Monday, June 14, 2010

Searching For Signal: “True Blood” - Season 3, Episode 1

Okay, we start with a review of the shenanigans from the last season. It’s really long, and I spend most of the time going “oh my GOD, I forgot about THAT”. (Come on, people, it’s been a year. Things fade.) We wrap it up with the scene in the fancy French restaurant where Bill was mysteriously abducted after proffering a ring to the startled Sookie, who suddenly had to pee. And here we go…

First new scene, we have Sam driving around in his truck, clutching the piece of paper with the names of the folks who live in Magnolia, Arkansas. I remember the piece of paper. I don’t remember what it means. First scene, and I’ve already lost the plot. Sorry, folks. I’m getting old.

Quick scene with Jason drinking excessively and having troubling flashbacks that are jumpy and not very clear. He’s anguished about something. Who knows. It’s Jason.

Another quick scene, with Tara sobbing over Egg’s body. She sad.

Cut to a car racing along some darkened highway (they NEVER have street lights on this show, what’s up with that?). The car is full of loud hillbillies and quiet Bill. Apparently the yokels are the ones who snatched Bill from the foo-foo dining establishment and ruined Sookie’s happy mood. The hillbillies are mean and stabby, poking at Bill with a knife and being very impolite.

Roll opening credits. They basically look like the same creepy credits we’re used to seeing, but I seem to detect some extra bare breasts this time around.

Back to the restaurant, where no one got to finish their dessert because people are rude. First we have a strange French girl making comments that vampires are irritating. Then Sookie gets interviewed by Kendra, the bit-player police woman that we only see in tiny scenes when the producers try to show the police force does not discriminate. For some reason, Kenya is being very flippant and doesn’t seem to be taking Sookie seriously.(Not sure what’s going on there. Is this actress just mad because she has a crappy part?) Meanwhile, the odd French girl watches the whole thing, smoking cigarettes and conveying boredom and nonchalance.

Cut to Merlotte’s, where Tara is still crying about Eggs and Arlene is babbling away about some kind of nonsense. Terry strolls in, and consoles Deputy Andy about having to shoot Eggs. (Which is not true. Well, the “Andy shooting Eggs” part is not. The consoling, probably real.) They bond over what it’s like to kill someone. At this point, everyone in town should belong to this support group.

Suddenly, Arlene and Tara get into it, for no apparent reason other than women screaming at each other seems to satisfy a certain marketing demographic. At least Arlene gets to utter a very nice line to Tara: “I’m sorry you fell in love with a serial killer. But who here hasn’t?”

Now we have Jessica at Bill’s house, where Jess is all aquiver about the guy she’s almost killed in a moment of frenzied blood lust. What to do? Then Sookie races in, because everything’s all about her, right? Sookie tells Jessica that Bill is missing, whisked away to parts unknown. Then Sookie trembles uncertainly for a bit, because sexy vulnerability is on her resume, then she leaves.

Jessica returns to her poor little victim that she’s hidden in what is a really crappy cellar for such a nice house. “Whatever your name is, wake up!” He doesn’t cooperate, so Jessica decides to feed him some of her blood, because that’s always a good thing.

Another scene with the hillbillies and Bill in the car, where things are getting decidedly kinky as the billies feed off of Bill. We have erotic nipple touching and males sharing blood via the mouth. It’s clear that the True Blood producers are not shying away from the “vampire porn” thing. Bill, amidst all the odd hanky panky, announces that if the hillbillies don’t stop draining him, he’s going to die.

He’s not going to die. He’s one of the stars. I’m not worried. I open another beer.

Cut to Jason’s place, where he’s still freaked out about everything that’s happened, and wondering when his next opportunity to take of his shirt might be. Deputy Andy shows up, explains that he told everybody that it was HIM that shot Eggs, and not Jason. But “we gotta keep our stories straight.” Andy then instructs Jason to go out and get some booty, because that’s what a non-guilty Jason would do. Jason grabs some lube, a towel or two, and heads out the door.

Over to Fangoria, the vampire bar, where Sookie stomps in looking for Bill and confronts Pam, the haughty vampiress whose standing in the vampire hierarchy is somewhat in question, but she always wears interesting shoes. When Pam semi-flirts with Sookie instead of paying attention, Sookie cuts her off with “I’m in no mood for lesbian weirdness tonight.” Where’s Eric?

Turns out, he’s down in the basement having that flickering, fast motion sex with a delirious and sweaty woman hanging from ropes and a metal bar in a twisted gymnastics routine that has gone terribly wrong. When Sookie approaches him, Eric prances around in the nude and makes comments about how he can last for six hours. This is somewhat erotic, so Sookie is distracted for a bit, but then she re-focuses. “Where’s Lorena?” She might have something to do with Bill’s abrupt departure from the engagement festivities. Eric says he’ll handle it. “I’m the sheriff.”

As Sookie traipses back up the basement stairs, she reminds Eric that he owes her ten thousand dollars. I don’t remember this, or why. Does this make me shallow?

