Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fringe recap S1E4 (09/30/08)

Brooklyn: A bald guy orders a roast beef sandwich in a deli, with eleven jalapeno peppers on the side and room temperature water. He’s weird. He watches some construction across the street through fancy binoculars, and takes notes in some sort of hieroglyphics, then douses his sandwich in black pepper and half a bottle of Tabasco, in addition to the peppers. He’s really weird (although Mr. Mouse would totally dig a sandwich like that). After eating his sandwich, he looks at the construction site again and then there’s an earthquake and an explosion in the job site. Weird guy drinks his water; a crater emerges in the construction site; weird guy pays his tab and leaves the deli, heading into the demolished site. He makes a call: “It has arrived.”

Boston: Walter is once again keeping his son awake by reciting chemical formulae (for root beer) in the middle of the night. The next morning, Peter goes to see Olivia, bitching about having to live with his father. Peter wants out, not just because he’s sick of his dad but also because he doesn’t like to stay in one place too long. Olivia says that Peter must stay because Walter has stated he will return to the mental hospital if his son leaves.

Chelsea, Massachusetts: The FBI has collected something from the explosion in Brooklyn. They don’t know what it is. It looks like an egg-shaped warhead with flashing blue lights spiraling around it. Apparently, this cylinder tunneled up from the earth to the surface. Another one of these things showed up in 1987 and Olivia is sent to meet with the military guy who was in charge of the situation back then. As she heads out, Peter tells her he’s leaving after this one. Walter wants the cylinder taken to his lab and throws a hissy fit when the FBI hesitates. He needs his equipment, damnit!

The military guy tells Olivia that in 1987 the cylinder that emerged from the ground at Quantico transmitted something they couldn’t decode and then, after several hours, exploded downwards, into the ground, and disappeared. He thinks she should stay as far away as she can from this cylinder.

A tough-looking guy in a watch cap takes a machine gun – that fires blue sparks - and shoots up all the soldiers guarding the Chelsea installation. He asks the remaining scientist where the cylinder is. We know it’s at Walter’s lab where he’s shaking a tuning fork at it. Watch-cap goes to see Olivia’s military guy and zaps him with his special gun.

That night, Olivia gets a phone call from … dead agent John Scott, she thinks. She has the FBI trace the call but they have no record of any calls coming in to her cell at all. She is weirded out by that. Speaking of weird, Walter is still frigging around with the cylinder. It might be a subterranean torpedo that he worked on some time ago, but he’s not saying for sure.

Meanwhile, Olivia recognizes the bald guy (caught in a photo at the Brooklyn explosion) as someone she saw at the hospital two weeks ago (when John was there). She’s got a surveillance photo from the hospital to prove it. She brings this to Broyles’s attention and he takes her to a room filled with surveillance photos of the bald guy. They’ve recorded him at over three dozen scenes connected with the Pattern but they have no idea who he is. They call him “the Observer.”

Olivia gets notification about the attack on the Chelsea facility and warns Peter. Peter tells his dad that someone is after the cylinder and Walter says they must protect it. He needs aluminum foil. This will contain the cylinder’s transmissions. Peter grumpily goes out to fetch some. While he’s gone, Walter injects Astrid (Olivia’s FBI assistant who is fortunate enough to have been assigned to hang out with Walter in the lab) in the neck with something and she collapses. When Peter comes back, Walter and the cylinder are gone.

During this time, Watch-cap has strapped Military Guy down and inserted a bunch of probes up his nose and possibly into his brain. He wants Military Guy to think about the FBI agent who visited him. After some electroshock (?) encouragement, Military Guy does what he is told and Watch-cap captures his thoughts via the iPod earpiece he’s wearing. Don’t ask – because I certainly can’t explain it better than that. Then, having gotten what he was after, he shoots Military Guy with that machine gun.

Walter has gone out for a root beer float when the Observer joins him. He offers some of his drink to the Observer who politely declines, saying he wouldn’t taste much anyway. Because of all the damage the hot peppers and hot sauce have done to his taste buds. The Observer then thanks Walter for hiding the “beacon” since he can’t touch it himself; he tells the mad scientist that soon he will have answers to many of his questions. Back at the lab, everyone is very flustered about Walter’s disappearance – until the cops pick him up, walking on the median of I-95.

Olivia and Peter catch up to Walter at a holding cell. He won’t tell them where the cylinder is, but admits that he is hiding it from whoever is coming for it. He has a theory that he only has to hide the cylinder for another four hours – the Observer told him so. Peter thinks his dad made up this bald man and Walter gets very angry with his son for treating him like a child.

After his dad’s outburst, Peter walks out. He goes to his dad’s lab and packs up some stuff, making some phone calls in the meantime, looking for work anywhere out of Boston. He doesn’t see Watch-cap lurking in the shadows. Some time later, Astrid calls in to report signs of a struggle in Walter’s lab. Watch-cap has taken Peter and hooked him up to the probes. I don’t want anyone shoving anything up my nose like that, thank you very much. Watch-cap gives Peter a charge to let him know what he’s in for.

Olivia obtains a surveillance photo from outside Walter’s lab – showing Watch-cap entering – and shows it to Walter, saying that she thinks Peter’s been kidnapped. Walter is very worried that Peter will lead Watch-cap to the beacon. Even though he doesn’t know where it is. Back at the torture chamber, Walter’s fears are realized as Watch-cap seems to be getting all the information he needs from Peter’s brain.

Watch-cap puts Peter in the trunk of his car and drives out to an old cemetery. Peter’s grandfather (?) is buried there. Peter doesn’t look so good but Watch-cap makes him start digging. Olivia drives up, somehow not alerting Watch-cap with her headlights or the slam of her door. She does manage to step on a twig, however, so he bolts, dug-up cylinder in hand. She chases him, shooting him many times and finally bringing him down.

Just then the fallen cylinder explodes, downward, and tunnels into the earth. Olivia thinks: “That was weird.” Also weird: the Observer watching from the shadows and phoning in his report of “Departure on schedule.” He is interrupted as Peter tackles him, knocking him to the ground. Peter demands to know what the cylinder is, but the Observer reads his mind and speaks the words simultaneously as Peter is speaking them. Peter thinks this is quite disturbing. And then the Observer shoots Peter with some sort of non-bulleted gun that just knocks him out so the Observer can get away.

Charlie fetches Walter out of the holding cell to take him back to his hotel. First, however, Walter wants to apologize to Astrid. He offers to let her inject him to even up the score. Astrid won’t even look at him and he looks sad as he leaves. Olivia and Broyles meet up at the hospital where Peter is being treated. Broyles tells her that the cylinder got away. He seems to be warming to Olivia more and more with each case.

As Peter and Olivia walk out of the hospital, Peter tells her about his experience with the Observer. “What if Walter is right?” he says, “what if this is just the beginning?” When Olivia doesn’t hear him, prattling on that he should be able to leave if he wants to, Peter insists that he is not leaving until he gets some answers to the weirdness that surrounds them.

Later, back at the hotel with his dad, Peter wants to know how Watch-cap got the location of the cylinder out of his head when he didn’t know where it was. Walter tells him that he must reconsider his concept of communication - that Peter knew where the cylinder was because Walter knew where it was. Walter relates a story about a car crash many years ago, when Walter and Peter fell through the November ice and would have died, except that the Observer somehow rescued them from certain death. (Peter only remembered this crash as Walter saving them both.) Today Walter protected the cylinder for the Observer out of his debt of gratitude to him.

That night, Olivia goes home after work, pours herself some cereal and some scotch. Well-balanced dinner – my kind of girl! Someone moves in the doorway: “Hello, Olivia.” It’s Dead John Scott. Olivia at least has the presence of mind to drop the bowl of cereal and not her drink.

You know, I liked this episode MUCH better than the first three because they’re not trying to explain via weird science WHY things are happening (like why Watch-cap is able to extract the information from these people’s brains, for instance). They’re just showing it to us and letting our imaginations fill in the gaps. Isn’t that a rule in television: Show, don’t tell? It might should be, if it isn’t already.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Heroes recap: “One of Us, One of Them” S3E3 (09/29/08)

Back at Level 5, Angela Petrelli tells Sylar that she gave him up for adoption and she’s sorry for it. She’s all creepily up in his face, close-talking. She calls red-shirt “Bridget” into the cell: Bridget can see the entire history of any object she touches. Angela tells Sylar that Bridget is there to “feed” Sylar and, as she walks away down the hall, we can hear Bridget’s screams echoing off the cement walls.

