Season finales are always a mixed bag. I hate to see a good show end (even if only for a few months) but I have to admit it is a relief to get a break from note-taking and analyzing. The end of Season 2 brings a much-needed break for me, one that'll give me a chance to review something new (as well as giving my writing hand a chance to recover). Nevertheless, I'm counting the days (thirteen left) until Season 3's premiere...
"Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" picks up at the tail end of Sookie's big scream. Like all of Maryann's minions (not to mention Maryann herself), Lafayette doesn't take much notice of anyone else's distress. Instead he tells Eggs and Tara that "she" wants them downstairs with the giant egg. Once they're gone, Sookie tries getting through to Lafayette, both vocally and telepathically. From his thoughts she only picks up more strange chanting in a foreign language. What he says out loud is equally disturbing: he tells her to take her clothes off. Sookie is shocked, and who could blame her--this could get ugly real fast, particularly once Lafayette starts getting angry at her reluctance. When he gets angry you suddenly realize how scary he can be (and it's such a sharp contrast to his usual easygoing nature). Sookie strips and Lafayette hands her a white dress to put on.
Downstairs Maryann is holding court surrounded by fluttering women also in white dresses (looking very old-school Greek) with wreaths of ivy and flowers in their hair. Eggs is standing at attention, holding the giant egg. And Maryann is in a wedding dress and veil. Happy as any bride (showing no sign that she's the biggest bride-zilla ever) Maryann welcomes Sookie with the announcement that she's going to be her maid-of-honour. Sookie is downright pissed, not least because the dress Maryann is wearing happens to be Sookie's Gran's wedding dress. Maryann tells Sookie not to be so negative on her special day. Maryann is asking for a comeuppance in a big way.
Requesting a moment alone with Sookie, Maryann eagerly tells her to do what she did before, to use her "electricity." She claims it felt like Nature herself was shooting out of Sookie's fingertips. Interesting. When Sookie can't repeat it and admits she has no idea what she did or how it happened, Maryann tries to help her figure out what she is. Maryann seems almost decent for a moment there. Of course, they don't figure it out. The best Maryann can come up with is that Sookie is something beyond human since there's no human energy in Sookie for her to channel. There's also a hint that someone or something godlike is watching over and protecting Sookie (no, not Bill. Not Eric, either). I'm really curious to see where this ends up.
I'm surprised Maryann didn't want to use Sookie as the perfect vessel for her sacrifice, but her explanation for why it's Sam is pretty convincing. He came to her as a naked virgin and was immediately drawn to the statue representing the birth of her god. Sounds like sacrifice material to me. And maybe she would have used Sookie as a back-up if (when) Sam failed to impress the God Who (never) Comes. Anyway, Maryann tells Sookie she's there not only as maid-of-honour, but to lure Sam to Maryann so she can finally proceed with the ceremony. She seems to think Sookie is Sam's mate and that he'll always come to her.
It occurred to me that virginity seems to play a significant role in this show. There's Sam's, which helped lead Maryann to choosing him as her sacrifice (and to Bon Temps). There's Sookie's, which was meaningful when it came to choosing Bill as her first, but might also prove to have a greater significance as we find out more about what she is. There's Jessica's, which is already a problem and will be more so by the end of the episode (more on that later). And there's Hoyt's, which initially didn't seem like a big deal--until I realized that Hoyt never became one of Maryann's minions. As we've seen, people only need to be in the presence of the minions to become one, but Hoyt spends a significant amount of time with his mother and never turns. It could be merely coincidental, but since Maryann can't control supernaturals does that mean Hoyt is also something other than human? So far on the significant virgins list we've got a shapeshifter, a telepath/"beyond human," and a vampire. Where does Hoyt fit into this? Something to ponder...
While Maryann is busy inside the house, Jason and Andy are preparing for war outside. Jason is especially upset to see the minions partying on Stackhouse land. Andy has reservations about going ahead with their plan but Jason is confident with his Glock in his hand. Before they move into the crowd, Andy confesses he's never killed anyone (neither has Jason, for the record). As they start milling among the mostly white-clad minions, they're suddenly being grabbed on all sides. I guess since god's on his way the minions aren't quite as apathetic about interlopers as they used to be. Jason and Andy get separated and the next thing Jason sees is Andy with those telltale black eyes. Not so good. For a moment I was hoping Jason might be a supernatural as well, but as soon as Andy punches him, he joins the minion ranks. So much for their attack strategy.
