08 July 2010

True Blood Season 3 Episode 3 "It Hurts Me Too"

Spoilers Ahead

Warning: Those of you who are squeamish and/or morally conservative should avoid "It Hurts Me Too"--more than you already should be avoiding True Blood. This is one bizarre, twisted (at one point, literally) episode. Even I'm not sure what to make of it. I'm not even sure I want to make anything of it.

So, we start off in typical True Blood fashion, picking up where the previous episode left off. As Sookie's bullet rockets toward the werewolf, Eric suddenly leaps in front of it, taking it in the chest. Ouch. He still manages to get a choke hold on the were, though, demanding to know who he works for. The were's more interested in getting a taste of vampire blood to be too forthcoming, and when Eric gets the upper hand the tight-lipped werewolf tells him he'd might as well kill him because there's no way he's telling Eric anything. So Eric obliges, which I found somewhat surprising, not only because he killed the were when it made more sense to keep him alive and question him, but also because I wouldn't have thought vampires would want to feed on werewolf blood.

Apparently Sookie was thinking similar thoughts because as they're burying the body she questions why Eric killed the were so quickly, noting that he did it after he saw the brand on the were's neck. Eric's less-than-satisfying response is that it brought back too many memories, although he does allow that werewolves have no fear of death and that when they've had some vampire blood their strength can be a challenge--even for him. Now this begs the question, since Bill managed to kill or maim several werewolves that had feasted on his blood, is Eric lying or is there something more to what's going on with Bill? Hold that thought.

Sookie did manage to catch the word "Jackson" in the were's thoughts though, and as Eric recognized a Mississippi accent, it doesn't take long for Sookie to conclude that there's a chance of finding Bill in Jackson, Mississippi. She's all set to go, but Eric refuses, claiming there's more going on than she knows about. He also warns her not to risk herself by going alone, and convinces her to wait a day before leaving. He might be able to feel if she's in trouble but he probably won't be able to get to Mississippi in time to help her.

Not to worry, though--he sends along Alcide (great name) Herveaux (played by Joe Manganiello, How I Met Your Mother) in his place. Alcide's father owes Eric money, so Alcide is helping work off his father's debt. He's a werewolf, although not part of the reckless, violent pack that has recently invaded Mississippi--but his ex is "banging" their leader (good old Cooter, kidnapper of Bill). Since Sookie needs protection and will never get anywhere with the werewolves without an "in," Alcide's help is particularly useful.

When they finally get to Mississippi's oldest werewolf bar ("Lupines"--for creatures that are supposed to be uber-secretive, you'd think they wouldn't be so obvious with the name and decor), there's something of an underwhelming scene as Sookie flirts with the locals in order to get info via their thoughts. Grabbing one were's attention, she catches glimpses of him in a car with Bill. That's pretty much all the info she gets (although Alcide finds out his ex and Cooter are having an engagement party at the bar the next night). But, as with Eric's statement that he can barely handle a werewolf who's consumed vampire blood, Sookie's insight also raises questions. Didn't Bill dispatch all the weres in the car other than Coot? Did this guy escape unnoticed or, again, is there something else going on? This scene might not have given Sookie much of a clue, but there could be something in there for us.

Meanwhile, Eric toddles off to pay Lafayette a visit. Apparently it's not an issue that he still hasn't sold all the V he was told to unload. It's so not a problem that Eric calls him his best salesman and gives him a car. A nice one. Anyone else thinking WTF? Well, other than Lafayette, of course. Eric tells him he's got great value and then suggests he could be "quite wealthy" if he wanted to be. After gently mocking Lafayette's poverty, Eric gets him to agree to "think about" working with Eric. Funny--I thought Lafayette was a survivor first and a hooker dead last. Getting himself further involved with Eric--his one-time kidnapper--makes no sense. And I guess he's over his post-traumatic stress over the incident too--seeing Eric at his house didn't even elicit a twitch.

I was hoping I'd get to see more of my new favourite vampire, Franklin, but the strange sex scene between him and Tara is not what I had in mind. Okay, so clearly they're both lost in the intensity of the moment, but really, they look possessed. It's creepy. And when Tara regains herself a little she seems terrified. But supposedly it's the best sex evar, and she doesn't seem afraid of Franklin at any other point. I didn't love where they went with this.

Speaking of Franklin, something about him reminds me a lot of Spike (from Buffy), and no, it's not the accent (which I do love, by the way). Maybe it has something to do with the way he obviously revels in chaos. Or the hurt look on his face when Tara abruptly leaves after their tryst, refusing to even tell him her name. Okay, and maybe it's the accent too. In any case, even though I know he's a bad, or at least ambivalent, guy who's ultimately after Bill, I'm still drawn to him.

Tara, on the other hand, feels otherwise. She reconciles with Sookie after Sookie secretly pays for a nice funeral for Eggs, and moves back into Gran's house. Which is where Franklin finds her after he blackmails Jessica into telling him all she knows about Bill (Franklin's the one who disposed of Jessica's dead redneck... well, most of him...) Tara is less than pleased to see Franklin again and absolutely refuses to let him in. Too bad no one told her not to look vampires in the eye. It doesn't take Franklin long to glamour her into inviting him in (Sookie should really rethink having Tara as a roommate!)

