30 September 2010

The Vampire Diaries S2 E4 "Memory Lane"

Damon couldn't help but marvel at Katherine's uncanny impersonation of a five-dollar hooker...

Spoilers Ahead

My SO is like Mikey (for those of you who can remember that far back)--he hates everything. Okay, maybe not everything, but he has destroyed many a person's illusions about treasured books/movies/shows (go on--ask him what he thought of 12 Monkeys...) So when he said The Vampire Diaries is one of the better shows I watch, it was high praise indeed. And for good reason.

For one thing, there's an actual mystery involved--one that's keeping me (and him and probably most other people) guessing and wondering and *gasp* interested. What the hell is up with Katherine and Elena? I'm back to thinking they're the same person--maybe there's some kind of Fight Club Tyler Durden/Jack situation going on. Maybe Katherine manifested Elena as a way of getting Stefan back. Or maybe it's something else entirely. But as the aforementioned SO pointed out, nobody else ever sees Elena and Katherine together, and Katherine is fast enough to change clothes in the blink of an eye. Things that make you go "hmm..." Did I mention that Katherine is immune to vervain (which could explain why she doesn't react to it if she is also Elena)? More on that in a bit.

"Memory Lane" starts off showcasing another of Katherine's unusual skills: the ability to get inside Stefan's head. He's dreaming of dancing with her at the Founders' Ball in 1864 as Damon watches jealously from the sidelines. Suddenly Damon walks off with Elena and as Stefan follows, he watches stricken as they kiss and generally act couple-like. Then Katherine is at his side again, commenting that now Stefan knows how she feels and that he should come back to her. Stefan wakes up agitated and then relaxes again as he realizes it was a dream and that Elena is sleeping next to him. Suddenly he bolts out of bed as he clues in that "Elena" is actually Katherine.

Katherine and Stefan proceed to spend the episode in a weird sort of dance. She wants him back; he says he hates her. She says there's a thin line between love and hate; he can't figure out what it is about her that makes him still care. She tells him she's always loved him; he shoots her up with vervain. She insists he loved her too, that she never compelled him; he refuses to believe she's back in Mystic Falls only for him.

As she's chained to a chair and being questioned by Stefan, she recounts the first Founders' Ball in 1864. In flashbacks we see the party. Stefan is her date and Damon (not seeming overly concerned) toasts his good friend, George Lockwood. Of course Katherine recognizes George as a werewolf, and he's aware she's a vampire. Strangely, she decides to make a deal with him. She sells out all the other vampires (the ones that were entombed in the church) as a way of faking her own death (remember--they were supposedly burned to death in the church). George agrees to help help her, as well as give her a ride out of town. But before all this happens, Stefan takes a moment to declare his love for her. Apparently she's an angel in his eyes and his entire body ignites when he touches her skin. Men back then sure had a way with words. She's pleasantly surprised (or so she says) but needs some time to think it over.

Back in the present, and on the other side of town, Elena is occupied with a BBQ Jenna is hosting to welcome Mason (who turns out to be one of her friends from high school) back to town. Of course the BBQ was really Damon's idea, which he put into Jenna's head via Alaric. Damon's also inviting himself (much to Jenna and Elena's chagrin), bringing a peach cobbler and plans to prove Mason is a were by getting silver into him. Between the baked goods and the mayhem I would definitely invite Damon to any gathering I'm planning (also, he's got mad Pictionary skills, even if Mason was the only one who figured out "Dances with Wolves"). To his credit Damon mostly steers clear of Elena, neither trying to connect with her nor getting his vengeance on after her betrayal. (Although I found it interesting that Elena, who supposedly hates Damon, was trying to defend him to Jenna at one point.) Mostly he just keeps busy trying to figure out the Lockwood curse.

And he's not the only one. Ty keeps badgering Mason about what the curse is and how it's triggered, all the while hinting that he knows where the sought-after moonstone is. Mason does his best to assure Ty that he's better off not knowing but Ty won't let up. Finally, nerves frayed, Mason tells him that the curse is triggered by human blood--before a Lockwood can howl at the full moon, they have to kill someone. Ty does look like he wishes he'd never asked, but now I want to know the circumstances under which Mason was cursed. The human blood thing also explains why Ty's eyes went all wolfy after he crashed the car and nearly killed Caroline.

But before Mason and Ty have their confrontation, Mason has to have one with Damon. After having to put up with all of Damon's dog references Mason finally approaches him. He tells Damon that they're not enemies--he has nothing against vampires. He even apologizes for going after Stefan, claiming he doesnn't know what he's doing when in wolf form. Really, he just wants to be above the pointless ancient rivalry. All seems well when Damon shakes Mason's hand but this is Damon after all. As soon as Mason leaves the room, Damon grabs a silver knife. And wouldn't you know it--they're both leaving Jenna's at the same time. I don't know why Mason doesn't see it coming, but you can figure out what happens next. Problem is it turns out silver doesn't hurt werewolves (even being stabbed doesn't seem to have much effect). And now Damon's made an enemy. I have the feeling Damon prefers it that way.

Throughout the entire day, Elena's been trying to get in touch with Stefan. After hours of not hearing from him she asks Caroline to drive her over to his place. Caroline was already acting shady, being negative about human-vampire relationships (specifically Elena and Stefan's relationship) and trying to distract Elena from going to Stefan's. She finally agrees to give Elena a lift, but not before making sure the car suffers a flat on the way. Unable to wait any longer, Elena decides to walk the rest of the way to Stefan's.

Meanwhile, Katherine tells Stefan that she wants him to stop seeing Elena. If he doesn't Katherine will kill everyone Elena loves and make her watch, and then she'll kill Elena while she makes Stefan watch. This gets Stefan riled, but despite two attempts he can't bring himself to stake Katherine. But as he's telling her not to think that he won't do it, Katherine breaks loose and pushes him across the room. Katherine then informs him she's been drinking vervain every day for the last 140 years--it doesn't hurt her anymore. But before they can get into it, Elena arrives at the house and starts calling out to Stefan. Katherine then stakes Stefan's leg so he can't move while she goes up to say hello to Elena. It's interesting that Katherine never takes the opportunity to kill Elena, even though Elena is the one thing standing between Katherine and the person she loves. Also interesting is how Elena isn't really afraid of Katherine. Instead of worrying about her boyfriend's homicidal ex, Elena asks yet again how they can look so alike. Katherine's response is to tell Elena she's asking the wrong question. Stefan finally makes it upstairs and the next instant Katherine has disappeared.