Meanwhile Bill and Sam are at Merlotte's talking about the maenad situation. Bill lets Sam know that he and Sookie need Sam to make this right. Sam claims that if it were as easy as giving himself up he already would have done so. Bill's not about to let him off the hook that easily. He tells Sam he has to come with him, and--fangs out--he makes it clear he's not exactly giving Sam a choice. Things are just looking worse and worse.
Speaking of... the next shot is of Arlene licking the giant egg. It turns out the egg is an ostrich egg there to represent fertility. All the minions are sipping blood and anointing the egg by licking bloody streaks onto it. If the writers weren't on acid when they came up with this whole idea then I want to know what they were on because it had to be something. Seriously. Maryann forces Sookie, now tied to a chair, to also anoint the egg. It's hard to pick the most disturbing element of this scene.
Suddenly Jason and Andy burst in to tell Maryann that her vessel has arrived. Oh, joy! Sookie refuses to take part in anything so evil (like she hasn't been already) until Maryann threatens to kill Jason. After that Sookie is much more cooperative. Outside, Bill offers Sam in exchange for Sookie, and Maryann is only too happy to agree. As Sookie struggles and screams no, Sam tells Bill to get her out of there so she won't have to watch him die. When Bill gets hold of Sookie he tells her to trust him. And yet she doesn't (she's too busy struggling and shouting).
As the ceremony starts, the bronze bull head is placed on top of the meat effigy/offering and the egg is placed somewhere in the middle of it. Maryann starts hailing the god by his many names: Dionysus, Bacchus, Bromios, Eleuterios, Dendritas (managing to mispronounce most of them, I might add). Somehow she misses Satan, which is seemingly proof that Daphne didn't know what she was talking about. Not that this is any less annoying, pagans still being portrayed as evil and all. But I guess anything that's different from what you believe in must be evil, right? Ugh. At least when Maryann tells the story of Dionysus she gets it more or less right.
Meanwhile Sam has been tied to a wooden frame, gagged, and adorned with greenery. Sookie is still yelling and struggling. The ceremonial dagger is brought out, and Sookie yells for Sam to use his gift. In response Bill tells her to use hers. Again she doesn't listen. Sam has to get stabbed in the chest before she finally clues in and starts reading his thoughts. As Maryann is getting ecstatic over Sam's blood, he weakly tells Sookie to destroy everything. To the minions' horror Sookie grabs the ostrich egg and smashes it on the ground. As she starts pushing against the effigy the purple-white light envelops her hands again and she manages to push the thing over.
Maryann finally notices what's going on; unsurprisingly she's infuriated and shattered. She begs god for forgiveness and offers to sacrifice all the minions for him. She's not flickering so much as convulsing with power as a high-pitched squeal makes the minions start clutching their heads and screaming. Sookie yells at her to stop and somehow it actually works. Maryann then says that Sookie brought this upon everyone. She plunges her hands into the earth, and when she brings them out again they're the claws of her minotaur form. As she starts chasing Sookie, I'm wondering where Bill is. Meanwhile Sookie pulls the classic horror movie running stumble, and falls. Still on the ground, she turns to face Maryann.
Just as Maryann is about to strike, a noise catches her attention. Suddenly a pure white bull comes out of the darkness. It's a pretty cool moment, I have to say. Maryann's claws turn back into hands and she starts calling the bull her god, her husband. It's fairly up there on the creep factor--these sorts of unions are supposed to be symbolic, not literal. Watching a woman opening her arms to a bull/god and telling it/him to come to her is just... ick. But no one said Maryann's thought processes are exactly normal.
As the bull approaches Maryann it suddenly gores her through the chest. With dawning realization that she's the one meant to be sacrificed, Maryann says she's happy to die and that she willingly gives herself to him. By the way, the scene presents quite the imagery: white bull, white dress, black blood--just the right level of starkness; perfect for what's happening. As soon as Maryann gives herself to god, the bull turns into Sam, the bull's horn is actually his arm, and he's pulled her heart out. There's a look of horrified comprehension on her face as she asks "Is there no god?" I do feel sorry for her at this moment. A second later Sam crushes her heart and Maryann instantly turns into a shrivelled, black mummy-like corpse. Nice.
