Of all three seasons of True Blood, "Everything is Broken" stands out like a sore, bloody, thumb. This is the episode everyone will remember long after the show has been cancelled. And this is the episode featuring one of my favourite scenes in any show, ever. Not bad.
We start with Eric at Fangtasia, blood-covered and agitated after staking Talbot, trying to sort out sanctuary for himself and Pam. He dismisses the suggestion of going to Sookie's, but just when Ginger's house is looking like the best option, she informs them that the "V Feds" are there, along with Nan Flanagan. With a missing Magister and rumours of unsavoury goings-on in Area 5 (Eric's territory), Nan has the guards "silver" Eric into submission. Anna Paquin's vocal cords are finally given a rest; instead Ginger gets the "honour" of screaming like an idiot.
Meanwhile Russell has returned home and found the stringy remains of his lover, which he starts pulling toward him in order to embrace them. Gross is an understatement. His grief turns to utter despair as he notices that the crown he'd taken after defeating Eric's Viking king father is now missing. No wonder Eric is so anxious to hide.
Of all the vampires, Bill is having the nicest time sharing a shower with Sookie. Although judging by the shot of bloody water swirling down the drain, things might not be boding too well for them. There are more hints at upcoming discord when they return to reality and have to dispose of the werewolf corpse Bill left in the living room (which he neglected to tell Sookie about). As they work they talk, and Sookie admits that she doesn't entirely trust Bill. She asks him about the "creepy" secret file he's been keeping on her. He claims he started keeping the file in order to find out why Eric is so interested in her, and that he needs to find out what she is so that he can protect her. Sookie then delivers a line that I hope future writers will keep in mind when working on this show: she tells Bill that he needs to trust her and to stop thinking of her as a thing to be protected. Less screaming and more independence for Sookie, please.
Speaking of independent (or in this case, not so independent) women, Crystal is continuing to be trouble for Jason. He returns home to discover that Felton has somehow found Crystal and is under the impression that Jason kidnapped and raped her. The guys get into it, giving Crystal an opportunity to grab Jason's shotgun and use it to knock Felton out. And yet Jason still doesn't tell her to get lost. Instead he helps her tie Felton up and leave him in the woods with a bag of V, after which he disguises his voice and calls the police about a drug dealer tied up in the woods. I know Bon Temps is a backwater, but even their sheriff's department has to have caller ID (Jason used his cellphone).
At least Eric and Pam are smarter about covering their tracks. Nan and her guards have searched Fangtasia and found nothing. Still, Eric will have to give his official statement to her as the Authority watches via webcam. So Eric tells them all about Russell and his wolves, starting with the slaughter of Eric's family and ending with the murder of the Magister and kidnapping of Queen Sophie Ann. He also makes sure to let them know that he wants his revenge against Russell. Abruptly Nan gets up to leave, claiming that Eric and Pam are under guarded lockdown until the Authority makes their ruling.
The next day in Bon Temps, Jason checks in at the Sheriff's and discovers that Kevin (deputy) was nearly killed after going to check out the man in the woods and walking into an ambush. Thinking about Crystal's need to escape her life in Hotshot, but using Kevin's situation as an excuse, Jason suggests to Andy that if they can connect the V found at the scene the night before to the dealers in Hotshot, they'll have probable cause for another raid. Andy is all for it, claiming he's going to call in every other agency (DEA, ATF, FDA...) for support.
Tara decides to start dealing with her post-Franklin trauma and goes to a rape-survivors meeting, where she sees (and it seems is inspired by) Holly. Tara isn't the only one bonding with Holly. After a stressful encounter with Tommy, Arlene takes refuge in Merlotte's storeroom and ends up spilling her guts to Holly. She's convinced the spawn of Rene will be nothing but pure evil (just like his daddy) but she won't get an abortion because that would be wrong. Could I like this subplot less? Maybe but it's doubtful. Anyway, Holly hints that there's another way to end the pregnancy but we don't hear anything else about it this episode (a small blessing). I've decided the less Arlene per episode the better.
