By Thea Lim, Joseph Lamour, Tami Winfrey Harris, Latoya Peterson and Andrea Plaid
The End of Bilkie set to music
Andrea: So….Sookie’s newly found fairy identity leads her to 1) her screaming her ass off (per usual) with the realization that her man’s been using her for her fairy juice and 2) her doing the first mature thing (in my estimation) since this show started: breaking up with the vampire. My question is: Bill is a couple of centuries old. Did he *really* think Sookie wouldn’t get hip to the fact that he’s just no good for her? And that weepy I-nearly-killed-you-but-I-lurve-your-ass-Sookeh speech just gave me bitchlips because of Bill’s (willful) naivete.
Latoya: Seriously. I was so ready for this cycle of dysfunction to end that I had prepared some theme music for the final farewell in the hospital, 1TYM’s “It’s Over”:
(For those of y’all looking for the translation, click here)
I suppose its kind of apropos most of the concert videos push together It’s Over and Put Em Up, following the sad song with the “I will not be defeated” joint.
Thea: I will say that I liked the symbolism of the blood line being broken between them. It looked nice. Yes, I can occasionally be mollified by a nicely shot bit of poetry.
Tami: I would have been more impressed by the breakup if it had lasted more than 24 hours. Yeah, Sookie and Bill’s parting was well acted, but I still cry foul on the reasoning for the split being “Well, we’ll never have picket fences and sunny days together” and not “You nearly killed me. I hear you have some creepy file on my family. My best friend says you left her in a life-threatening situation.” It all came down to Sookie not being able to have her romantic fantasy relationship. Harumph!
Joe: I don’t care what anyone else thinks, I found their break up really well acted and rather touching. The one thing that Oscar winners know how to do best is weep uncontrollably, and boy did Anna Paquin get to show why she has that thing.
Thea: Agreed. Sheepishly.
Andrea: But, Joe, what pushes mere weeping to Oscar-nabbing is what my moms calls The Snot Factor. Anna Paquin and Stephen Mowry didn’t snot; ergo, no awards. When they go home at the end of a day’s shooting they should rent Gladiator. Russell Crowe got that Academy Award on the strength on his nasal stream. Just saying.
Joe: Ha! Halle, anyone?
Andrea: Dude, that’s after she won the award. Though I would’ve given her the Oscar for that acceptance speech than for her actual performance in Monster’s Ball. Better yet, I would’ve given it to her for her composure after Adrien Brody sneak-attack kissed her when he won his Oscar.
Back to True Blood…What nearly made me nearly stake Bill was when he tries to kick out Jessica because of his failed relationship with Sookie. I was like, “Just because you and your younger lover didn’t work out, you’re going to be a deadbeat maker to Jessica? You need to learn the difference between the young woman you’re fucking and the young woman you essentially fathered. Don’t get it twisted.” But Jessica is full of win in this ep: her tantrum at Bill wanting to go neglectful fits the situation. (Sookie, take notes.) My heart went out to Jessica feeling abandoned because she really was. And Bill gets over himself enough to be a proper maker. Thank you, Jessica, for setting Bill’s mind right.
Tami: Bill is totally that ineffectual and irresponsible emo guy that just lets life (or afterlife) happen to him and never admits his role in his problems. Lorena called him on his shit when she pointed out that he enjoyed the ugly things they did as a couple. Here he has made this baby vamp and abandoned her for weeks on end, allowing her to mistakenly kill someone, and he just wants to cut her loose in a fit of faux concern for her. The truth is Bill can’t be bothered to live up to his responsibility, because he needs to go sulk over Sookie. The man has no fight in him. Compare that to Eric, who was working some crazy complicated revenge plot, while trying to save his progeny and staying out of the nefarious clutches of two monarchs. If situations were reversed, Bill would have taken to his bed weeping.
Andrea: …and writing bad poetry while sweeping his hair out of his face.
Thea: I wrote “oh for crying out loud” in my notebook during when Bill and Sookie got back together (they lasted a whole day! wow!)…I really thought that their energy-sucking love affair was finally coming to an end. I’m so naive. When is it going to end already?