In Washington D.C., Tracy bemusedly plays with her new freeze power in her apartment while Nathan paces in his new office, waiting for her. He turns to find Scar-Peter behind him and plays the voicemail Jesse-Peter left for him. We segue to Jesse-Peter and his escaped Level Fivers (I like the way they play with the Peter/Jesse reflections) going into a bank - and not to make a deposit, I betcha. Jesse-Peter just stands there, useless. I can’t wait to find out what Jesse’s power is (so horrible that Mr. Bennet wouldn’t tell Claire what it was!) and, while we’re speculating, where did Jesse himself go when Peter was put in his body?

Mr. Bennet strides through Level Five, finding Angela staring into the empty cells. He tells her that he is only working with the Company to put the psychopaths back in their cells, and then he’s going back to his family. He says he wants his old partner, the Haitian, back again: “You know how it works – one of us, one of them.” Angela tells him that the Haitian is busy doing a pick-up job for her and introduces him to his new partner, Sylar. Mr. Bennet watches Sylar washing Bridget’s blood off his hands and his expression is equally horrified and schooled into blankness. Sylar turns and smirks, just ever so slightly. What the hell is Angela up to here?

Back at Claire’s house, things are a little tense with Claire’s biological mom, Meredith, hanging around. Pluswhich, Claire has decided that since her life will never be normal, she doesn’t have to go to school anymore. Meredith tries to take Claire’s side but Mrs. Bennet is having none of it, and sends her recalcitrant (but unkillable) daughter off to school. Meredith checks in with Claire outside. Claire wants to fight the bad guys and wants her bio-mom to teach her. “We’re going to play hooky today,” says Meredith.

Mr. Bennet is extremely displeased at having to partner with a psychopath to chase down the escaped psychopaths. Angela says that she is putting Sylar into play regardless of whether Bennet will help; it’s up to him whether Sylar gets some supervision or not. Now, just how is Bennet going to have any sort of control over Sylar – seems like the only person (that we know of) who might be able to rein him in would be the powers-dampening Haitian.

Hiro and Ando pop into existence in Berlin, just before Daphne arrives. She says she’s already delivered Hiro’s half of the formula to her boss and received payment for it; she’s here in Berlin to pick up the second half. She is very confident and sassy and cute. But when Daphne turns to speed away, she can’t: she’s only running real-speed (and she totally runs like a girl, btw). I think it must be the Haitian, here on Angela Petrelli’s orders! Yup, Hiro’s powers don’t work either and shortly thereafter, the Haitian strolls into the theater carrying a metal briefcase.

Nathan goes to see Tracy. She shows him the video of Niki and Nathan in Las Vegas and wants to know who the hell Niki is. Nathan’s having a hard time getting past the whole “you’re not Niki Sanders?” bit. Tracy’s found Niki’s New Orleans address and with an eye roll at the dim Petrelli, heads out to find her doppelganger. For the record, I like Tracy a whole hell of a lot more than Niki.

Back at the bank, the cops have arrived because Knox (the fear-feeder) called them: the money wasn’t the only score he’s after – he wants revenge too and he’s gaining strength from the terror emanating from the hostages. The German metal manipulating guy is ready to go but when he challenges Knox, Knox punches his fist right through the guy’s chest and into the ATM. Excellent: one less Level Five psychopath for Mr. Bennet to retrieve. Fire-starter Finn wants to know what Knox’s plan is. Knox is waiting for Bennet to show up so he can “beat his horn-rimmed glasses right into his skull. Right, Jesse?” Jesse-Peter pauses, then grins uncomfortably.

Oh dear lord: Matt Parkman’s boring-ass African spirit walk. His guide brings him to a bunch of boulders where he has painted many, many scenes from Parkman’s life … and apparently Parkman’s life only. Well, that’s a fairly limited (and stupid) power. You know what, I’m just not going to recap any more of this Parkman thread until something interesting happens. It doesn’t in this episode, I promise.

Angela approves of how Sylar looks in his new suit. He is freaked in a general sort of way, wondering if she’s really his mother. She sort of sidesteps the answer. Mr. Bennet has found the Level Fivers in their Poughkeepsie bank. Angela tells him that Peter is stuck in Jesse’s body and remarks that he doesn’t yet know what Jesse’s power is. Mr. Bennet looks resigned as he asks if his new partner is ready; Sylar actually looks a little nervous to be starting his new job.

Berlin. Hiro and Ando watch the Haitian watch a Buster Keaton movie. Daphne pops up, munching popcorn and pushing all their buttons. When the Haitian leaves the theater, the Japanese do too. The Haitian meets with a woman who hands him the formula, saying that it hasn’t been moved in years, so why now? He replies that Mrs. Petrelli deemed it wise to keep her half closer to home.

Poughkeepsie. Knox figures out that Jesse isn’t really Jesse currently and tosses him across the room. I wish Francis Capra would get to be himself and not just Milo Ventimiglia’s reflection. Outside, Bennet and Sylar, the new Men In Black, drive up. After Bennet tells him to keep quiet, Sylar starts channeling Tommy Lee Jones from The Fugitive, bossing the local cops around, taking over the operation and generally being very funny and in charge. Bennet stares at him, impressed but trying not to be. Inside the bank, Jesse-Peter ‘fesses up as to who he is, saying that he came along with the Level Fivers to make sure civilians didn’t get hurt. Knox and Finn are all whatever, you schmuck.

Sylar thinks Bennet is nuts to go in the bank alone and unarmed. He says he wants to help. Bennet says Sylar can debrief the hostages once Bennet sends them out but under no circumstances is Sylar to “go near that buffet in there.” Sylar grunts, looking as though he’d actually forgotten about his quest to collect powers for a little while there.

Meanwhile, Tracy has arrived in at the New Orleans address. There’s a coffin in the living room. She opens it and gazes upon herself. Micah is there too. He looks at Tracy, saying immediately, “You’re not my mother.” But when she decides to leave, he asks her if she has a power too, and tells her about Niki’s super-strength and his own technopathy. He then goes to his computer and pulls up all cross-references between Niki and Tracy: they were born on the same day, in the same hospital, under the care of the same Dr. Zimmerman. Then, sweetly, he grabs onto this stranger with his mom’s face and gives her a big, desperate hug.

Hiro and Ando unbelievably ambush the Haitian and take the formula … but Daphne swipes it and speeds away. When Hiro tries to stop her, his time-freezing doesn’t work any longer because the Haitian has woken up from his brief unconsciousness. And he is quite pissed off, it would seem.

Bennet enters the bank and Knox lets all the hostages go. Knox then sits Bennet down and get ready to open some whup-ass on him. From the corner, crouching on the floor, Jesse-Peter pleads with Knox to just let it go. Knox won’t hear of it and Jesse-Peter gets a little amped up, shouting, “No one dies today!” And by shouting, I mean that sound-wave force fieldy thing that Echo did in the Heroes webisodes this summer. Peter, a quick study for once, realizes that Jesse’s power can be useful and aims it at Knox.

But then, time freezes and Scar-Peter walks in and physically pushes Now-Peter out of Jesse’s body. Peter is pretty pissed at his alterna-self but Scar-Peter wants to clarify things. Over Peter’s objections that they have to help Bennet, they teleport out of the bank. Time unfreezes and Knox and Bennet go flying from Jesse’s shout. Bennet looks up at Jesse and says thank you, thinking he’s Peter. But Jesse is back in his body and, snarling that Peter’s not here anymore, grabs hold of Bennet. This would be a good time for Sylar to disobey orders and save the day. (However, I really wish that Kristin Bell and Francis Capra would get a scene or two together before they get rid of Jesse.)

