this was all an elaborate ruse? Sigh. On top of it all, she's mad at Eric like he somehow broke her sacred trust.

At least she gets mad at herself, as well, but not until she and Bill are back at the hotel. Bill's more understanding, saying there's no shame in being good and kind. Of course, those qualities are not mutually exclusive of the ability to use your brain, but whatever. He also tells her the really bad news: that having consumed Eric's blood she'll now find herself attracted to him. Sexually. So does that mean her feelings for Bill aren't so much love as blood-induced lust? It's depressing when you think about it (and for me, it's also a big, flashing neon arrow pointing to the paranormal romance-novel roots of the series--something it has generally managed to avoid).

Later, when she can't sleep, Sookie heads over to Jason's room. They take some time to reconnect and Jason shows more of his hidden depths. He explains that Steve and Sarah drew him in because they acted like they liked him for him--not for his athletic or sexual prowess. Besides, they kept his mind off "other stuff." Jason's clearly still messed up over his Gran's death, so much so that he claims he doesn't want to feel anything. Sookie says they have to keep remembering and loving the people they've lost, even if it hurts too much. It suddenly hits Jason that their entire family is gone and they have only each other. Now it's imperative that they stay together and take care of each other. It's a touching scene and one that will resonate with anyone who's ever lost someone they love.

Clicking on the TV, the screen is suddenly filled with Steve and Sarah Newlin debating Nan Flanagan over recent events. As Flanagan out-maneuvers them at every turn, the Reverend and wifey are getting openly frustrated. Sarah starts rambling and then snaps at Steve for cutting her off. He talks down to her. She hates his hair. Nan rolls her eyes as they publicly humiliate themselves. A fitting epilogue for these two.

Later, back in her own room, Sookie is restless. As she turns over in bed a hand reaches up and caresses her. She rolls back and it turns out she's in bed with Eric, and they're both naked. Well, now, this just got interesting. A rather sweet and romantic dream ensues, featuring Sookie and Eric (marred only by a taunting Lorena). It ends with Eric saying "This is the beginning." Not good for Bill, but if the dream is any indication it could be great for Sookie. I actually liked Eric a lot in this scene, probably because he smiles and shows some emotion. That whole stone-faced, eternally bored sociopath thing just doesn't work for me. More personality for Eric, please! Sookie wakes up next to Bill, looks at him for a moment, and falls back asleep.

The next day Nan Flanagan is inexplicably at the hotel, telling off Godric and the others for the PR mess they've made. She blames them, particularly Godric, for not realizing that Stan was a human-killing psychopath. She's pissed at Godric for exhibiting poor judgment and letting himself get kidnapped. Ultimately, she fires him. I thought she was head of the Vampire Defense League (or whatever that group is called)--how did she get the power to dress down and fire Sheriffs? Slightly confusing. In any case, Godric readily agrees to the firing and nominates Isobel to replace him. He also apologizes to everyone and swears he'll make amends. Sookie, mouthy human that she is, tries to defend Godric, telling Nan that the situation at the church could have been much, much worse without him. Nan's not interested.

Then again, neither is Godric. In living any longer, that is. Eric tries to stop him but Godric tells him to meet on the the hotel roof. Before Eric can join Godric, Bill decides it's a good time to confront Eric about tricking Sookie. It's not particularly sensitive (or effective) but at least Bill gets one good punch in. Eric probably would have beaten Bill to a pulp if he didn't have other things on his mind. After Eric leaves, Sookie suddenly realizes that she needs to be there for Godric. Bill is perplexed, telling her it's none of her concern, but Sookie appeals to his sympathies and Bill finally relents. He wants to go up with her, but it's too close to dawn and she won't let him risk it. He asks what she can do for Godric. She doesn't know, but she just has to be there.

In Bon Temps Tara and Eggs are nursing their wounds and trying to figure out what they hell is going on. When Maryann comes in she cracks a couple of jokes about how much they drank the night before, or else they must have done acid. Tara and Eggs don't think it's quite so amusing; Tara especially doesn't like being so out of control that she keeps blacking out. Maryann stridently lectures them that being out of control is necessary, that people crave it. She goes on about attaining a higher level of consciousness and is nearly in tears when she talks about uniting with god. Tara and Eggs give each other a WTH? look, and then Maryann snaps at them that a few bumps and bruises are a small price to pay for bliss. Okay, then. Evil and crazy.

