True Blood Recap: Episode 4 – “9 Crimes”
S3: E4 Oh True Blood, how I missed you. Promise me you’ll never go on a sabbatical again, I need my weekly flying vampire fix. This week’s episode tried to tone down the ridiculousness of last week’s outing, perhaps to justify the fact that it has somehow, incomprehensibly, been nominated for an Emmy in Drama instead of Comedy. This might have worked better if I hadn’t discovered this video (which you probably should watch) and found out that Eric is one of the male models in Zoolander (Orange Mocha Frappuccinos!) both in the same weekend, which makes really tough for me to take this episode seriously. But as I am a professional, I must stop thinking of a shirtless, homoerotic, air-guitar-playing Alexander Skarsgard long enough to deal with last night’s pretty stellar episode, which addressed that most basic question: What is love?* Is it Bill’s willingness to be cruel to keep Sookie safe? Is it Eric charging in to Pam’s rescue, or fantasizing really specifically about Sookie? Or Tommy’s sacrifices for his family? Alcide’s refusal to let Debbie go? What about Lorena and Franklin’s obsession? (Well, probably not that last one.) Or is it all a lie, like Tara and Bill’s stripper seem to think?
I’m pretty surprised to be writing this, but Bill’s plot was quite possibly the most interesting part of the episode. I know, try not to faint. After Bill dumps Sookie, Alcide, who is really bad at comforting people, tells her that “maybe the man you loved never existed except in your head.” It’s a pretty complex idea for a guy whose defining characteristic is his shirtlessness, and worth considering. I’m sure there’s a TV Trope out there about when a character pretends to be evil in order to save themselves or someone they love, since it’s a fairly common plot device. (There is! It’s called Fake Defector) It usually isn’t all that effective at character development, though, since it’s easy to claim extenuating circumstances and let the character off the hook, no matter what evil things they’ve done. But it’s been working with Bill, as effectively as I’ve ever seen the trope work, because his evil actions in the past few episodes seem strangely in character.
For the first two seasons we saw Bill through Sookie’s perspective, so we viewed him as Sookie does, which is basically as a vampire-shaped teddy bear. Even when he did creepy, deplorable things, like killing the Rattrays and Sookie’s incestuous uncle, it didn’t bother us very much because Sookie was so quick to forgive him. We sort of dismissed anything creepy Bill did as innocuous, since it didn’t fit into our view of Bill. But now that we’re away from Sookie, we’re seeing Bill clearly for the first time, and the “friendly neighborhood vampire” label that she applied seems to be fitting him less and less. It’s quite possible that the man that Sookie, and the audience, thought Bill was has never existed.
I’ll be damned if it isn’t fascinating watching Bill be bad. Bill has never looked more in his element than when he was sent into the strip club to “procure” a woman, a job that he apparently held for 35 years with Sophie-Ann. Bill’s job as a procurer involves choosing a stripper, (Bill’s choice looks suspiciously like Miley Cyrus after 5 years on a coke binge), glamouring her, making sure that she has no family to miss her, and then bringing her back to the King for him to eat, and kill. Which might have been scarier if she didn’t look like Miley Cyrus. However, the idea that Bill had been doing this for 35 years before he met Sookie is pretty grotesque. It reminds us that Bill’s post-Lorena life is pretty much a mystery to us, and it’s quite possible that his relationship with Sookie isn’t on the level (since he has secret files on her life), which makes her commitment to finding him all the sadder.