We see all the minions return to normal, and then Sookie runs to Sam. It turns out he and Bill made a deal in which Bill would heal him so that they could fool Maryann and get a chance at ending her. At this point Bill stumbles out of hiding, weak from blood loss. Sookie is absolutely amazed that Sam would die for everyone. Even Sam seems not quite able to believe it. Meanwhile, I'm wondering what this new blood connection between Sam and Bill is going to lead to.
Tara runs up to Sookie and tells her she doesn't remember what happened, but she knows it was bad. Sookie decides to take charge of the situation, ordering Bill to get rid of Maryann's corpse, and asking Sam and Jason to help get everyone home. She reassures Tara that it's over now, but Tara says she has the sick feeling that it really isn't. So do I.
The former minions are in various stages of confusion and distress. Lafayette wonders how he got there, Jane Bodehouse finds the finger she cut off, Arlene is panicking as she tries to get in touch with her kids, and the Sheriff--still without pants--realizes Andy was right all along and gives him his job back. Through all the chaos, Sam sits alone, looking disturbed as he watches a doe in the forest. Tears start running down his face, and Bill suddenly shows up to thank Sam for trusting him with his life. Sam seems bitter, but thankful that at least Sookie's all right. He claims that he finally realized you suffer a lot more hiding something (in his case being a shapeshifter) than you do facing up to it (I'm not so sure about that--his secret worked out pretty well for him when it came to escaping the minions at Merlotte's). As soon as Bill leaves, Sam looks back into the forest and sees the doe is gone.
Eggs is the most outwardly distressed of everyone. He's having a Lady Macbeth moment as he tries to scrub the blood off his hands and from under his fingernails. Tara's trying to calm him down, trying to convince him that everything should go back to normal--they can start fresh. But he needs to know what happened, why he has blood on his hands. He doesn't seem to realize what's happened to Maryann, either--or what she was. The boy is clearly never going to be the same again.
Over at Hoyt and Maxine's, Hoyt is happy and relieved that his mother is back to herself. The last thing Maxine remembers is meeting Jessica. Suddenly her hand flies up to her neck and the two bandaids that have been placed there. Upset that her son let a vampire feed on her, Hoyt defends himself and Jessica, pointing out that Maxine wasn't herself and that she said a bunch of horrible things, including about his dad. He mentions she even lied about his dad's death, claiming he shot himself instead of being killed by a burglar. But when Hoyt sees the look on Maxine's face it's pretty obvious which story is the truth. He can't believe she's lied to him for so many years, that she kept him trapped in Bon Temps with her by claiming she was scared of the burglar--the one who never existed. Maxine tearfully tries to justify her actions by saying she was, and is, scared, and that Hoyt is all she's got left. But he's done. He tells Maxine he wishes Jessica had finished her off. Then he walks out, slamming the door behind him.
The next day at Merlotte's, everyone is talking about what happened; or rather, what they think happened. Stories range from a gas leak to aliens to the pharmaceutical companies in conjunction with the liberal media (and possibly the Rand Corporation). At this point I noticed something else about the show--something I don't particularly like. All the rednecky/gossipy/ignorant people in Bon Temps seems to be overweight and/or unattractive. You can overlook all the main characters resembling models (although it definitely gets tiresome) but when all the overweight/"imperfect" people are universally dumbasses, that's when things get intolerable. Even Eddie, who was at least a nice vampire, was socially inept and nerdy. Please to be working on this, HBO?
Anyway, among the other theories, Jason is convinced he and Andy are the ones who took care of Maryann and got everything back to normal. Andy points out that neither of them remember anything, but Jason still insists they're the heroes. Okay, so there's one good-looking dumbass in Bon Temps. But it looks like these two former antagonists have finally bonded.
As Sam is asking Sookie to look after the bar for a few days while he takes some personal time, she gets a special delivery from some fancy boutique. Opening it outside, she finds a pretty lavender dress (the same colour as the light from her hands) and a note from Bill asking her out and requesting that she wear the dress. Lucky girl. Too bad the moment is interrupted by a tormented-looking Eggs. He begs her to help him remember what's missing, and although it's against her better judgment, Sookie agrees (she's one of those people who are so desperate not to hurt others they end up hurting them even more, isn't she?) Eggs sees images of Miss Jeanette, Daphne, Sam. And he knows what he did to them. Sookie tries to calm him, to tell him that it was all Maryann, but he makes the excellent point that while Maryann used him, it was his hands that did the killing. He runs off.
