22 July 2010

True Blood S3 E4 "9 Crimes"

Spoilers Ahead

Nine Crimes in "9 Crimes": Assault, serving alcohol to minors, blackmail, selling V, using V, uttering threats, kidnapping, forcible confinement, and murder. There's a few more that I think should be crimes, and probably a couple actual crimes I'm missing, but you get the picture--there's a whole lot of misbehavin' going on. Actually, there's a whole lot going on in general. Probably too much.

"9 Crimes" starts off with Sookie patching up Alcide after their little adventure at Lupines last episode. Just as the sexual tension between them starts building, Sookie's phone rings. And it turns out to be Bill! But the excitement is short-lived as he proceeds to tell Sookie he's leaving her for the less-fragile Lorena. He's cold and cruel, and he finishes by telling Sookie not to bother trying to find him because he doesn't want to be found. And yet, after he hangs up he looks heartbroken. And he should--he's just broken Sookie's heart.

Okay, so after that call it seems less likely that Bill's been hallucinating (read my crackpot theory here) everything that's been happening since he was kidnapped (unless he was under compulsion to make the call). Maybe he's just resigned to his fate as Lorena and the King's bitch. Maybe he just gives up way too easily. But it's hard to believe that what we're seeing is the whole story.

Sookie apparently agrees. Even as she's sobbing over her first-ever breakup, she still plans on finding Bill and seeing for herself whether he can look her in the eye and tell her he doesn't love her anymore. And to do that she needs to go back to Lupines to gather intel. And to do that she needs an uncooperative Alcide to come with.

Alcide seems a lot crankier in the show than in the book (I think in the book he was too busy being a "real" man to be cranky). Maybe the producers figured a short fuse would make him more "werewolf-y" or something. But if he's not snapping at Sookie or punching walls, he's giving our heroine smouldering looks (which she returns...so, not too upset about Bill). The character seems pretty one-dimensional, which is disappointing. But at least he finally agrees to take Sookie to Lupines--after she hears his sister's thoughts and finds out that his ex, Debbie, is a V addict, and that her so-called engagement party to Coot is actually an initiation into his gang of wolves. Alcide still thinks Debbie can and should be saved.

Speaking of his sister, Janice gives Sookie an awesome makeover, which I really hope is permanent (at least the hair). Sookie's makeover in the book was so pathetically lame, I was afraid we were heading into similar territory on the show when Janice showed up, but luckily I was wrong. Well done, hair and makeup department!

At Lupines, Sookie blends in nicely, only to be accosted by super skanky Debbie. When both Sookie and Alcide try to talk sense into her, she ignores them both. A moment later she's being carried onto a stage, where she's soon joined by Russell, Vampire King of Mississippi. He gives a rousing speech in German (I know the werewolf cult is supposed to be ancient, but they're definitely channelling the Nazis), followed by the ceremonial doling out of his blood. He then takes his leave so they can celebrate, which they do by downing the blood and branding Debbie. Then they all start shifting, including Alcide (apparently against his will). He growls at Sookie to run, but how far she'll get remains to be seen.

She's not the only one in trouble. Back in Bon Temps, things are getting weirder with Franklin and Tara. After glamouring her into telling him what she knows about Bill and Sookie, Tara tries to get away from Franklin (apparently she doesn't know about de-inviting). Of course he easily stops her, and now that she's not into it, he's happy to get all bitey. He then gags Tara and ties her on the toilet (very thoughtful) for the day. When he returns the next night it's with a bunch of flowers and a dopey, lovesick look on his face. Not that he isn't still scary. He then proceeds to kidnap Tara, taking her along with him to go see his employer--who turns out to be...Russell. That guy gets around. Along the way Franklin claims Tara is his and that she fulfills his emotional needs. But at Russell's mansion, he lets Talbot (Russell's vampire boyfriend) believe Tara is a gift for him.

Okay, so clearly Franklin's a bit on the psycho side. On the one hand, he's obviously a sick puppy; on the other hand, there's something sad and sympathy-inducing about him. I don't know if I'd still call him my new favourite vamp, but he is an intriguing character. And unlike Alcide, Franklin is definitely multi-dimensional. The sad thing is, I have the feeling Franklin will be gone by season's end, while Alcide will stay on. Isn't that always the way?

Anyway, since this is True Blood there's plenty of room for more than one psycho vampire, and Lorena is undisputed queen of the crazies. She seems to think her twisted tryst with Bill was wildly passionate, and she's thrilled that he's back in her life "for good." She just knows he'll love her again. Right. Despite telling Sookie otherwise, Bill still hates Lorena as much as ever, although it's difficult for him to get his message across when telling her doesn't make a difference and getting violent is perceived as romantic.

