Sunday, May 29, 2011

True Blood – season 3 – review

Director: various

First aired: 2010

Contains spoilers

It’s about time I got around to looking at the third season of True Blood, having previously explored Season 1 and Season 2. I felt that season 2 lost its way with one of its two main arcs. This season really only had one main arc – concerning Sookie (Anna Paquin) and the machinations of vampire royalty – and then had some mini-arc’s concerning other characters.

This allowed a focus on the vampire aspects – which is of course why we all watch the show, well for that and the gratuitous sex, which seemed a little less gratuitous this season – without getting bogged down. That said some of the mini-arcs felt a little too flimsy (Sam (Sam Trammell) flipping out towards the end of the season) or perhaps even soap opera (Arlene (Carrie Preston) and her pregnancy, despite the supernatural overtones).

from the earth
The end of season 2 saw Bill (Stephen Moyer, Ultraviolet and Priest) propose to Sookie, her take a moment to compose herself and Bill vanishing. It turns out that he was overpowered with silver chains and dragged off by bikers who subsequently fed on his blood whilst abducting him. He manages to overpower them and cause the car to crash and then go to ground (literally) to escape the sun. When he awakens the next night he pulls himself from the earth and feeds on an old lady.

He discovers that he is in Mississippi and surrounded by wolves – of a lycanthrope variety – who attack him. He overpowers and kills all bar one when a rider comes along – the rider is Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare), the vampire King of Mississippi and he has an offer Bill really can’t refuse. This brings in the vampire machinations I spoke about. The wolves are a pack dedicated to him (and controlled via vampire blood) and I loved the fact that the wolves were done as actual wolves – albeit evil looking – rather than Wolfman type werewolves.

Sookie watches a flying Eric
There are several threads to this arc, Edgington’s expansion plans, the fact that Queen Sophie-Anne (Evan Rachel Wood), of Louisiana, is broke, aspects of Eric’s (Alexander Skarsgård) mortal life, the public face of the vampires as well as their shadowy Authority and why Bill came to Bon Temps. However it all comes down to one thing, the true nature of Sookie. We know she is a telepath, and last season we saw her shoot light out of her hand, now we discover… okay, spoiler time…

crying over gossamer faries?
Sookie is a human/fairy hybrid and I know some felt let down by this (a sentiment shared by the character on screen) but it’s straight from the books (although she doesn’t discover it until quite deep into the series). A relative of Sookie bred with a fae and the genes come out sporadically in the family line. Why do the vampires want a fairy… firstly they thought the vampire’s had wiped out the race, their blood is irresistible to vampires. Secondly, not only is it delicious but it allows them to walk in the sun (for a very short time in the case of Sookie's hybrid blood). I didn’t have a problem with this direction, I did think that the portrayal of the fairies was a little bit gossamer and cheesy, however.

bloody snout
As for mini-arcs, we get Sam discovering his real family and then – post that – suddenly flashing back to his past and developing anger management issues. We get Arlene pregnant, but discovering the baby is not Terry’s (Todd Lowe) but a legacy left by serial killer Rene (Michael Raymond-James). Jason (Ryan Kwanten) adds a welcome comic undertone trying to assuage his guilt for killing Eggs (Mehcad Brooks) at the end of season 2 by wanting to become a cop and falling for meth cooker’s daughter (and were-panther) Crystal (Lindsay Pulsipher). Show favourite Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) meets a bruja in a mini-arc that had little substance, but was carried by the actor’s force of character and should develop as a story next season.

James Frain as Franklin
Vampire-wise we have the romantic arc between vampire Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and human Hoyt (Jim Parrack), which worked well due to the performances and writing. More meaty was Tara (Rutina Wesley) in distress over the death of Eggs turning for solace with vampire Franklin Mott (James Frain), who turns out to be a complete psychopath – more so than any of the vampire’s we have seen, who tend towards sociopath mostly – and proved to be one of the best minor characters added into the show.

pain is so close to pleasure
So, loved how they did the wolves but wish we’d seen more to explain pack dynamics. Some of the mini-arcs were excellent, but some were flimsy or too soap – in fairness some developed stories that should be picked up in the next season. There was only one main arc, which was good, but I never actually got the sense of enormity around the events that I felt the scriptwriters tried to imbue it with (around the vampire machinations). A good season but not as good as season 1. 7.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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