Grab your winter jackets and your earmuffs, folks—I think hell just froze over. I never thought I would say this, but my favorite storyline on this season of True Blood so far is the one with Bill in it. (Pause for effect.) Are you still there? Did you die of shock? Do I need to call an ambulance? I feel nauseous just typing those words. But I feel better knowing that it’s probably just a side effect of the Eric Factor, wherein every time Eric is on screen, the show instantly shoots up approximately 1,839 points in quality. Since Bill and Eric are bromancing it up this season, my tolerance for Bill is surprisingly high. Please note: I didn’t say I actually like Bill; it just doesn’t make me physically ill to see his face. I even almost appreciated him for a second when he and Eric discovered that they’re now Eskimo brothers two times over after they both slept with the mysterious and probably up to no good Salome. This was literally my favorite scene of the episode. (Though Tina Majorino—AKA Mac from Veronica Mars—asking Bill and Eric to strip for her was a close second.) Eric walked into the elevator still brimming with residual I-just-had-sex swagger, and he was basically like, “Sup bro, I hit that” (albeit with a little bit more class), to which Bill responded with a knowing smirk. Eric seemed momentarily dismayed to have gotten Bill’s sloppy seconds yet again, but then he brought up the more important issue of why Salome seduced both of them. I mean, obviously we know why she slept with Eric, but Bill? Really? If that doesn’t scream “ulterior motives,” I don’t know what does.
Later, Salome told Roman that she had cleared Bill and Eric of all suspicions of being part of the Sanguinista movement, based on her rigorously methodical intelligence-gathering exercises. She told him Bill is still looking for something to believe in, and Eric only believes in himself. This was actually a pretty accurate analysis of their characters. Bill is like a sad, aimless sheep with really bad hair, and Eric is a proud, cocky lion, self-assured in his awesomeness, and with a beautiful golden mane. Salome is obviously smart and calculating, which supports my theory that she’s actually a Sanguinista. The story she told about her traumatic childhood made me think she has good reason to believe that humans should be herded like cattle.
While we’re on the subject of humans being treated like livestock, Jason made a big emotional break this week when he told Jessica that he’s not just some mechanical bull she can ride whenever she feels like it. What’s that, you say? Jason Stackhouse said no to sex with a beautiful woman? (And for the second time this season! The first was that college girl in the premiere.) It was certainly a defining moment for Jason, coming on the heels of his startling realization that he uses sex to fill the emptiness inside him. This was prompted by his carnal encounter with a former teacher who taught him the only thing he’s ever been great at. (Hint: it’s not chess.) Again, I’m so impressed by Jason’s newfound self-awareness this season, and I’m so glad to see him start to work towards finding some self-worth. It broke my heart when he told Jessica that he doesn’t know how to be friends with women. But she reminded him that, yes, he does, because she’s his friend. Then she went to change into sweats so they could be friends without Jason being distracted by her cleavage.
I love this relationship. Even though I hate the fact that Jason betrayed his best friend, I really do appreciate the kind of mutual understanding and tenderness that Jason and Jessica share (when they’re not having wild sex). Despite their complicated feelings for one another, they’ve really been there for each other. It was so satisfying to see Jason able to admit that sex isn’t what he needs out of their relationship, and then to see Jessica rise to the occasion, proving that they really are friends and not just “f— buddies.”
As I’ve mentioned, another relationship I adore is the one between Eric and Pam, and we got some juicy backstory on them this week. We picked up more or less where things left off last episode. Eric paid a visit to Pam’s brothel, but the only woman he was interested was Pam. She rebuffed him initially, but then they walked in to find another one of Pam’s girls being sucked dry by vampires—specifically Lorena (barf) and a newly turned Bill (double barf). Amidst their confrontation, Eric just about killed Bill for his lack of respect for his elders, but ultimately he spared him because he admired Bill’s loyalty. I can’t have been the only one thinking what a shame it was that Eric didn’t stake Bill right then. It would have saved us all so much trouble later. But alas, no such luck. Eric did, however, earn himself a romp with Pam, who asked him to turn her and save her from the horrible fate that awaited her as an aging woman of the night. Eric explained to her the extreme commitment of creating another vampire, saying that it was greater than any human bond. When Pam commented on the oddity of finding an “honorable vampire,” Eric pointed out that he’s no more rare than “an intelligent whore,” and that they were quite the pair of contradictions. Pam took matters into her own hands by slitting her wrists, pleading with Eric to turn her or watch her die. Personally, I’m glad he chose the first option.
I’ve said before that I’m really not interested in the Tara’s-a-vampire story arc, but it’s worth it to see some good development (and flashbacks) for Pam. When she felt Tara frying at the end of the episode, you could tell she was thinking back to what Eric told her about the responsibilities of being a maker. Of course she’s going to (begrudgingly) come to Tara’s aid. Hopefully this will start to build a maker/progeny relationship between the two of them. That might be the only way I’ll start to care about Tara again, and I’m thinking it might be Pam’s personal growth experience as a maker that helps repair her relationship with her own.
In less exciting news, Sookie was whiny and irritating for most of the episode, except for the part where she fairy-blasted Pam across Fangtasia after she refused to summon Tara. That was pretty awesome. Less awesome was when Alcide found out that Sookie killed Debbie, and he was understandably furious that she hadn’t told him sooner. Poor Alcide. He really deserves better than all the crap he’s had to go through in the past season. Sookie also had a moment of hilarious stupidity/brashness when Tara escaped from the walk-in freezer at Merlotte’s in front of Arlene and Alcide. Sookie tried to play it off like nothing was wrong, asking Tara what she was doing in the freezer. “Seriously, Sookie? This is your plan?” she shot back. There’s the Tara we know and love—still angry at the world, but also occasionally funny.
As the title might suggest, I think a lot of this episode (and this season as well, perhaps) was about what makes us who we are. Jason is a man-whore because he was taught at a young age to use sex as a substitute for love. Tara is a self-hating vampire because of Pam and Sookie and Lafayette. Pam is who she is because of Eric—in part because he turned her, and in part because of how he has fostered the strength and courage that first attracted him to her. On the other hand, is it possible that the reason why Bill is still directionless, still “looking for something to believe in,” as Salome put it, is because he wasn’t given enough direction by his maker? In Pam’s flashback, Eric chastised Lorena for not teaching Bill how to be a respectful vampire. Maybe it’s because of Lorena’s negligent vampire parenting that Bill is the sad, pathetic, poorly coiffed man he is today. Then again, maybe I’ve just watched too much Lost, so I automatically assume that every show is, at its core, really about mommy and daddy issues. One way or another, I’m interested to see what kind of vampire parent Pam will be. Will she abandon her progeny, or will she continue the family tradition set by Godric and Eric and teach Tara how to be a strong, compassionate vampire like her grand-maker?
Photo Courtesy of HBO