Monday, June 27, 2011
Searching For Signal: True Blood - Season 4, Episode 1
We start out in Fairy Land, where some celestial waitress is walking around, plucking light-up fruit from trees and plunking them into a basket. Lots of people are standing around and chatting politely while wearing togas and free-lowing garments, as if we’ve just crashed a cocktail party in ancient Greece.
Suddenly, Sookie and her personal Fairy Recruitment Officer appear during a flash of pretty golden light, and the party guests all clap approvingly. The officer explains to Sookie that she is her fairy godmother, to which Sookie replies with an assessment of said godmother’s skills: “You suck.”
Sookie then spots a familiar face and trots up to him. Why, it’s Barry the Bellboy from that creepy vampire hotel in Dallas. (Barry has his own godmother, a flamboyantly dressed blond guy named Lloyd. Nice to see that fairies are equal-opportunity employers.) The happy reunion is cut short by that pushy waitress with her basket of oddly-glowing fruit. Please, take one, despite the possible radiation poisoning.
Barry does, sucking on it rapturously, but Sookie doesn’t. She thinks something is fishy about food with its own power source. Then she’s distracted by another man standing nearby, who just happens to be her Granddaddy Earl, who managed to expire way back in the day before cell phones were invented.
Sookie rushes forth. “Grandpa?” Earl is confused, last time he saw Sookie she was knee-high to a mudflap, and he thinks that event was a mere few hours ago. Sookie corrects him: I’m sorry, Mr. Gary Coleman playing my grand pappy, but the last time you saw me was actually twenty years ago!
Cue opening credits while our minds spin, trying to figure out just where the hell this story is going now. The credits are basically the same as least season, although I think they might have thrown in an extra exposed breast or two.
Sookie and Grandpa again. Grandpa: “Did Grandma pass gentle?” Sookie chooses to lie. She sure did! Didn’t get ripped apart savagely at all. Grandpa: I just can’t understand what’s going on. (We’re right there with ya, Gramps.) Then their travel down the nostalgia road is interrupted by Sookie noticing odd things, like sewage oozing through the walls of the otherwise pristine Fairy Garden and what sounds like the devil speaking in tongues.
Sookie mind-melds with Grandpa Earl. This is all wrong! “It’s a trap!”
Whoopsie, guess Sookie sort of forgot that she’s now in a land of milk and honey and other beings who can read minds. The rest of the crowd turns to her in utter disgust, as if she’d broken wind during a Vivaldi aria. Said crowd parts to allow an especially bitter woman to take the stage, a Fairy Bigwig by the name of Mab who tries to force some of the lightning-bug fruit on Sookie. Eat it now or I’ll slap you.
Sookie is having none of this pushiness, and instead knocks Mab off kilter with one of Sookie’s special fire balls that she manages to produce at carefully-scripted times. Mab does not take kindly to this, and changes into an ugly she-demon thing with bad hair. Oh, and she also transforms the lovely garden party into an arid desert world with lots of drabness and unkempt landscaping.
Well, this can’t be good, so Sookie and Grandpa Earl flee, racing up an incline to a place where, hopefully, people aren’t so rude. As they scramble and pant, they encounter some elf-eared people who want to save them. This sets up a battle between the elves and the rampaging fairy military force, cuing cheesy special effects along the lines of “Land of the Lost” with fireballs killing off lots of extras hired just so they could scream and die violently.
Eventually, Sookie and Earl and the helpful elves arrive at a giant crevasse (think Grand Canyon, with no apparent bottom), where the lead elf informs Sookie that she must jump, since she hasn’t eaten the forbidden fruit. Grandpa has, so he’s probably screwed, but anyway, they leap asunder and end up in the Bon Temps cemetery.
Quick shot of both Bill and Eric awakening, eyes flying open like the proctologist just hit the mark.
Grandpa is not doing so well, his image frequently wavering, so Sookie tries to comfort him, even though we know he’s a goner because he stupidly ate the appetizers. He whips out his pocket watch. “Give this to Jason. Love you.” Then he’s dust.
Cut to Sookie marching toward her homestead, and she’s startled to find that the house is all painted and pretty. Oh? She stomps through the door, despite someone cast as a house painter trying to stop her. When he pushes the issue, threatening to call the police, she just has two words for him. “Do it.”
A bit later, we have Sookie sobbing at the dining room table, fondling the watch and looking despondent. A policeman arrives, pounding on the door and then entering. Sookie and the audience are stunned to see that it’s Jason. Sookie: “Why are you dressed like a cop.” Because he IS one. (I’d like to see the test results on that mess.) And, oh, by the way, Sookie, you’ve been gone for 12 and a half months.