In the bank, Knox and Jesse are getting ready to murder Bennet … who is remarkably calm because, as he points out, he’s the guy with the partner standing right behind them. Sylar easily freezes and/or TKs both Knox and Jesse into inaction but that means both his hands are full and, when Finn stands up with fists a-blazing, Sylar can’t do anything. Startlement and concern flicker across his face. Not a problem: Bennet shoots Finn, putting him out of commission. He snaps at Sylar that he told him to stay put. Sylar snaps back that Bennet only told him that to ensure that he wouldn’t. And then, in a nice little moment, Sylar gives Bennet a look that a son gives his dad when he is looking for approval, and Bennet, with a tight grin, gives that approval to him. Right here, this is where Sylar takes a teensy step over towards Good.

Meredith takes Claire into a storage container. “You sure you want to do this?” she asks, firing up. When she starts to heat up the steel container, Claire gets snotty, saying she already knows how to survive, what she wants to learn is combat. Meredith tells her, “There are some things you just can’t fight,” and slowly Meredith’s fire starts sucking the air out of the container. Indestructible Claire can’t breathe (although her fire-starter mom apparently can) and she falls to the ground, choking and scared. Meredith is in her face, asking over and over, “Why do you want to fight bad guys?” and calling bullshit on Claire’s declared wish to help people. Finally, a wheezing Claire admits that she wants to learn to fight to hurt Sylar, to repay him for the pain and terror he caused her. And right here, this is where Claire takes her first step towards the dark side.

But just so we don’t think we know exactly where this story is leading: when Bennet takes Finn out to put him into custody, Sylar TKs the doors shut and advances on Jesse, coveting that voice. Bennet pleads with him to fight the urge and to prove Angela’s faith in him right. Sylar says he can’t (or won’t) fight the hunger, however, and poor Jesse gets lobotomized right in front of poor Bennet’s eyes. Bye, Francis Capra! I think Knox gets away while all this is happening too.

Back at the Bennets’ house, Meredith apologizes for tricking Claire like that. She urges Claire towards her normal life and gives her a hug, but Claire eyes the Company files that her dad left behind. Later, Mrs. Bennet reads Meredith the riot act about allowing Claire to skip school; Meredith says she just did what she thought would keep Claire here and safe. Claire then comes down the stairs with packed bags: a friend is here to take her to the overnight cheerleader retreat. Uh-huh - and I got a bridge I’d like to sell to Claire’s two mothers.

Tracy has found Dr. Zimmerman in California. He is surprised to see her and calls her “Barbara” (or similar) but when she introduces herself, he says, “Oh, the one from Beverly Hills.” She is shocked and asks if he knows her. Dr. Zimmerman says, “Know you? I created you.” Is this going to be like Eve-6 from X-Files?

Here’s the final voice-over montage: In Africa, Parkman eats some stuff and listens to his guide’s earphones and his eyes go all gauzy-white (that won’t end well, I guarantee); Nathan reads the Bible; Claire drives through the rain with the pilfered files on the seat next to her; Micah clutches a picture of his mom; Hiro and Ando are locked in a Level Five cell; Sylar and Bennet return Finn to his. Angela is there too, and hands Sylar his jailhouse outfit, putting him back into his cell. When he says he guesses she was wrong about him, she just nods, “We’ll see.” In the corridor, the Haitian and Bennet watch Sylar. “Am I being replaced?” asks the Haitian. “Only for a little while,” replies his former partner. “Just until I find his weakness … and then I’m going to kill him.”

Next time on Heroes / previously on Heroes

Sunday, September 28, 2008

True Blood recap S1E4 (09/28/08)

Again, please be advised that there are cusswords and sex-talk following. You've been warned.

Sookie screams for help upon finding Dawn’s dead body. Jason walks in behind her, bearing wine and flowers for Dawn as a post-fight apology, and the siblings both start panicking which brings a neighbor lady running. The neighbor recognizes Jason from last night’s fight; Jason pleads that he’s innocent but the neighbor goes to call the police anyway. My recommendation for the rest of the ladies in town: stay away from Jason Stackhouse as he seems to bring death to your bed as well as that finely chiseled body.

Song and credits = still very excellent and possibly the best part of this show.

Folks gather to gossip and speculate outside Dawn’s house. Inside, the sheriff questions Sookie about finding Dawn. Sookie gets distracted listening to everyone’s thoughts: the sheriff, the detective, the coroner and her brother. A little while later, the sheriff takes Jason away again. But once in the cop car, he remembers that he’s got the vial of illicit vampire blood that he bought from Lafayette and downs it all at once. That’s slightly more than the one or two drops Lafayette told him to take.

Sam drives up to see how Sookie is doing. He asks her if he should shut down the bar out of respect for Dawn but she tells him no, that would just deny folks a stiff drink on a day they especially need it. Further, she wants to take Dawn’s shift so as to keep herself busy.

At the sheriff’s department, poor dumb Jason is getting confused by all the questions. What’s worse is that in the middle of the interview, the v-juice starts to kick in: there’s a shot of his lap and a huge swelling pops out and grows down his leg under his jeans. I mean HUGE. He runs to the bathroom and takes his johnson out of his pants; he screams, looks down at his lap (all sadly off-camera is his lap) and gasps, “What the fuck was that?” – and snatching a wad of toilet paper, starts wiping himself off. Out in the corridor, the sheriff is trying to get in the bathroom, concerned by the screaming. Just then, Tara stomps into the sheriff’s department and asks if Jason was Mirandized. He was not. She whisks a sweaty Jason away, after swearing that she and Jason were together last night. Jason is walking very stiff-leggedly. It’s funny.

When Sookie goes to check on her grandmother, the old woman asks her to use her gift to help her brother, fearing that the town will go after Jason if they can’t figure out who it is killing the (loose) women in town. That night at the bar, Sookie listens in to all the prejudicial, suspicious and horny thoughts flying out of the bar patrons’ brains – she looks queasy to hear it all. Tara rushes into the bar, late for her shift, and Sam wants to talk about their having sex last night. But Tara says that they’re to pretend it never happened, and that she’s Jason’s alibi. “Deep down he’s a very good person,” she says firmly.

Speaking of firm, Jason is jacking off (in his grandmother’s living room?) for what looks to be the fifty-ninth time that night. It doesn’t seem to be helping. He can’t say he wasn’t warned. He finishes off, stares in anguish at his never-ending stiffy, and then moans in pain at the giant blister he’s raised on his rubbing hand. Some time later, he manages to pull himself together and hobbles to the bar to find Lafayette. The cook laughs his ass off, hearing Jason drank the whole vial at once. Jason can hardly walk, he’s so stiff and sore. Later, Tara catches Jason hiding in the walk-in cooler with a frozen steak in his lap. She reads him the riot act about taking v-juice and then tells him that she needs to take a look at his priapism. He moves the rib eye; she is shocked and tells him that they need to get to a hospital NOW. When he balks, she snaps at him: “Do you want to keep your dick or not?” The answer is yes.

Bill walks into the bar and the whole place quietens down immediately. He orders a bottle of blood; Sookie brings it to him, then grabs his hand and drags him outside. She wants Bill to take her to “Fangtasia,” the vamp bar in Shreveport that both Maudette and Dawn used to go to. Bill seems delighted to take her out and she has to admonish him that this is not a date. On the drive to Shreveport, Bill tells her that she looks like vampire bait (she does: her boobs are propped right up to under her chin), and that he isn’t sure he can keep her safe at the bar. They flirt and it is very awkward: these two actors have no chemistry together.

Oh good grief: the song emanating from Fangtasia as Bill and Sookie walk up is “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. I hope that it’s because this bar is supposed to be totally cheesy because I’m not sure this show is savvy enough to be playing it ironically. Sookie gets carded at the door and is acting like a total goober just off the farm. There are some tourists buying t-shirts in the back; Bill assures her that things will get more “authentic” as the night goes on.

Sookie asks the bartender if he recognizes photos of Dawn and Maudette; he does, and he says that Maudette came to the bar, looking to die. There’s a bored-looking blond Lestat-esque vampire sitting alone. Bill says the vampire’s name is Eric and he’s the oldest thing in the bar. A wimpy human crawls up to Eric, slavering over his knees; Eric kicks him across the room and dozens of pairs of vamp fangs pop out when the man cuts his head. A leather-clad female vamp whisks him away and Bill wonders if Sookie is taking this place a bit more seriously now.