Meanwhile Sookie is passing the day by leafing through a family scrapbook (does she not work anymore?) Just as she's pausing at an article about 'hero' Earl Stackhouse who credited his 'sixth sense' for helping him save people from a fire, Sookie gets a call from Hadley. Annoyingly, even though she's calling because she needs to see Sookie, Hadley is surprised that Sookie is still at the house (and not off hiding from Russell). Why was she calling if she thought Sookie wouldn't be there? Anyway, after that awkwardness, she asks Sookie to meet her at the aquarium in Monroe. Hadley admits that it's because of her that the Queen (and now Russell) are interested in Sookie, but now she needs Sookie to tell her if her son, Hunter, is also a telepath. It turns out he is. Horrified, Hadley grabs him and runs off.
Bill has a far more interesting meeting than Sookie's at the aquarium. As he's sleeping in his crawl space under the house, water suddenly starts pouring through the floorboards above him. He opens the trapdoor and finds himself in the middle of a flower-strewn pond (side note: I wish directors would stop having characters walk on water--it always looks terrible and no one is impressed by it). It doesn't take long to figure out that Bill is in the beautiful place Sookie went to when she was in the coma (he got there by consuming so much of Sookie's blood). As confirmation Claudine arrives and is shocked to see Bill there, something she claims is impossible. Believing he's killed Sookie, she tries to run. He easily catches her, and it looks like he's going through an internal struggle as he attempts to control his urge to bite her. Apparently giving in, he leans down, fangs out, and Claudine pushes him away with a burst of light from her hands. She then accuses Bill of wanting to steal Sookie's light. He denies it, claiming he would never hurt Sookie (never mind that he nearly drained her...) He pleads with Claudine to tell him what she is because Sookie needs to know.
Elsewhere, night has fallen. Hoyt arrives at Merlotte's with Summer, who is proving to be increasingly obnoxious. Jessica tries to show she's fine with it but her fangs betray her. When Summer goes to the ladies' room, Jessica comes over to apologize and she and Hoyt start talking. He admits he hates Summer but that going out with her beats sitting around thinking about Jessica. This sets Jessica off and as she breaks into tears Tommy comes to her "rescue," telling Hoyt off for upsetting her. The course of true love never did run smooth.
Meanwhile Jason confesses to Crystal that Hotshot is going to get raided and cleared out. He thinks that this will make Crystal happy, as she'll be free of all the people trying to control her. He's actually surprised that Crystal isn't thrilled about it. She informs him that there are plenty of innocent people in Hotshot and that they can't let the kids go into the system. Much to Jason's confusion and dismay, she insists they have to warn them.
At Fangtasia, Eric hasn't been able to sleep all day and Pam is worried about him. He thinks he's going to be made scapegoat, telling Pam that if he can't go on she has to make a new vampire--it's her turn to be a maker. I really enjoy the moments of insight into Eric and Pam's relationship. It's probably the most 'real' and believable relationship on the show, and the only one you know is going to last. Interesting that the bond between vampire maker and child are the only ones portrayed this way--even human parents and children are liable to split (as in when Arlene was under Maryann's influence and abandoned her kids, or when Hoyt cut ties with his mom).
Anyway, as Nan Flanagan arrives outside, we see Russell crouching on the roof of the bar holding a glass urn filled with red goopy stuff. Yes, that's Talbot, and Russell talks to the urn as though it'll answer him. He's clearly out of his mind. Angry that Nan and the AVL (American Vampire League) are protecting a "murderer" (Eric) he vows to make them suffer. When an insane 3000-year-old vampire swears vengeance on you, you know you're in trouble.
Nan heads inside Fangtasia and delivers the Authority's ruling to Eric: they know nothing and none of this ever happened. He can have his revenge as long as he takes it quietly and discreetly. One of the funniest moments of the episode happens when Nan calls Eric a "whiny little bitch" when he complains that he's not being given any resources to go after Russell. Those are three words you just wouldn't associate with Eric Northman.
