Boo, Hiss: True Blood Recap “Evil is Going On” S03E12

Hosted by Thea Lim, with Tami Winfrey Harris, Latoya Peterson, Andrea Plaid and Joseph Lamour

laffy

Thea: Well. Colour me disappointed. Laffy and Jesus get all of 5 seconds in the season finale, the cliffhangers have solely to do with the unkillable Bill and Sookie (wow, I wonder what is going to happen to them. yawn.), Alcide gets neither action nor a chance to take off his shirt, Nan is totally unchanged by Russell’s TV appearance, Godric comes back as a hippie hologram, AND Tara leaves the show?…Wait, maybe Tara leaving the show isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe she’ll move to some new parish with good storylines.

Latoya: I’m still blown that they set it up so Tara leaves. W.T.F. I remember clearly saying “Tara and Laffy go to New Orleans” not Tara gets a new cute ‘do and rides off into the sunset. Now, I’m not saying it doesn’t make sense. It’s been about three months of non-stop drama, murder, and mayhem. But I’m mad Tara might get the chop. Unless something takes out her car on the way out of Bon Temps, which could also happen.

Andrea: Thea, you will be the life of me!:-) I wholeheartedly agree with ya: I felt Sookie disappearing into Faerieville *improved* the show. Bill and Sophie….didn’t give a shit. I hope that ends with their driving stakes into each other’s hearts. Laffy and Jesus: the witch confession was interesting, but then that suggests what a couple of readers said in earlier threads about Jesus manipulating Laffy via his visions so Laffy would be dependent on him. Then again, it could become an interesting lover/apprenticeship entanglement that might be fascinating to watch.

Thea: I did love Laffy’s “so you’re a witch who’s a nurse who’s a dude?” line.

Andrea: That was a moment, but I also want to get some clarity on the gendered meaning of “witch.” ::Flashes big “W” in the sky:: Hey, Winn, would you mind offering some understanding about that for me, pretty please with your favorite topping on it? :-)

But my fave moment is Tara riding out of town with her fab-ass car and new ‘do. Roll on, sistahgurl, roll on…

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Tara Cuts Her Hair: A Reality Check

Thea: It’s true. That was a good moment. What did y’all think of the haircut scene? Did one of the writers watch Good Hair and then write a memo saying “Black ladies like hair. Must write hair scene for Tara.” Oh, I have just out-cynical-ed even myself.

Andrea: Not at all, Big T. (May I call you Big T, Thea?) I liked the scene a lot. I dig your analysis about the racialization of the scene, but I didn’t quite read it that way. At first, I read it as an engendered scene, of “look at the woman cutting her hair to change her life,” which seems to be a leitmotif of women’s transformation stories in literature, mythologies, and pop culture. However I had to check that idea because hair-cutting seems to symbolize, in both spiritual and secular traditions, a letting go, a movement towards transforming one’s life for people of various genders. And, as much as I loved Tara’s fresh braids for three seasons, I really dig her natural lush ‘do, which is rare to see a dark-skinned Black woman rock in moving pictures.

Thea: Oh yes! I normally get Little T. Big T, much better. And cosign, I liked the significance of Tara’s new, bigger hair – maybe she’ll make a triumphant return at the end of the next season to save the day or something and Sookie will finally realise what a terrible friend she has been…hope hope.

Tami: I agree with Andrea that changing hair is often used to symbolize a woman’s transformation, but the hair cutting scene irked me. Maybe I’m not up on my weavology, but you can’t just hack off your shit and reappear downstairs looking like a new woman.

Latoya: Well, having done the presto-chango myself, you can hack off your braids in your bathroom and untangle them yourself over the course of a few hours, depending on how fast you are and how short your natural hair is. Your hair generally holds the braid pattern – for me, it means I have crinkles. Now, where Tara found time to do a roller set/straw set before coming downstairs…search me.

Tami: We all know what really happened is that Tara called her stylist and set up an appointment for four weeks later. Then she sat for like 12 hours while her hair was de-weaved, washed, deep conditioned and re-weaved into the new cute shorter ‘do. I’m just saying.

Andrea: Tami….see…..LOLOLOLOL! Considering that no one seems to know where Bon Temps’ Black community is–let alone who/where Tara would get her braids done–I’m gonna let that detail slide. Girlfriend had to do for herself….as per usual.