Ironically, Sookie’s plot was largely comic relief tonight, as she got a makeover from Alcide’s extremely Jersey Shore sister and did shots at Lou Pines. The show seems to be setting up Sookie and Brawny Man as an item, but I actually liked their friendship this episode. They’re both good people hung up on jerks, so they’ve got a lot in common, and it’s nice to see Sukie have a friend who isn’t yelling at/trying to have sex with her all the time. We got the night’s dose of actual plot when Sookie and Alcide go to Lou Pines, as it turns out that Russell is supplying the wolf pack with V. I think we probably already knew that, but I hope it will mean that we get more of the Nazi werewolves. We also met Debbie, Brawny’s ex, who has no defining characteristics at the moment other than general train-wreckery and being played by Lacey from The Middleman. Still, she creates a nice, easy-to-recap-about, parallel between Alcide and Sookie’s romantic lives, so thanks for that, True Blood writers!
Elsewhere in Significant Parallels-ville, Sam learned a valuable lesson about caring for your loved ones, even if you don’t especially like them. After chasing the bird out of his office (I’m still not convinced that it wasn’t his mother) Sam encounters his family sleeping in the parking lot outside Merlotte’s and tracks down Tommy in the woods. In his first interesting scene so far (they should make him a commemoratory vest or something) Tommy tells Sam that he can’t leave his parents, since they’ll end up broke in the gutter. It’s not the most original plotline, but it’s a relatable one, and makes Tommy at least sympathetic enough for Sam to offer him and his parents a place to stay. Stay tuned for next week, when they start grilling possum on the front porch and wandering in their underpants through the restaurant. Those wacky rednecks!
Less wacky and more creepy was Franklin this episode, who exchanged his lingering charm for a good dose of desperate and molestery. I feel like the writers added Franklin to the cast in order to have someone who took advantage of all of vampires’ really disturbing potential, and take advantage he does. He glamours Tara, kidnaps her for a road trip to Mississippi and, in the best sight gag of the night, duct-tapes a bouquet of flowers to her hands. Rutina Wesley also deserves recognition for her increasingly perplexed reaction shots as Franklin gets weirder and weirder. Franklin’s obsession with Tara seems closer to Lorena’s relationship with Bill than anything else on the show, although Franklin a sadist while Lorena’s a masochist. But either way, it doesn’t bode well for Tara’s chances at staying human.
Meanwhile, in more appealing vampire paramours, Eric’s still into Sookie. While it was really, really obvious that their sex scene was a dream sequence, I briefly considered that Eric had some sort of “Bill broke up with Sookie!” alarm installed so that he could swoop in the second that she’s single. I also enjoyed the fact that Eric’s romantic fantasy starts with him hovering outside her window like a giant viking Peter Pan. Eric might have also built an alarm that let him know that Bill was going through an evil phase, since he decided to be extra good tonight, rescuing Lafayette from the douchebag drug dealers (getting a glimpse of Jason’s mystery girl in the process) and going back to Fangtasia to save Pam from the Magistrate. By the way, if they made Pam a regular this season just to kill her off I’m going to be so pissed that I swear the rest of the season recaps are going to be written in capslock. And involve a lot more cursing. It was good thinking on Pam’s part to suggest that they had been framed by Bill, who sold them out in the first place, but she couldn’t have picked someone who wasn’t missing? I know they want to get rid of Bill, but it would’ve saved Eric a lot of trouble if they just picked Larry from down the block or something. The Magistrate has managed to be a genuinely menacing villain so far, especially since he wields this threateningly ambiguous Vampire Authority power, where we don’t know what he really can and cannot do. He’s put Eric in the position of choosing between saving Pam and betraying Sookie, and I’m pretty sure Bill’s going down.
Terry showed up for a grand total of two lines last night, but they were awesome.
“Are you sure they know that? Cause they’re grilling in the parking lot.”
“One thing’s for sure, we’ll never be as bad parents as they are”
“I’m leaving you.” “Shut the fuck up!”
“No, I think I’ll kill all your brother-cousins first.”
I didn’t say anything about Jessica’s plot in the episode, but her as a waitress is the cutest thing ever. “I was just on my way home back from picketing the baby killing factory up in Birmingham…”
“But ten years from now, there’s gonna be a you, ten years younger than you, doing the same thing to you, and then who you gonna be?” “What?”