Later we see Katherine berating Caroline for not keeping Elena occupied. She informs Caroline that she killed her once and she can do it again. Later still Elena shows up at The Grill and finds Caroline there. Caroline apologizes for being so difficult earlier, but Elena's not angry--she tells Caroline she was just being a good friend. Then Elena sits with Stefan and they then get into an argument over Katherine. The next thing we know they've broken up. Both Caroline and Damon are listening to the argument, and as Elena walks out, Damon smiles just a little.

Back at her place, Elena turns to find Stefan there. A moment later we're let in on the fact that the "fight" was strictly for Caroline's benefit. Elena suspected that Katherine got to her and now--when Caroline goes back to Katherine with the news--Katherine won't know what's really going on. Unfortunately, neither will Damon since they decide the more people who believe it, the more convincing it'll be. You know this isn't going to end well. But Stefan is convinced that Katherine isn't there for him, that she has some ulterior motive. He claims she doesn't care about anyone else--never has--and she's incapable of love.

In one last flashback scene we watch as George Lockwood arrives to help Katherine get out of Mystic Falls, as per their deal. In exchange she gives him the moonstone that Mason's been so desperate to get his paws on. In the background, Stefan and Damon lay dead on the ground. Katherine walks over and kisses Stefan, then tells him she loves him and that they'll be together again. It's worth noting that she doesn't even give Damon a second look. Then she leaves. If that's not love, it's as close as you can get. What does this mean for Stefan and Elena now? Could Katherine really be in town just for Stefan? And where does it leave Damon? Stay tuned...

Fang Files

Appearance: Human until the vampire emerges, then dark eyes and facial veins and sharp, prominent fangs.

Strengths: Increase with age. Super strength and speed. Ability to influence dreams (could be just between parent vamp and the vampire(s) they made). Ability to compel humans.

Weaknesses: Stakes, vervain, werewolf bites.

Mythology: Apparently vampires can build a tolerance to vervain over time.

Sound Bites

Stefan: [jumping out of bed as he realizes he mistook Katherine for Elena] Katherine.
Katherine: You must admit--I'm getting better at this.

Damon: [introducing himself] Damon Salvatore.
Mason: I know. I've heard great things about you.
Damon: Really? That's weird, 'cause I'm a dick.

Damon: I always pegged you for a lone wolf.
Mason: I'm sure I wasn't half the lady killer you were.

Katherine: Bad day?
Damon: Bad century.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 2 Episode 4 "Memory Lane." Written by Caroline Dries. Directed by Rob Hardy. From The CW.

Trailer: Renfield the Undead

Speaking of anti-glitter vampires, prepare yourselves for Renfield the Undead, the latest take on the Dracula mythology, this time centred on Dracula's servant (and now successor) Renfield. Personally, my vote for the best version of a Dracula "sequel" goes to Buffy, both the show (Season 5 premiere episode "Buffy vs. Dracula") and the Season 8 comics (various issues). But that's not to say I'm not happy to check out all the latest additions to the Dracula mythos. Bring them on!

Renfield The Undead Trailer

27 September 2010

Trailer: 30 Days of Night: Dark Days

Vampires that are...scary? The devil you say! I'm a fan of 30 Days of Night, although the jury's still out on this upcoming (5 October) direct to dvd release. Still, it's a nice contrast to glitter, pop culture witticisms, and vampires you can bring home to mom.

Cast and crew interviews from Comic Con:

23 September 2010

The Vampire Diaries S2 E3 "Bad Moon Rising"

Spoilers Ahead

It's amazing what a pair of fangs can do for a character. Caroline has gone from being completely irritating (to me, anyway) to actually being likable. Craziness. And since I now find Bonnie completely irritating, it's a good thing that Caroline has improved (every show gets a free pass on one--but only one--annoying character, preferably fewer).

"Bad Moon Rising" ended up being a pretty decent episode. There's action, intrigue, romance, magic--even a little bondage. All this and vampires? No wonder this show is so popular. But I digress. The episode picks up the threads from last week, with Damon, Stefan, and Elena enlisting Alaric to help figure out what's up with the Lockwoods. While Stefan stays behind to continue keeping an eye on neonate Caroline, the others take a road trip to North Carolina to search Isobel's office at Duke, where they hope she might have recorded something that could be of use to them.

Damon spends most of the time trying to chip away at Elena's "wall of hatred." He insists he saw the ring on Jeremy's hand before he broke his neck. But although she saved Damon from burning alive, that seems to have been the extent of Elena's amity toward him. Now she's cold and intolerant, yet still manages to lecture him (without any trace of irony) on the proper behaviour of friends (they don't manipulate--they help, apparently). Even taking a crossbow in the back for her (courtesy of a freaked out grad student who believes in staking first and asking questions later) isn't enough to soften Elena.

At least they find out a few things about werewolves: legend is weres can't control the change, which happens during the full moon; vampires are a were's favourite prey; and the weres were nearly hunted to extinction by vampires, probably because a were's bite is fatal to vamps. That's the first I've ever heard of that last bit, so it looks like TVD is getting creative with their mythology. I'm still trying to decide what I think of it.

Interestingly, Elena asks the grad student (Vanessa, played by Courtney Ford, Dexter) if Isobel ever wrote anything about doppelgangers. She didn't but Vanessa tells Elena that doppelgangers are known for tormenting the people they look like, trying to undo their lives. Fun! But since doppelgangers have been so overtly mentioned now, it seems unlikely that that's what Katherine is. But maybe it'll be something along those lines. Or maybe they're clones!

Unfortunately, Elena can't find anything else on Katherine that they didn't already know. But wait--in an effort to start regaining Elena's friendship, Damon sneaks out a book for her. It's labelled "Petrova," which turns out to have been Katherine's original family name back when she was Katarina living in Russia. Can't wait to find out all the juicy secrets (hey--maybe Katherine got hold of Nikola Tesla's copying machine from The Prestige! There could be a thousand Katherines running around. What? It's possible...)

Anyway, back in Mystic Falls, Ty, suspicious of Mason, follows him to what turns out to be the ruins of the original Lockwood estate before it burned down. All that's left are some cellars with chains--and deep gouges--embedded in the walls, where it seems slaves used to be kept. But rather than pursue the mystery of his uncle's odd and evasive behaviour, Ty instead decides to have the gang over for a party at the old swimming hole near the ruins. Teenagers.

Speaking of, Caroline and Matt are both frustrated as he tries in vain to get in touch with her, while she's being kept prisoner indoors by the sun. Stefan eventually convinces Bonnie to try Emily's spell for making "daywalking" rings. After much moralizing, threats, and sulking (over her magical abilities being doubted after some highly underwhelming spellwork), Bonnie finally gives Caroline her very own magic ring. But apparently as soon as Caroline steps out of line, Bonnie will break the spell. I'm amazed none of the vampires have drained her, the way she keeps threatening them and lighting them on fire and such (maybe Katherine will get around to it).