Godric wan Kenobi

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Latoya: Russell went out like a damn chump. I had such high hopes for him. However, there was an upside – Godric-Jesus! I would not be upset if Godric hovered around as Eric’s Jiminy Cricket all next season. Plus, this is a fascinating set up. We thought Godric was going into the great nothingness, but apparently vamps can repent and end up in a blissful state of peace? Is that all vamps after the grave, or was Godric trying to save Eric from vamp hell?

Joe: It appears to me that like the last episode of Mad Men (where- spoiler alert- Anna appears as an apparition to Don) that the ghost technique is used to serve as a sort of conscience. It seems to show the desires of the hauntee character as much as the haunter.

Thea: I hated Godric-Jesus! I kept yelling at him to get lost. You’re such a pacifist, Latoya :)

Latoya: You know, they said the same about Jiminy Cricket. Plus, Eric deserves a little torment, don’t you think? After all, no one else can see Godric. Maybe he’s just going mad…

Andrea: Sorry, Latoya. I side with Thea with the Godric-Jesus thing. My lips stayed pursed when I saw him and Eric together, though I’m glad Eric doesn’t have a true “come to Godric” moment and ends up burying Russell. Bill sort of surprised me when he tries to turn the tables on Eric in a “payback’s a bitch” moment…but I should have known that, like most of Bill’s attempts, it is going to be ineffective. SMH.

Tami: Sorry, Latoya. I’m not feeling Godric Wan Kenobi. Can’t a Viking get his revenge on in peace?

Latoya: Look man, I have a thing for depressed/depressive characters. First Eeyore, now Godric. And everyone needs a damn conscience (plus, it means more screen time!)

True Blood Bluffin: Russell Dies, Bilkie Breaks Up

Thea: But, am I the only one who suspects that Russell is not dead? It seems like on this show, you’re not dead unless we see you explode into a slosh of blood-gut. Speaking of, R.I.P. Talby’s blood-gut.

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Joe: That maniacal laugh by Sookie as she disposed of the raspberry-pudding-remains had my viewing party in stitches.

Joe: That maniacal laugh by Sookie as she disposed of the… raspberry-pudding-remains had my viewing party in stitches.

Latoya: I was hollering – nooooooo, poor Talbot guts! Why is Talbot always the pawn? And no, you know that bama ain’t dead. If he’s still in one piece, he isn’t dead. I’ll put down two dollars on the werewolves breaking him out by mid fourth season, if not earlier. But that’s less about Russell and more about the sheer incompetence and sloppy work of Eric and Bill. Say what you want about Jason Stackhouse, at least he had the foresight to have a shotgun full of wooden bullets.

If that had been me? Encased in silver (for real, not just a neck chain from the 80s), locked in a coffin reinforced with silver (you know the magistrate had one), shot up with silver bullets, then cemented in the coffin, then dropped into the nearest ocean.

That’s villain disposal. Now it would have been faster to kill him, but if Eric wanted him to suffer…

Thea: Yeah, couldn’t Talbot have gotten a bit more respect? Everyone takes out their anger with Russell out on Talbot. I bet Sookie would’ve liked Talby had she gotten to know him a little.

The decision to drag Russell back into Fangtasia was poor, and unrealistic; even if it was (kinda) nice to see Sookie saving the day her own damn self. The end of last week’s episode would’ve been a better season finale. Didn’t that just feel like sloppy writing? I would’ve loved to have seen Russell’s head accidentally pop off while Sookie was dragging him by his neck chain back into the bar.

Latoya: Yeah, seriously. It was so tacked on. Though there was one good thing that came off it. Sookie might finally be off Bill. That last scene with Sookie, Eric, and Bill at the house was pretty good, only because for once, the focus wasn’t on Sookie’s fairy-crunk-juice-vajayjay and instead went to the horrifying realization that she can’t trust any of these mofos.

Andrea: Truth, Latoya! But we also know that, with Bilkie being real-life marrieds, they’ll get back together on the show. To my utter annoyance.

Thea: I too am skeptical that Bilkie has bit the big one. This show has threatened to kill off major characters (like putting Sookie in the dungeon for all of 5 seconds) or make major plot shifts (like Sookie and Bill splitting for all of four hours) and then not followed through, one too many times. It’s like the little show who cried Wolf…I just don’t buy any of their threats anymore. One thing that I have to give to the Islamophobic Xenophobic Misogynist Racist mess that was 24: they knew how to kill off characters. Alan Ball needs to watch some 24. Or maybe just the highlight reel.