At the doctor’s, Jason lies about having taken any drugs. His erection, tented under the sheet, is enormous. The doctor takes a look and notes that it “kind of looks like an eggplant - the color and the way it’s all swollen up at the end.” Jason just wants to know if they can fix it. The doctor says yup, but he’s got to drain the blood out of Jason’s penis to do it; grossed out, Tara tries to bolt but Jason grabs her hand and begs her to stay. There is screaming as the doctor gets down to fixing things.

The redheaded waitress asks Sam to walk her to her car after her shift, worried about what’s been happening. Sam of course agrees, but tucks a pair of latex gloves in his pocket as he snaps off the lights in the bar. There is unsubtle ominous music as the camera zooms in on a photograph of Sam and Dawn, grinning, arms around each other.

Back at Fangtasia, Eric summons Bill and Sookie over. Bill is uncomfortable; Sookie continues to be a goober. Eric tells Sookie that if she has questions, she should ask him and she hands over the pictures of the dead girls: Eric notes that Maudette was pathetic and he wouldn’t touch her, but Dawn he tasted. By now Sookie’s had enough but Eric has not, insisting that she sit with him. As Eric and Bill glower at each other, Sookie picks up on an undercover cop’s thoughts that the club is about to get raided. She relays this to Eric but he scoffs, saying nothing happening at the club is illegal. But Sookie also hears the man who was kicked earlier being fed on by the female vampire; Eric wants to know how she knows this and Bill warns her with a terse shake of his head. The cops bust in and Eric, Bill and Sookie scurry out the back, Eric mentioning how pleased he is to have met her.

Tara drives an exhausted Jason home, remembering a childhood episode when Jason stood up for her against her drunk-ass mom and giving us proof that the torch she carries for him is not just because he’s sex on a stick.

Bill and Sookie drive back to Bon Temps from Shreveport. She’s shaken, but apologizes for getting him into trouble. Bill says that vampires are always in trouble one way or another but he prefers to be in it with her. They get pulled over by a cop and things start to get tense until Bill casts his glamour over the policeman. He takes the cop’s gun and gives him a stern talking to, ultimately letting the cop go but keeping his gun. The cop pees himself in terror as Bill and Sookie drive off.

Sam, latex gloves on, lets himself into Dawn’s cottage (he’s the landlord and has a key – I forgot to mention that). And then, I know he’s a weredog and all, but he extremely creepily starts sniffing at her bed, rolling around in the sheets as cheesy song #2 starts up: “That Smell” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Seriously, whoever is picking the music for this show needs to try a lighter touch.

Next time on True Blood / previously on True Blood

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Fall - movie review

Mr. Mouse is always accusing me of hyperbole but in this case there's no exaggeration: The Fall (directed by Tarsem Singh) is the most gorgeous and visually stunning film I have ever seen. It is absolutely incredible, produced with the director's own money, filmed for over four years in over twenty-four countries around the world (including India, Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Cambodia, Egypt, Fiji, the Maldives, China, Namibia and Nepal) and incorporating no CGI-effects. And it showed absolutely nowhere in this state, thus forcing me to wait for the DVD.

The plot is simple, a story-within-a-story framework. Cutie-pie Alexandria, a six year old migrant fruit picker, is stuck in a hospital after having fallen out of an orange tree, breaking her arm. Mischievious, curious and bored to death, she likes to wander the halls of the hospital and soon discovers Roy, (Lee Pace, "Ned" from Pushing Daisies) a silent movies era stunt man who is injured during the filming of a movie. Roy, despondent over the accident and losing his fickle girlfriend to the movie's leading man, is nonetheless charmed by Alexandria. He begins to tell her a story about five heroes, unlikely men who have banded together to defeat the evil Odious, a powerful man who has wronged each one of them.

The clever thing is that although we hear Roy's words telling the story, the images we see come from Alexandria's imagination - and it is big and colorful and boundless. As Roy gets to know his little friend, however, he begins to manipulate the story - and her - to his own ends, stopping at the most exciting times and asking her to do things for him, like raid the pharmacy for more morphine. The heroes' predicament becomes more and more dire as Roy's own physical and emotional distress grows. By the movie's gripping and tear-inducing climax, it is completely up in the air if anyone - the main characters or the characters in the story-within-the-story - will survive.

The little Romanian girl who plays Alexandria, Catinca Untaru, was discovered by the director just for this movie and she's just perfect: cute, funny and not at all precious. Most of her scenes with Lee Pace were at least partially improvised and they are lovely together.

For some reason that I simply cannot fathom, the U.S. gave The Fall an R rating for violence but both Iron Man and The Dark Knight were far more violent than this spectacular film. There are some sword fights and guns and arrows but certainly nothing graphic.

The Fall is a feast for the eyes (Roger Ebert called it "a mad folly, an extravagant visual orgy") and a joy for the heart and mind. You will either love it or, if you have no patience whatsoever for fantasy, hate it. I've never seen anything like it before and I loved it loved it loved it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fringe recap S1E3 (09/23/08)

Criminetley, I forgot this frickin' show was on tonight. After last night's marathon Heroes recapathon I was sure I had tonight off to watch (guilty pleasure) Biggest Loser without firing up my vintage 1997 laptop. But no, I've started this Fringe recappery and I hate to not finish what I've started ...

In St. Anne’s Cathedral, a young guy makes his confession: he thinks God or the devil may be showing him things. He flashes to a city bus with business people and regular folks on it; one of the businessmen takes a gas mask out of his case and opens a canister. As the bus fills with gas and people panic, the masked man picks up a woman’s backpack and exits the stopped bus, getting into a car that speeds away. Upset, the young man runs out of the cathedral, dropping a sketch he’s made of the bus vision. A policeman comes up to the bus, stopped in a tunnel: all the people seem to be dead inside, trapped in some sort of yellowish gel.

Mount Briar Cemetery: it’s a funeral for John. Ooh – I like bagpipes! Olivia has her inner-strength face on as John’s mom stares at her from across the coffin. Charlie catches up with Olivia after the funeral, commending her for not squealing on John’s shady ways and letting him be remembered as a hero. Then Broyles walks up and asks Olivia to come with him – there’s a new case afoot.

Peter and Walter are in a diner. When Peter leaves the table just as his phone rings; Walker awkwardly answers it. Peter has left the table because a scruffy guy down the counter has been following him and taking pictures: Peter was supposed to check in with someone and didn’t. When Peter returns to the booth, Walter says the phone call was something about a bus.

Olivia, Peter, Walter and Broyles investigate the bus: apparently the people are stuck in some sort of congealed substance that the gas transformed into after release. Walter wants to dig some out to take back to the lab. Meanwhile, in the basement of what looks like a church, two men go through the backpack the gas-masked man took when he gassed the bus. Whatever they’re looking for is not there, and one of the men speaks Russian (?) to someone else on the phone, no doubt alerting them that they must keep looking for whatever they’re looking for.

At work, the young man who had gone to confession at the start of the episode, Roy, is having another vision. He starts to draw a drooping figure with blood dripping from its hands. At the lab, Walter has determined that the bus-filling substance is a silicon-based aerosol that solidified somehow. Peter and his father snark at each other for a while until Walter asks who the scruffy man in the diner was. Peter ain’t saying but is slightly amazed that his father noticed.

Olivia checks out the bodies as they are extracted from the congealed bus. They find a video camera that one of the passengers had and, from this video record, discover that a backpack is missing. The woman whose backpack it belonged to was an undercover DEA agent. Olivia brings the DEA agent’s handler in for questioning: she had been working on the East Coast Nicaraguan drug cartel and had asked for extrication when she overheard cartel members discussing the Pattern. The handler says he has no idea what was in her backpack. He IDs the body, then says he’d like to say goodbye – it’s not clear if he’s looking for something on the body or just actually saying goodbye. Based on my years of watching X-Files and my (to-date) three-ish hours of watching this show, I’m guessing he’s removing something from the body.