Stefan spends some time teaching Caroline how to hunt in the woods, a facet of vampirehood she's not too impressed with. And why exactly is he killing and feeding on bunnies? Why not just grab a deer, have a drink, and let it go no worse for wear? Or, follow Angel and Spike's example and go pick up some cow's blood from the butcher. Or find some nice goth kids willing to bleed for the ultimate cred. Whatever. Killing bunnies is not cool. Just saying. I like bunnies. It seems Caroline does too but she forgets about them pretty quickly when she finally gets to hang out with everyone else at the swimming hole. Too bad Matt's in a mood (not only has Caroline been ignoring him all day, but she got possessive when she saw another girl--Amy--talking to him). Vampire Caroline just can't catch a break.

After insisting the group clear out of the area before dark (to avoid anyone getting hurt, which isn't exactly untrue), Mason starts securing himself with chains in the cellar. Of course, kids are known to occasionally disobey their elders and, sure enough, Ty leads Amy (compelled by Caroline) down into the cellars for some private time (is it just me or is it incredibly tacky to take a black girl in the South into an old slave holding cell/dungeon for some quality making-out time? That's just so very wrong.) Anyway, Mason hears them coming and manages to get away unseen, locking himself into his truck in desperation. We get to hear the transformation and it does not sound like fun.

While this is going on, Elena calls Stefan and tells him what they've found out. As Stefan hangs up and goes looking for Caroline (who has, by this time, made up and sneaked off with Matt), he's suddenly distracted by loud growls. Investigating Stefan comes face to face with the werewolf locked in Mason's truck. A moment later the wolf jumps through the back window and takes off. Stefan realizes he and Caroline need to get out of there ASAP. Lucky for Matt, Stefan finds him and Caroline just before she kills him in a blood-induced frenzy. That girl's got some self-control issues. Stefan decides that they should run in order to lead the wolf after them and away from Matt (sure, that's his plan...to protect Matt...)

As they're running, wolf close behind, they come across Ty. Surprised to see one another out in the woods after everyone else has left, they all pause for a moment. And then the were pounces on Caroline. I was sure that was it for her (and why shouldn't they kill her off now that I actually like her?) But Stefan gets the were's attention long enough for Ty's big contribution (he shouts "no!" at it). The wolf actually backs down and walks away. So it seems weres still have some presence of mind when in wolf form. Later, back at Mason's truck, Ty is suddenly confronted by his dirt-covered (and naked) uncle. Ignoring the creep factor, Ty realizes now what Mason is, and Mason finally admits to it...

Caroline is having a realization of her own. After compelling Matt into thinking an animal attacked him she talks to Stefan about how bad they (vampires) are for the humans they love. Stefan agrees that the humans would be better off without them, but it's not exactly easy to walk away from love. It seems pretty clear that Caroline is giving in to her feelings for Matt, but then she throws us for a loop. When Caroline arrives at The Grill to meet up with Matt and sees Amy talking to him she commits what is probably the only unselfish act of her life. She brings on the drama, making a scene and playing up the jealous girlfriend role. Matt has had enough and breaks up with her (a little too easily for someone who was declaring his love the night before, methinks). But getting Matt to break up with her frees him and forces Caroline to keep away, thus ensuring his safety. (If I were her I'd shack up with the Salvatores for some cold comfort.)

Damon could probably use some consoling. After getting back to Mystic Falls, he's still trying to win back Elena. Ignoring his efforts she asks him outright if he knew about the ring when he killed Jeremy. Damon admits he didn't. He claims he was upset and just snapped, and he wouldn't have known what he would have done if Jeremy hadn't come back. He apologizes and it's obvious he means it. Elena thanks him for his honesty then tells him that yes--he has lost her forever. As if that's not bad enough, Damon realizes she's known that they were through all along but she's been using him in order to get information on Katherine. Elena is unapologetic. Damon throws the line about friends not manipulating each other back in her face before walking away. Never mind that she just said they weren't friends anymore--the poor guy's got a broken heart--I'm not about to nitpick.

I have to say, I'm a pathetic sucker for a brokenhearted bad boy. It's some kind of biological flaw most women seem predisposed to (someone should write a thesis). But if I were Elena I'd be running after Damon and doing whatever I could to make it up to him. It's probably a good thing I'm not Elena. (And amazingly, I actually have a healthy relationship in real life. Go figure...)

The end of the episode brings us the return of Katherine. Once again she wakes Caroline from a deep sleep (talk about weird fetishes). I guess she's decided that Stefan shouldn't be the only role model in her creation's life (actually, it's Damon's blood that turned Caroline after Katherine killed her, and then Stefan's been mentoring her. It really does take a village to raise a vampire!) When Caroline is terrified at the sight of her, Katherine tells her not to be afraid: "We're going to have so much fun."

I don't know if I'm going to like Caroline more or less as Katherine's protege but I have the feeling the show's really about to get interesting.

Fang Files

Appearance: Human until the vampire emerges, then dark eyes and facial veins and sharp, prominent fangs.

Strengths: Some vampires (at this point pretty much all of them) have magically charged rings that protect them from sunlight. Super speed, strength. Fast healing. Ability to compel (hypnotize) puny humans.

Weaknesses: Sunlight, wooden stakes/crossbows, vervain, blood lust. Werewolves?

Mythology: Legend has it that a werewolf's bite is fatal to vampires.

Sound Bites

Damon: If this Wolf-man thing is true; I've seen enough movies to know it's not good. It means Mason Lockwood is a real-life Lon Chaney, and that little Tyler punk may just well be Lon Chaney Jr., which means Bela Lugosi, meaning me, is totally screwed.

Caroline: Do you really think I meant to kill that guy at the carnival?
Bonnie: He's still dead.

Damon: [after discovering Elena's betrayal] You and Katherine have a lot more in common than just your looks.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 2 Episode 3 "Bad Moon Rising." Written by Andrew Chambliss. Directed by Patrick R. Norris. From The CW.

16 September 2010

Vampire Diaries S2 E2 "Brave New World"

Spoilers Ahead

I know I've said many times that Caroline sucks, but now she really does; in fact, she's a bloodsucking fiend! And suddenly the character is a whole lot more interesting. Not only that but I have a brand new theory about Katherine and Elena. Can you tell I enjoyed "Brave New World"?

