Monday, June 14, 2010

True Blood's Bite

| by Allan Stackhouse |

My love of True Blood could not be higher but it was not always at the maenad-induced trance level it is today. Before my “Lo Lo Bromios” chants, I recall a time last summer flipping through channels, catching the middle of an episode, and not knowing what in the name of Sam Merlotte was going on. The second time was the same but the third time was the charm. The moment of the repeat I caught wasn't completely confounding so I decided to watch the remainder of the episode. Next thing I knew, I was at the credits of the next episode. There began True Blood's bite into my jugular. As I watched Season 2, I feverishly raced to catch up on all Season 1 episodes I missed. Not having the complete knowledge of Season 1 to reference didn't prevent me from enjoying the show. Season 2 was done so well that I'm honestly having the hardest time believing any of the subsequent seasons could top it.

The character attachment I experience with True Blood is at a level that I did not expect from a vampire show. I haven't been on the vampire band wagon since Buffy the Vampire Slayer and this return to one of my teenage interests was unforeseen to say the least. True Blood does not dwell on the melodrama of vampirism. It treats these creatures as extremely carnal: lustful, greedy, and blood-thirsty. If there's anything that the first episode of Season 3 did it was to further establish my addiction to these characters. The presence of Queen Sophie, werewolves, and Pam in leather in the FIRST episode hints at, if not formally announces, a great season.

One of the biggest things that gets me about True Blood is the ability of even the supporting cast to completely envelope me. Pam's screen time minutes could be counted on one hand yet she is a prime example of a brilliant supporting character. We have no idea who she is and we don't care because she delivers some of the best lines of the episode. She provides a lot of comic relief to Eric's villainous seriousness. Hoyt is another smaller player in the makeup of Bon Temps but his charming innocence wins everyone over. Even Arlene's two children are adorable with their fascination of the world of vampires and murder.

True Blood understands that a show about heroes and villains is only as strong as its villains. Maryann is simply one of the most creative villains ever to grace television. Firstly, I've never even heard of a maenad. Her motives, methods, and maenad-status are frightening and captivating. I almost never get scared watching television but I did with Maryann. Her intentions being so mysterious made her even more terrifying throughout Season 2. The ability to control another human as vampires do is interesting in a brief sense but wielding control over an entire town with a mere chant and ultra creepy dance was terrifying. Imperiling Sam Merlotte, a beloved main character on the show consistently kept the stakes high.

Season 3, in just its first episode, continues to set the bar higher. The characters are poised to develop in ways that I'm sure we'll never see. I, for one, am absolutely thrilled to be taken on another summer of the best thing on television on right now and I know I'm not alone.

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