Hillbillies in the car once again, where they are really partying hard. Bill gets bored with this and decides to kill the driver, causing the car to plummet off a convenient cliff and just about everybody dies, except for Bill. (He’s the star, natch.) Bill struggles out of the wreckage and sends a signal to Jessica.

Jessica gets the signal, but doesn’t really understand what it is, so she goes back to freaking out over the nearly-dead guy she attacked when “playing doctor” got a little bit out of hand.

Cut to Tara and Lafayette in some house. Might be Tara’s, might be Lafayette’s, who knows. We have tacky décor, that’s all we can be certain about. Sookie shows up, because apparently she’s determined to be in every scene in this episode. She fesses up to Tara that Eggs came to her, wanting to know what he had done while under the influence of creepy Mary Ann, and Sookie helped him “remember”. This sets Tara off and she bitch slaps Sookie around for a bit until Lafayette intervenes before any of the classy furnishings are destroyed.

Back to Fangoria, where Eric is really unhappy with someone on his cell phone. He yells a bit and doesn’t even bother to say goodbye when he disconnects, so you know somebody somewhere is going to die. Pammy tells him that he’s losing it, and he really needs to call the Queen. (The red-haired vampire with the fancy house full of vapid models sitting around.) Eric explains that he is not going to tell the Queen that the one person who can spill the tea on the Queen selling V is suddenly missing. Pammy runs out the door to go bury herself somewhere.

Now we have Sam in a motel, still clutching that piece of paper with the Magnolia people. He appears to be naked, since that seems to be one of the motifs in this episode, but the camera doesn’t go low enough to confirm. There’s a knock on the door, and it’s Bill, without a shirt. They converse a bit, then Bill decides to take a shower and pulls his pants off. Suddenly, it gets very sensual, with sweaty chests and comments about “hard water”. My gaydar goes into meltdown and I consider sending an extra check to HBO this month.

Then some stupid phone rings, and Sam wakes up in his hotel room, alone. Damn it. The scratchy-voiced woman on the phone informs Sam that these Magnolia people he’s looking for have a son. This bit of news causes Sam to leap out of bed, with teasing near-nakedness as he reaches for his jeans. I hate the chair that was in the way.

Quick scene with Hoyt and Jason, where they come to the conclusion that telling the truth only leads to dead bodies and unhappiness. Then Hoyt asks if he can crash at Jason’s place for a bit because, you know, he can’t go really go home again after telling his Momma to go to hell and stay there. (Does Hoyt not understand how many people have died in or around places where Jason sleeps?)

Cut back to Tara’s Place of Mourning, and it’s now clear that it’s Lafayette’s tacky dwelling. Tara’s mom shows up (we hate her, remember?) and we learn that Lafayette only called her because he’s got to go to work. Laff strictly counsels Momma that she is to keep her eyes on Tara, not God. We already know that this is not going to end well.

Sookie stomps into Sheriff Dearborn’s office (which means she missed a couple of scenes, and is probably on the phone with her agent as we speak). Sookie wants the sheriff to help find Bill. The sheriff is really not all that interested, since Bill is technically already dead and all. Sookie storms off, leaving me to think “didn’t the sheriff used to be on that ‘Newhart’ show?”

Now we’re at a gas station, with Sam, finally wearing clothes, approaching some young boy-man who is pretending to work on a car. Sam is looking for “Tommy”, the son of the Magnolia people. The boy-man admits to being a Tommy, but with a different last name. (How many people named Tommy can work at a gas station in a small town?) Sam promises that he’ll come back to buy some new tires, just as a strong wind blows through, signifying that somebody is lying and we will return to this plot point.

Then we have Tara, her momma, and “Reverend Daniels” in a revival at Lafayette’s house. The preacher is babbling about “God’s plan to bring Tara back to her momma,” while said momma swoons in rapturous something or other. Poor Tara.

Quick scene with Bill crawling out of the ground, smelling something, and then racing off into the night. Is it time for contract renewal?

Jessica wakes up from her vampire slumber and discovers that her victim did not survive the night, despite the blood-feeding. She’s bummed about that. Then her phone rings, and it’s Hoyt. He still really wants her. But she’s all preoccupied and says she has to go. Poor Hoyt.

Back to Fangoria again, where Eric is watching a woman with liberated breasts as she twirls on a pole. Suddenly, the Queen comes in with that Magnus guy, yet another dubious officer in this whole vampire network. I don’t remember Magnus’ title, but it’s a big one, so we shouldn’t be messing with him. He can trump the Queen and Eric, that’s all we need to know. Magnus announces that someone is selling V, which is blasphemy, and he intends to find out who it is. The Queen and Eric pretend to know nothing. The stripper, who really DOESN’T know anything except possibly the fundamentals of aerodynamics, continues to twirl.

Over to Merlotte’s, where Arlene realizes that she’s pregnant because she’s able to smell the cinnamon in the chili that Lafayette is cooking. (That’s a new one.) Then we focus on Jason sitting in a booth with two veterinarian ladies he’s met. (Don’t ask.) Jason pulls Hoyt into the mix, and they all head off to Jason’s house for some bumping of body parts, despite Hoyt’s chagrin over his lost love, Jessica the sex killer.

