True Blood‘s third episode is proof that nothing in (un)life is ever perfect. While the first two episodes of the third season were fast-paced, this one just felt fractured and far darker than its predecessors. Some plot elements felt stale while others seemed to come out of nowhere. Characters need to grow, move, and change to keep a series exciting, but “It Hurts Me Too” wasn’t that exciting despite a lot of action.
Franklin certainly has his fingers in a lot of pies in his search for information. The fang-off scene between Jessica and Franklin was fine True Blood humor, as was the grim reveal of what ultimately happened to Jessica’s missing leftovers. I wish his second scene with Tara had been as lively. That woman can’t keep supernatural entities out of her head. In Bon Temps time, she’s only a week or two removed from being a maenad’s plaything and she’s already getting her mind stirred with a psychic stick again? Franklin owes her an apology no matter who he’s working for.
The Mickenses, Sam’s birth family, are obviously grifters–and not particularly bright ones. Just about every business establishment has an alarm system even in a small town; did the foiled thief not consider that? Right now family exists mainly to give one of the show’s more likeable characters something to do. I’m sure they’ll play their role eventually, but in the meantime they’re appalling to watch. I’m not sure I can ever quite forgive Alan Ball for showing us Joe Lee Mickens in those tighty whities that were alarmingly far from either tight or white.
Sookie has a new protector. While I actually like Alcide enough to recant my previous anti-werewolf sentiment a little bit, I’m bored with the “Sookie rushes headlong into danger and imperils her guardian in the process” plot line. Wouldn’t she have been able to open her mind a little more and extract information without having to get Alcide’s pretty face pummeled into Alpo? It’s good that she’s fearless enough to wade hip-deep into danger, but whoever has to follow her there winds up paying for it. I did appreciate how the two actors work together, though; the scene in her home in which Alcide first realizes she’s able to read his thoughts was perfect.
Eric also took a bullet for Sookie (again), but at least he put himself in its path. While I’m a little uncertain how I feel about his obviously growing attachment to Sookie, Eric’s certainly becoming more charming than he had been last season. I hope that car he gave Lafayette has no big strings attached; Lafayette, like his cousin, deserves some good news in his life. Unlike Tara, he may actually have some, as Eric seems to regard him as more than just his most profitable “V” dealer.
Bill, on the other hand, became emphatically less charming and more tragic. Those flashback scenes with his human wife were heart-wrenching, but it’s hard to see how even such grim memories could take him from proposal to abandonment so quickly. He’s kept Sookie safe so far, and unlike his understandably non compos mentis wife, she’s never shown any revulsion toward him. I can see him renouncing his fealty to Queen Sophie-Anne eventually, but it’s been just a short while in True Blood time between his proposal to Sookie and his decision to join Mississippi’s king. As for the final scene between Bill and Lorena…well, when the Franklin/Tara sex scene was only the second strangest one in the episode, that speaks volumes. Vampire hate-sex is nothing pretty.
Tragically, Lorena was not seriously burned in last week’s episode and thus had multiple lines of dialogue in this one. She growled them in a dreadful faux-southern accent as thick as a mouthful of grits and sucked the life out of most of her scenes just as she always has. I’m not sure if it’s the character or the actress whom I so despise that I hoped Bill was twisting Lorena’s head off as they were in bed together. Such a pity; I really wanted to see it pop off with her foolish grin still intact. (I should note that though I think her acting is dire, I do not want to see Mariana Klaveno’s actual head pop off. I’m sure she’s a very nice lady who should investigate a career in real estate.)
Even Jason, a perennial source of entertainment, had a story that felt as threadbare as Joe Lee’s undies tonight. Jason’s impulsive; it’s entirely believable that he’d want to be a police officer, especially now that he’s struck up a friendship with Andy Bellefleur. It’s also understandable that he’s so traumatized by having killed a man that he can’t follow that dream. What I don’t get is how he gets from one place to the other in so little time. Perhaps with Bud Dearborne’s decision to quit the force–and who could blame the man after what he’s seen in Bon Temps?–Jason will wind up deputized whether he likes it or not, so maybe the set-up had to happen quickly.
“It Hurts Me Too” wasn’t a terrible episode. Even watered-down True Blood is still fairly tasty. Watching Sookie and Tara begin to make peace with one another, finding out more about Bill’s sorrowful past, and seeing Terry’s joy at Arlene’s news made the show well worth watching. Lou Pine’s is the best name ever for a werewolf hangout. Lafayette and Pam still steal every scene within a fifty-foot radius. But overall, few characters seemed to have genuine motivation for their actions. Others seemed to have no action at all and just meandered. The timing was just off.
Characters need to grow and change, but they need to do it at a pace that neither gives us whiplash nor leaves us bored. I’m sure True Blood will find its pacing again soon, but this is one episode I doubt I’ll feel the urge to re-watch.