Joe: Thea, I think I may have shouted “Oy gevalt” when they got back together (as steamy as that reunion was, at least for my eyes) From being dumped by cell phone, to saving your ex-boyfriend anyway, to getting back together for an escape, to being almost murdered by him, to dumping him, to crying some with a buddy, to canoodling with a hot ass werewolf, to getting back together with your vamp all in 48 hours. This girl sure enjoys an active schedule. I think the audience could of used a little more time between break-up and make-up.
Tami: See, I find Sookie/Bill sex scenes so not hot. I’m sure it’s partly because I loathe both characters, but also because knowing that Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer are a real-life couple kind of makes me feel like a peeping Tami.
Talbot and Death by Sex
Andrea: Talbot gave me all sorts of life in this episode. From his hollering at Russell about how he leaves Talbot to clean up after his mess (“Franklin’s brain won’t wash off the guest linen, I’ve had to bury werewolves under the gazebo, and that Sookie bitch staked Lorena. I’ve had enough excitement, thank you!!”) to his two-sentence seduction of Eric (“I’m bored. Take off your clothes.”), Talbot finally–finally–grew on me. Too bad–actually, it’s really fucked up–that he’s murdered in a same-gender encounter. That hit a little too true for me, considering how many men who have sex with men die at the hands of self-identified straight men out of “gay panic.” I’m still unnerved by that scene.
Latoya: Same here. I knew the scene was going to end that way, but it still sucked to watch it happen. Eric is definitely portrayed as awash in heterosexual virility (if you can excuse the smedium v-necks which got him coded as gay back in season one), so the whole temptation/seduction took on played some strange, but depressingly familiar notes. Farewell fabulous. *pours one out for Talbot*
Thea: Hm. I wasn’t sure what to think about that gay love scene. It is difficult to write off as coincidence that the first really open gay love scene in this show (I am not counting the rather chaste kiss between Jesus and Laffy) ends with the death of one of the partners.
But I have to disagree that Eric is coded as heterosexual. I actually find him to be one of the most interesting characters on the show because he is the most difficult to read. I don’t feel as if he is strongly coded hetero or queer. He seems just generally Dionysian. I like that about him and it seems unusual for a TV character, especially since it’s not like he’s weeping in a corner over whether he likes boys or girls (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s just so rare on TV that you see someone who is totally comfortable with sexing whoever), he’s just Eric.
Joe: Is it just me or are Lafayette and Jesus always kissing in the dark? What’s up with that?
I think, though, all vampires of extended age have a sort of fluid sexuality–The Queen, The King and Pam immediately come to mind. Eric is pretty doggone old, but even more than old (or pansexual) he’s an opportunist. I think in this instance at least he wanted to catch Talbot off guard, and what better way to do that than to use his roguish charm.
Tami: I agree that Eric, to me, has always felt pansexual, which is not uncommon in modern vampire lore. ITA about Jesus and Lafayette always shrouded in shadow doing this chaste dance. On the one hand, it makes for very tender and sensual scenes. On the other, it sets their interactions apart from those of heterosexual characters who generally get it on quickly, aggressively and with all the lights on. It could be that the show is hedging–teasing a homosexual sexual relationship, but avoiding graphic displays that might turn off some viewers. Or, it could be that given stereotypes and biases toward gay relationships, Alan Ball wants to make sure the audience gets that the bond between Jesus and Laffy is more than sex.
Andrea: Let me address my gurl Tara. I’m glad that some of the other characters are finally taking Tara’s trauma seriously, from Lafayette’s giving her a foot massage and giving her space to talk about it to Sam hugging her and allowing her to cry in his arms and telling everyone to chill out with her because “she’s gone through some things.” Of course, Sookie has to be, well, her, and is still not clueing into what her bestie has been trying to say about Bill and the shit she’s gone through with Franklin. Again, it seems to me that Sookie asking all faux-therapist-y about Tara’s “hurting” again came about in a “safe” situation. I swear I’m thiiiiiiis close to auditioning for the show just so I can be cast as Tara’s homie.
Latoya: Seriously. When Tara stormed off saying that she didn’t want to talk about what happened “Cause you don’t want to hear what I’ve gotta say,” she was so painfully right. Sookie wouldn’t even hear her out. And that line about acting like “a dumb bitch in a country song” was fucking priceless. (And as we saw later, sadly true.)