The episode starts with Caroline waking up after Katherine smothered her with a pillow last episode. For a minute I wondered if she was actually one of the undead, or if maybe Katherine's smothering skills aren't up to par. But pretty soon it's obvious that Caroline won't be sunbathing anytime soon. Her transition from human to vampire is pretty impressive. She goes from being drawn to, but disgusted by, blood to enthusiastically chomping on neck (for which she later apologizes). There's definitely a lot of fear and despair as she gets burned by sunlight and vervain, wants to feed on Matt, and sees her vamped-out face in the mirror. But it's also obvious she's already a formidable vampire. She compels a nurse by accident, a skill she then uses with ease, and--even more impressive--throws Damon across the room. She even rocks a new vampy look (thankfully not going overboard on the goth--I'd like to think vampires are a little more creative than that). Of course after killing her first human (the hapless Carter, this episode's bitch) she's overcome with remorse and self-loathing.

While Caroline is attempting to come to terms with the monster within, Elena keeps busy pretending to be normal, ignoring all things vampire, and channelling Caroline (how is that normal, exactly?) as she takes over running the school's annual carnival. Stefan's focused on worrying about Damon and teaching Jeremy how to incapacitate and kill vampires (this doesn't strike me as the brightest idea). And Damon is occupying himself with trying to figure out the Lockwood family secret (as well as accepting the mayor's widow's offer to spearhead the vampire-hunting council).

Interestingly, Ty is also trying to figure out the Lockwood family secret. Bonding with cool Uncle Mason slowly grinds to a halt as Ty realizes that Mason is hiding something important. He catches Mason rifling through his dad's desk (Mason claims he was looking for a family artifact--a moonstone--belonging to his mother, which has a lot of sentimental value but is otherwise completely worthless--really). And later, when Mason comes to Ty's aid after Carter (compelled by Damon) picks a fight, Mason pulls a really nifty move where he jumps over Carter in a rather inhuman way. When Ty confronts him about it (and his wolfish eyes, which Ty got a good look at), Mason claims he studied Brazilian martial arts and that his glowing eyes must have been a reflection from a nearby light. Ty's not buying it for a second. Assuring Mason that they're "good" Ty then makes a beeline for the secret safe under a floorboard in his dad's office, where he quickly retrieves--and pockets--the moonstone. I was wondering why Mason wouldn't just tell Ty what they are (he was hinting, but definitely evasive), but it's clear he's more interested in the moonstone than in instructing his nephew. I'm guessing the stone has something to do with who gets to be alpha. Hope Ty holds on to it.

By the way, Mason could prove to be a major problem for the Salvatores. In a bout of friendly arm-wrestling at the carnival, Mason trounces Stefan, who confesses to Damon that he actually had been trying to win. Don't you hate it when vampires start out as the strongest, scariest monsters only to later be eclipsed by other supernatural types until they're about as scary as kittens? And the de-fanging begins...

Starting with Damon, apparently. Other than seeming a little subdued, he's back to his normal self (that is, not unbalanced or enraged). He's decided that since Katherine is back to declare her undying, eternal love to Stefan, he can deal with her himself. As for killing Jeremy, well--no harm, no foul, right--the kid is fine. Of course when Jeremy gets tetchy with him and threatens to expose what Damon is, Damon puts him right back in his place. But even then Damon is kind of...mild. He gets his point across but I don't sense that he's inspiring mortal terror in Jeremy. And of course later he gets knocked on his ass by Caroline. When he then tries to stake Caroline (not for revenge but as more of a mercy killing) Elena gets in the way and he backs down. And when Bonnie decides to blame him for everything bad in the world, he's helpless as she causes him head-splitting pain and then sets him on fire. (When a grown man is brought down repeatedly by teenage girls, you know he's in trouble.) Luckily Elena (who seems to not really hate him anymore) steps in and stops Bonnie; they walk away leaving Damon lying defeated on the ground. WTH?

Even when Damon gets home and finds Jeremy waiting, stake in hand and vervain-spiked whiskey at the ready, he doesn't get angry. Instead he has more of a big-brother chat with Jeremy, kidding him about his nonexistent stake-whittling skills. Maybe if Jeremy had decided to go through with his attack or was better prepared, Damon would have reacted differently (thankfully Jeremy seems to be more open minded about vampires than his uncle or father were). But you'd think Damon would be a little peeved. Something about this just isn't right (and it's not limited to him, either--there's something off about the way everyone seems to have so easily gotten over Damon killing Jeremy. Ring or no ring, that kind of action has to provoke something more than "I don't want to talk about the D-word" and half-hearted threats).

Maybe they're simply preoccupied with Caroline. While Damon think she needs to be killed to avoid another Vicky situation, Elena refuses to even consider it. Outwardly Stefan agrees with Elena but he admits that Damon is right. Bonnie's in shock over the whole thing. Ultimately Elena prevails and Stefan begins acting as mentor to Caroline, teaching her how to control the need for blood, to not let it overwhelm her. He promises he won't let anything happen to her (you'd think he'd be more worried about what she's going to do to other people). But by the time she's cleaned up she's well enough to go home and act normal (never mind how she got into her home, especially since she mentions to Matt that her mom is out). There's a nice moment after Matt's shown up when he tells Caroline he's in love with her. As they embrace, she starts vamping out, but she gets herself under control and the vampire recedes again. I think I'm going to like Caroline a lot more as a vampire--as long as the character actually grows from it and isn't her usual shallow self, just with (blunted) fangs.

Now, as to that theory of mine re: Katherine and Elena. Twice in this episode characters make off hand comments that turn out to be true. Elena jokes with Bonnie that Caroline isn't human (unaware that Caroline's been turned). Stefan kids with Damon that the Lockwoods might be werewolves. Neither of them take it seriously, and technically it isn't confirmed, but all evidence points to that being the case. And then Elena says in passing that Katherine is her doppelganger, meaning her lookalike. But what if Katherine really is Elena's doppelganger, in a more traditional sense (or maybe Elena is Katherine's doppelganger in reverse--i.e., not evil). I don't know but the episode made a point of emphasizing that Katherine and Elena are way too much alike for it to be mere coincidence or simply a matter of genes (no one resembles an ancestor that much). I'm really curious to see where this is going.

Overall, this is one of the better episodes. There's some good potential future conflict and storylines involving numerous characters (and mostly centred around Katherine). The writers just need to remember the title of the series when they're deciding which monsters to keep at the forefront.

Fang Files

Appearance: Human until the vampire emerges, and then dark eyes and facial veins, as well as sharp, prominent fangs.

Strengths: Super speed, strength. Heightened sense of smell. Ability to compel (hypnotize) humans. Ability to fly.

Weaknesses: Sunlight, stakes (if properly whittled), vervain, blood lust.

Mythology: In order to be turned a human needs to die with vampire blood in their system. A transitioning vampire has intense and wild mood swings and a nearly uncontrollable hunger for blood. Vampires need an invitation to enter a private residence (except when the writers get a little sloppy).