Bill: Evil Like a Feminist who Pretends to be Anti Racist But Really Isn’t

Thea: So is Bill actually evil? Or is he just like that your annoying sad-sack high school boyfriend who was always just too pathetic to truly be evil?

Tami: Bill isn’t so much evil as…an asshole. He’s too inept to be a villain. Although I thought the moment when he double-crossed Eric was a good plot twist, I was thinking “Idiot! Eric is gonna be out of that in, like, 10 seconds.”

Joe: Non book readers. Not only did Bill “save” Sookie (his words, not mine) by letting three vampires feast on her, but he still isn’t admitting why exactly he was gathering intel on her, lied to her about it, and buried Eric in cement. Can we all agree that Bill stinks now?

Latoya: Bill is whack. Sookie is (vamp) crack. Where is In Living Color when you need it?

Thea: It breaks my heart a little bit every time I see Eric get tender with Sookie, a la his it-hurts-me-to-see porch scene. Eric! You can do so much better than Sookie! Why not date Alcide? He seems reliable. Or no, maybe someone with more spark. How about Laffy? Nan? Pam??

eric

Andrea: I think Bill is evil, but not in a Russellian or otherwise moustache-twirlingly obvious sense. Bill attempts to be more charmingly duplicitous than apparently evil–the operative word being “attempts.” Ball & Co.–including Stephen Moyer–have tried to give Bill this “vampire with a conscience,” with “conscience” to be a cue for “being capable of love”–vibe since jump. So, this emotive shortcut–or as Drew Weston calls it in his book, The Political Brain, “emotional association”–is supposed to help the audience see Bill as redeemable from his murderous “nature.” As the show has unfolded, we and (finally!) Sookie sees how double-dealing he is, even with his love. But it’s also what we say in anti-racism: it’s not about the intention, but the effect. Whatever Bill’s good intentions–conscience, love, whatever–the effect and impact as been perpetuating a lot of nasty acts, from using Sookie for her fairy juice to deserting Jessica to abandoning Tara in her moment of dire need. To quote Audre Lorde, what Bill does is using without the consent of the used, which she calls abuse and, indeed, deems evil.

Thea: Cosign-arama! I was feeling such a faux-ally vibe from Bill’s “most vampires are not like me” speech, but I felt like I might be projecting. Thanks for drawing the analogy, Andrea. Bill makes me feel like I am listening to the vampire version of, par ejemple, all the speeches third wave feminism gives to differentiate itself from the racism of the second wave…while being racist. The racism of third wave feminism is totally like your vampire boyfriend claiming he is different from other vampires, while constantly snacking on your faery jugular.

Joe: Yeah, Thea. All I could think was “Bill, all vampires *are* like you: in it for themselves.”

Andrea: Oh SNAP on your analogy, Big T!

Joe: If Sookie’s dissappearing act was supposed to be meant as a morsel to make us want to watch no matter what next season, then Alan Ball really needs to start having focus groups.

Sam and Tommy: Redemption?

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Thea: I really hope Tommy doesn’t die. I liked him a lot, and even though it is a class-based cliche that he is illiterate, considering how many adults carry the secret that they can’t read, it would be interesting to see that pan out as a storyline. Were there any hints along the way this season that he couldn’t read? I also was surprised by Sam’s final spurt of violence – I thought his “it’s what I am, it’s who I am” speech to Tara showed that he had finally reached self-acceptance and a coming to terms with his past.

Tami: I don’t think Sam shot Tommy. I think that character, as one of the main ones in the narrative, is going to have a redemptive story where he sees the light. You can’t really come back and be “good Sam” after shooting your abused, illiterate, teenage brother in the back.

Andrea: Sam revealing that he’s a shape-shifter to his non-fam closest is about 2 seasons too late for me. So, I’m with Tara on that one. What made me cringe a little is when Sam screams at Tara in a “get-over-it” voice that Franklin was the “psychopath”–yeah, he’s right to imply to Tara that all supernaturals aren’t malevolent beings and what she said was stereotypingly foul to him as being a part of that group. I think I would’ve written his line differently, like, “Tara, I completely understand that what you’ve gone through has soured you on supes, and I really hope that you work your way through that. But remember, (Sam cuts a piece of hoecake with a fork) we’re not (Sam feeds the piece to Tara) all alike (Sam licks the taste from her lips and kisses her neck and back of her knee).”

