True Blood is definitely heating up although it hasn’t fully hit its stride. Several plots were finally set in motion with the appearance of the new characters Franklin Mott (James Frain) and Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) which should pan out to be better than the Maryann storyline from last season. Sookie though continues to be a supporting player in favor of other characters and the werewolf storyline is walking a fine line between interesting and ridiculous.
Sookie continues to look for Bill only to discover she’s being hunted by werewolves. Eric battles with his conscience on whether to help Sookie or not and reveals his past with a group of Nazi werewolves. After a botched suicide attempt Lafayette tries to help Tara by visiting his institutionalized mother (Alfre Woodard). Sam finally meets his biological family but has a hard time connecting with his brother. Bill is saved by the King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington, who has a mysterious proposition he wants to run past him. Jessica might be saved by a mysterious benefactor when it comes to that body in the crawlspace and Tara meets up with a dark vampire who has mysterious intentions. Jason seems to be having trouble with Andy’s newfound reputation as a hero.
Compared to last week this second episode finally decides to settle into unfolding the stories it set up last week. The main draw was the establishment of the werewolves and their contentious relationships with the vampires. The flashback with Eric and Godric seemed a little hokey but who didn’t love to see more adventures from them and the whole Nazi and German thing was interesting, it continues to show just how old Eric is and the different lives he’s lived. Jessica’s line about “Nazi werewolves” did make me think of the Grindhouse fake trailer at times but it seems just ridiculous enough to turn into something interesting if they don’t try to make it too campy. For some reason this episode felt rather dominated by the Sheriff of Area 9 which isn’t a bad thing at all. His verbal sparring with Sookie towards the end felt almost like a 1950s screwball comedy with Eric laying everything out that he could protect her and start a torrid affair with her at the same time. For fans of the Sookie/Eric relationship it seems to be developing quite rapidly and perfectly with some of the best writing of the episode being used. Lafayette continues to evolve as a character rather than a caricature this season and the segment with his mother was fantastic! Guest star Alfre Woodard was a surprise as Lafayette’s racist mother who proclaims that he’s dead in the eyes of God. These two are an interesting parallel to Tara and Lettie Mae in several ways and it’s interesting to see how Lafayette tries to explain this to Tara. Both of them come from parents who have abandoned them in favor of religion and it should be interesting to this be explored more, especially when Lafayette and his mother sit down to actually talk. The King of Mississippi has become of my favorite characters in the span an episode. His life of decadence and excess is great as seen in the gorgeous set design on the house, and his lackadaisical attitude towards marrying the Queen was great. Everything about him is smooth and arrogant and hopefully they’ll get more screen time throughout the season, they are certainly more fun than Queen Sophie-Ann so far. James Frain is also setting himself up to be a phenomenal villain. They seem to be combining some books and plot elements with his character but it should be interesting to see how he messes with Tara and the other Bon Temps residents.
For all the high points in this episode a bunch just felt flat. Sookie continues to be an accessory in her own series. There’s a wonderful scene with Eric at the end but for the most part she’s chasing a werewolf and sitting around with a gun. Sam and his family just don’t seem to be going anywhere, as seen by the fact that he meets them and plays a game of animal tag with his brother. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go other than “here’s my family and my brother hates me.” The same can be said for Jason and Andy with Jason spending the majority of the episode scowling at Andy. The introduction of the Norris’ is another of those book swaps for this season and I’m hoping there’s something there because I was bored every time Jason arrived. Frain is a welcome addition but to immediately have him jump into Tara’s mess almost immediately after she kills herself is ridiculous. In fact Tara’s story is becoming ridiculous! In the span of two episodes she’s attacked Sookie, tried to kill herself and immediately found a new man. Give yourself a rest Tara, I mean you just admitted your happiness was all a lie and now you want to take up with a new guy!
Overall this episode provided more fun and plot than the premiere but only a little. Sookie continues to be set dressing, Tara continues to jump into one stupid decision after another and Sam’s trip down memory lane isn’t producing much. The new characters will pick up the slack and Eric continues to bloom for the enjoyment of fans, but it’s definitely a different direction than expected.