At Merlotte's Arlene--the only waitress left--is worked off her feet. Forced to leave her kids to fend for themselves, she at least sorts things out with Terry. It turns out he's not angry with her for "forcing herself" on him because like her, he can't remember anything they did or might have done. In fact, just about everyone in Bon Temps is having blackouts, and none of them seem too concerned about it. Arlene at least can claim to be distracted, as well as freaked out about the recent deaths (Daphne's being the latest). She and Lafayette agree to look out for each other, which--it turns out--is a good choice on Arlene's part. If you want to have anyone on your side in Bon Temps, it's Lafayette.

When Tara and Eggs show up at the bar, Lafayette flips out when he sees the bruises on his cousin. Tara tries to defend Eggs, saying he didn't do it, but Lafayette threatens to beat up Eggs, saying he's poison and could end up killing Tara. Eggs doesn't take too kindly to this and takes a swing at Lafayette. Our favourite cook/drug dealer easily blocks the punch. Luckily for Eggs, Tara manages to break it up and push him out the door. When all the customers cheer Lafayette, I want to cheer along with them--even if he does tell them all to fuck off.

Sam's still locked up in jail, and isn't too happy about it. The cell next to him is now packed with Maryann's rowdy devotees, and Bud keeps bringing more people in. Whether directly or indirectly, Maryann's influence is affecting the entire town. Speaking of which, she shows up at the Sheriff's department claiming that she wants to help Sam. Within seconds she's got exhausted Bud under her control and is heading back to the cells. She pissed to discover a pile of clothes and no Sam when she checks his cell but she lets her unwitting minions out while she's there. The last we saw of Sam he was watching a fly intently.

Later, as Tara, Eggs, and Maryann are drinking and playing strip poker, we notice a fly in the foreground. Apparently Sam is done sitting back helplessly. Suddenly Lafayette and Lettie Mae show up to get Tara. Maryann acts like she isn't concerned, while Eggs gets possessive ('my girl isn't going anywhere'). Lafayette insists that Tara come with them while Lettie Mae begs her to come along. Suddenly Tara looks up with black eyes and starts saying horrible things to her mother, pushing her and daring her to hit back. Eggs takes this as his cue to jump Lafayette. I don't know what kind of hardcore criminal Eggs supposedly was, or where Lafayette learned to fight (might have something to do with growing up gay in a redneck town) but Lafayette puts Eggs in his place fast. Then he grabs Tara and runs out to the car with Lettie Mae. Yes! Tara's not as happy about it, screaming like a banshee for Maryann. Eggs tries to follow but is stopped by Maryann, who tells him Tara will be back and she'll bring the others with her.

In the meantime, Maryann really needs to get her claws on Sam. She bursts into Merlotte's and announces: "The god who comes demands his sacrifice. Where is Sam Merlotte?" Everyone's eyes go black and they start feeding her what little information they know. Finally she thunders (no exaggeration) to bring Sam to her. It's looking pretty hopeless for Sam, but maybe not entirely. We see the fly on a motel room doorknob. Inside is Andy getting plastered. There's a knock at the door and he opens it to find Sam standing there.

Jessica and Hoyt are dealing with their own issues this episode. Jessica is distressed trying to figure out a solution to her eternal virginity (on a side note: I'm also irritated with the way her hymen is repeatedly referred to as a "thing." It's a bit of skin--get over it. They make it sound like it's some alien creature that's nested inside her). When she tells him he should break up with her, he flat-out refuses. In fact, he even wants to introduce her to his mom. Jessica's excitement can't even be dampened by Hoyt's warning about what Maxine is like. There's then a lovely scene where he's seeing her off to sleep and they're silhouetted in blue-lit shadows. Very romantic. Wish it could last.

While Jessica sleeps Hoyt has a little talk with his mom, standing up to her at long last. She's obviously opposed to her precious baby boy dating a big bad vampire, but he tells her Jessica is the one for him, and there's nothing she can do about it. He also tells Maxine he wants her to meet Jessica, and if she can't be nice to her he'll leave the house and never come back. It's hard to feel sympathy for overbearing Maxine, even if she does look heartbroken.

