Thursday, July 15, 2010

True Blood – Season 2 – review

DVD set
First aired: 2009

Director: various

Contains spoilers

Given that (at time of posting) True Blood is nicely into season 3 over in the States, I thought it round about time I got my backside into gear and review season 2 (after all the DVD set has been sat on my desk staring accusingly at me).

So, those of you who read my review of season 1 will know that I rather liked it. Season 2 can be fairly much split into two main arcs. We will deal, in the main with the vampire arc, and thus I will touch on, for a brief moment the Maryann (Michelle Forbes) arc.

Michelle Forbes as Maryann
Essentially Maryann turns Bon Temps upside down with her machinations and eventually is revealed to be a Maenad; an immortal dedicated to Dionysis, to give her God his Greek name. She is intent upon summoning and marrying the “God Who Comes” in a ritual that involves sacrificing Sam (Sam Trammell). By the time this is revealed most of the town have become possessed by her energy, becoming black eyed hedonists of the highest order. So let’s get the bad of the series out of the way. I felt the Maryann storyline dragged on a bit too much and could have done with around an episode-worth of material skimming off the top.

public face of the Fellowship of the Sun
Not so with the vampire arc, and this can be broken into two general sub-arcs. There is the Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) story as he is drawn into the vampire hating church The Fellowship of the Sun. Generally this story provided a lot of satirical humour as we see overtly hateful and pretentious religious types spouting hatred and convincing themselves that everything they do is ordained by God, who alone speaks to them.

Ryan Kwanten as Jason
As we sit and watch this arc some of the more amusing moments of the series sneak through under a black humoured veil and we know that Jason and the church will eventually part company. The only question is how? Will he see sense, or perhaps his general good side will assert itself? Or will it be because his essentially horn-dog baseline personality will lead him into forbidden territory? Kwanten provides a genuinely warm, personable and above all genuinely funny character.

Alexander Skarsgård as Eric
Meanwhile Sookie (Anna Paquin), along with vampire boyfriend Bill (Stephen Moyer, Ultraviolet), are forced by the vampire sheriff of the area they live in, Eric (Alexander Skarsgård), to go to Dallas as Godric (Allan Hyde), the 2000 year old sheriff of the Texas area and Eric’s maker, has gone missing and Eric wishes to utilise Sookie’s telepathy in the search. A word here in respect of Skarsgård who is fantastic as Eric, a character with pathos, comedic moments and moments as cold as ice – rapidly becoming my favourite character as he is in the books.

Deborah Ann Woll as Jessica
They take with them the young girl that Bill turned into a vampire, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll). Through Jessica we see some of the trials and tribulations of becoming a vampire and discover they cry blood tears. We also see some of this through flashbacks into Bill’s life but, in truth, the torment he feels is different to the growing pains she suffers. At one point he says, “I am a vampire, I am meant to be tormented” and we realise that he is the embodiment of the Ricean vampire in the show. If Jessica is tormented by her undead state, Bill must take some of the blame as he restricts her habits into that of a ‘mainstreaming’ vampire. Most of the other vampires we meet are content with (and even revel in) their nature.

Bill suffers the bleeeds
We discover some interesting bits of vampire lore through the series. A vampire’s blood will heal a human (as we know from season 1) but not, it appears, if one has been scratched by a Maenad’s claws. Indeed the blood of a Maenad is poisonous to a vampire. As well as healing, and its use as a drug, the blood of a vampire causes a connection with and a sexual attraction to said vampire. If a vampire stays awake during the daylight hours they become weaker and weaker, experiencing a phenomena called the bleeds, essentially haemorrhaging through their orifices.

an ancient in flames
As in most vampire lore, the older the vampire the more powerful they are. Eric can fly, for instance. It seems that it is rather difficult for a vampire to overpower their sire. The older vampires burn much quicker in the sun than the younger ones – going up in a hot blue flame within seconds. Other than this the lore is as already revealed in the first series. Werewolves are mentioned, but not yet seen.

Lafayette in mental anguish
One thing I do like about the series is what they do with the characters, for instance... Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) is by far one of the best characters in the series and was kidnapped at the end of season one. This season sees him held by the vampires for selling V – the street name for vampire blood. He is tortured, there is nothing savoury or glamorous about his treatment. What was brilliant though was, once released, how the ptsd his treatment has caused was integrated into the show, when other shows would have simply forgotten about the mistreatment after an episode.

Season 2 was fantastic, but let down by an over-long Maryann arc. 7.5 out of 10. The imdb page is here.


Marissafarrar said...

I love True Blood, though I too have only just got round to watching the second series. It's easy watching and doesn't take too much brain power! I agree with the whole maynard thing being taken a bit too far - afterall, it's the vampires we watch it for. It's still a good show though...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Marissa... That story line stretched a little too long but its a minor quibble for a superb series

Arbogast said...

Dissenting opinion: I had mix emotions about Season 1 but was bored silly by Season 2. I've never seen a series grow so bored by its own premise at this one and almost every story arc was protracted to my breaking point. I actually felt embarrassed for the actors who had to enact the bacchanal scenes - bad theatre flashbacks.

On the other hand, many of the lesser characters and the actors playing them got a chance to shine. And Eric has finally grown on me. Will check out Season 3 more out of habit than desire.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Arbogast...

I like dissenting opinions, and respect yours.

Eric - I understand - is to be brought more top the fore as a character (as happened in the books also).

Zahir Blue said...

Yeah, both Eric and Pam are further onstage in S3--along with a whole lot of other vampires as well as some returning faves (like the Queen of Louisiana).

I didn't mind the length of the Maryanne arc myself. My fave storyline of the season was without a doubt Jessica and Hoyt. So call me a romantic sucker.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

romantic sucker ;) lol