Also, as an aside, I was blown away by Rutina Wesley in this episode. Her acting was on point, down to her shivering trauma lip. The writers are clearly exploring cycles of abuse through Tara and Tommy, and I appreciate the emotional depth. I’m also amazed at the bond between Tara and Lafayette, and how that quietly grows through shared, unnamed pain. Perhaps I am coloring too much of my True Blood viewing experience with personal experience, but I can’t count how many times I’ve been in a room with someone, both of us holding secrets about something that happened, neither of us actually saying it. I think our own judgement of ourselves is something we project on other people, the way we beat ourselves up for not having done something sooner/earlier, internalizing things…Tara and Laffy are holding back from each other when they could be finding solace in each other, yet that scene just felt real to me. I wonder when (or if) they will eventually confide in each other and how that scene will go. For me, it always feels like a dam breaking, the second after you/your friend blurts something out and that scary pause when the other person is processing and you/them await the reaction. I would love to see something like that happen, but I’m not sure where the writers are trying to take this.
Tami: It is good to see that the show really does take the rape and kidnapping and emotional abuse that Tara endured seriously. We spoke in earlier episodes about how by making Franklin a witty (mentally-imbalanced) charmer, True Blood made it easy to read the situation for laughs. Rutina Wesley’s playing of Tara’s PTSD is so impactful. You feel it. When Franklin returns–which we know he will based on previews–it will be interesting to see how they balance the portrayal of Tara’s pain with Franklin’s bon mots and speed texting. I gotta tell you, I’m bracing for some bullshit.
Thea: I was relieved to see Tara finally getting some screen time to express her pain…when the opening credits went straight into Alcide comforting Sookie, I was like, if they don’t give Tara a few minutes of processing before the third commercial break, I am turning this show off!
And I do understand what you are saying, Latoya, about how they chose to portray Tara’s pain and how it rang true for you – how some people grieve by crying all over their cereal (hello Sookie), while others hold it inside. On the other hand, I did feel a little bit like Tara being strong and not sharing her feelings – or being too traumatised to articulate them – was a little convenient for the writers. Does Tara refuse to share her pain because that’s true to her character, or because it’s easier to write her that way?
I was glad though, that she appeared to be continuously traumatised throughout the episode. I feel like this show often rushes its characters through grief or sorrow. Like how the day that Tommy left his parents, Sam was like, so, when you gonna apply for college? Jeez, give the kid some time.
Also, did anyone notice how Tara gives up Alcide for Sookie? Blagh!
Andrea: Thea, I was all like, “Tara, noooooooooooo!” Then, I did my usual fisting-shaking at the destiny deities.
Joe: I’m surprised no one mentioned the scrapbook with one lone, pitiful picture of Sookie and Bill in it. A framed picture of them would of been more than okay, but, for the love of God, when she broke that thing out I thought I accidentally changed the channel to a Sweet Valley High rerun. The writers can’t seem to decide if Sookie is a waif or a warrior. I like my Sookie powerful.
Thea: Ha! Yes! As me and 1000 other people on the internet said, where the hell did she find time to make a scrapbook? I would say that that was bad writing (not only because Sookie’s never had any time to scrapbook, but also because it just seems silly and out of character – she doesn’t strike me as the sentimental type), except for the fact that I enjoyed the good laugh I got out of seeing said pitiful scrapbook.
Andrea: Just for that, I’m not showing y’all my scrapbook.
Tami: Andrea, if your scrapbook only has one picture in it, you can just e-mail it to us or something.
Latoya Schools Us on Improper Firearm Use
Latoya: Can we do 16 bars on this Bill/Sookie/Jessica vs. Russell/Debbie/Wolfpack ultimate cage match? First of all, if you have ever been through firearm training, the first thing they tell you is to not even pick up the weapon unless you are planning to shoot to kill. All Sookie did brandishing the shot gun around was put herself in danger, since she was clearly too squeamish to use it on another human. I’m not saying its an easy choice to take a life, but if you aren’t going to use it, the gun is more of a liability to you than an asset. She better thank her lucky stars that Debbie was so full of rage and V that she wanted to play punch out instead of speed Sook to her death. And seriously, with all that’s happened in Bon Temps, has no one learned to shoot and roll out? The only person who has done that yet is Alcide.
(I should note – portrayals of firearms in media annoys me to no end. You’re supposed to see Sook with the gun and think “badass” but really, what she did was enormously fucking stupid.)