Walter has discovered that the gas reacted to the nitrogen in the air, solidifying and thus suffocating the bus passengers. Massive Dynamic has the technology to develop this gas, of course. Olivia gets a phone call from Charlie as they’ve gotten a lead on Roy the vision guy. When they go to Roy’s apartment, he has drawings and dioramas of numerous attacks from the last year, including the flesh-melting flight from Germany, all dated before the incidents occurred. Ooh – Roy is Fringe’s Isaac (that’s a Heroes reference for you heathens). Olivia furrows her brow and looks troubled.

They bring Roy in for questioning. Broyles doesn’t think that Roy had any actual involvement but he’s very interested in how he knew about all these incidents, some of which were never reported in the press. Meanwhile, Olivia goes back to Massive Dynamic and asks Nina Sharp about the chemicals they produced that were involved in the bus incident. Nina doesn’t give her much but Olivia notes that every case she’s been involved in recently leads her back to Massive Dynamic. Nina is unfazed by the veiled accusations and shoos Olivia away, snidely mentioning that the company already provided this information to Broyles after a related incident in Prague a while back … the case file to which Olivia clearly does not have access. Oh, snap!

Roy says that he thinks he may actually be crazy, but he gets feelings and must draw or recreate what he sees to get rid of the feeling. This has been happening to him for about nine months. This coincides to when Broyles’s crew became aware of the Pattern. Broyles thinks Roy is lying but Peter, who says he’s a good poker player, says Roy is not bluffing. Walter thinks the simplest answer is the correct one: Roy is linked psychically with the small group of people who are orchestrating these attacks. Yes, I would think that’s the simplest answer too. Walter wants to investigate Roy’s abilities further, and wonders if, in doing so, he is required to keep [Roy] alive. “That would probably be best,” murmurs Olivia.

Later, Olivia questions Broyles about Nina Sharp’s information to which she (Olivia) is not privy. Broyles rolls his eyes and says there are some times when he doesn’t tell Olivia everything he knows. She thinks that’s bogus but he insists that she trust him – he’ll give her information when she’s ready for it.

Walter sends Roy through a CAT scan (or something similar), hoping to capture some of his “feelings.” Roy does not react well to the scan, veins popping and head swelling, and they yank him out of it. Walter and Peter’s theory is that Roy has a whole lot of metal in his blood and the magnets in the scanning machine came close to ripping his body apart because of it. Everyone looks very concerned; Walter mostly looks intrigued.

Back at the lab, Walter wants to see files going back to 1979, but luckily finds what he was looking for quickly: he and William Bell (founder of Massive Dynamic, remember?) worked on this very project together, hypothesizing that certain waves of a certain spectrum could be used to communicate information clandestinely. Walter had actually tested introducing organo-metallic compounds into volunteer psych experiment test subjects twenty years ago … and Roy was one of the test subjects. The compound has since multiplied in his body and amplified Roy’s susceptibility to the “ghost network.” All right, people - I can’t frig around with this wonky pseudoscience anymore: Roy’s brain is picking up on and trying to reinterpret telecommunications from the bad guys. Saves on long distance, I guess. Olivia perks up and wonders if they can tap into the bad guys’ ghost phone calls as well; Walter is sure that with some minor brain surgery, he could rewire Roy’s brain so the team has access. Of course, the gadgetry he needs is hidden in the walls of Walter’s former Cambridge home so Olivia and Peter pick the lock and go get it.

Meanwhile, Roy has agreed to subject himself to Walter’s ministrations. He’s a bit nervous, understandably, and more so when Walter straps him into the halo and dives in for some “intercranial penetration.” Walter is hoping to move the clusters of metal in Roy’s brain from the visual centers to the sound centers. Then, weirdly, Roy starts reciting Latin – which is probably the Russian I thought I heard earlier (that’s a bad sign for a Classics major, confusing Latin with Russian). They translate the Latin as [paraphrased] the something the men were looking for can be found in the DEA agent’s body; Olivia, remembering the agent’s handler touching the dead agent’s hand, rushes to the morgue and finds a bloody incision in the dead woman’s hand. Remember Roy’s drawing of a drooping body with blood dripping from its hands? That’s what this is – although someone who’s been dead this long probably wouldn’t be still bleeding. Picky, picky.

Later, in the car, Olivia reports to Broyles that the agent’s handler took something out of the agent’s hand and they send FBI agents to South Station to apprehend the bad guys on a tip Roy overhears and Peter tells to Olivia. This is very awkward to recap: bad guys on the phone caught by Roy and relayed to Olivia over the phone by Peter. In the train station Olivia pulls her gun on the handler but he’s already dead – she missed the hand-off. She dashes outside and chases the other bad guy with the metal briefcase; Charlie helps her apprehend him, but before they can do much more than tell him to put the case down, he backs into a moving bus and squish.

Back at FBI HQ, lab techs open the case, which contains … something that no one knows anything about. Looks like a little piece of amber the size of a nickel. Broyles did manage to ID the bus-squishee who had been connected to two other Pattern cases. He shows Olivia the files and tells her he’d like to hear her thoughts. Olivia heads back to the lab to say thank you and goodbye to Roy, who is happy to have helped. Meanwhile, Broyles takes the amber whosit to Nina Sharp at Massive Dynamic. After Broyles leaves, Nina takes the whosit to her lab, saying, “we found another one.” The lab tech is thrilled, saying they may be able to decode something … and over there is a computer that connected to dead agent John Scott’s brain. Yeah, I’ve sort of stopped paying attention to this intricate foolishness too.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Heroes recap: S3E1 and E2 (09/22/08)

“The Second Coming” (S3E1). Four years in the future, Peter’s running in Manhattan. He backs into a warehouse or something and a brunette Claire’s got a gun on him. He says he’s going back to the day they all found out but she says it’s too late: the Heroes have been hunted and experimented upon and Claire has had it. She’s wearing a lot of eyeliner. “I’m sorry, Peter,” she says, and shoots at him but he freezes time to dodge the bullet and teleports back to -

- present day: where Nathan is about to give his big who-the-Heroes-are speech. Scar-Peter puts on a black ball cap and wow – he’s going to be the one who shoots Nathan to keep the Heroes a secret, isn’t he? And yes, that’s what happens: Scar-Peter shoots Nathan and Now-Peter rushes after him, Parkman trailing behind. Scar-Peter runs into a bathroom and disappears; Now-Peter did not get a good look at the shooter. Watching the news, Claire calls Peter, offering up her magical blood. Peter reminds her that she’s in California; Claire looks pensive as she hangs up the phone.

At the hospital, the doctors were unable to save Nathan. Peter goes into the ER and kisses his dead brother goodbye. Peter is looking fiiiiiine, y’all. Suddenly, with a great gasp, Nathan sits up.

Hiro sits in a fancy office, playing with a clock. Despite being a 51% owner of his father’s company, Hiro is bored – he misses having a quest. There is a knock on the door and this time it’s the family lawyer, with a DVD message that Hiro’s father recorded before his death.

Back in California, Claire is packing a bag to try to get to Nathan. But when she opens the door, Sylar is there. He’s after her power, of course. She clocks him with a cheering trophy and runs, but she hasn’t hurt him badly enough because he gets all poltergeist on her house, slamming closed shutters and bursting light bulbs. Claire grabs a knife and wanders around her house, final-girl style, with Sylar silently behind her. She takes a swipe at him, then barricades herself in a linen closet, of all places.

Cut to Maya and Mohinder at his apartment. He’s just put Molly on a plane to “somewhere safe.” Well, that’s one way to get rid of extraneous characters. How about getting rid of Maya now? She’s ready to get to work on his ridding her of her nasty black eye goo power, but Mohinder is calling it quits and heading back to India. Maya gets cranky about it and her eyes turn black – Mohinder starts to choke – but then she reins it in. Mohinder’s brain starts churning as he realizes that her ability stems from adrenaline, a fight-or-flight response. The prior research was wrong, Mohinder hypothesizes: these abilities are generated by the adrenal gland, not the blood.

