Sunday, September 12, 2010

True Blood Season 3

So, I promised many posts on True Blood's third season, and tonight is the season finale and here I am posting on it for the first time. Sigh. Sorry... (I'll be MUCH better with Fringe's season 3, I promise.)

This season started off with a bang, and there was SO much to love in the beginning of it. Jason Stackhouse reached a new level of idiocy that was absolutely hilarious (my favourite Stackhouse quote is now "There are two kinds of people in the world: people who got no dreams, people who got dreams and don’t do nothing about it and people who go out and fulfill their dreams"); Lafayette was AWESOME in every scene, whether it was taking care of Tara or going to visit his crazy mom or just being an all-around bitch to everyone; Eric was.... Eric (he doesn't have to be much more for me to be happy); Pam stepped up into a bigger role ("Just lie back and think of Estonia"); Terry Bellefleur was as sweet as ever, especially when he read his "10 reasons why you can trust me with your kids" list and it included the fact that he'd found a hurt baby armadillo by the road and nursed it back to health and now it sleeps under his bed (HAHA!); oh, and Sookie? You need to dye that hair black and become a goth... the scene where she was disguised as a werewolf biker chick was amazing... it was like seeing Claire Littleton with black hair.

But then as the season went on, I became less and less enamoured of it. Lafayette, who can cut a person down with a single look, turned into a little puppy when he was with Jesus. It was sweet, in a way, but it also rendered his character less interesting, and it seemed as if Nelsan Ellis, who plays Lafayette, was uncomfortable with the scenes.

Bill, once again, was separated from Sookie, and frankly, I liked her with Werewolf Boy a lot more. He was a great character, and so much could have been mined from him, but he seems to have returned to the shadows. So much was made of the werewolf pack in the beginning, and that seems to have been tossed aside in the recent episodes. Bill almost killed Sookie because of his bloodlust, and then they just moved on from that, too, like it wasn't important.

The Sookie as Fairy development was strange, but intriguing. I'm not sure exactly where they're going with it, but it's not clear why this is coming up all of a sudden and just seems inserted into everything. Why didn't Bill mention anything about this earlier if he's known all along?

I was at a sci-fi con in July and I sat in on a True Blood panel about the books vs. the TV series. It was a fun panel, even though I've never read a single one of the books (I was there to find out if doing so would be worth my time) and someone said, "I cannot WAIT for Crystal to show up!" and someone on the panel said, "Guess what? She's on tonight's episode!" I was intrigued... what sort of character would be so great that people were buzzing about her arrival? Um... the daughter of some meth dealer. Who happens to shape-shift into a panther. And... that's about it so far. She's annoying, she switches sides when it's convenient for her, it's clear she's afraid of her family and she's looking for Jason to save her, but every time he tries she turns on him again. So far I don't like her, but presumably she's going to play a bigger role if the fans of the book series are excited about her.

Tara is just plain annoying. I haven't been able to stand her for much of this season (nor most of last season, for that matter). She's the same angry person who judges everyone around her -- yelling at Sookie that Bill is dangerous while probably still healing from the beatings that Eggs laid on her -- while having sex to dull her pain, only for that -- once again -- to go terribly. I love Tara's caustic mouth, but this season the strength of Rutina Wesley is to be wide-eyed and shaking uncontrollably while bitching through every scene.

There are many things to love about this season, though: Eric's past, when we went back and saw how Russell had destroyed his entire family before his eyes, and Eric's centuries'-long vengeance against him; Edgington himself, and his loopy craziness after Talbot was killed (including carrying his disgusting bloody innards around in a crystal vase)... the scene of him appearing on the news broadcast and declaring war on humanity was brilliant; the Arlene pregnancy story and the agony she's going through, worrying that the baby might be Rene's, and her desperate attempts to end the pregnancy.

I wasn't so sure about Sam's shape-shifting family at first, but I think it's an interesting new plot point this season. Sam's always been so upset about the bad upbringing he had, only to find out that if his mother HADN'T given him away, his past would have been far more painful. That said, while I'm intrigued by what his family did to make money and how they threw their own son to the wolves -- quite literally -- I'm not impressed by this sudden past of Sam's that's come from out of nowhere? Seriously? He was like Sawyer only a couple of years ago, taking women for their money only for the con to be turned on him? He's skeezy and slimy, nothing like the Same we know. I just can't even fathom that, and it seemed like a convenient and ludicrous addition to a beloved character's past.

I also love the tenderness that has been shown this season with the other vampires. Eric shows a love to Pam that we hadn't seen before, leaving everything he has to her. Pam, similarly, can't take her eyes off the CCTV as she watches her Maker smoldering in the sunlight, knowing he's ready to sacrifice himself to kill Edgington. Bill was going to abandon Jessica but changed his mind when she appealed to him (I've loved just about every scene she's been in this season, by the way), and the only thing holding Jessica back from reuniting with Hoyt is that she believes she's not good enough for him. I'm intrigued by what Hoyt's horrible mother is cooking up with the little chiquita she set up to take her son away from Jessica.