A bit more later, Sookie and Jason are chatting, and we learn that he sold the house after finally deciding that he “couldn’t take it” anymore, with her not coming back from wherever. A company named “A.I.K.” bought the house. (Right away we should be suspicious because companies with random letters in their names are never up to any good.) Jason: And sister girl, don’t tell people about time-traveling to a land of fairies.
This is sage advice that we should all take. I’ve gotten into so much trouble with the inadvertent blurting of my fairy stories.
But Sookie trumps him by producing the watch. “He never meant to leave you.” They bond and stuff, then Jason decides it’s really important to set his new watch, which apparently can still function despite years spent in a place where people eat neon fruit and having fallen through the space-time continuum. “What time is it?”
Sookie politely reports that it’s 6:35, then realizes this means it’s basically night time and that a whole mess of vampires is probably interested that she took the Fairy Train back to Rockville. She dashes outside, where Bill promptly zaps in from wherever he’s hanging his hat these days. It’s clear from the dialogue that she’s still peeved at him for not being a gentleman before she booked a flight on Southwest Fairylines.
Not to be outdone, Eric zaps in as well, and proceeds to bicker with Bill about who has the bigger fang. Bill finally orders Eric to leave (Oh? When did Bill get the upper hand?) and Eric does, but not before announcing “They ALL gave up. But I never did.” Bill looks uncomfortable at these words, so there’s probably more that we don’t know about, and this review will probably run 37 pages.
Then a sheriff car arrives, and Andy hops out and speaks to Sookie. When you’re ready, “come on down to the station,” and we’ll file the reports on who kidnapped you. Bill steps up: She was working for me on vampire business. Andy is not impressed with this revelation, and rants for a bit about Bill not coming clean before now, that a lot of time was wasted.
This coming from a man who had pig visions and possibly fornicated with demons.
Bill offers to pay for all the costs the police department incurred, as long as they clear his name with that kidnapping and/or killing business. Andy, who looks oddly different this season and therefore is probably being set up for some twist that we don’t see coming, whines some mess about a plaque that he didn’t earn. Jason hauls Andy off so they can both go over the script again and make sure they know what they are talking about.
Now it’s just Sookie and Bill. Sookie: I know time was different here, but for me, “only an hour ago you broke my heart.” But I’m glad you’re okay. Bill: “Goodnight, Sookie.”
What the hell? Sookie once again pours out her feelings, only to have those feelings trampled on by Bill honoring some stupid code that we really haven’t understood since Sookie first wore short-shorts while serving crawfish at Merlotte’s.
Quick scene with Jason and Andy. Jason: “Are you using again?” Andy lies, Jason finds a vial of V (oh?) and tenseness ensues.
Cue Lafayette and Jesus outside some place called “Moon Goddess Emporium”. Laff is not the least bit impressed with going inside, ranting about the past year where Jesus has pushed him to do a lot of witch-exploratory things, and Laff is not happy about this. But Laff gives in. “Five minutes. Ten if there are drinks.”
I am now adopting this as a motto. I’m going to have t-shirts made.
They enter the emporium, then head back to a large room where a modified prayer circle is in progress. Two girls leave the circle and happily welcome Jesus, and fawn over him finally bringing Laff to the shindig. (One of the girls is introduced as “Katie”, don’t think we’ve seen her before, but the other might be that maybe witchy chick who convinced Arlene to swig a potion in a chalk circle last season. It’s never very clear what’s going on in Bon Temps.)
The camera cuts to some woman perched on a bean bag (like you can really perch on something that is constantly shifting every time you breathe) who is apparently the superstar at this gala. This Marnie woman gestures at Lafayette like she just got a cramp, then proceeds to start grunting. Katie, who seems to be the Debbie Upper of the party, interprets the guttural expulsions. Does Laff know someone named Eddie?
Brief cut shot of Eddie, the screwed-up V-addict from that whole “surprisingly violent basement death” shenanigans from a few seasons ago. Uh oh. Marnie then announces that Eddie has a rose for Lafayette, and holds out her hand. Laff stupidly takes the imaginary rose, which causes Marnie to instantly channel Eddie, same voice, same accusations. Laff is not impressed with this, and he and his pearls stomp out of the building, followed by Jesus.
Next scene is Arlene arriving home from wherever, and she encounters Baby Mikey plopped on the living room floor. (Said Mikey being the demon offspring she shot out of her hesitant womb, fathered by Renee, the demonic serial killer. These things happen in Louisiana towns where public education is not quite what it should be.) Strewn about the floor are various dolls with their heads ripped off.
Arlene hollers for Terry, who wanders in from a personal situation in the bathroom. Arlene: “What the hell kind of baby does that?” Terry: “He’s a good boy.” Arlene: “Ain’t my half I’m worried about.” Arlene to Baby Mikey: “Killing is wrong!”