Eric spends the episode at the Queen's mansion, forced to play Yahtzee with her and the two humans (they have to play until 5 million) and endure the Queen's ramblings. At one point she offers sympathy for the loss of Godric, only to crush Eric's response in her excitement at rolling Yahtzee. I'm actually really starting to see the appeal of Mr. Northman. He looks so sad in this scene--I'm a sucker for sad. And it seems as though he's dropped his eternally bored affectation. In any case, he and the Queen play off each other well. He mentions he's there about a maenad, which leads to a conversation about Bill and Sookie. Hadley (Sookie's long-lost cousin, although it's not clear whether the Queen is aware of their connection) seems stunned to hear that Bill is in love with Sookie. I mention this because I think she's going to have a more prominent role in future, possibly helping Sookie figure out what happened to Bill. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Casually, the Queen asks Eric how Bill knows she's having him sell vampire blood. Apparently this is a very bad thing. Eric is surprised that she's aware Bill knows, but he assures her that Bill has no idea she's the one supplying the blood. Before Eric realizes what's happened, the Queen has him pinned to the ground, fangs bared. Is it just me or does she have bigger-than-average fangs? Maybe with vampires size really does matter. She tells Eric that Bill had better not know she's involved because she's holding Eric responsible. Then she kisses him until his fangs pop out, at which point she tells him he might be the oldest, strongest vampire in her Queendom but she could wear his fangs as earrings if she wanted to. Eric promises he'll take care of Bill Compton personally. Then it's back to the never-ending excitement of Yahtzee!
Now that the excitement/horror over Maryann is starting to wind down, everyone is slowly easing back into everyday life, including Bill. At his house both he and Jessica are all dressed up, although they have separate plans for the evening. Jessica says she's going over to Hoyt's to apologize for the "little fight" they had. Bill is in an exceptionally good mood, smiling, encouraging Jessica, even opening the door for her. When Jessica asks where he's going he says to a French restaurant--because humans always go there when they have something to celebrate. Sigh. My immediate reaction when I saw this: oh no--I hope he's not planning on proposing.
Before we can find out we cut to Sam, ringing a doorbell. An older woman answers. It's Mrs. Merlotte, his adoptive mother. The one who, along with his adoptive father, abandoned him after he shifted for the first time. She's full of apologies, saying she doesn't have a good reason for why they did what they did. The wound is clearly still raw for Sam, but he doesn't want an apology. He wants the names of his biological parents. Mrs. Merlotte says she swore never to tell, and that he doesn't want to know them. "They're bad people." Suddenly there's beeping coming from what looks like a baby monitor. Going into a bedroom, Sam finds Mr. Merlotte, bedridden and on a respirator. The man hands him a piece of paper with an apology scrawled on it, as well as the names and last known location of Sam's biological parents.
Back at Bill's, Hoyt arrives dressed up and carrying a bouquet. He rings the bell and knocks, calling out for Jessica, but there's no answer. He places the bouquet on the porch and leaves. It turns out Jessica isn't apologizing to Hoyt for their fight so much as making out with a trucker at a gas station. She pauses to tell the trucker she's a virgin. He says he doesn't mind--in fact he kind of likes it. She doesn't quite share his opinion. Out come the fangs and then she's sinking them deep into his neck. He screams as blood streams down.
Eggs, meanwhile, is still traumatized over the memories Sookie revealed. Actually, I'd say he's pretty much lost it. He walks up to Andy in the Merlotte's parking lot, waving around the ceremonial dagger and saying he's a murderer. He wants Andy to arrest him. Andy looks supremely confused, then scared as Eggs becomes more erratic, shouting, pushing Andy to the ground, and pointing the knife at him. To his credit, Andy tries to calm the situation down and even tells Eggs that he knows he was under Maryann's spell so it clearly wasn't his fault. Unfortunately he never gets through to Eggs. A shot rings out and the next thing there's a bullet in Eggs's forehead. Andy looks behind him and sees Jason. Jason says he thought Eggs was going to stab Andy. Then he starts freaking out because he realizes he's killed someone. Andy orders him to give him the gun. He tells Jason he didn't see anything, he was never there. He then wipes down the gun in time for people to start streaming out of the bar toward him. He shouts out to call an ambulance, claiming he got a confession from the killer, as well as the murder weapon, and that Eggs was coming after him. Then Tara sees Eggs. Her reaction is pretty heartbreaking.