Hiro watches his father’s DVD. He’s leaving his son to be the guardian of a dangerous secret, a secret that could destroy the world if in the wrong hands. So, his father says, Hiro must never, ever open the safe. Of course, Hiro immediately opens it. There’s another DVD: “I asked you not to open the safe.” There’s also an envelope with half of a formula which, if it falls into the wrong hands, could be very, very bad. Hiro of course opens the envelope and pulls out a laminated piece of paper with some symbols on it. And then, a red and white blur flashes through and snaps up the paper. Hiro stops time and catches up to the blur. It’s Landry’s funky ex-girlfriend (from Friday Night Lights), calling herself a speedster. She busts out of his time hold, then knocks him out with one punch and speeds away.

Peter goes back to the scene of Nathan’s shooting, looking for the gun. But Parkman has already found it. They do some brain pushing and Peter wins … because he’s Scar-Peter, hiding his scar with a glamour. He tells Parkman that he came from the future to stop Nathan from telling the world about the Heroes, “And now that you know, you can’t be here.” Peter teleports Parkman away somewhere (ooh! Is that another way to get rid of a character?) and then stomps away with the gun.

At the hospital, Nathan wakes up. It appears that both he and I are still wondering how the hell he came back to life. He walks dazedly into the hospital’s chapter and tells a woman there that he saw God today. He says that he’s been brought back to do God’s bidding and spread the word: “We’re all connected … to save ourselves, and save the world.” I swear, if all Adrian Pasdar gets to do this season is wax crazy-religious, I will be pissed at the waste of such a pretty man.

Mohinder’s doing something science-y and has some sort of immediate break-through. Let me paraphrase: “with the contents of this syringe, I could give powers to anyone. And with added adrenaline, the effects would be instantaneous.” He rushes off to his lab, leaving Maya to mope, "Give powers?” Oh, and before he leaves, he and Maya have this “spark” between them - bleh. Speaking of sparks, where’s Kristin Bell?

Claire is still hiding in her closet as Sylar stalks around, sounding creepy. As he stalks, he finds a file from Mr. Bennett’s office called “Level 5” with all sorts of nasty looking characters in it. While his attention is caught, Claire plunges her knife into his chest. He still manages to telekinesis her up against the wall and then starts to cut her forehead open. Quick – someone tell him he just needs her adrenal gland!

When we come back from the commercial, Sylar has Claire laid out on the coffee table with the top of her skull off, poking around in her brain, trying to find answers before he bleeds to death. She asks him if he’s going to eat her brain. Sylar: “Claire, that’s disgusting.” Hee. He pulls something out, or pokes at something, then pulls the knife out of his chest and gleefully watches the wound heal. And because he’s a gentleman, he puts her skull back on her head … and she sits up, healing. Totally confused, she asks if he isn’t going to kill her. He gently shakes his head, saying that she’s different from all the others - her brain is different from all the rest. He could never kill her as she can never die. “And now, I guess, neither can I.” Now, that’s an exit line.

Maya catches up to Mohinder at the lab and encourages him to destroy what he’s discovered. Mohinder is high on the science, however, and won’t listen to her. She insists that these abilities are curses, not gifts, and flounces out. Sometime later, Mohinder stands by the river, thinking about throwing away the syringe. Then, because he’s always been envious that he hasn’t had any powers, he injects himself instead and falls to the ground, twitching and flailing.

Peter is in Nathan’s hospital room when his brother wakes up, still talking about God. Peter and I are equally disappointed in the ramblings but Peter (and it’s Scar-Peter) says that he doesn’t expect Nathan to understand what he did now, but he will. Peter leaves and LINDEMAN walks out from behind the curtain. Wasn’t expecting that. Cut to Bruce Boxleitner (formerly known as “Scarecrow”) watching the news of Nathan’s call to glory. He calls “Tracy” out of the bedroom to come take a look. She’s Niki/Jessica, barely clad in lingerie; she calls Scarecrow “Governor;” and she doesn’t seem to recognize Nathan at all. I had really hoped we’d gotten rid of her in that explosion last year.

Parkman wakes up in some desert with a scorpion on his face. He can’t find any minds when he reaches out, and doesn’t know where or when he is.

In Tokyo, Ando thinks Hiro is not nearly worried enough about having lost the formula to that speedy girl. Impetuously, Hiro jumps to the future to find out if the world really will be destroyed. He is just in time to see (1) himself holding the formula, (2) Ando zapping future Hiro with red electricity and stealing the formula, and (3) Tokyo being destroyed. Hiro blinks himself back to now and resolutely tells Ando that they’ve got to get that formula back. I liked Hiro in S1, but he is just being written so stupid lately. Ugh.

In the hospital, Mrs. Petrelli corners Scar-Peter and rips him a new one, saying that because of him, the future she once saw will not come to pass and something new and horrible is coming instead. He protests that Nathan didn’t die but she doesn’t care. She slams him up against the wall (!!) and demands to know what he’s done with her son. “Don’t worry,” snarls Scar-Peter, “I put him somewhere safe.” Cut to the cells on Level 5, where there’s a guy in a straitjacket, another playing with blue fire, Mr. Bennett is tossing a ball against the cell wall and Weevil from Veronica Mars screaming at the top of his lungs, “I’m not supposed to be here! I’m Peter Petrelli!” (This gives Mr. Bennett pause when he hears it.) Yay for Francis Capra!

As Mohinder’s voiceover drones on, Claire’s mom comes home to her bloodied daughter; Parkman, wandering in the desert, finds a pictograph of a burning planet Earth; Sylar stalks through the suburbs; Lindeman watches a sleeping Nathan; and a barely conscious Mohinder gets mugged … but fights his attackers off with super-strength. Seriously, this show has been off the air for how long and they can’t come up with an original new power?

“The Butterfly Effect” (S3E2). Mrs. Bennett and Claire clean up the aftermath of Sylar’s visit. Sweetly, Mrs. B worries that Sylar raped her daughter but Claire assures her that’s not the case. They notice that Claire has a big chunk of glass stuck in her hand: her power has changed post-Sylar in that she still heals, but now she doesn’t even feel the pain.

Mrs. Petrelli walks through a vision: Hiro is dead, Parkman is dead, Mr. Bennett is dead, Peter looks like he’s dying and someone has pulled Claire’s head off. Mrs. P stops, and the bad guys assemble before her: Adam (yay!), Niki/Jessica, possibly Parkman’s dad (?), a tall, thin black man and Sylar. Mrs. P wakes up in her limo, shaken. She finds Scar-Peter in Mohinder’s apartment, assembling the timeline strings. She again blames him for screwing things up and tells him to get back when he belongs. She also tells him that Claire gets hurt in this timeline and to go see for himself.

Oh, yick. Maya arrives at the lab in a tiny orange belly shirt and white hip-huggers to find Mohinder hanging like a bat from the rafters. Then he climbs the walls and ceiling like Spiderman. He’s sweaty and acting sort of insane. He reminds me of Jeff Goldblum from The Fly and we all know how well that ended. Then Maya and Mohinder kiss, and he rips her shirt open, and then they’re doin’ it on the table. I am completely squicked out.

Parkman is still wandering in somewhere. There are snakes and vultures in the dead trees. It’s hot and he collapses. Sylar, however, is wandering suburbia and when two Company agents track him down, he proves impervious to their bullets and casually crunches them against their own car. Elle and Bob watch the video back at Primatech. Elle admits to having let Sylar get away and says she’ll fix it. Bob says he doesn’t want to put her in a position to fail again.

In Tokyo, Hiro has hired detectives and they figure out the speedster’s name (Daphne) and location (Paris). He teleports himself and Ando after her. Meanwhile, Tracy/Niki/Jessica and Governor Malden walks through the halls of someplace in Washington D.C., arguing about Nathan. Tracy wants to appoint Nathan as the junior senator for New York but the Governor isn’t convinced. As Tracy heads to her car, the Greatest American Hero himself, William Katz (playing a reporter), wants to know how a Las Vegas stripper (Niki) finagled such a high-powered political job. He has a flyer with Tracy/Niki/Jessica’a picture on it. Tracy denies everything, threatens him and drives away.

Hiro and Ando pop into Daphne’s flat in Paris. It’s spacious and filled with antiquities, including the Mona Lisa. That’s some thief there.