And the Republicans still want to shut down Planned Parenthood? Jesus. And I don’t mean Laff’s boyfriend.
Transition to some street that looks like it could be in New Orleans, then the camera zooms in on some place where tough women are boxing. The crowd surrounding the ring love the action, jumping and shimmying in delight, and they all appear to be female. One of the two women in the ring triumphs in her brutality toward the other, and we see that it’s Tara.
Really? Guess sister girl took some night classes and found a new career.
Next up is Jessica and Hoyt. (It’s easy to forget how many thousands of characters we have running around in this mess.) Hoyt has just arrived home, and they immediately get into a tiff about why Jessica can’t make some decent dinner for Hoyt, seeing as she lays on her ass all day and watches Oprah. Jess, explaining why human food is so repulsive: “Going to the Piggly Wiggly is like going to the morgue!”
I’ve thought the exact same thing, but for completely different reasons. Have you ever tried to get around Granny Mae Flatulence when she’s blocking the produce aisle?
Jessica WAY over-reacts, taking a page from the “Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford” rule book and barely cooking some eggs for Hoyt to consume, shells and all. He eats some of the drippy yuck, pretending to be in heaven, and then they both dissolve into laughter over the whole thing.
Ah, young love. So completely unrealistic about what’s about to come. Give them a few years and they’ll both be alcoholics with fake profiles on swinger websites.
Jason and Sookie. Jason, not wanting to leave Sookie alone: “I’m watching out for you. This is the happiest I’ve ever been.” Sookie: I’m still mad at you for selling the house. Call those people back! (Like both of them don’t already have enough on their plate. Sookie, love ya, but could you just sit down and watch mindless TV for once?)
Zip over to Fangtasia, where Pam is taping some PR interview about vampires wanting to make nice. She completely sucks at it, much to the chagrin of… hell, I can’t remember her name, that one vampire leader lady with her bitchy hair. Luckily, Eric strolls in the club about that time, and Bitchy waves him over to do the spot. Naturally, Eric is very charming, mainly because we all want to sleep with him.
Cue Bill at a press conference, where he’s babbling about being the “oldest resident” in Bon Temps as people are dedicating a park or some such. It’s clear that this is all political spin for the benefit of the stupid humans, who are still a little anxious after Russell borrowed a spinal column from that newscaster at the end of last season. There’s some nice, wickedly fun dialogue in the script. Eric: “Who would you rather trust? A vampire or a politician?”
Oh, and Bill has a bit where he fawns over somebody named “Portia Bellefleur”, a woman who helped with recent civic duties or some such, but based on her darting eyes, it’s possible that she has intimate knowledge of exactly where Bill’s stake has been lately. Not clear, who knows.
Back over to this boxing arena that might be in New Orleans, with Tara wandering out of the building and lighting up a cigarette. She’s followed by the girl who lost the bout match, a woman who promptly snatches the cigarette out of Tara’s mouth and tosses it away just before they begin tonguing each other. This would certainly be interesting news for Sam, yes?
Then some drunk guy wanders up, apparently more than ready to pay the girls cash money so he watch them partake in Sapphic calisthenics. Tara chews him out (verbally, that is) and then snatches the money out of his hands. “This is for not reporting you for solicitation.”
Home girl has sure been up to some things we don’t know about. Sayin.
Cut to Sookie at Merlotte’s, where she and Arlene and Terry are making nice. Laff joins them. Sookie; “Tara?” Laff: “She moved.” Sookie: “WTF?” Then the gang runs off to make omelets or something, allowing Sam to move in on Sookie. Sam: “Vampire business, huh?” Musta been really important. A lot has changed since you left. Sookie: “Like you’ve gotten more prickly?”
I like that line. It’s mine now.
Laff and Jesus in the kitchen at Merlotte’s. Laff: You set me up. Jesus: Magic is a gift, Marnie is great. That’s going nowhere, so Sheriff Andy barges in and sends Jesus scurrying out the back door. (Jesus to Laff, pre-departure: Another meeting with the witches tonight. Be there or be square!)
Laff: “Can I help you Mr. Po-Po?” Andy spews some lying mess about needing more V for the investigation. Laff ain’t got none. Andy gets violent, wanting a fix, and Jason has to rush in and break things up. Jason to Laff: Whatever just happened, didn’t. Laff and his makeup just stand there, not saying a word.
Back out in the main area of the restaurant, Hoyt’s Momma Maxine barges through the door, amped up in Super Bitch mode, dragging Tommy along with her. (Oh, yeah, forgot about them finding the Lord together in the midst of trying to screw people over.) They plop down at a table, harass the nearby staff, and proceed to pray for the deep-fried goodness they are about to receive.
