Week 2 of the brand new True Blood season is determined to remind us that we’re watching a whole new series now. Gone are the love triangle woes and pining, and here to stay is political intrigue, religious philosophy, betrayal, and blood. But then again, there will always be blood. Bill and Eric are more concerned with obtaining freedom that moping in the wake of Sookie’s rejection. The Sookie-Alcide potential is on the back burner. And no one’s emotionally interested enough in Andy’s whining over Holly rebuffing him to merit a true romantic investment from the audience. Even the relationship between Jessica and Jason, which started as overtly sexual puppy love last season, has become a strange sex-friend situation that’s causing Jason to question his entire sexual philosophy. “The Authority Always Wins” proves one very large point: True Blood isn’t always a sex-fest with a few shocks thrown in for good measure. Sometimes, it’s just a series of shocks, without any pesky nakedness to cloud our vision. Of course, the series is always a sexy-fest, but with a cast like this, that’s just unavoidable.
The series gets biblical right off the bat. Eric and Bill arrive at what we can presume is the Authority’s warehouse with cuffs on their wrists. They’re greeted by a woman named Salome, and after the rest of the Authority explains the existence of the Vampire Bible which predates the Christian Bible, we can assume this Salome is the same Salome as the biblical femme fatale. They’re taken downstairs into the Death Star of abandoned warehouses: The concrete and stainless steel fortress includes a reception desk, sterile sing-song voices ringing intercom announcements and of course, a renaissance style painting of a man who looks a lot like Chris Meloni. They immediately throw Nora, Eric and Bill in jail, but this time there’s no charming rascal or inept little boy to steal a storm trooper suit and throw our damsels into the trash compactor. Instead, their companion is a renegade baby-eating vampire - in case we were unaware of just how much our two heroes don’t belong behind bars. Over the intercom comes the perfect hokey rendition of a Bond villain, with questions like “Tell me Mr. Northman, why did you make contact with our chancellor?” Bill tries to take the blame for the whole thing, because he’s always so annoyingly noble (but we can bet his defeatism has something to do with Sookie forsaking him). Unfortunately they’re unconvinced by Bill’s selfless lie and instead all the prisoners suffer when the Authority unleashed the UV lights on them.
But that’s only torture phase one. Next, they split up the trio and hook them up to silver IVs. Bill’s the first batter, and the doorway to our layman’s explanation of this mysterious vampire bible. His interrogator makes him swear on the Original testament, the Vampire Bible, which states that before Adam and Eve, there was Lilith, and vampires were the ones created in God’s image. The man asks if Bill if he believes the literal interpretation of the bible: Adam and Eve were made as food after Lilith and that emotional connections between vampires and humans is blasphemous. Bill of course isn’t a literal believer (how else could be we explain three seasons with Sookie?), but the man accuses him of being part of the Sanguinista movement, which is apparently a faction of vampires who want to return to using humans as nothing more than nourishment.
At the same time, Salome interrogates Eric, tells him Nora met the true death and that Bill squealed for his freedom. She asks who killed Nan Flanagan, Eric asks like perfectly innocent puppy he was when he’d lost his memory, “Nan Flannigan is dead?” For that lie, his gets the silver IV as well as a matching Sanguista accusation, just like Bill.
As the interrogators are unable to find the truth themselves, Eric and Bill are dragged from the cells to a gorgeous hall where they meet the Guardian Roman (Chris Meloni - yes, he really is on the show!), the leader of the authority. They witness a communion-like ritual in which he and his closest advisors drink the blood of Lilith and repeat a vampire prayer together. Roman’s main concerns are that they escaped their true death order and his suspicions that they are members of the Sanguinista movement. Bill says he doesnt know what it is and Eric says the typically Eric thing: “I try to stay out of politics.” Of course, we know they both have nothing to do with this completely new word and whatever group it pertains to. Meloni and Co., however, are less convinced. But to be fair, they just met our heroes. They don’t know how unconditionally wonderful we think they are.
