True Blood Sucker Punch: Season 3, Ep. 1

Welcome to Sucker Punch, the only blog post that ranks the gaudiest moments on this week's episode of True Blood.

(Warning: Spoilers Ahead)


Hello everyone! I'm excited to be recapping another season of True Blood, and I'm even more excited to see you again. You look great! Did you change your hair? And thanks for sending me that postcard. That trip sounded like a lot of fun.

As for me? Last fall, I got a full-time job running a theatre magazine. I love what I'm doing, but that means that unlike last year, when I had the flexible schedule of a freelancer, I won't be able to stay up until 2 AM on Sunday nights and get my recaps posted the next day. I'll get them written as fast as I can, however, and they'll always be up before the next new episode airs.

And now... let's do this thing!

Season three launches with "Bad Blood," and it is heavy with responsibility. A season-opener not only has to remind us what happened last year, but also has to convince us that this year will be full of exciting stories. Sometimes, this responsibility can be too much for a series to bear, and we're left with a stilted kick-off epsiode that delivers tons of information with almost no action. (This happened during season three of Six Feet Under, Alan Ball's first great HBO series.)

Happily, "Bad Blood" dodges this problem. The exceptional writing, credited to Daniel Minahan, makes exposition emerge organically out of compelling situations.

Case in point: When the Magister and Queen Sophie-Anne interrogate Eric. The scene crackles because Queen Sophie-Anne and Eric are lying to the Magister, pretending they don't know who's selling V in Eric's area, and the Magister clearly suspects them. The stakes are high -- the Magister will destroy them if he can definitively prove that they're desecrating vampire blood by harvesting it and selling it to junkies -- which makes their bobbing and weaving a thrill to behold.

And while they're dancing around each other, the characters also give us information we need. We learn, for instance, that the Magister has been searching for V dealers all over the place, and we learn the Sophie-Anne is a terrible, obvious liar. All this will be useful later, yet it's also important to the dramatic moment at hand.

The fun continues after the Magister leaves, when Eric and Sophie-Anne argue about whether to keep their V ring active. Their fight reveals that the Queen is broke as hell, so even though she knows they need to stop dealing, she wants all her product sold ASAP.

Does anyone else feel like Sophie-Anne snaps into focus here? Last season, she was all silly poses and fancy frocks, and now, suddenly, she's a desperate hustler who's trying to maintain her untenable lifestyle. That is a story I can get behind. (And props to Evan Rachel Wood for doing good work with good material.)

And speaking of snapping characters into focus: Hello, Pam! In a single episode, she evolves from lippy assistant to bisexual badass who flirts with Sookie, tells Eric that he's out of control, and forces Lafayette to sell all the damn V that Eric gives him.

Pam's monologue (when she's threatening Lafayette) is also a strong candidate for this week's Sucker Punch. I laughed out loud when she hissed that people always assume she wants to hear their problems -- "maybe it's because I wear so much pink" -- and when she told Lafayette not to call her "hooker." Because that was a long, long time ago.

That's so True Blood, right? Pam's not upset because being called a hooker is offensive. She's upset because she isn't a hooker anymore, and she doesn't want there to be any confusion.

This moment also highlights another great thing about this episode. While it's hurling new storylines at us, it's also peppering everything with self-aware humor. The hooker joke is extra funny because we know that Lafayette calls everybody a hooker. Meanwhile, when Tara is screaming at Arlene for not caring about Eggs' death, Arlene is like, "Oh, please. You loved a serial killer. Who hasn't?" Bam! For a long-time viewer, stuff like that is totally rewarding.

But that reminds me... Tara. Is this going to be yet another season in which she's totally passive? Last year, Maryann and Eggs acted upon her, and because she wanted to be loved, she never did anything about it. Is that weak-willed attitude going to be replaced with grief and suicidal thoughts? Because that's just another way to make her a character who has to be taken care of. And that is boring.

I mean, Jason just killed a man, but he's still taking action. His plot with Andy Bellfleur (to make everyone think that Andy killed Eggs) may be dimwitted, but at least it gives him something to do.

And look at Sookie: She could just wallow in her fear that Bill's in trouble, but instead, she spends this episode becoming a resourceful action hero -- a nice inversion of last season's rescue-Sookie-from-the-church story. If Sookie can tangle with Lieut. Kenya, sweet-talk Sherrif Bud, and enlist Jessica in an interstate hunt for Bill, all while declaring her love and keeping her make-up in check, then can't Tara at least get her own apartment? I know that you can't have every character be exactly the same, but I would love to see Tara grow a little.

You know what else I'd love to see grow? This running theme that once you ingest a large amount of a vampire's blood, you start having sex dreams about them. That's hot. And trashy. Hoshy.

Because... come on. In an episode filled with nudity and homoeroticism, nothing tops Sam's hilariously over-the-top porno dream about Bill. It's written and acted just perfectly, like a terrible skin flick called Cabin Boys or something, and because Sam Trammell and Stephen Moyer are so committed to playing the moment seriously, the cheeky writing is underscored with honest-to-god sexual intensity. And when the fellas lean in for an almost-kiss? Their mouths just centimeters away from each other? And then Sam wakes up? Come on! The show knows exactly what it's doing, and I admire that audacity.

And again... this moment, exciting and tawdry on its own terms, also gives us valuable plot information about how Sam and Bill are connected. That's why I'm happy to announce that Sam's naughty dream is the first Sucker Punch of season three.

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