Sam to Tommy: “How’s that physical therapy going?” You know, the therapy I’m paying for. After I shot your ass for being everything a brother shouldn’t? That therapy.
Cut to Tara and her new-development girlfriend, wallering around in bed. Tara gets a text from Lafayette that Sookie done come back into town. Tara tells Girlfriend that her Grandma just died, so we learn that Tara is a liar these days. We also learn that Girlfriend thinks Tara’s name is “Toni” and that she hails from Atlanta. Tara doesn’t mess around when it comes to reinventing her life.
Sookie and Portia sitting at Merlotte’s, and we realize that Portia is working on getting Sookie’s house back from the mysterious A.I.K. Portia is being awfully snooty, so Sookie reads her mind and finds out that Portia is a two-faced nasty thang. Great, like Sookie needs more of those.
We zip over to Fangtasia, where Hoyt is at the bar while free-spirit Jessica is dancing with herself. Some guy named Matt hits on her while Hoyt is distracted by having to stand AND drink a beer at the same time. Jess is tempted by Matt’s throbbing vein, but she turns down the fang-banger, who wanders off to stand by the bar and look hot.
Hoyt joins Jess on the floor, but she quickly runs off to the powder room. Jess is pouting in a stall when Pam bangs on the door. “Toilets are for humans only!” The door opens so Pam can see who is in there. “Oh, it’s you! We been worried sick!” (Not.) Jess explains that she’s been with Hoyt. Pam: “That tree with a plaid shirt has a name?” Then Pam tears into Jess for ignoring her hunter nature, so Jess tears right back. Yet another catfight in a random ladies’ room. Yay!
Next scene has Sam sitting in a group of people who appear to be supporting him as he tells all about some personal issues. (Mainly, Tommy messed him up.) The supportive ladies are very pretty, leading to a sidebar comment from the viewing audience: “Is this an anger management session with Charlie’s Angels?” (Thanks, Terry.) The camera pulls back, and these folks appear to be having dinner and drinking wine. (Sidebar again: “They’re having wine at an anger management class?”)
Sam tries to get everybody to drink even more, but the two gals and a guy make excuses, gotta get up early, blah blah. Sam: Well, then, let’s get to it. Then they all start ripping off their clothes excitedly.
What the hell?
Cut to a shot of some horses running out of a barn and off into a field, just to keep the confusion level really high, then a truck pulls into what I believe is the meth-lab camp where the crazy, dirty people live. Jason hops out and begins to distribute food to the filthy urchins, like he promised he would do last season. When one disturbed little girl starts to eat a chicken raw, Jason mutters that “We need to get Crystal back.” (Um, I’m thinking you need more than just Crystal to handle these Children of Dirt and Inbreeding.)
Jason hands a tub of ice cream to a boy, one who looks extremely wild-eyed and should never be trusted with dairy, instructing him to go put it in the freezer. The boy zombies off, and then returns, reporting that the freezer done conked out. Jason goes to investigate the oddly propped-open freezer, stupidly reaching inside it, and he is promptly whacked on the head and locked into the freezer. Poor Jason. Boxes always give him so much trouble.
Witch Emporium once again, with the folks in a circle and leader Marnie focused on a dead parrot on a cute little stepstool. (This doesn’t look good at all.) Jesus and Laff are there, but Laff is sitting back a bit, not impressed and looking around for the free alcohol. Marnie mutters something about more work in the spiritual world, that they need to “Guide Minerva” to bring down the price of gasoline or some such.
Then Minvera starts some Latin chanting and a “return to the living” ceremony, which startles her acolytes (“We haven’t studied this!”), especially the cute one named Katie. Of course, none of them get up and leave, like anybody who is not interested in avian reanimation would do. Marnie seems to have reached an impasse, with the bird insisting on remaining dead, so she glares at Laff and demands that he join hands with the circle.
When he does, power surges through them all, two people appear to have orgasms, Marnie goes into overdrive with the grunting, and the bird springs to life, flying around the room a bit before going back to birdie heaven. Oh boy, these folks done stepped in it now.
Cut to Katie marching toward a fancy estate. She is cleared by a security guard, then she tromps through the house and into some room, nodding toward someone sitting at a desk. “Your majesty.”
Final scene is Sookie at home, having just taken another shower like she’s always managing to do, and currently wearing a bathrobe. She decides that it’s entirely too humid to mess with clothing, so she whips off the robe and throws it behind her.
And Eric catches it. Sookie: “What are you doing here? I rescinded your invitation!” Eric: “You don’t own the house. I do.” Sookie, managing to jiggle around a bit so we can get tantalizing glimpses of flesh, “Why?” Eric: “If I owned the house, then I would own you. You’re mine, Sookie!”
His fangs pop.