So, I'm still a huge fan of True Blood, and the cliffhanger this season's penultimate episode was breathtaking. I can't wait to see how that resolves, and how this season will wrap up.

In the meantime, I want to mention once again Becca Wilcott's brilliant companion guide to True Blood, Truly, Madly, Deadly: The Unofficial True Blood Companion, a book that had me incredibly prepared for the ins and outs of this season. It's funny and insightful, and one of the best companion guides I've ever edited.

Happy viewing tonight!


yourblindspot said...

I am waaaay behind this season and have only seen about 3 eps from back at the beginning of the season so far (culminating in that absolutely spectacularly awfully wonderful hatesex between Bill & Lorena when he twists her head all the way around and I am ashamed to say that I started to sing Dead or Alive with great relish -- you know which song). Must catch up soon...

Flks said...

You are sooo right! We really loved Season 2 and the Maryann-Storyline, but Season 3 is way too much and every single Episode somebody is dying without a reason. Jessica and Pam did a great job in existing thou.

Loretta said...

The character assassination they've been forcing Sam through this season has made me so angry. During the first season, I LOVED Sam. I couldn't understand why Sookie was so interested in Bill when Sam was right there and so perfect. (I continue to hate Sookie and Bill together, but that's another point entirely.) Moreover, they keep pushing his story to the fringes--he's never part of the main/vampire plot anymore, and he also doesn't play much of a role in the Bon Temps plots either. I seriously hope they remedy what they've done to Sam. The actor can clearly pull off that "kind-while-still-being-bad-ass" thing, so I hope they return to that.

I too can't understand how Sookie can just ignore that Bill a) has been researching/stalking her for ages, b) had crazy hate-sex with Lenore, and c) nearly killed her while in bloodlust. Also, that he's BORING. Sheesh. Bill is actually more fun when he's either troubled, like his brief allegiance with Russell, or when he's just interacting with someone else (like his fight scenes with Jessica, which were amazing).

I generally love Jessica and Hoyt, and wish the creators would get on the ball with knowing which relationships the fans care about the most. I could watch like 3 minutes of just Jessica and Hoyt cuddling.

Eric was great this season, and I love that he's been given more and more screen time as the series progresses. Also, I know you didn't watch much of the Emmys, but DAMN it's crazy how much taller Alexander Skarsgard is than Stephen Moyer. They clearly must try really hard to hide that on the series.

Arlene has also grown on me this season, mostly through her association with Terry and also because the pregnancy storyline has actually been intriguing.

Hmmm, looking back over what I wrote, I sound like I'm trashing the show more than I meant to. I do enjoy it, quite a bit actually. I guess I just get frustrated that the writers don't seem to realize that, with a little tweaking, they could turn their B-minus TV series into an A-minus or even an A. Wasted potential, I guess.

Jazzygirl said...

Okay I have a LOT of feedback but I'll have to edit as I write because I AM a fan that loves both the books and the show. However it's been made very clear from the beginning that you have to love them each separately, which I do. Is there a common thread (or many) that ties them together? Absolutely! But there's also enough differences that allows for me to watch and be surprised by what Alan Ball has cooked up. Case in point, Season 2 was SO far away from the book I had no idea what was going to happen with Maryann!
Back to started slow IMO but then picked up steam quickly. There were characters from the book (Alicde, Debbie, Crystal, Russell, Calvin Norris, etc.) and some who aren't (Jesus, Coot, etc.). This season was close to the book in some ways and not in others. The actor who plays Russell is FANTASTIC!! I mean, I look forward to every scene he's in. He has nailed the essence of Russell. Will he die tonight? Well, I don't know. This plotline with him and Eric is new. It was the only way to keep Eric in the show though since he's more background/occassional in this book. But part of me hopes not because I'll miss him. Will Eric comment.
What I can say is that now that we're at the end of S3, I can see where Alan Ball is going with these "seemingly" pointless plots and characters. He's brought in the Fae a lot earlier than they were brought into the story in the books. But it's okay b/c that means he can get to some really amazing stuff that much sooner. Let's face it, there's 10 books so far. The liklihood of 10 seasons is low...not that I wouldn't LOVE that, but you know what I mean. So I think he's pulling in these things early because their stories are worth telling.
Now, that being said...Nikki, to address Crystal. Well, she's pretty much everything you said. LOL But she will have a pretty prominent role with Jason. And his relationship with her will cause some pretty shocking changes in his life (if they follow the book). However, I felt they rushed their relationship this season, but again, I think it's just to get TO it. I was a little disappointed in how they wrote Calvin Norris into the show. He's a much more honorable man in the books. He's not a drug dealer and while Hot Shot IS a trashy little sub-town of Bon Temps, but not drug addict trashy. It's a community of werepanthers who keep to themselves for safety's sake.
I agree about Sam's backgroud. That is a new thing from the books. Not sure where they're going there. And I also agree abougt Tara. However the dog fighting thing had a prominent role in the books with new characters so I'm 'thinking' MAYBE they're leaving that door open for that storyline. Who knows.
Why didn't Bill tell Sookie about being Fae? Well, (again assuming they are using the threadlines in the books)'s because Sophie Anne hired him to find out so she could use Sookie. That did come up in the show but I have a feeling it will come up again and will divide Sookie and Bill.
Book 4 is one my absolute favorites and Alan Ball has said that they will follow the main story in it so I am SUPER excited because Book 4 could be called "The Adventures of Eric". Tee hee!!!!! :-D
But there's also some tie-in's with the Were and Witches so all these characters (like Holly and Sookie's cousin, Hadley) who seem pointless will be very important. Same with Claudine. She's prominent in the book and there is LOTS of stuff with the Fae still to come. Fairies are actually quite lethal and scary. They are not always so pretty and flitty like they've been shown so far. Some consider them the most lethal of all immortals. :)
So, that's my input. I've tried not to put any specific spoilers in here but enlighten you a little.
And by way, if you ever have the chance, the books are definitely worth reading!!!!

