True Blood Review: Things Are Going Downhill in Bon Temps

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Episode two hits social commentary hard, including the debate on firearms and lack of government aid.

Here are a few key points from the aftermath of the Hepatitis V vampire attack on Bon Temps in last week’s True Blood premiere:

  • Nicole, Arlene, Holly, Jane Bodehouse, and Deputy Kevin Ellis were kidnapped and held prisoner by Hep-V vampires at Fangtastia.
  • Tara was killed during the infected vampire raid.
  • Jessica maintained her pledge to keep Adilyn safe and was subsequently invited into Adilyn’s home as dawn approached.

In this episode, the townspeople of Bon Temps decide to take action against the impending vampire swarm. Meanwhile, Sookie leads an intrepid group to a nearby town on the hunt for information on Hep-V vampires. Keep up with all the final season Sundays at 9 PM ET on HBO GO.

Before we get too far into this review, I feel it’s important to mention that the extended opening sequence between Eric and Jason is simultaneously hilarious and way sexier than Jason and Violet’s scene from the previous episode. In this scene, Jason experiences a naughty dream featuring Eric for a full five minutes of screen time, which makes it essentially a big “You’re welcome” for the fans. And I’m not mad about it.

And now, episode two.

Sookie and her Scooby Gang head to Saint Alice.
As the Bon Temps police force tries to devise a way to understand the habits of infected vampires, Sookie leads Andy, Sam, Jason, and Alcide to the dead body of a girl she found the previous night. After identifying the body, the group makes a trip to Mary-Beth Grant’s hometown of Saint Alice to search for more details on the Hep-V vampires.

Upon arrival, Saint Alice isn’t looking great. The town is empty and Saint Alice’s buildings and streets are covered in spray-painted appeals to the government for help. After wandering around this modern-day ghost town, Sookie and company stumble upon a giant mass grave filled with the bodies of Saint Alice’s residents and come to the conclusion that the infected vampires completely wiped this town before moving on to Bon Temps.

It’s hard to ignore the parallels between Saint Alice’s appeal to the government, which includes a shout-out to FEMA specifically, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. With no federal government assistance, the towns of True Blood have begun taking matters into their own hands, including looting their own stores for supplies in order to keep themselves safe and alive. It’s this kind of political undertone that I’ve grown to really love from True Blood, though this point feels much more blatant than anything the series has hinted at previously. Usually these kinds of larger-scale themes, like the discussion of vampires paying back taxes after “coming out of the coffin”, are presented in a more nuanced manner. The representation of Saint Alice’s devastation and Bon Temps’ impending doom both hit you hard and since this is the final season, I actually appreciate swapping the nuance for something more direct.

But the politics don’t stop there. Back in Bon Temps, the up-and-coming Big Bad Vince has turned the town against Mayor Sam Merlotte. After explaining that he saw Sam shift from a dog to a human, the town rallies behind Vince’s anti-supernatural agenda and joins him on a mission to arm each other and defend Bon Temps against the infected vampires.

angry mob

Andy’s daughter Adilyn tries to warn Officer Kenya of the oncoming mob and their desire to obtain every gun available in the station, but the mob arrives before she’s successful. Vince and his crew manage to convince Kenya that, thanks to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, they have a right as American citizens to the firearms stored in the police station. Despite this ridiculous twist of the Constitution, Kenya gives in and joins the mob as they prepare for vampire warfare with a montage of dangerous gun use.

I’m disappointed in Kenya. I agree that she’s been given the short end of the stick in her career, especially as she’s had to play second fiddle to Jason for the past several seasons, but I always believed she upheld the law in this lawless town very well. However, under no circumstances is anyone entitled to a surplus of police firearms simply because they believe it a right. As an officer of the law, it’s just a shame to see Kenya so easily manipulated into putting firearms into dangerous hands when her sworn duty is to protect and serve.

Despite the pure absurdity of the situation, it is an interesting concept to see the daily life of a group of people upended in this way. Even though Kenya is an authoritative figure, one simple turn of events has managed to strip her of any real authority she has and instead put it in the dangerous hands of Vince and his crew.