Latoya: Meh, Sam was safety sex. No need to nibble on Tara and hoecake, I’m happy she’s keeping it moving. I’m not exactly thrilled at this Tara-Sam romance. Speaking of which, why has no one done a fan video to “Bad Romance?” That’s the unofficial theme song for this show.

Andrea: See, I think you can still nibble and feed someone hoecake and still be thought of as safety sex–just very sexy safety sex. :-D I think that the scene could have still played out with Tara wanting to leave and Sam encouraging her. (BTW, I thought Sam acknowledging that Tara was “smart” was a groovy second.) As played out in the ep, Tara and Sam’s exchange has a “Blacks are the *real* bigots” vibe that jainked up the moment.

On Tommy: I gleaned in an earlier thread that the Mickens resorted to dogfighting out of necessity, that they may not have the employment history to “get a job,” as Sam kept telling Tommy to do. Tommy revealing that he’s illiterate makes sense in that, due in part to family necessity, he probably didn’t have a opportunity to learn to read. I do think he offered a great opportunity to examine how literacy further impact life choices. At the same time, I honestly found his young-punk pose extremely annoying, so I wouldn’t miss him if he left–but I wanted him to go out alive. But Sam shooting him–yeah, I do think Tommy’s dead–just has that “taking out the garbage” tinge to it, considering how unsavory and unlikeable Ball & Co. has made white poor people on the show.

Latoya: Seriously. Tommy had such potential, he was crying out for help, and Sam’s character development really seems like a bender of self destruction. I’m not saying he should have let shit slide but as the grown folks in the neighborhood like to say, “You never hear about someone getting beat down anymore.” Please, let’s use the guns responsibly.

Sookie: Worst Friend Ever Part XVII

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Thea: Ok, did anyone else scream at the top of their lungs when Tara said “I’m sorry I’ve been such a bitch to you Sookie?” I was like, OHMYGODSHESHOULDBEAPOLOGISINGTOYOUIAM LOSINGMYMINDRIGHTNOWGASPPANT.

Latoya: Ummmmmmmmhmmmmm. Worst. Fanservice. Ever.

Thea: This is my major question for this season of True Blood: are we supposed to dislike Sookie? I often hear criticisms of Sookie that I feel are not endemic to her, but are just the fault of poor writing. That’s to say, it often feels to me that we are supposed to actually like Sookie, and the fact that she is dislikeable is unintentional; the result of thoughtless (or sexist) writing, rather than an intentional decision to create such a loathesome chracter. Whenever I hear people saying Bad Sookie, I always feel like we should be really saying Bad Writers. Then again, does it make a difference whether or not the character is intentionally or unintentionally dislikeable, if it all adds up to the same thing?

Tami: Book Sookie is annoying, too, but far less loathesome than the True Blood version. I think part of the problem is that in the original narrative, the focus is all on Sookie. We hear her inner monologue and understand why she does things. That makes her a lot more sympathetic. I also think Alan Ball’s belief that Bilkie is meant to be forces the character to do ridiculous things to keep the tru wuv going.

Andrea: I screamed the exact same thing, Thea! Again, why should Tara apologize for a perfectly reasonable reaction to such a funky-acting “friend.” It’s (yet again) the woman of color placing her feelings “aside” for the feelings of the white woman, regardless of how the white woman acted that would cause the reaction in the first place. I think folks need to be cast on True Blood to be on Team Tara when she rolls back into town. I’m claiming the front seat! :-D

As far as Sookie’s dislikeability: all I’m going to say is intention and effect. Whatever the intentions as far as the creatives–including actor Anna Paquin–in their construction of Sookie, the net effect is the character is rather dislikeable. Again, I have to go on what’s put on the screen before me and not rely on the source literature for what Sookie’s “supposed” to be or to be told what I’m supposed to feel about her. If that’s going to be the argument for why I should dig Sookie, then Ball & Co. may as well stop wasting time and money filming this series and just have a simple placard come on each week saying, “Read the book. Thanks!”

A.J.’s Law, Vampire Interventions, and an “F” for Class

Thea: Did anyone notice the Osama reference? OH ALAN BALL STOP PISSING ME OFF WITH YOUR PSEUDO-POLITICO BLAH BLAH.