And after all the bible talk comes the politics. After Roman questions them about their allegiance, the council argues: Some say they should kill the cuffed vamps because they can’t confirm they’re not evil and the others say Eric and Bill eliminated a very real, witchy threat to all vampires and that earns them to right to live. Roman is faced with a conundrum: Mainstreaming, the essence of the vampire race’s safety according to Roman, is under siege, which means vampire safety is at risk. It’s easy to see why the Authority wants to eliminate any threat to their movement, but it goes against their civil approach to a vampire’s violent lifestyle to be so uncivil in criminal proceedings. Ultimately, Eric and Bill save them from having to truly make that decision because they offer up a crispy, slowly recovering bargaining chip: Russell Edgington.
Nan told everyone Russell is dead, but Eric and Bill both know he’s alive and (thanks to that call from Alcide) they know Russell has escaped. They have every reason to lie, but it’s such a big lie that the Authority can’t risk leaving it alone. Roman almost stakes Bill when he hears that their emotions led them to make Russell suffer instead of killing him and while Bill’s life is threatened, Eric quickly takes the blame. This little buddy-buddy thing they have going is rather intriguing - they’re both responsible for Russell’s lack of death, yet Eric is willing to take the blame just one episode after he vowed to never leave Bill behind. Bill and Eric pledge their lives to finding Russell and bringing the Authority to him. Bill of course adds his morbid prediction: “I fully expect to meet the true death either way.” Bill, you could use a little of Eric’s levity from time to time.
Next: Did Tara really bite Sookie?Back in the realm of cliffhangers we knew weren’t going to leave anyone in any real danger, Tara is attacking Sookie and bites her, but if any of you were worried that she was in serious trouble when last week’s episode ended, you clearly haven’t seen this show. Sookie’s fine. She’s always fine. Except that with Tara’s munch session, Sookie’s now been bitten by half of the people she cares about most. Pam’s not yet sold on the whole Maker concept, so she commands Tara not to bite Sookie or Lafayette and bolts, leaving Tara to revolt against the interior of Sookie’s house now that he best friends have turned her into the thing she hates most: Vampire. And if we thought Tara not getting her way as a human was out of control, Tara not getting her way as a vampire is a whole other degree of temper tantrum.
Still, because she hates what she is, she’s trying not to feed, but occasionally, she’s broken by her instincts and tries to bite Lafayette, but clearly Pam’s command is sticking with her because she grabs her head and screams like there’s an whistle ringing at a frequency only vampires can hear in her ears. Knowing that she can’t bite them, Laf cuts himself so Tara will drink while Sookie puts silver around her neck to force her to go to ground and avoid burning like vampire toaster strudel in the morning sun.
While Tara is finally down, Sookie seeks out precautionary measures (it seems Alcide’s warning about Russell sunk in just a little) the salesman sells her a silver mister for her doorway and she overhears him thinking about inviting her on a vampire hunt, says she’d “probably f**k” him afterward. How delusional is this guy? Have weapons, will sex cute girl? Let me tell you, boys, it is not that easy. Especially if you’re after Sookie Stackhouse and you don’t have fangs. Just ask Alcide. When she returns home she hears Lafayette’s thoughts, and he’s about to stake Tara. He made her a vampire for himself now that Jesus is gone, and that vampires are the thing she hates most, so he’s going to stop her from being one. Now that they’re witnessing the transition of a human to vampire, the reality of a vampire’s life becomes so much more real. But Sookie is determined that Tara can make a real life for herself as a vampire. And Sookie would know, she converted her life to vamp life twice for men she loved. Of course, convincing Lafayette is the easy part. It’s going to be Tara who has the biggest struggle to accept that life as a vampire can be a real life.
Pam isn’t able to help Tara figure out her transition because she’s too busy worrying that she hasn’t heard from Eric and she’s taking his silence rather personally. Suddenly, we flashback to 1905 San Francisco, before Pam was a vampire. She’s working as a madam of a brothel who’s clearly familiar with vampires occasionally using her courtesans as midnight snacks. But she’s more fearful of the man on the street who tries to rape her when she’s walking home, but Eric comes along and saves her by ripping out her attacker’s heart and sucking like blood off his hands like a handsome man eating a bucket of chicken in a top hat. He is tender with her, and gives her money for the blood he spilled on her dress and zips away without telling her his name. It seems our question last week about the blurring of “family” boundaries does extend past “brothers” and “sisters” to Makers and progenies (or “fathers” and “daughters”). Flashback Pam is certainly feeling more than friendly towards her savior. This relationship is clearly about to get far more complicated.