Jazzygirl said...
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Jazzygirl said...
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Anonymous said...

Yes, PLEASE KEEP UP WITH FRINGE! It's sci-fi perfection.

Ambivalentman said...

Like you, Nikki, I was very excited about the beginning of season 3, but have been increasingly dismayed as it has progressed. My biggest qualm has been the number of unrelated plot threads. Each character plot has something interesting in it, but seems unrelated to the greater story at large. The perfect example of this is Sam's story -- it was intriguing till I realized that it was going nowhere except to establish Sam as a conflicted bad boy.

The best part of the season has been the main story involving Sookie, Bill, Eric and Russell. It's been compelling, disturbing, and campy -- the reasons I fell in love with this show in the first place. My biggest fear, though, is that Sookie will lose her backbone and go back to Bill even though he has been nothing but untrustworthy since the season began.

Thanks for the analysis. I look forward to your thoughts on the finale.

Anonymous said...

This was my favorite season. Far superior to Season 2. Two complaints - far too much Merlotte family and not enough JESSICA!!!

She rocks. The scene with her & Bill Matrix training for the werewolves was great. Far too under-utilized a character.

Nikki - I assume you don't agree because who don't even mention her.

-Tim Alan

Joan Crawford said...

I just finished season 2 and am waiting excitedly for season 3 to come out on DVD!

I LOVE True Blood! I loved Rene what with his accent and cute little face but...well, we all know how that ended up :(

I love Terry - he's the best. "She left about 20, 23 minutes ago." Ha!

I wasn't impressed with Eric when he first showed up but now...Lord have mercy that's a whole lot of man...vampire. Manpire. I think the crying blood scene with Sookie really pushed me over the edge. Hot! I lick Bill too - some of his scenes are really hot too. And I love how he says Sook'eh.

Batcabbage said...

Well, I've just watched the finale, but don't worry, I won't say anything about it (spoilers verboten!), but I'm surprised to find myself in the minority of those who loved this whole season. I hated the Maryann storyline last season, and I've found season 3 to be a great return to form.

Russell was an absolute delight to watch. The spinal column scene had my jaw on the ground. Loved everything to do with Eric (vikings and vampires are about the best combination ever), loved Pam, loved the werewolves (Grant Bowler rules, and so does Don Swayze), LC (or El Cid, however you spell it) was brilliant, and I found myself wishing that Sookie would end up with him and leave desperately dreary Bill behind. I'm not so sure about the faerie storyline, but I'm willing to give it a chance. Lafayette was his always brilliant self, and I for one liked to see him in something resembling a relationship, rather than just some random rumpy pumpy. Tara was, as Nik said, quite annoying with her twitching and whatever, but I'm pretty ok with that considering what happened to her this season (I was about to post something specific here, but out of respect for those like the divine miss Joan, who are waiting for season 3 on dvd, I'll just allude to what happened, and say that I thought she was justified in being 'twitchy and annoying'). Arlene and Terry are adorable, and it's great to see Arlene get a meatier storyline (that wiccan chick freaks me out, though).

The only thing I'm not liking about this season is the whole Bill and Sookie thing. She should do as Batkitty wants to do - jump on Eric, and ravish him within an inch of his after-life. I don't begrudge my beloved Batkitty's obsession with Eric - the guy's quite the handsome dead man! )

Nice write up, Nik. Hope you do one for the finale. Now to catch up with last weeks Mad Men and go comment on 'The Suitcase'!

Nikki Stafford said...

Last night's episode... WOW. Will write up something in a separate posts to avoid spoilers here.

Tim: I agree that Jessica was great, and I did mention her and Hoyt in a long section at the end of the post.

Anonymous said...

I actually did not find the reveal out of character. Sam was already shown to be a thief in his youth. The idea that he went into conning people? I don't think the girl was someone he was conning. I think he was into her and thought they were partners. He clearly did not want to kill her, and was hurt by her turning on him.

I gave Tara a fair bit of leeway this season. Raped and tortured by a sociopath vampire is a pretty fair reason for a foul mood.

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