So, Bill does the next best thing. In return for his loyalty to the King, he tells Russell that he wants Lorena "gone." The King is amenable, so Bill starts proving his loyalty by informing him that Eric is selling V, and he believes it's at the Queen's behest. They then have a weird chat in which Bill theorizes that the Queen is selling V because the IRS is draining her fortune. How would he know that? It wouldn't be my first guess for a motive. And what is up with this whole IRS thing, anyway? Vampires (and their money) existed in secret for millennia--they can't figure out how to keep their money hidden?

In case you're feeling sorry for Eric being ratted out by Bill, he returns the favour. Getting a panicked call from Pam saying Fangtasia is being raided by the Magister, Eric ignores her pleas to save himself and stay away. Rushing back to the club, he heroically bursts in on the Magister as he's torturing Pam with silver. Eric takes responsibility--but not the blame; he claims he's been framed and that the blood wasn't sold on his orders. Pam suddenly bursts out that Bill Compton is behind it, and Eric concurs, saying he's been investigating Bill, who has recently disappeared. He claims he needs more time to finish his investigation, so the Magister gives him two days--or else Pam dies, permanent-like.

In less dramatic Bon Temps happenings:

Sam offers his newly found birth family a place to stay (that is, not in their van in his parking lot) until they get back on their feet. In exchange, Joe Lee has to stop drinking and Tommy has to stop stealing. It's not that Sam is suddenly feeling warm and fuzzy toward the Mickenses, but after some brotherly bonding with Tommy, he realizes he can help the kid avoid the same mistakes he made. How does that saying go? No good deed goes unpunished? Sam should prepare himself.

Sam also kills two birds with one stone (his lack of staff and Sookie's request for him to keep an eye on Jessica) by hiring Jessica as hostess at Merlotte's. Um, since when did Merlotte's have a hostess? Since when did any backwater bar have hostesses? The excuse for not making Jessica a waitress is just silly (you have to be 18 to serve alcohol in Louisiana). If people are willing to suspend disbelief enough to accept vampires and shapeshifters (among other things), maybe they can also accept Jessica as a waitress. In any case, we still get to hear Arlene whine about having to share tips. I really think screen time would have been better spent on other storylines.

But not this storyline. Lafayette is all enamoured of his new car, and apparently has no problem getting even more deeply involved with Eric as his prime V pusher. I have to say, I don't like this abrupt about-face of one of my favourite characters. Suddenly he's forgotten the torture Eric put him through (not to mention the post-traumatic stress that was plaguing him) and working together with his tormentor? All for the sake of a flashy car and extra spending money? No car is that nice. Not to mention that he suddenly seems less-than-concerned about his recently suicidal cousin. I suspect the writers are just trying to give him something to do this season, since he is such a popular character. But it feels forced. When it comes to Lafayette I'd much rather have quality than quantity. Especially with so much going on elsewhere (didn't I say this last time too?)

Oh, and Jason realizes he needs to do something with his life and so blackmails newly appointed Sheriff Andy, threatening to come clean about the lie over who killed Eggs, if Andy doesn't make him a cop (you know, without all those pesky forms and tests everyone has to fill out).

Back in Mississippi, the King is in a celebratory mood, so he takes Lorena and Bill to a strip club, sending Bill inside to procure them something "ethnic" for dinner. Conveniently he quickly finds just such a girl--and she's got no family and hates life! What vampire could ask for more? As Bill leads her back to the limo, he suddenly senses Sookie's fear as she runs from the weres at Lupines. There's no one holding him, nothing to keep him from taking off. But he ignores Sookie's distress and gets in the limo. Inside the vehicle, Lorena and Russell start biting the girl before Russell invites Bill to join them. He hesitates a moment and then dives in. As the girl screams, we see a pool of blood forming underneath the car. Cut to credits.

So, this might just be the most depressing True Blood episode so far. Some characters are in serious danger, others are turning out to be not what they seemed, and the bad guys look pretty smug. Where can it go from here? I don't know, but I have a hard time believing it'll be anyplace good.

Fang Files

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

Strengths: Ability to glamour (hypnotize) humans. Apparently some vampires (Franklin) are so good at this they can control what the human says. Some vampires also have the ability to fly. Super strength, speed.

Weaknesses: Silver.

Mythology: A vampire needs an invitation to enter a private residence, but if that invitation is revoked, the vampire will be compelled to immediately leave. Once a human has consumed vampire blood, the vampire can then always sense and locate them. Vampire blood is a potent (and illegal) drug; humans and weres can become addicted.

Sound Bites

Bill: [to Sookie] I am death. I will bring you only suffering.

Eric: Take the deal.
Redneck: You'll have to kill me first.
Eric: No, I think I'll kill all your brother-cousins first.

Tara: This is kidnapping.
Franklin: This is opportunity.

True Blood, Season 3 Episode 4 "9 Crimes." Written by Kate Barnow and Elizabeth R. Finch. Directed by David Petrarca. From HBO.

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