Next: Is that a baby werewolf?In the aftermath of the wolf pack mess, Alcide refuses to participate in the Marcus-eating ritual and he refuses to take leadership of the pack. Of course, he doesn’t just say “no.” He sexily bellows it as his chest heaves and his eyes burn like little black lanterns: “I don’t care about the goddamned laws.” He and Sookie are going to hook up eventually, right?
Luna pulls Sam away while Alcide is delivering his message with heavy breath. Sam is still bleeding while Luna is putting Emma to bed, and Martha comes knocking asking to see her granddaughter. Martha is convinced Emma is a wolf, but Luna is hanging on for dear life to the notion that Emma could be a shifter. Martha brings that whole pesky notion of blood back into the mix and begs Luna not to keep the girl from her. Sam says Grammy Wolf has a point about Emma needing a pack, but Luna is seeing it all in black and white. She doesn’t want Emma to have anything to do with her father’s gang of wolves, and Sam, very sweetly and calmly tries to play devil’s advocate, until she freaks out and throws out a man who’s still bleeding through his shirt. Finally, Luna gets her rude awakening for disregarding Sam and Martha when she finds Emma turned into a cute little husky pup. It would seem that sweet little Emma is a wolf.
Unfortunately, Arlene and Terry don’t get to stay happy. Their storyline is getting more complicated because Terry is having dark flashbacks from Iraq and mindlessly grabbing or shoving Arlene. She demands to know what’s going on, but Terry screams at her to leave him alone. Naturally, Arlene finds Patrick (Scott Foley) to ask if Terry had a traumatic experience at war. Patrick stays mum just as Terry arrives. Arlene begs him to fix whatever’s wrong with her husband and when she leaves, Terry says their combat mate is alive and at large. They determine it’s him setting fire to their homes, but they’re not sure why. Our parting shot of Terry is little more than he and Patrick deciding to go after their former cohort, though we’re still not really what the reasoning is. All we know is something bad happened at war, and they’re not sure which one of their soldier buddies it actually affected. There is simply not enough room for this somewhat confusing storyline.
Jason’s story this week is a bit of a mess. He and Andy are on patrol and Andy says he’s worried because Holly is ignoring him. Jason cutely replies “That’s like getting to eat the pie without having to pay for the cow.” Oh Jason. Of course you have a self-loathing vampire in love with you. You’re so adorably ditzy. But when Andy brings up Jessica, it’s obvious that his lack of monogamy is driving him crazy. Later in the episode, he questions his sexual freedom even more when a teen boy punches him for splitting up his parents (one of whom Jason knows “affectionately” as Crazy Sharon). It seems like Jason Stackhouse isn’t interested in playing the field anymore.
In a mostly unrelated turn of events, Jason and Andy find Debbie’s car and there are vials of V in the car doors, but Sookie’s secret is safe a little longer. Thanks to a few vials of V, they assume she just abandoned her vehicle. They’re completely unaware that pieces of her head are in Sookie’s backyard.
Jason also sees Rev. Newland on TV talking about being happy with vampire life and touting that “Jesus Loves Vampires,” but it seems Newland’s still not comfortable being openly gay. He tells the reporter he has a lady in his life. Inspired either by Newland’s closedness or by his sudden turn towards a less promiscuous existence, Jason tries to make it right with Hoyt, who’s living with his mother. Jason even offers up his own house for Hoyt to stay in now that he’s broken up with Jessica, but Hoyt is still livid and throws him out. Poor Jason. There’s not a thing going right for him, even his police work isn’t on target.