Back in Saint Alice, Sookie breaks a basic human code by reading Mary-Beth’s diary, which is essentially a harlequin romance novel between Mary-Beth and her vampire boyfriend, Henry. Mary-Beth and Sookie have pretty similar experiences with dating vampires and while reading the diary, Sookie reflects on her first date with Bill.

The flashback is just laughable and there’s actually a moment where Sookie, in her underwear, spins into her dress, Cinderella-style. True Blood has always had a level of camp that’s made the show endearing and while it makes sense that Sookie’s memories would have the same kind of a lilt to them, this scene felt unnecessary.

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Lettie Mae loses it.
Lettie Mae visits Lafayette and pleads with him to give her a dose of V, or vampire blood. She claims she’s able to see Tara, but only when V is in her system. Lafayette calls her out as a drug addict, which has been heavily established throughout all of True Blood’s seasons, and a fight ensues between the two.

As her desperation grows, Lettie Mae physically burns herself (palm down in the middle of a cast-iron skillet) in order to plea with Willa for some of her blood. Willa gives in and soon Lettie Mae is in a V-induced haze. She’s transported to a dark garden where she finds Tara, crucified on a pure white cross with a boa constrictor draped around her. Tara promises Lettie Mae answers to her questions, but begins speaking in tongues before any can be given. It’s a hard scene to watch, especially when the camera shifts back to Willa, horrified as she watches Lettie Mae scream at nothing.

What’s most interesting about this scene is that we finally get a chance to see what it’s like inside of Lettie Mae’s head. Until now, we’ve only had Adina Porter’s incredible acting chops to guide us through Lettie Mae’s highs and lows, but in this episode we had a chance to actually see what she sees. It’s no surprise that the mashup of Christian symbolism comes through even in her drugged states, as Lettie Mae’s struggles with substances have always run parallel to her religious beliefs. I believe Lettie Mae is, by far, the most broken character in True Blood, but it sadly does make sense for her to jump back to her drug dependency after Tara’s death, as it’s a familiar state for her in times of turmoil.


Arelene to the rescue! Well, sort of.
At Fangtasia, the infected vampires have holed up along with any humans they’ve kidnapped for food. Normally in the True Blood universe, when vampires group together, they create a “nest”. These vampires, however, don’t seem to be following the nest mentality very well. They’re at each other’s throats almost always and while there’s very clearly one vampire in charge, every vampire’s temper is flaring thanks to the accelerating illness in their bodies.

Betty Harris, a once-teacher-turned-vampire, is designated to poach a human from Fangtastia’s underground torture chamber to feed the group. On her first trip below, she comes face to face with Arlene. The women exchange looks of recognition and Arlene explains that Betty was a previous teacher to both her and Holly’s children. Using this knowledge, Arlene tries to appeal to Betty’s human side and the ex-teacher promises to find a way to release them from Fangtasia.

Betty convinces the vampires to allow her to also be their sleep watcher, which means she’ll wake the entire nest up every fifteen minutes to feed. Using that time, she slips down to the basement again and promises to release Arlene and the others after she feeds on one of them. Arlene offers her blood but Betty’s illness seems to accelerate and as she feeds from Arlene, she also disintegrates into a bloody, gooey mess all over Arlene’s body. Sadly, this means the ladies are still trapped in Fangtasia at the end of this episode.

The Biggest “Oh Shit!” Moment.
The very last scene of episode two follows Pam as she tracks Eric to France. Pam finds her maker hidden away in an underground room, emaciated and weak. The episode closes on an extended shot of Eric and his darkened, infected veins, a telltale sign of the Hepatitis V virus.

Holy. Crap. Eric has Hep V. It’s not confirmed, but he’s sporting the same signs of the virus that the other vampires have, which really sucks. It’s a real shame that a 1,000+ years old vampire and one of the major players of the series may very well be taken out by a genetically modified disease that is less than a year old. Godric, Eric’s maker, got an incredibly moving death scene where he met the sun and Eric’s “sister” Nora Gainesborough was already taken out by the same virus. Eric deserves a better out than this.

Where episode one felt forced and lacked focus, episode two offered a stronger sense of what we should expect from the final season of True Blood. Not to mention that now we have to keep watching just to find out what the hell is happening with Eric Northman.

Extra: The Best Quote.
“So this is one of the last houses they hit before Bon Temps?”
“If Jason’s pizza forensics are to be trusted, yeah.”

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