Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review - True Blood Season 4 Episode 2 You Smell Like Dinner

"You Smell Like Dinner" is as frustrating as an episode can get, which is about where True Blood has been sitting for an entire season. My complaints are same as they have been (and the same could be said about Dexter). The conceit of the show--a story about vampires in a human world and vice versa--is by far the most interesting part of the show, and continues to be to interesting as the world is expanded. But the writers are always plugging in other characters into the episodes, characters who have nothing or little to do with vampires. What results is a show which builds up all this momentum and then slows to a crawl once its attention is diverted to the secondary characters that aren't nearly as interesting. Still, most of the plots are new and have some potential to grow, so we shouldn't count them out yet.

This problem is immediately evident in Jason showing up at the beginning of the episode, tied to a bed post, before Felton shows up. The plot soon goes to a wacky place with Crystal, hopped up on V, showing up to be crazy. And the final twist? Felton and Crystal want a baby but can't, so they're turning Jason into a werepanther and then Crystal can have his child. WTF. Hopefully, this doesn't turn into another season-long tied to the bed plot a la Tara from last season. But it seems like the writers are already rehashing things, like Andy's V addiction which is awfully similar to previous seasons' V addictions.

Arlene goes crazy about her baby for the fiftieth time and does her usual frantic act. Until the baby actually does something obvious (the blood vessel popping could have been a coincidence), this plot will be the weakest. Arlene has been doing the same thing for a season now and it's high time something actually changed.

Likewise, Jessica is still doing her thing, trying to stay with Hoyt and manage her cravings while dealing with her nature and the Light of Day nuts. When is she going to do awesome things like the other vampires? On the positive side, she crosses paths with Sookie, and their interactions reveal both to Sookie and the viewer that Bill was really messed up when she disappeared, while also showing us what Jessica thinks of Sookie. Finally, the writers intersect two plots in a meaningful manner--which is what they should be doing all the time when half the plots are very mediocre.

I'm not sure where I stand on Sam's plot so far, though I'll say I like it better than his plot last season which was all sorts of awful. While the idea of other shapeshifters getting together is intriguing and Luna seems interesting, nothing much has happened yet and there isn't indication where things are going. The return of Tommy is somewhat bothersome since he was such an unlikable character last season, but maybe he'll finally turn around.

Now onto the good stuff! The vampires and witches remain the most interesting part of the show, with the two sides crossing path. The witches are a danger, explains Bill, because they can raise the dead--and that means they can control vampires as well. Indeed, when Eric decides to deal with the coven, he drains Marnie, presumably killing her, before the other members do some spell which brings Marnie back, and she does her own spell which leaves Eric with no memory.

This is a good development in its own right since Eric's amnesia could bring about a change in character that makes him more appealing to Sookie. But the fact that the coven can hurt vampires is a big deal that has to be addressed immediately. There are several questions looming, notably how much the coven members know. Are all of them as well-versed as Marnie and the woman who took over? Are some of them only enthusiasts? Marnie remains an enigma, seemingly knowledgeable and wise, but maybe she's in a little too deep. Here's a screenshot of the woman she turned into for a brief moment, an indication she may not have full control over herself.

In a series of flashbacks, we learn how Bill came to be King of Louisiana and the general power structure of the vampire community. Nan, part of the American Vampire League, hired Bill to infiltrate the kings--I'm guessing the old vampires who were in charge for centuries. The League wanted a new, modern order and we see Nan lend Bill her special forces team to dispatch Sophie-Anne.

Although True Blood could use significant retooling (getting rid of several characters for starters), it's still early in the season and the plots are developing. At this point, we can't really call any plot a dud until they've been fleshed out a bit more. This may be optimistic, but I remember that half the plots from season three fizzled out midway through the season, so I'll keep a close eye on the plots this season.

Score: 8.9/10
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