Claire is back to hurting herself and making tapes of it, saying that she’s trying to feel pain again to see if she’s still human. “I’m Claire Bennett and this is attempt #7,” she states flatly, before stepping in front of a freight train. But uncle Peter swoops in and knocks her to safety. He asks what happened to her and she replies, “Something terrible.” You know, these two actors are (or were) dating in real life and this whole uncle/niece thing is a little sketchy in the face of it. Uncle Scar-Peter (scar hidden) tells Claire that it was his fault that Sylar got into her brain - which it wasn’t supposed to happen. She wants to learn how to defend herself but Peter won’t help and teleports away.

Tracy interrupts Nathan’s prayers at the hospital. He thinks she’s Niki/Jessica and she has no idea what he thinks. He calls her “Niki” and tells her to cut the crap. She isn’t fazed, introducing herself as “Tracy Straus” and offering him the junior senatorship. She leaves, brushing past Lindeman without a glance (is he only in Nathan’s head …?). Lindeman tells Nathan that Tracy was who she said she was and that the offer was legit. Nathan ain’t buyin’ it and tells Lindeman to get out.

Elle charges into her dad’s office, saying that she thinks they can entice Sylar to Primatech by virtue of all the evil powers they’ve got locked up in Level 5 … but Sylar has already been there and scooped out Bob’s brain. Cut to Elle, gun in hand, striding through the Level 5 cells. Weevil yells to her that he’s Peter Petrelli but she doesn’t even look at him (kind of harsh for old VM buddies!). She busts Mr. Bennett out of his cell and hands him the gun, telling that her dad is dead, and Sylar’s in the building. She turns to go, shrieks and goes flying past the window. Apparently Sylar is right out in the hall. Mr. Bennett empties the gun into the bad guy, which only stops him temporarily, and he quickly TKs Mr. B down the hall.

Elle tries to get her spark on but Sylar flips her onto her back. Behind them, Weevil is screaming for him to leave her alone. I do not want Sylar to kill Elle off – she’s actually interesting – but he starts to slice open her forehead. She screams and screams, and there’s a huge explosion of blue electricity, throwing Sylar back against the wall. Atta girl! Weevil/Peter checks on Elle (I'd forgotten they sort of had a little thing when Peter was a Primatech captive) as all the Level 5ers escape, and Mr. Bennett drags Sylar into a cell.

Hiro and Ando rummage through Daphne’s apartment, looking for the formula. Hiro decides that they need to set a trap for Daphne, like Batman does for Catwoman. Ugh - it's time to start segueing from geek Hiro to cool future Hiro. Back in the Texas hospital, Peter and Nathan confer. Peter drops the glamour hiding his scar and confesses to having shot Nathan. He says that he was trying to save the world but he doesn’t think he has – everything being different now and all. Nathan asks what he should do about the senatorship; Peter says he has to make the right choices and then teleports out, “to set things right.”

Nathan calls Tracy and says he’ll take the senatorship but he wants her on his staff. “If that’s what it takes,” she says happily. But reporter William Katz catches her in the parking garage, this time with a video of Niki and Nathan screwing that time in Las Vegas. Tracy, still insisting that it’s not her, gets upset and grabs the reporter. Her hitherto hidden ability suddenly manifests itself: freezing him solid. His body shatters and immediately starts to melt into oozy little pieces. Now that’s an original power!

Back on Level 5, Mrs. Petrelli shows up to take over Primatech. She pulls a serious bitchitude on poor Elle, firing her from the Company since her electrical output shorted out the cells, allowing over a dozen inmates to escape, and also Mr. Bennett. Elle is shattered, speechless. She’s worked for the Company for her entire life and now, with her father dead and her job taken from her, has no idea what to do. Go find Weevil/Peter, is my suggestion.

While Hiro and Ando argue in Daphne’s apartment, she shows up. He holds her high school track medal hostage until she agrees to hand over the formula. But – surprise! - she tricks them, holding a knife to Ando’s throat until Hiro lets her get away. Hiro has been sneaky, however, and has planted a tracking device on her and they teleport after her as she rushes off.

A post-coital Mohinder lurches from his bed, not feeling well. He staggers into the bathroom, blinking at the light, and reaches over his shoulder. Eeuuw: he pulls something out of his back, like a scale or a spike or something. His back is covered in these ruptures. Did I not say The Fly earlier? At the hospital, Lindeman says he’s glad that Nathan decided to take the senatorship. When a nurse comes to tell Nathan that it’s time for bed, Nathan realizes that no one can see Lindeman but him. I totally called that one.

Parkman wakes up as he thinks a tortoise is telling him that he can get water from a nearby shrub. It’s not actually the tortoise speaking, however, but a man. The man tells Parkman he’s in Africa and tells him to walk with him. Parkman doesn’t want to walk. The man says Parkman has to do a spirit walk for many miles, and calls him by name, telling him that he isn’t supposed to be here, that Parkman’s being in Africa means the future is not how he has painted it. Another freakin’ future painter? Are you kidding me?

At home, Claire finds her dad in his office. He gives her a huge hug and she holds onto him like a life preserver. When she asks if he’s staying, he shows her the files of all the bad guys who escapes from Level 5: a flame thrower, a magnetic force manipulator, a guy who eats others’ fear and turns it into his own strength; Mr. Bennett won’t tell her what power Weevil/Peter (“Jesse”) has, though – too scary. Claire wants to come with him, to help. But the Bennetts have called Claire’s real mom to come make sure she stays safe. You know, I’m not sure Claire’s flame-throwing birth mother is the best choice of babysitters.

Scar-Peter teleports into Level 5 and is horrified to find that the person he put Now Peter into is gone. Mrs. Petrelli is there, however, and she is pissed, shouting at Scar-Peter to find Jesse and bring her son home - “And go back the hell to where you came from!” Out on the streets, Jesse/Peter leaves a message for Nathan, warning him about Scar-Peter but another Level 5er drags him away before he can finish. The Level 5ers are killing people at a gas station and Jesse/Peter is horrified. As approaching sirens scream in the distance, Jesse/Peter gets in the car and escapes with the others. Seriously, I’m so pleased to see Francis Capra again.

Ick. This is creepy. Mrs. Petrelli comes into Sylar’s cell and unties him, saying that her sons have been such disappointments, but that she can give him what all boys crave from their mothers: inspiration, comfort, support. He snarls that she is not his mother. She leans over him and whispers, “But I am, dear, I am.”

Next time on Heroes / previously on Heroes

Sunday, September 21, 2008

True Blood recap S1E3 (09/21/08)

Note: there's some f-bombs ahead, just to give you fair warning. It's not at Deadwood or even Sopranos levels, but it's there.

The three skeezy vamps from the end of the last episode – Diane, Malcolm and the scary tattooed psycho - try to glamour Sookie but she tells them it doesn’t work on her. They find this disconcerting and let her into Bill’s house unbitten. There are two other people (human suckfests) in the living room, and there’s Bill, sitting sullenly in the corner. They tell Sookie that virgin blood is the second tastiest blood to drink (the first is babies’ blood). The vamps get all amped up and prepare for a snack but Bill rises with a growl: “Stop! Sookie’s mine.”

Since Sookie is out of the question, the other two humans get busy … ahem … servicing Malcolm and the psycho vamp. The human man offers himself to Bill, whose fangs pop out in hunger. But as Bill lunges for the human’s neck, Sookie can hear the erstwhile suckjob’s thought: “Go on, bloodsucker, see how you like Hep D.” She blurts out that the man is infected; the vamps recoil; and the man jumps on her, hands around her throat. Bill pulls him off her, breaking the man’s wrist. The female vamp wants to know how Sookie knew about the Hepatitis D but Bill sends them packing.

Sookie is, understandably, shaken. Bill says his visitors were unexpected. He also explains that Hepatitis D is a blood-borne pathogen that renders vampires weak and susceptible to human attack. Sookie blows right past all this and gets her panties in a twist about being named Bill’s possession. She also wants to know why those three were so nasty and mean. It’s because they live in a nest, says Bill, and vampires who live in groups tend to become cruel. Sookie’s had enough for one night and when Bill asks if he could kiss her before she goes, she rebuffs him bluntly, saying she couldn’t stand it after what she’s just seen.