Sound Bites

Damon: (responding to Stefan's comment that he just fed) Are you worried that all the forest animals will band together and fight back? After all, they talk.

Stefan: Ah-hah, you're lurking.
Damon: I'm observing.
Stefan: You're obsessing.

Caroline: (to Damon, after throwing him across the room) You suck.

Bonnie: I can't believe this is happening.
Damon: (arriving with shovel) Come on, don't pout about it--we have a body to bury.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 2 Episode 2 "Brave New World." Written by Brian Young. Directed by John Dahl. From The CW.

13 September 2010

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

Spoilers Ahead

What is that I hear? The Twilight Zone theme song? Why--that could only mean one thing! Yes, faithful readers, I actually liked Dead as a Doornail. From my initial hate of all things Sookie (read my earlier reviews), Charlaine Harris has won me over. Who'da thunk it? I should probably go check my car for gremlins now.

There are still lingering issues: too much mundane detail (although it's getting better), still too much exposition (ditto), the unquestioned acceptance of an Italian character nicknamed Dago (WTF?) I also find that the mysteries (including the ones in this book) are resolved far too quickly and easily. I don't know--I'm not a mystery reader--maybe that's how they all are (but if that's the case, why would anyone read them?) There's also the return of Sookie's Barbie smile (wide and fake). Ugh.

Luckily this time around there's plenty to help overcome all that.

While someone is going around shooting (and killing) weres and shifters in and around Bon Temps, Sookie finds herself caught in the middle of Shreveport were politics. Not only that but private investigators are looking into Debbie Pelt's disappearance and they know way too much about Sookie. But at least she has the company and protection of Charles Twining, a vampire pirate, brought in to Merlotte's to take over as bartender after Sam is hurt. Even under his watchful eye, Sookie ends up being shot at, caught in a fire, and threatened by more than one vampire. At least she can't say her life is boring.

This is the first Sookie Stackhouse book I've actually found compelling. I'd have a list of things that needed doing (work, housecleaning, packing for a trip...) and instead I would sit and read a chapter. I wanted to know what would happen next and there was *gasp* tension! And when it was over, I was disappointed that there wasn't more to read. Add a big checkmark to the plus column.

I like that Jason is now a were (although not full-blooded) and that we learn a lot more about the weres and their world. I thought the final fight between Alcide's dad and Patrick was well-done. And I really like that events in this book are setting things up for long-term consequences. Sookie had better prepare herself because it looks like she's in for some serious were trouble.

Although I find it a little excessive, I also appreciate Sookie's promiscuity because it's not only rare in the genre, but it makes Sookie more interesting as a character and injects a bit of open-mindedness into what occasionally seems like a backward outlook in the books.

I'm enjoying the vampires more and more. Something about Eric really draws you in. Bill too. Although Dead as a Doornail needed a lot more of both of them, and a lot less of Bill's new girlfriend. Not only is it too soon for him to be dating (even if it is in large part to make Sookie jealous) but moving on as easily as he has diminishes what he had with Sookie, and since that wasn't much to begin with, diminishing it even further pretty much erases it. Besides, isn't Sookie supposed to be special? Bill moving on diminishes that too.

As far as other supernatural creatures go, I like Claudine the fairy quite a bit, although I have a feeling I'm not going to be a fan of the fae mythology once it's fully revealed. From what I've picked up so far, the fairies in the Bon Temps universe seem to be more akin to angels and demons than true fae. Hope I'm wrong.

Did I mention the vampire pirate, Charles Twining?

It seems a pretty good bet that Charlaine Harris will keep writing Sookie Stackhouse books until people stop reading them. As long as the books keep improving I don't see anything at all wrong with that.

Fang Files

Appearance: Very pale humans with long fangs that extend or retract at will (or when a vampire gets excited). Some vampires have glowing eyes. Vamps also have glowing skin, which apparently only Sookie can see. Also, whatever physical characteristics a person has when turned remain after they become a vampire (e.g., hair doesn't get longer, a missing eye doesn't grow back).

Strengths: Ability to move silently. Super strength, speed.

Weaknesses: Sunlight, silver, fire, garlic, stakes.

Mythology: When a vampire's maker calls them they must go to them (they can try to resist but it never lasts). A vampire cannot hunt in another Sheriff's area without getting permission, and they also have to adhere to a certain code of behaviour or else risk consequences. Vampires need verbal permission to enter a private residence, and if the invitation is rescinded, the vampire is compelled to leave immediately.

Text Bite

[Eric] bent and kissed me [Sookie] on my mouth, as softly as a butterfly's fluttering.
"You said I told you you were the best I'd ever had," he said. "But did you respond in kind?"
"Don't you wish you knew?" I said, and went back to work.

He had a head full of long, intensely curly hair, chestnut brown in color...He also sported a mustache and a Vandyke. Covering his left eye was a black eye patch...and he was wearing a black poet shirt and black pants and high black boots. All he needed was a bandanna tied around his head and a pistol.
"Maybe a parrot on your shoulder?" I said.
"Aaargh, dear lady, you are not the first to suggest such a thing...But I understand there are health department regulations against having an uncaged bird in an establishment serving drinks." He bowed to me as deeply as the narrow area behind the bar permitted. "May I get you a drink and have the honor of your name?"

Want to see what I had to say about the previous books?

Dead until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris. From Penguin (Ace Books).

09 September 2010

The Vampire Diaries Season 2 Premiere "The Return"

Spoilers Ahead

I'd might as well get it out of the way: Katherine and Elena are not the same person. Which really sucks because not only was it one of my better wild theories but it would have made more sense. I can see how two people could look very similar or bear a striking resemblance to each other, but no one is completely identical to anyone else. Even "identical" twins have differences. But Elena and Katherine look like mirror images, sound alike, move alike, and even dress the same way (except that Katherine wears black leather, so we know she's got to be evil). All I can say is there had better be a good explanation in some future episode. A really good explanation. But other than this, I enjoyed the Season 2 premiere. Death, mayhem, and Damon without a shirt--could we ask for more?

"The Return" starts with something of a recap of the end of last season's finale, although this time we get to see not only what's happening in the kitchen with Katherine and John, but also what's going on with Jeremy upstairs and Elena as she returns home. Hearing the noise in the kitchen, Elena goes to investigate while Katherine flits around in the background until she finally escapes out the door. Why didn't she kill Elena? That's not for us to know (not yet, anyway).

Speaking of characters not being killed, disappointingly all three of our potential goners from last season (John, Jeremy, and Caroline) survive. Elena gets John to the hospital, Jeremy didn't take enough pills to kill himself, and Damon gives Caroline blood to help her heal. Of course, that doesn't prevent two of the three from being killed anyway by the end of the episode. More on that later.