Fangoria, once more, where Magnus is still whining about vampires selling V. He finally leaves, and then the Queen changes her tune and announces that she’s broke and Eric will immediately proceed to unload his stock of V. When Eric questions this, because that Magnus dude seems pretty determined about not doing such, the Queen gets all freaky and threatening. Move the product, Eric, or die. Okay, then.

Sookie’s house, where she’s wandering around and staring at the weird plant infestation that happened when Mary Ann took over. (Has it not occurred to anyone that maybe they should get that crap out of there?) Pam shows up, in fashionable and coordinated shoes, and hands Sookie a check from Eric. (Still don’t know what that’s all about.)

Suddenly, Pam gets a “call” from Eric, and she races out the door in that fast-motion exit action that the vampires in this show have. Sookie has a revelation. Vampires can call one another without cell phones!

Honey, have you never read Anne Rice?

Quick scene at Merlotte’s, with Terry wandering into a room where Arlene is sitting despondently. He tries to be loving, but she stomps out of the room, not bothering to mention that she has been impregnated by his Vietnam-flashback sperm. Or is it really his? Do we care?

Pam also shows up at Merlotte’s, and she proceeds to terrorize Lafayette. He will sell all of his V supply by morning, and do it happily. There’s a misunderstanding about Lafayette’s use of the word “hooker” in regards to Pam, and things get ugly.

Another quick scene with Bill on an unnamed road, heading toward a house with glowing light spilling out of the primitive windows and probably occupied by otherwise innocent people.

Bill’s house, with Sookie once again stomping in the door. (Can this girl not sit still for five seconds?) She confronts Jessica, demanding to know if Bill is able to summon her at will, and if the summoning works in reverse. Jessica ponders this, and realizes that, boy howdy, that seems to be the case. Jessica turns on her vampire GPS and they race out the door.

Back over to Bill approaching the Pleasantville house in the woods. He rings the doorbell, and a grandmotherly type answers the door, lugging along her oxygen tank. Bill convinces her to let him in, and then he feeds on her, which is really twisted and I’m doubting that the AARP will have kind words to say.

Lafayette’s house, where Tara, Tara’s mom, and the Reverend Daniels are still discussing salvation and the pitfalls of the modern age where Internet access can lead to ungodliness. By the way Tara’s mom is pawing on the good Reverend, it’s clear that Momma be horny and this is a game of misplaced priorities. Tara finally excuses herself to go take a shower, which is a sure sign of the devil at work. Once ensconced in the bathroom, Tara sits on the gaudily-decorated toilet and looks sad. This can’t be good.

Quick scene with Sam tailing the “Tommy” from the gas station as said individual drives home. Once Tommy clatters inside the dwelling, Sam rifles through the mailbox contents (do these people not check their mail?) and learns that this is, indeed, the Mickens family that he is searching for. (Even though I don’t remember why.)

Cut to Jason at his house, where he and one of the veterinarian girls are going at it. Sadly, he’s having some performance issues, mainly because he keeps seeing a bullet hole in the forehead of his partner. (Nothing like potential death to spoil the mood.) The other veterinarian girl wanders in, tries to make it a threesome, but Jason is still plagued by that bullet-hole business. When he tries to explain his hesitation, the girls decide it’s time to find another place to crash. (They’re from New York, and really don’t understand backwoods emotional issues.)

Back to Bill at the AARP house, where he’s glamming the old woman so she doesn’t know what happened, what with the feeding and all. Before he departs, he inquires as to where in the world he might be. When the woman responds with “Mississippi”, the soundtrack swells with dramatic music, so I’m assuming that one doesn’t want to realize that they are in that particular state. But no explanation is given.

Lafayette’s house once more, where Laff arrives to find clueless Tara mom sitting on the couch and flipping through trashy tabloid magazines. This causes Lafayette to expect the worst, and he races to the locked bathroom and begins pounding on the door. We have a quick scene with Tara swallowing everything she can find in the medicine cabinet. That girl is just starved for attention.

Jessica and Sookie, driving down yet another unlit roadway but guided by Jess’s newfound ability to sniff out her maker, discover Bill’s crashed vehicle. They drag a body out of the wreckage, because that’s what the script says to do, and manage to discover an odd mark on one of the dead hillbillies. Jessica then uses her iPhone to determine that the mark is a symbol for “Operation Werewolf”. (Um, what site did you go to, honey, because I’ve got my own questionable symbols to research. Is there an app for this?)

Final scene has Bill running around in the darkened countryside, when suddenly a pack of very irritated wolf creatures encircle him and begin snarling in an unpleasant way. I’m going to assume that these are werewolves, because why else would they bring up a murky werewolf organization in the previous scene if it didn’t have any meaning?

The werewolves are not intimated when Bill informs them that he’s just fed, so it looks like we might have an issue here. The producers decide that this scene qualifies as a nice cliff-hanger moment, so they roll the closing credits…

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