Andrea: Latoya, thank you! I also remember a movie critic once said that most times, when the audience sees a person with a gun, it’s usually time for a speech. Feh.
Joe: I think Sookie was probably also full of rage and V too, which might have peppered her actions during that scene. I mean, she usually takes an ill advised path, but this episode was full of them.
Tami: Not only was I yelling for Sookie to bust a cap in Debbie, I was yelling for Debbie to shift for deity’s sake. I mean, if I have the ability to turn into a bloodthirsty animal with fangs and claws on a whim, you can bet I’m not going to waste my time with hand-to-hand combat. Just sayin…
Madness & Stereotype
Thea: I did not care for the way they treated Laffy’s “crazy lady!” mama this episode. So many cliches. Plus, Jesus simply manages to disarm her by saying “let’s watch TV!”? Come on. She has a mental health condition, she’s not a child.
So far the portrayal is extremely infantilising and fulfills so many TV stereotypes about mad people, even up to the idea that in all of their craziness, they are somehow more perceptive than everyone else.
Joe: This is something I bring up so often with this show. You cast Alfre Woodard, arguably one of the most well versed actresses of recent times and all you give her is “crazy old black lady”. I mean the lady has four Emmys. Now, that that line she uttered (about Lafayette having “power” and something about witches) maybe that will lead to a juicer storyline. Here’s hopin’.
Thea: Yes, and yes again. As stereotypes always are, it is just such lazy writing. Try writing a character who is mad and who also comes across as human, complex and sympathetic. That’s much more of a challenge than regurgitating One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It just makes me want to go rewatch Keane.
I am also sorry to say that Jesus’ whole interchange with Laffy’s mom made me dislike him a little bit. Stop talking down to people all the time Jesus!
Tami: As much as I love Jesus and Lafayette together, I’m going to need Jesus to tone down the sanctimoniousness. Really, dude, chill. Laffy has seen you, what, twice? It’s a little too soon for judging and po-faced advice.
Andrea: I’m not going to address Bill’s and Sookie’s make-up sex: that was too cliched to be sexy. The headbangy guitars to show how hard they’re fucking just made me yawn. Ooo, ah. Next. And, as Tami said earlier, the fact that Paquin and Mowry are a couple made me feel like I was watching their spliced-in sex tape than a sex scene between two fictional characters. Doubleplus not the sexay for me.
No, let’s talk about Tara dreaming about masturbating in the shower only to have Franklin come in/up to liplock/embrace her. Like you said, Latoya, Rutina nailed this–for me, she really had this scene on lock because of the verity. It was great to see a woman of color pleasuring herself–I damn near stood up and applauded for that moment alone. Then, there was that fist-bite of knowing the best lover Tara ever had was the same person who abused her. I mean, where to even put all that? Damn.
Latoya: Seriously. Tara is probably dying inside, even though she rationally knows it’s probably the V talking (or maybe that first night, pre-horror?) Our emotions/sex drives are complicated little beasts.
I am so happy that Jesus and Lafayette seem to be creeping toward something.
Andrea: They looked like they creeped to the sofa, maybe?
Latoya: I’m so damn happy, I made a soundtrack-timeline of how this relationship should play out if there’s any justice in this world.
(Also, peep Hikki’s lyrics: Wish i could prove i love you/ but does that mean i have to walk on water?/ When we are older you’ll understand/ It’s enough when i say so/ And maybe somethings are that simple - damn girl, preach!)
And they ride off into the sunset in the Ferrari.
Yeah, I know, not going to happen, but I can dream damn it!
[Note from Joe: That car--It’s actually an Alfa Romeo Competizione. It has parts of a Ferrari but isn’t exactly one. Look! I know things that straight men do. ]
Latoya: My brain isn’t functioning on the higher levels with this show. Vampires bad, car pretty.
Andrea: And leave Russell with Bratty Vamp Queen and “Special Cunt” behind. Speaking of that, ahem, moniker… thoughts on that?
Thea: I will admit that I LOLed when he said “special cunt.” My feminist cred is going down the drain.
Tami: Thea, we can turn in our cards together. I laughed at that despite myself.
Latoya: Sookie’s got the magic clit…
Joe: Slightly uncomfortable… Haha. I’ll just be over here.