Out of curiosity, can anyone stand Bonnie anymore? I know I sure can't. Clearly she's supposed to be the pillar of morality on the show but she's become extremely unlikable. Then again, most morally righteous people are. But it's nice to see she'll use a vamp when it suits her (Damon to help Caroline, for example) while going on about how much she hates them and wants them dead. Although I'm no fan of Katherine, it was pretty satisfying to watch her laugh off Bonnie's trump anti-vampire spell.

But that also comes later. In the meantime, at the hospital Damon wants to talk to Elena about the kiss he believes they shared. Of course Elena has no idea what he's talking about. When he then overhears Elena arguing with Jenna over a conversation she's sure they never had, Damon realizes that Katherine's back in town. Meanwhile back at Elena's house, where Stefan is keeping an eye on Jeremy, Katherine shows up impersonating Elena. It doesn't take Stefan long to clue in, either, and a pretty decent fight ensues.

After getting the upper hand, Katherine takes off just in time for Elena and Damon to show up. The brothers are not only agitated that Katherine is back but Stefan is riled knowing that Damon kissed her thinking she was Elena (forget love triangles, I think we're getting into quadrangle or polygon territory now). Damon's up for a fight but Elena puts a (temporary) stop to it, seeing as how they've got bigger things to worry about. While Elena and Stefan decide to go talk to John to see if he knows what Katherine is up to, Damon decides to ignore "the bitch." He figures that will draw her out at which point they can stake or behead her, "something poetic." Things are about to get rough for Damon.

I have to say, I do like Stefan a lot more when he puts on his big boy fangs. I can almost see how Elena would prefer him over Damon. In this case, when John refuses to tell them anything about Katherine (but says plenty about how sickened he is at seeing his daughter with Stefan), the normally laid-back Stefan forces his own blood down John's throat and tells him if he's not out of town within 24 hours, Stefan will turn him into a vampire and watch him hate himself even more than he already does. Nice. (John does leave town, by the way, but not before having a chat with Jeremy in which he emphasizes that there's no such thing as a good vampire and tells his nephew that he'll have to take responsibility sooner or later for the Gilbert anti-vamp legacy.)

Later, as Katherine puts Bonnie in her place before threatening to put her in the ground, Stefan walks in and tells her to leave Bonnie alone. Katherine basically shrugs, says okay, and walks away. As the episode progresses, you start noticing that Katherine is one complex vampire. On the surface she doesn't take anything seriously, but the level of manipulation she employs has to take both skill and forethought. I can't tell if she's evil or just enjoys chaos. And she can hold her own in a fight too. Maybe I am a fan of Katherine, after all.

While Katherine convinces Stefan to take a walk with her, Elena checks in on Damon. She's concerned that Katherine's sudden reappearance is going to send him over the edge. He's another complex one. Flippant on the face of things, fiercely loyal to the one he loves, but ultimately sad and lonely underneath it all. Unfortunately Damon's depression has a body count. So what does Elena do? She tells him she's not surprised that he would try to kiss her, but she is surprised that he thought she would kiss him back. Ouch. I guess you can't accuse Elena of leading Damon on, but it's impossible not to feel for him when she tells him that. There's nothing like unrequited love to rip you to shreds from the inside out. And it gets worse!

But first, Katherine and Stefan have a little chat. He tells her that he never loved her, but Katherine isn't exactly buying it. So Stefan tells her that if she doesn't leave he will hunt her down and rip her heart out. He's really getting serious this season (I approve). Katherine informs Stefan that she's back for him. He responds that he hates her. She runs him through with what looked like a branch (I didn't see it well enough to be sure) and tells him that hate is the beginning of a love story, not the end. Either she's on to something or she's in deep, deep denial. In any case she takes off again.

When Elayna and Damon find Stefan (already healing from being turned into a live shishkabob), Damon is itching for a fight over that kiss. But Stefan has had a change of heart and refuses to let Katherine play them against each other again. Damon made me laugh in this scene, even though it's pretty clear his facetiousness is just a coping mechanism (apologies for sounding like a pop psychologist this review--I think I'm letting my tendency to over-analyze get away from me...)

At home again Damon finds Katherine, who claims she's come to say goodbye. They trade quips until Katherine taunts Damon to either kiss her or kill her. Of course he makes the mistake of choosing option 1. As they kiss the clothes start coming off. Unexpectedly, Damon pulls away. Looking incredibly vulnerable, he tells her he needs to know the truth about a question he has, and if she gives the right answer he'll forgive her for everything, and they can have a fresh start together. Katherine replies that she already knows the question and that the truth is she never loved him--it was always Stefan. She walks away while Damon practically chokes on his unhappiness. (By the way, this entire episode is a testament to Ian Somerhalder's acting skills. Somebody get him into movies, please.)

Later, at her own place, Elena walks into her room and is startled to find Damon sitting on her bed looking absolutely miserable. I had to laugh when she asks if he's been drinking (is he ever not drinking?) But drunk or not, he insists that there's something between them, no matter what she says. He tries kissing her and she insistently pushes him away. She doesn't even hesitate. And then she delivers the real kicker: she tells him she loves Stefan and it's always going to be Stefan (what is wrong with these women?) Honesty might not have been the best policy in this case, though. When Jeremy comes in to see if everything's okay, Damon deliberately and maliciously breaks his neck. I don't know why I'm surprised every time someone is killed on this show, but I have to give the writers props for making these scenes unpredictable. Damon watches for a moment as Elena breaks down at the sight of her dead brother, and I can't tell if he's completely empty or if there's just a twinge of regret in his eyes (I might be imagining it because I want him to regret what he's done). But after he leaves Elena notices that Jeremy is wearing John's immortality ring. Handy that.

Alone again Damon contemplates his altered circumstances, while Stefan (now at Elena's) tries to rationalize what his brother did. He's sure Damon must have seen Jeremy's ring, but Elena is just as sure he didn't. She claims he wants to be hated and that it's easier for him to be hated. Just before Jeremy comes back from the dead Elena tells Stefan that Damon succeeded--she does hate him. She really does. Thinking about what Katherine said about the place of hatred in a love story, this could get very interesting.

Speaking of Katherine, she's not done yet. She pays Caroline a visit in her hospital room, telling her after waking her up that she wants her to deliver a message to the Salvatore brothers. Anyone want to hazard a guess where this is going? Still groggy, Caroline doesn't catch on quite as quickly. Katherine's message to the boys? "Game on." Then she smothers Caroline with a pillow. Another satisfying, if short-lived, moment for me. Sadly, Caroline is of course chock full of Damon's blood (something Katherine was aware of), so we'll be seeing the oh-so-annoying one again. Who knows--maybe vampirism will make her less irritating.