The meeting goes about as well as you'd expect. Jessica is anxious and eager to please. Maxine is rude and cold. Hoyt is miserable. Maxine makes it clear she doesn't want her son's bright--as in the sun--future to be ruined by some orphan vampire girl. Jessica's fangs come out and she gets defensive, saying she can give Hoyt everything a human girl could. Maxine pointedly asks about babies and Jessica bursts into tears before walking away. Hoyt runs after Jessica, telling Maxine he's done with her (Maxine, that is--not Jessica). Oh yeah, this is going to end well.

On the hotel roof in Dallas Sookie arrives in the middle of an argument between Godric and Eric. Godric claims that two thousand years is enough for anyone, and he will go through with this. Apparently being a vampire is also not as fulfilling as it used to be. He's just done. Eric tries to reason with him before switching to threats and then outright begging. You wouldn't have thought Eric had it in him as he starts sobbing and falls to his knees. It's actually really nice to see--very moving; you can feel the love between child and parent (close enough, anyway). And again--Eric is showing emotion. I approve. His clothes are also not tragic for once--simple trousers and shirt, all black. Now I can see the appeal of Eric.

Realizing he can't change Godric's mind, he tells his maker that he won't let him die alone. Godric appreciates the gesture but commands Eric to leave. Forced to comply, Eric at least gets the comfort of knowing that Sookie will stay with Godric until the end. She and Godric talk as they wait for dawn. He admits what he did at the church was wrong, but he thought it would somehow fix everything. He asks her about her belief in god and the afterlife, and in a lighthearted moment asks if she'll take care of Eric (Sookie replies that she's not sure--"you know how he is"). She asks him if he's afraid and he says he's full of joy. Sookie says she's afraid for him. Suddenly his back starts smoking so he turns around and takes off his shirt. Spreading his arms, he walks toward the sun. Even as the blue flames engulf him he's perfectly calm. Then he's gone, leaving nothing behind.

I had a couple of thoughts about this scene. First, the blue flames look pretty cool. It was a good choice. Second, as Godric was engulfed I couldn't help but think of a phoenix (deliberate on their part?) Third, Godric tells Sookie that it won't take long for the sun to kill him at his age, but wouldn't you think an older vampire would have more resistance to the sun (and to fatal things in general)? Lastly, I'm sad that my new favourite character died. The show--nay all vampire shows--needs a vampire like Godric.

As Godric goes up in flames the show cuts to the credits and the titular song performed by Lyle Lovett. Dallas is done and I'm looking forward to seeing how Bill and Sookie react to what's waiting back in Bon Temps. Keep bringing on the emotions...

Fang Files

Appearance: Very pale humans with red-rimmed eyes and snakelike fangs that descend or retract at will.

Strengths: Super speed, strength, sneakiness, sexiness.

Weaknesses: Silver, explosives, sunlight, Sookie.

Mythology: When a human drinks a vampire's blood (even a drop or two) the vampire can then always sense the human and know where they are; the human will also start feeling a sexual attraction to the vampire. A vampire has a strong bond with their maker, and their maker can command them (they must obey). Vampire society is strongly hierarchical. Vampires (possibly only the very old ones) killed by the sun are engulfed in blue flame and quickly burn until there's nothing left.

Sound Bites

Bill: (to young Soldier of the Sun) You tell the cowards who lead you, the cowards who send children to do their killing, that a vampire showed mercy where they had none.

Sookie: (re: Eric) I could kill him.
Bill: I concur.

Maxine: Who do you think you're talking to?
Hoyt: My mama. Who hates Methodists.
Maxine: I got my reasons.
Hoyt: And Catholics.
Maxine: Just priests...and nuns.
Hoyt: African-Americans.
Maxine: Hush--that's a secret.
Hoyt: People who don't take care of their gardens. People who park their trucks up on their lawn. Ladies who wear red shoes.
Maxine: It looks cheap.

Godric: (to Sookie) A human with me at the end, and human tears. Two thousand years and I can still be surprised. In this, I see God.

True Blood, Season 2 Episode 9 "I Will Rise Up." Written by Nancy Oliver. Directed by Scott Winant. From HBO.

And for your further True Blood pleasure, enjoy this preview of Season 3. I have to say it looks awesome (only a few more weeks to go)!

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