With all this going on it's hard to believe Bill and Sookie are in blissful ignorance, having a lovely evening together. Bill's rented out the entire restaurant, so it's just the two of them. He also manages to look both hot and adorable as he asks Sookie to dance, not to mention as they're dancing. After dinner (I can't imagine spending an evening with someone watching me eat, or having to spend an evening watching someone else eating), Bill hands Sookie an envelope with two plane tickets to Vermont, the only state with legalized vampire marriage (I had to roll my eyes when she asks where Burlington is). It takes her a minute to pick up on what's happening, but it helps when Bill pushes a velvet box over to her and she opens it to reveal a gorgeous engagement ring. And then Bill proposes.
I wish I could find this romantic, but I don't. Even if vampires could be domesticated they shouldn't be--much like tigers, or rock stars. The two things just don't go together. Besides, how boring would a married vampire be? I mean, at least have them live in sin.
Sookie isn't blissfully happy about the proposal, which is good. She's conflicted, as she should be. She claims her life is inside-out, she doesn't even know if she's human, and what will happen when she ages and he doesn't? She needs a minute. She runs to the bathroom as Bill looks like he's just taken a shot to the gut. In the bathroom Sookie looks in the mirror, she looks at the ring, she tries on the ring, she looks at her hand in the mirror. And she smiles. (Is it just me or are women who look at the diamond before answering a proposal the ultimate in shallow?) Meanwhile as Bill waits anxiously at the table, a pair of gloved hands suddenly loop a silver chain around his neck. It sizzles and he chokes. Crap. Sookie finishes putting on fresh lipstick then runs into the restaurant practically shouting that yes--she will marry him! But the restaurant is empty. There are definite signs of a struggle at the table. The front door is standing open. Bill?
And ever since we've been waiting on tenterhooks too see what happens next (13 days). The title song (by Bob Dylan) is once again used during the credits, but who cares about that right now? Is Bill going to be okay? Who took him? How can they make us wait until the next season to find out??? A lot of people seem to think Eric is the kidnapper, given his promise to the Queen, as well as his desire for Sookie. I actually think Lorena's behind it. Things didn't entirely seem final between her and Bill and, oh yeah, the bitch is crazy. From what I've seen of Season 3 promos, however, it looks like Bill and Sookie won't have a happy ending. But then, who ever does?
Appearance: Extra pale humans with red-rimmed eyes and snakelike fangs that descend or retract at will.
Strengths: Super speed, strength, healing blood.
Weaknesses: Silver, sunlight, blood lust, older vampires.
Mythology: Once a human has consumed a vampire's blood, the vampire will forever be able to sense and locate that human. Vampire blood is a powerful drug and aphrodisiac for humans.
Sookie: I do not have electrical powers--I am a human being!
Maryann: You keep saying that but if you were human [concentrates for a moment while flickering and buzzing] I would have taken you over by now. Come on--it'll be our little secret--what are you?
Sookie: I'm a waitress. What the fuck are you?
The Queen: [re: Bill] You know, I think he's monogamous with his human.
Eric: He is in love with her, yes.
Hadley: He is?
The Queen: Well of course he would be--with her. You probably are too.
Eric: I do not love humans.
The Queen: She's not entirely human. Have you tasted her?
Eric: Sadly, no.
The Queen: Don't. Ever. One vampire falling in love is bad enough.
Jason: This is special ops. We're surgical. One shot. Say hello to my little friend. Hasta la vista, baby. I love the smell of nail polish in the morning.
Lafayette: God with horns--worship him, bitches!
Sheriff: You may have your faults, Andy; but at least you got pants on.
True Blood, S2 Season Finale "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'." Written by Alexander Woo. Directed by Michael Cuesta. From HBO.
My previous Season 2 True Blood reviews:
Episode 1 "Nothing but the Blood"
Episode 2 "Keep this Party Going"
Episode 3 "Scratches"
Episode 4 "Shake and Fingerpop"
Episode 5 "Never Let Me Go"
Episode 6 "Hard-Hearted Hannah"
Episode 7 "Release Me"
Episode 8 "Timebomb"
Episode 9 "I Will Rise Up"
Episode 10 "New World in My View"
Episode 11 "Frenzy"
And to keep you going until Season 3's premiere, check out HBO's awesome promo posters. So far 10 of 12 have been released, and they're all free to download. Or watch some of HBO's True Blood videos, including this Bill minisode.