In the only bit of non-Katherine related happenings, Ty is trying to deal with the death of his father. He also gets to start bonding with his cool uncle Mason, who begins teaching Ty about the Lockwood family "curse," and how to "manage" it. Weirdly, it also seems that Ty's mom has no idea her husband or son are anything but human. Oblivious doesn't even begin to cover it.

Overall I think this was a good start to the second season. Putting more of an emphasis on Damon was definitely the right way to go, as is giving Stefan a little more bite. The situation with Katherine promises to be interesting, as long as they don't rush through the storyline (it had better not be resolved before the very end of the season, if then). And hopefully we'll finally get to see some werewolf action as well. I think The Vampire Diaries is finally finding its footing. Let's just hope it doesn't slip.

Fang Files

Appearance: Human until the vampire emerges, and then dark eyes and dark facial veins. Fangs aren't too sharp and can be extended at will to varying lengths (Stefan's are particularly prominent as he first goes after Katherine).

Strengths: Super strength and speed. Ability to move silently. Fast healing.

Weaknesses: Magic (sometimes).

Mythology: In order to become a vampire a human must die with vampire blood in their system (the blood passes through their system in about a day). Vampire blood is healing.

Sound Bites

Elena: [seeing Stefan out of sorts] What happened?
Damon: Katherine happened.

Elena: Hey, how are you doing?
Damon: Great, Elena. Walking on sunshine. Thanks for asking.

Elena: You scared me!
Damon: Just doing my part for the neighbourhood watch.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 2 Premiere "The Return." Written by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec. Directed by J. Miller Tobin. From The CW.

03 September 2010

True Blood S3 E7 "Hitting the Ground"

Spoilers Ahead

It seems Sookie is a nummy treat. I never really thought about it before from the blood donor's perspective but it must be strange to have vampires talking about how you taste. Would you feel a sense of pride if they deemed you delicious? Would you be disappointed if they decided you were a lesser vintage? I guess it depends on whether you want to be fed on, because if not it would have to be slightly terrifying to know that you're the vampire equivalent of a coffee-toffee chiller (my personal liquid addiction--feel free to substitute your own). But Sookie isn't quite at the terrified stage yet. Besides being slightly preoccupied this episode, I don't think she's entirely caught on that her blood isn't just any old plasma. But even if she hasn't everyone else is sure getting there.

"Hitting the Ground," in fact, starts off with Lorena taking a break from biting Sookie in order to comment on just how good she tastes (under different circumstances, this would provide fantasy fodder for more than a few imaginative lonely types). Meanwhile, Bill is painfully dragging himself across the floor toward the women. Within a moment Bill has pulled Lorena down on top of himself and Sookie's got a wooden-handled garden tool at the ready. As Bill lifts Lorena high enough so that the stake won't get him too, Sookie does what every current girlfriend has probably wanted to do at one time or another to the ex. Lorena liquefies just before Bill passes out. Then the scene is somewhat ruined for me as Sookie yells stupidly for help. Does she want to attract Russell's wolves? I mean, she is capable of contacting people telepathically, isn't she? I have a pet peeve with powers that are used selectively (like when vampires wait patiently on the sidelines for their turn while one of them at a time fights the much weaker--and yet somehow repeatedly triumphant--human hunter). Ugh.

On the bright side, True Blood's opening sequence is absolutely brilliant. I know I commented on it back in my first review, but the more I watch it the more I appreciate it (and I never get tired of watching). The imagery is perfect--if you saw it and had no idea what the show was about I think you'd have a pretty good idea by the end. I also love the music ("Bad Things" by Jace Everett). It is a great song and completely suited to the show. Whoever put all this together deserves major props. Go watch the opening sequence of just about any other show and you'll know why I'm going on about this one so much.

Anyway, back to the episode. Luckily for Sookie the werewolf that shows up as she's desperately searching through what's left of Lorena for the keys to Bill's manacles is Alcide, who arrives with Tara. They're shocked by what they see and Tara asks whether Sookie's sure that Bill is dead. That's when Tara finds out that a dead vampire amounts to a stringy pool of blood. Her reaction is subtle, but you can see the flicker of dismay as she realizes that Franklin never quite reached puddle stage despite his bashed-in skull. Oops. But no time to worry now--they have to get the hell out of there.

As they're wrapping Bill in a tarp (to protect him from the sun) in walks Debbie with a gun. I'm not sure why Alcide is so attached to this skanky junkie, but he is and he tries reasoning with her, even calling her sweetheart. Of course that gets him absolutely nowhere. So Sookie distracts Debbie with--what else?--an eardrum-piercing shriek while Tara tackles her. Just as Tara is getting control of the situation Coot walks in. Coot gets angry, Coot starts charging Alcide, Coot ends up dead with a bullet between the eyes and a nasty-looking exit wound on the back of his head. (They do not sugarcoat anything on this show--even when you wish they would.) Debbie is livid and, while Sookie and Tara carry Bill to the truck, she informs Alcide that she will hunt him down. Rather than killing her he locks her into the torture room and re-joins the others. Sookie insists on riding in the back of the truck with Bill and then they're off, barely pausing even as they run over a pursuing werewolf on their way out. Alcide must really like Sookie or something (not that you can remotely tell--TV Alcide is one cranky dude; I like book Alcide a lot better).

In the back of the truck Sookie cuts herself in the most unpleasant way imaginable (with a serrated saw) and anxiously tries to get Bill to drink. Her relief and joy as he responds is quickly eclipsed by panic as Bill, not realizing what he's doing, bites down hard and starts drinking greedily. The next thing she knows Bill has flipped her over and is tearing into her neck, keeping his hand over her mouth to silence her screams (finally!) As Bill growls and basically goes feral, Sookie is clearly dying.

Some time later Alcide pulls over for a pee break and Tara decides to go check on Sookie. When there's no response to her repeated knocks Tara opens the door, heedless of the sun, and finds Bill looking dazed and Sookie looking dead. Bill finally realizes what he's done and is appropriately horrified but too late--Tara kicks him out of the truck before Alcide speeds off to the nearest hospital. Interestingly, Bill doesn't burn in the sunlight--at least not right away. But as he's about to follow the truck his skin starts smoking, so he reluctantly takes off to find shelter.

At the hospital attempts to give Sookie blood just cause her convulsions. When the doctor comes out to talk to Tara and Alcide she lets them know that not only does Sookie have no blood type but her body rejected the blood they tried to give her. She tells them they'd better call Sookie's family.