Back at Merlotte's, as Crystal and Jason are still debating whether to warn the residents of Hotshot, Crystal's father shows up and starts shouting at her. Sam steps in and orders dad to leave, but after continuous mockery by Tommy, when the man calls Sam a pussy, Sam snaps. He beats Crystal's dad to a pulp and it takes both Jason and Hoyt to finally pull him away. I don't think I care for dark and angry Sam. There's enough of that on this show; he was doing just fine being the nice guy.
As Tara watches Jesus and Lafayette bundle Crystal's dad into Jesus's car to take him to the ER, she's suddenly grabbed from behind. Guess who's back from the undead! I know he's psychotic, but I just can't help but like Franklin. Now he's come to see for himself that Tara was, in fact, the one who "killed" him and that she really doesn't love him. Tara decides not to be a victim anymore and stands firm as she berates him. His fangs are out but he chooses to close his hands around her neck and start squeezing. Suddenly Jason shows up holding his rifle. Franklin is less than impressed, in the way that it seems only British vampires can be. But then Jason shoots and Franklin goes splat. Wooden bullets. No more Franklin. Tara didn't mourn him but I will, just a little.
We're coming up to the unforgettable scene now. As Nan Flanagan rides in a limo to the airport, she takes a moment to have a drink from the femoral artery of a half-naked woman (contrary to her public statements of drinking only Tru Blood). In the background a TV news anchor is talking about the upcoming vote on the Vampire Rights Amendment. Suddenly Russell is there and in one seamless move he's ripped out the newscaster's spine. It is completely horrifying and awesome as Russell pushes the body away and starts talking to the camera as he holds on to, and gestures with, the bloody spine. Nan's attention is on the screen now, shocked at what she's seeing. Russell actually puts forth a compelling argument about why humans suck, but he puts forth an even more compelling argument about why vampires are scary, scary creatures. At this point Nan Flanagan looks like she's about to vomit. Guess the vamps can forget about that Vampire Rights Amendment.
Okay, so, plenty going on this episode. Some of it I could do without, but some of it was exactly what this season needed. Three episodes left--any guesses where we go from here?
Appearance: Pale humans with red-rimmed eyes and long, snakelike fangs that extend or retract at will. Occasionally fangs extend involuntarily, usually when a vampire is excited or aggressive.
Strengths: Super strength, speed (increase with age). Some vampires have the ability to fly.
Weaknesses: Silver, sunlight, stakes. Staying awake during the day makes a vampire sick.
Mythology: One of the worst crimes a vampire can commit is to sell vampire blood ("V") to humans (for whom it's a drug and aphrodisiac). Vampire society is highly hierarchical and all (theoretically) answer to the Authority (which has been around only a few hundred years).
Bill: [As Sookie stands frozen, staring at a corpse in her living room] Yes, I suppose I should have mentioned that.
Jason: Could you not make me a rapist?
Crystal: I'm sorry--it was the best I could think of.
Sam: Jesus--put on some clothes!
Tommy: Sorry, can't hear you. [Turns down music.] Let me put on some clothes.
Nan Flanagan: You look like shit.
Eric: Well I feel fantastic.
Tara: You violated and terrorized me 'cause that's what vampires do. And you're calling that love.
Franklin: I'll mourn you, Tara; I'll mourn you to my very marrow.
Russell: Now, the American Vampire League wishes to perpetrate the notion that we are just like you. And, I suppose, in a few small ways we are. We're narcissists; we care only about getting what we want, no matter what the cost--just like you. Global warming, perpetual war, toxic waste, child labor, torture, genocide--that's a small price to pay for your SUVs and your flat-screen TVs, your blood diamonds, your designer jeans, your absurd garish McMansions! ... Mine is the true face of vampires. Why would we seek equal rights; you are not our equals. We will eat you, after we eat your children. Now time for the weather! Tiffany?
True Blood, Season 3 Episode 9 "Everything is Broken." Written by Alexander Woo. Directed by Scott Winant. From HBO.