Speaking of rethinking decisions, Sam's probably wishing he'd never sought out his birth family. He confronts Tommy about nearly getting him killed, but then backs down when he realizes the kid's got issues. I have the feeling he's already figuring out where those issues come from. After returning to Bon Temps, the family pays him a surprise visit at Merlotte's. He's not exactly happy about it but he tries to make them feel welcome--until he notices dad supplying underage Tommy with shots of liquor. It turns out Joe Lee is a mean drunk, but when things start looking nasty Melinda steps in to calm things down and usher her boys out of there. Melinda seems to be the voice of reason and the nice one in the family. I'm willing to bet she's the one actually running the Mickens show--and all the unpleasantness that comes along with it. Not only do I suspect she was the reason Joe Lee spent time in jail, but I'm positive she's behind Tommy breaking into the Merlotte's office in the middle of the night. Sam catches him at it, but since he's in bird form Tommy gets away before Sam can stop him. These shifters are definitely shifty.

With so much going on, it's easy to overlook Arlene and her surprise pregnancy, but it's worth mentioning, mainly because after getting checked by a doctor, she finds out she's further along than she realized. As in, she was pregnant before she hooked up with Terry. As in, this is psycho-killer Rene's baby. But when Terry is ecstatic at finding out she's going to have "his" baby, she doesn't lessen his joy with anything as depressing as the truth. How long before this blows up in her face?

I also need to thank the director for making the scene at the doctor's office unnecessarily gross. Yes, we all need to see Arlene being probed. I was under the impression that doctors just used an ultrasound on the mother-to-be's belly to get an image of the fetus, but then that wouldn't fit in with this episode's theme of weird and disturbing. If that doesn't put women off from having children, I don't know what will.

And then there's Bill. He is so not in a good place. Much to his chagrin (and mine) the King manages to put Lorena out before the flames cause too much damage (ruining a priceless Celtic tapestry in the process--what a waste). The thing is, Lorena was engulfed when we last saw her--how is it she can walk away with only slight charring? Are vampires flame resistant or is it related to all the other hints that something's not quite right with Bill? But wait--there's more.

The King seems strangely calm and understanding about Bill's homicidal arson attempt, sitting him down for a chat. After telling Bill that it was Lorena who recommended him to the King, he mentions that she wants him to make Bill watch as she kills Sookie (but don't worry--he's not going to keep that promise). The King then asks Bill why he doesn't protect Sookie from such threats by turning her. When Bill claims it's impossible, the King makes an interesting point as he asks Bill whether he cares about his human's welfare or his own desires, because he can't have both.

After a restless night of bad dreams (involving his wife, dead son, and Lorena), Bill wakes up and decides to renounce Louisiana and the Queen and pledge his loyalty to the King of Mississippi. That makes the King happy and gets Sookie out of danger. Convenient.

Lorena thinks so too. She's sure Bill is putting on an act, and tells him so when she follows him into his room, closing the silver doors behind her. Bill has nothing but scorn for his maker, and that soon turns to anger and violence. Lorena, being insane, thinks it's romantic when he attacks and bites her (who knew vamps could feed on one another?) She tells him to "make love" to her, and because she is his maker he's compelled to do as he's told, although what ensues can hardly be called making love. And then comes the most disturbing scene of the entire episode, and probably one of the most disturbing scenes ever: Bill twists Lorena's head all the way around. Her neck breaks and blood starts oozing out of her mouth, but she's not dead. She's still conscious and talking. And he doesn't stop with the "lovemaking." So he's having violent sex with a mangled body, and then she tells him she still loves him. No wonder his response is to scream; I would too. I have a pretty high tolerance for weirdness, violence, and the various and sundry things that require viewer discretion, but this was way too much. Seriously. But there could possibly be a good reason for this scene.

Now, I've only just started Charlaine Harris's third Sookie Stackhouse novel, Club Dead, but I've been informed by someone who's already read it that Bill spends most of his time in that book tortured (mainly by Lorena) and hallucinating. I'm convinced that the same thing is going on in the show. His effortless triumph over his werewolf captors; the ease with which he saves Sookie from the threat of the King; and his extreme (and extremely messed up) attempts to hurt and kill Lorena, all of which end the same way, with her coming back again and again, like some movie villain that just won't die--they all make a pretty good case for torture-induced hallucinations. And I really hope that is what's going on. I'd hate to think Bill is that deeply disturbed in reality, or that the writers are including such sick scenes simply for the sake of shocking viewers.

So what do I think of "It Hurts Me Too"? I still don't know. If there's some hidden purpose to all this bizarreness, then I like it a lot more than if it turns out someone was just in the mood for gratuitous shock value. I'm also thinking the show needs to start resolving some of the lesser storylines--and not replacing them with new ones. A lot of the scenes seemed rushed and not fully developed (Sookie at the were bar is a prime example). There's a fine line between layered storytelling and excess; I'm worried True Blood may have just crossed that line.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale humans with red-rimmed eyes and snakelike fangs that descend or retract at will. Vampires cry blood.

Strengths: Super speed, strength. Fast healing. Ability to glamour (hypnotize) humans. The power of sexual awesomeness.

Weaknesses: Fire, sunlight, silver.

Mythology: A vampire can always sense and locate a human who has consumed their blood. Vampires are compelled to obey their makers, no matter what their personal feelings may be. A vampire needs an invitation to enter a private, human-occupied, residence; they can enter another vampire's home at will.

Sound Bites

Eric: (to Sookie after killing the werewolf) Got your rug all wet.

Tara: What the hell? I said you could bite me.
Franklin: No.
Tara: Why not?
Franklin: Because you want me to.

Pam: So the problem you have is that there's no dead body at your house?
Jessica: ...Yeah.

Jason: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who got no dreams, people who got dreams and don't do nothing about it, and people who go out and fulfill their dreams. I don't know about you, but I'm the third kind.

Lorena: The only way to show your love for a human is to stay away. Forever.

True Blood, Season 3 Episode 3 "It Hurts Me Too." Written by Alexander Woo. Directed by Michael Lehmann. From HBO.

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