Once Jason arrives, along with Lafayette, he's completely overwhelmed and in disbelief. He says that Sookie's never even been in a hospital before, that she was even born on the dining room table. It's both sweet and sad. While they're grieving for Sookie, she's suddenly surrounded by light and waking up in some alternate reality. She's wearing a pretty white gown and there's a crystal goblet by the bed, which she picks up. Following a path of rose petals outside she's confronted by a gorgeous nature scene populated by gorgeous people frolicking about. Looks like Sookie is one of the fae! Lucky her. She meets Claudine, although they've apparently met before. She also drinks some amazing-tasting glowing water and dances about as Claudine makes ambiguous statements. That's another peeve of mine--why take two seconds to clearly state what you mean when you can speak in riddles? But I guess that wouldn't necessarily be conducive to storytelling or to the character of the fae. But really, warning Sookie not to let Bill steal her light and then disappearing? Could you vague it up a little? Oh, and Claudine also makes a cryptic remark about how the water didn't kill Sookie's parents (if it ends up being Bill that killed them I might just have to stop watching the show. Just saying).

In the hospital room Bill suddenly arrives, pissing off everyone there (and really annoying Tara, who thought he was dead) but offering the only hope Sookie's got (his blood). Jason reluctantly agrees and Bill hooks himself up to her IV. When Sookie eventually stirs and opens her eyes, obviously healed, Bill smiles at her lovingly. And she sits up and screams. Sigh.

Meanwhile, back in Bon Temps (well, technically somewhere near Bon Temps) Sam arrives at the location of the dog fights where he's met by a rifle-wielding guard disguised as a rifle-wielding guy sitting on a chair. Sam has got to be the worst liar ever (who would actually say that they've got money to burn?) so big surprise that he gets turned back at the business end of the shotgun. Sam then goes to plan B, which basically involves parking his truck in an out-of-the-way spot and shifting into a pit bull.

When Sam the pit arrives at the kennels, he's taken inside immediately (hey--it's a fightin' dog, free for the taking!) But as he's about to be placed in a cage, he shifts back to human form and knocks the guy out. Personally, I think the guy deserved a little more than such gentle treatment (he's involved in dog fights--he's scum), but whatever. Just as Tommy's fight is about to get going Sam triggers an alarm. After freeing all the dogs (who seem to understand him as he tells them to run away) Sam confronts Melinda and Joe Lee, telling them off good and proper before leaving with Tommy. As Joe Lee tries to console her, Melinda snaps through her sobs that she hates his fucking guts. I guess she's not the evil mastermind I thought she was. My bad.

In Bon Temps proper Jason has been pining after Crystal, another attraction I just don't get. He barely knows her and she doesn't seem all that interesting. Must be pure animal magnetism. He feels a lot better after Hoyt suggests he go talk to the dealer from the drug bust, now rotting in a jail cell and just full of knowledge about Crystal he could share with Jason. It turns out the dealer is Crystal's cousin (and why do I suddenly get the feeling that so is her fiance?) He's willing to talk to Jason--if Jason brings him some meth. Off Jason goes to pay a visit to Lafayette, who apparently will sell just about anything (including his own body) except meth--but even if he did he wouldn't sell it to Jason. Before Jason can really argue he gets the call from Tara that Sookie is in the hospital in a coma.

Hoyt is dealing with his own problems as well, trying to pull away from Summer--a girl clingier than cat hair. She's already acting like his girlfriend (earning Jason's approval with her fresh-baked biscuits--with hand-churned butter and homemade preserves). And although there's a strong possibility she'll turn into another Maxine (Hoyt's overbearing mama) she really does seem to be the perfect girl for Hoyt--nice and normal. So why isn't he interested? Weirdly enough, I think Summer is kind of awesome even though I can't stand her. She speaks to the uber-domestic-goddess lurking inside me. Scary.

Lest we forget about the King of Mississippi and cohorts, Sophie-Anne is being kept at her mansion in a human-sized birdcage (it must be silver--it doesn't look strong enough to hold a vampire). She's showing signs of her sleep deprivation when in walks Eric with Hadley. Eric threatens to drain Hadley if Sophie-Anne doesn't tell him why she's so interested in Sookie. Sophie-Anne acts as though she doesn't care (or, more likely, she really doesn't) so Eric digs in. Nearly dead, Hadley finally tells Eric to stop--she'll tell him what he wants to know. Of course we don't get to hear it but judging from Eric's reaction it's got to be good.

By the way, did anyone else notice the, um, familiar way that Eric is holding on to Hadley in this scene? Those actors must all really get along with one another. I think they'd have to.

Anyway, as the Magister continues to torture Pam (he's about to pierce her eyelids with silver earrings), Eric and the others arrive. The only people Russell has less respect for than the Magister are apparently the members of "The Authority." Russell seems hell-bent on putting both humans and vampires in their proper places (guess who comes out on top) and he's pretty sure The Authority are to blame for vampires' current lesser status. Frighteningly, Russell really does make a good argument for why humans shouldn't be in charge of the world. But the Devil is supposed to be a gentleman and I don't recommend buying what he's selling. Russell shows off his impressive skills as an ancient vamp by freeing Pam and binding the Magister in her place in the matter of an instant. After torturing the Magister for awhile it looks like Russell is about to leave. But I doubt anyone is surprised when he turns back at the last moment and lops the Magister's head off. Hey--two unlikeable vampires killed in one episode--not bad.

I have to say, I'm pretty excited about Sookie being fae, even if they are prone to entirely too much frolicking. Although it would have been cool if she had some sort of angelic aspect as well (my original theory on what she was). I'm excited to see what this is going to mean for the character, and how the rest of the fae will be brought into the show. Now if only we could get Sookie to shut the hell up for a minute...

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale humans with red-rimmed eyes and snakelike fangs that extend or retract at will.

Strengths: Super speed, strength--particularly for older vampires. Russell can tell from smelling the Magister's blood how old he is and where he comes from. Vampire blood is healing.

Weaknesses: Sunlight, stakes, silver, starvation, being kept awake during the day.

Mythology: The bond between maker and child is incredibly strong. Vampires are ruled by the mysterious "Authority" and the Magister answers directly to them.

Sound Bites

Lorena: What are you?
Sookie: I'm the bitch that's gonna kill you.

Hoyt: You all right?
Jason: Nah, it's funny. I never really thought I was smart enough to get depressed. But here I am.

Eric: Tell me.
Hadley weakly whispers in his ear.
Eric: [looking stunned] Well, I certainly wasn't expecting that.

Jason: Goddammit, Lafayette--I'm in love.
Lafayette: With the dude in jail?

Russell: There is only one law--the law of Nature. The survival of the fittest. And we need to take this world back from the humans, not placate them with billboards or PR campaigns while they destroy it!

True Blood, Season 3 Episode 7 "Hitting the Ground." Written by Brian Buckner. Directed by John Dahl. From HBO.