Meanwhile, Jessica is having the time of her life at another one of her parties when Steve Newland shows up. She pulls him into Bill’s office and he offers her 10 thousand dollars for Jason. Curious to see how far she can get the sicko to go, she teases him with Jason’s rock hard rear and other... assets to get him to offer a higher bid. Newland gets the telltale fang exposure and he agrees to 20k. Jessica tells him he’s pathetic - I mean come on, 20k for a boyfriend? She throws him out, tells him to stay out because her dad is the king. He says “not anymore.” What? How does he know Bill’s in trouble? Suddenly we realize that we’ve seen him all over television praising vampires and their peacefullness all throughout the episode and it suddenly makes sense: He’s all over TV... is he the new Nan?
Do you think Newland could be the new Nan? How long do you think we have before Russell is fully healed? How deep do you think Pam’s feelings for Eric go?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
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I can’t be the only one who breathed a sigh of relief at approximately 8:56 PM Thursday night. After two straight weeks of the most troubling American Idol results since Scott Savol outlasted Constantine Maroulis during season 4, I feared we were yet again in for a surprise of Nigel’s bodyguard-sized proportions. I wasn’t completely wrong to be nervous — after all, the contestant who seemed doomed to leave the show weeks in a row had just enjoyed her best night since blowing us away in the Top 11 with “Power of Love.”
But though Hollie Cavanagh continues to stick around like an adorable puppy you wish never followed you home after she messed up the order of your home, justice was finally served in the Idol universe. After murdering “Bold As Love” so brutally, Detectives Munch and Finn were ordered to investigate it, Elise Testone was sent directly off of Idol’s couches of safety. (Do not pass go. Do not collect a recording contract and a reputation that could land you alongside Taylor Hicks.) And, unlike Colton Dixon and Jessica Sanchez’s shocking bottom finishes, Elise actually deserved to leave behind CBS Television City.
Not to say it isn’t a shame to see her go, especially when she started off the season with so much promise. With one of the strongest — and most relevant — voices in the competition, Elise represented the old wave of American Idol. Like many contestants of seasons past, the 28-year-old singer — the oldest in this season’s batch — boasted power vocals more than originality, and was hurt by not only a willingness, but a seeming desire, to talk back to our admittedly unsound panel of judges. Even Thursday night, after Jimmy Iovine rightfully dismissed her two performances, claiming she “makes bad choices,” Elise managed to increase her surly profile by telling Ryan Seacrest, “I just can’t win.”
Granted, it’s that confidence and attitude that made Elise a fun contestant to watch — her self-assuredness often lit up the stage (that is, when she wasn’t encouraged to sing clunkers like “I’m Your Baby Tonight”). But talking back to Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson doesn’t have the same appeal as verbally brawling with the likes of Simon Cowell amid a chorus of boos. Instead, Elise’s argument with the big three often featured a backdrop of silence from the audience, making the moments as uncomfortable as a TV promo featuring a picture of a child and the word “Touch.”
Viewers certainly felt uncomfortable and disconnected from the contestant — Elise flirted with elimination in the bottom three a whopping six out of eight weeks, two more times than underdog Hollie. Still, fans of the passionate Elise would find her finish behind the staid Hollie as undeserving as a terrible trip to see the horrible orange puppets at TMZ.
Still, it seems we can all rest easy, fellow Idol fans. Though Skylar was placed in the bottom three, she still has a chance to ride her ATV well into the finish. Though Phillip’s illness explains his flat “Fat-Bottomed Girls,” he’ll still live on to be the antidote for lovesick teenage girls everywhere. And Joshua Ledet and Jessica’s favor with the judges’ panel has primed them to outlast Hollie, even though the Idol universe seems desperate to keep me from using my “Hollie Go-Lightly-Away” headline. One day!
But what did you think of the results, fellow Idol lovers? Did you have a “Whole Lotta Love” for Elise, or was she the right contestant to bite the dust? Does Hollie stand a chance of making it into the Top 4? Did the Top 6 film their Ford commercial on the set of How I Met Your Mother? Did you dig The Queen Extravaganza’s incredible lead singer/viral video star Marc Martel, even if you found yourself wishing he was Adam Lambert? Are you, like me, ashamed to hope that Stefano Langone’s single finds its way onto your radio stations and into your head like the terrible/infections “Party Rock”? And, finally, is Casey Abrams slowly transforming into a Muppet who joins Fall Out Boy?
Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard
[Image Credit: Fox]
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The actress is part of a star-studded cast in the new Garry Marshall romantic comedy, which includes Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, Ashton Kutcher and Bradley Cooper.
And one particular day of filming left Biel buzzing around on set.
She says, "We shot both scenes on the same day. So in the morning I ate about 10 doughnuts; in the afternoon I ate about 18 or 20 chocolates. I was on a sugar high for days, it was crazy!"
Sundance Film Festival officials have announced entries for dramatic, documentary and "American Spectrum" categories of the 2004 festival, which runs Jan. 15 through Jan. 25 in Park City, Utah.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the competitive categories at this year's festival include big-name actors appearing in films by relatively unknown directors, and a record-breaking number of projects from black filmmakers and projects influenced by Sept. 11:
Actor Kevin Bacon and his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, star alongside hip-hop artist Mos Def in The Woodsman, directed by Nicole Kassel. It revolves around a convicted pedophile who returns to his hometown after 12 years in prison and tries to start a new life.
Courteney Cox Arquette stars in November, directed by Greg Harrison, about a Los Angeles photographer who struggles to put the tragic circumstances of her boyfriend's death behind her.
John Curran's Adultery, starring Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Peter Krause and Naomi Watts, follows two couples who are friends and whose relationships are intertwined.
Writer/director Rodney Evans' Brother to Brother is about an 18-year-old, gay, black artist who discovers the hidden legacies of gay and lesbian subcultures within the Harlem Renaissance. The film is one of a dozen projects that center on the black experience or are by black filmmakers--the most ever on a Sundance roster, according to the Reporter.
"We have 12 features that are either about, produced by or directed by African-American filmmakers," Festival director Geoff Gilmore said. "What's good is that it indicates that there are a lot of African-American filmmakers working in the independent arena because these are works that would not have been made for studios. It's really of interest to me to see a whole range of people now trying to produce independent work."
Gilmore added that some of the entries in this year's festival are the first generation of post-Sept. 11 films. "These are films by filmmakers that were entirely conceived, developed and then produced following those events," Gilmore told the Reporter. "The insularity of America pre-Sept. 11 and the assuredness that existed in the world at that time followed by the anxiety that exists in the world we are in now. These are films about trying to find things out."
The lineup for the festival's remaining categories and the opening night film are expected to be announced later today. Short films appearing at the festival will be announced Dec. 8.
The Best Thief in the World, Jacob Kornbluth
Book of Love, Alan Brown
Brother to Brother, Rodney Evans
Chrystal, Ray McKinnon
Down to the Bone, Debra Granik
Easy, Jane Weinstock
Evergreen, Enid Zentelis
Garden State, Zach Braff
Harry and Max, Christopher Munch
Maria Full of Grace, Joshua Marston
Napoleon Dynamite, Jared Hess
November, Greg Harrison
One Point O, Jeff Renfroe, MarteinnThorsson
Primer, Shane Carruth
Adultery, John Curran
The Woodsman, Nicole Kassell
A Place of Our Own, Stanley Nelson
Born Into Brothels, Ross Kauffman, ZanaBriksi
Chisholm '72 -- Unbought & Unbossed, Shola Lynch
Dig, Ondi Timoner
Farmingville, Catherine Tambini, Carlos Sandoval
The Fight, Barak Goodman
Heir to an Execution, Ivy Meeropol
Home of the Brave, Paola di Florio
I Like Killing Flies, Matt Mahurin
Imelda, Ramona S. Diaz
In the Realms of the Unreal, Jessica Yu
Deadline, Katy Chevigny, Kirsten Johnson
Neverland: The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army, Robert Stone
Persons of Interest, Alison Maclean, Tobias Perse
Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock
Word Wars, Julian Petrillo
CSA: Confederate States of America, Kevin Willmott
Dandelion, Mark Milgard
Dirty Work, David Sampliner
Everyday People, Jim McKay
Lbs., Matthew Bonifacio
Let the Church Say Amen, David Petersen
Mean Creek, Jacob Aaron Estes
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky
MVP, Harry Davis
Open Water, Chris Kentis
Second Best, Eric Weber
September Tapes, Christian Johnston
Speak, Jessica Sharzer