Andrea: I just rolled my eyes. My question: do we need a new Godwin’s Law for bin Laden, since some folks seem to invoke him in the same manner?

Tami: Ooooh! We’ll call it A.J.’s law! (Heads off to make new law an Internet meme…)

Thea: Thoughts on Jessica, Hoyt, Summer’s Vampire Intervention and the creepy doll cameo at Jessica and Hoyt’s new pad? Is Mama Hoyt going to shoot Jessica with a Rev. Newlin (TM) shotgun?

Latoya: What the fuck is that doll? Between the Child’s Play series, Tales from the Hood, and whatever creepy ass horror flick I watched in the 80s with dolls murdering people, I wanted to turn the TV off right then. No bueno. Do. Not. Want. Demonic. Dolls. I’m fast forwarding y’all.

Andrea: That whole vampire intervention scene really reminds me of a rarely had conversation in feminist circles: the “beauty standard” privileges that white women have and how the desire for women of color is viewed as decentering that, as if desire/love/sexing is a zero-sum game. Watching Hoyt’s mother and ex-girlfriend plead with Hoyt to “not go vampire” has that allegorical “racial duty to whiteness” talk that I suspect some female relatives and friends have with white people in private when they pursue women of color out of a seething sense of seeing whiteness as physical/sexual/romantic ideal as defocused. That Hoyt’s mom would go to a murderous end to “get her son back” startled me but, when I thought about what I’ve gone through with my own white ex-husband and his white female relatives (who basically did the same thing Hoyt did with his mom) as well as the microaggressions I go through with some white women at my job and on the street when I’m walking with a white guy or by myself, it seems like a frightening and frighteningly logical conclusion.

vampire intervention

Thea: That crossed my mind too Andrea – the parallels between intervening in a relationship on the basis that the partner is a vampire, vs intervening in a relationship on the basis that the partner is of a different race/culture.  Thanks for validating that I am not reading too much into it all…I guess that’s what Racialicious is for, heh heh.

Thoughts on the Jason/Crystal/Andy storyline? Because God knows I don’t have any. Except that Jason’s final “do the right thing” speech felt vaguely anti-police. Which I kinda liked.

Latoya: Fuck the police, comin’ straight from the underground! Young Stackhouse got it bad cuz I’m — *record scratch.* No, that won’t work. Jason can’t be anti-establishment if he is the establishment. Chalk that up to his soft spot for pretty girls and need for a mission in life.

Thea: Oh Lord. Latoya you need to make a fan video of your Young Stackhouse track.

Tami: This season, True Blood gets a big old “F” for class fail. The folks out in Hot Shot have consistently been drawn as the most cartoonish stereotypes of poor, Southern people. Uncle Daddy? Uncle Daddy? Seriously? Since Alan Ball can’t assign the worst stereotypes to the good, working class people of Bon Temps, and have those characters still be likable, he dumps the traits all in the backwoods, where everyone is dirty, inbred, uneducated, violent, racist, misogynist…oh, and deals either meth or “V.”

Also, note how none of the grown people in Hot Shot were capable of caring for themselves or their neighbors following Calvin’s death. They’re just too poor and stupid. They needed a white knight in the form of Jason Stackhouse. When Jason is your last, best hope, you’ve got some big, big problems.

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Andrea: You took the words right out of my mouth, Tami.

Roll Credits

Thea: And for the last time, sniff: open mic! The food here is terrible! And the portions are so small! I freakin hate True Blood! And I can’t believe I have to wait until next summer to watch more of it!!

Andrea: I’ma say it: just seeing Alcide just makes me a puddle, so I was thrilled to watch him be him, even when he was telling Sookeh about his dreams of her. (Maybe he’s driving off at the end and will meet up with Tara on the road…hope hope.) But Terry….wow! Terry’s just makes me sigh with his singing to the in utero baby and his trying to express his happiness through tears. He’s such a tender and big-hearted man refracted by war scars. Watching his journey from a man feeling like his war demons would keep him from experiencing any sort of happiness and love to his coming to grips that he finds and deserves them just gets me. He’s emerged as one of my favorite characters on this show.

Tami: Team Terry Bellfleur…and pass the hot sauce.

Latoya: Who ordered the burger with AIDS? (And what happened to that Lafayette?)

Andrea: Blah blah blame Alan Ball blah.