At the bar, Tara and Sam shoot the shit about Sookie and Bill. Sam thinks that once Sookie gets to know the vamp, she won’t want to spend time with him; Tara thinks that the opposite is true. Tara goes on to say that she knows Sam has a crush on Sookie. Sam ‘fesses up that it’s true. When Sam mentions that Sookie can’t hear Bill’s thoughts, Tara realizes that must be a huge part of the attraction for her friend.

Dawn the brunette waitress flounces home to find Jason no longer tied to her bed and a masked man hiding behind her door. He grabs her around the neck and throws her on the bed, claiming to be a vampire and about to force her into sex. He finally rips off his mask and it’s Jason. She slaps him, angry at first, and then succumbs to his charms. His charms are fading, if you ask me.

Sookie arrives home to find Bill on her front porch. He wanted to make sure that she was safe. She wonders why she can’t hear his thoughts; he thinks it’s perhaps because he has no brainwaves. Why? She asks. “Because [he’s/I’m] dead,” Bill and I say at the same time. Criminy, Sookie is dumb. And I am so tired of Bill pronouncing her name “Sucky.” Sookie thinks that it’s time for them to stop seeing each other. Bill says that she’ll never find a human man that she can be herself with, but she pulls away, leaving him to glower on the porch alone.

Tara and Sam have some beers on his trailer porch. She doesn’t want to go home because her momma is a bad drunk. Then she takes a big drink of whiskey, entirely missing the irony. They talk about being lonely, Tara wanting to know why Sam doesn’t have a girlfriend; Sam says he has a hard time opening up to people and Tara scoffs, wondering what kind of secrets he could have. HE’S A WEREDOG. A little later, she suggests that they should have sex since it’s been months since either of them has gotten laid. Sam says no way … and then gives her a coy look … and then

We cut to very athletic sex with Dawn and Jason … until he hallucinates that she’s the psycho tattooed male vamp. He’s got definite issues with women who have sex with vampires, immediately losing his erection, and Dawn tells him to get out if he can’t get it up. He doesn’t believe her, so she gets a gun and kicks him out. Boy’s in good shape, I tell you what.

Sookie shows up at Bill’s house, late at night, in her virginal white nightie, babbling like a lunatic and saying that she wants him to be the first man she has sex with. “Just don’t bite me, okay?” He starts to unlace her nightgown - are we going to get to see Anna Paquin’s boobs? No, because it’s a masturbatory dream. Sookie’s cat sits on her bed watching her and purring. “Stop that,” she snaps grumpily.

Awesome: Tara wakes up in Sam’s bed because he’s growling and whimpering like my dog does when she dreams.

A cranky Jason comes home and flicks on the television: a black and white vampire movie, a talk show with the religious right railing against the vamps, a documentary on vampire bats. Okay: hee.

Ick: the skeezy vampires’ nest. What’s funny is that their white couches are covered in plastic. Bill shows up, and throws Diane through a wall when she grabs at his penis. Bill warns them to stay away from him and Sucky. He reminds them to moderate their behavior but Malcolm says, “If we can’t kill people, what’s the point of being a vampire?” He warns them that there will be consequences.

Back at Sam’s trailer, he wakes to find Tara gone. She’s gone home and her drunken mother starts yelling at her the minute she sets foot inside. Tara tries to get her mother cleaned up but the older woman whacks her in the head with an empty bottle. Fighting back tears, Tara leaves, “You’re on your own, old woman.” That was an ugly scene.

Grandma catches Sookie in the midst of a mad yard work session. Grandma is concerned that Bill has done something untoward but Sookie admits that she’s trying to stay busy so she won’t go see him. Meanwhile, Tara has shown up at cousin Lafayette’s swingin’ pad. He offers her some pain pills, some weed and some vodka to wash it all down; she doesn’t even blink as Lafayette’s “date” slinks out. “That was a state senator,” Lafayette smirks. They commiserate on how “[he’s] a state senator-fuckin’ prostitute and [she’s] a bartender in a redneck bar who fucks her boss who’s in love with her best friend.” Lafayette is interested in this last bit and Tara relates that Sam barks in his sleep. Lafayette cracks me up: “Oh damn, white folk is all fucked up.”

A dog stops by Sam’s trailer but I can’t tell if it’s the dog that I think is Sam – because that would just ruin my whole theory. Sam is reading the paper and bitching about how the town is getting a Starbucks and now he’ll have to buy a cappuccino machine. Then he TOTALLY makes my day by saying he wishes Buffy (or Blade or some other badass vampire killer) would come to town and take care of ol’ Bill Compton. Nice shout-out to the fandom there.

Grandma has made Sookie a big ol’ country breakfast. Those biscuits look good. Sookie asks her if she thinks she should keep seeing Bill. Grandma pretty much tells her to follow her heart. She also tells Sookie that her husband used to know and hear things much like her granddaughter can. Sookie finds some solace in that she wasn’t the only one. Grandma is cool.

Jason stops by Lafayette’s place, asking for his help. Lafayette is wearing excellent gold lamé pants. Jason wants some Viagra and Lafayette laughs at him, although he does have something that’ll give him wood so hard you could saw through it: vampire blood. Lafayette warns him to take no more than two drops of v-juice because any more and things will get intense … and not in a good way. Jason doesn’t have the cash so Lafayette makes him strip down to his tidy whities and a mask and dance in front of a video camera. Tara catches the show from behind a curtain, both appalled and enthralled.

Later, in full daylight, Sookie goes to Bill’s house. She sits on the front porch to wait for sunset (?) until Sam calls her to ask her to run by Dawn’s house. Dawn hasn’t shown up for work. I’m guessing it’s because Dawn is dead, not still sleeping. Sookie goes in the house and yes, Dawn is dead, eyes open on the bed. Sookie screams.

Next time on True Blood / previously on True Blood

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Book review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study was by far my least favorite of all the fantasy books my friend Brownie has lent me. The story of Yelena, a condemned murderer who avoids execution by agreeing to serve as the official food taster for the Commander: possible death by exposing an assassination by poison plot versus certain death by hanging. To keep Yelena from escaping, she is fed an incurable poison and remains alive only by receiving the daily antidote from the Commander's chief of security. Along the way, she becomes privy to rebellious factions rising against the Commander and also discovers that she has some magical powers ... which is bad because magic is illegal and punishable by death.

What I took issue with in this book is not the plot - which is no more outlandish or ridiculous than any of the other fantasy books I've read lately - it's that Poison Study is poorly written with short, choppy sentences and obvious modifiers. If there wasn't a photo of the author on the back cover, I would have guessed this was written by a twelve year old. I mean, try this:

My last night in Ixia was spent with Valek beneath the tree. The hours till dawn flew by. The rising sun intruded, waking me from a contented doze in Valek's arms, forcing me to face the day that I had to leave him.

I'm sorry but it's just so mundane and clunky, and the whole book is like that. Brownie has promised me that the books get better as they go on (there are at least two more in this Study series) but I'm moving them to the bottom of my to-be-read stack.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Orphanage - movie review

From the DVD extras, Guillermo del Toro was the behind the scenes faerie godfather for this fantastic movie, offering advice and assistance every now and then (and of course offering his name as "Guillermo del Toro Presents ..."). But first time film director, J.A. Bayona and his neophyte crew did most of the heavy lifting on their own, and a bang-up job they did of it too.

The Orphanage (2007, Spanish with English subtitles) is the story of Laura, a former orphan who brings her husband and adopted son Simon, back to live in the now-abandoned orphanage she grew up in. Laura has nothing but happy memories of the orphanage and her five childhood friends, and she plans on opening her family's new home to another five or six special needs children so she can share the warmth and love she felt as a child. Adorable Simon is a special needs child too: HIV positive and needing daily medication to keep the illness under control. Laura and her husband have not told their son of his illness, nor have they yet told him that he is adopted. All he knows is that he is loved.

But love may not be enough in this incarnation of the orphanage. A strange old woman intrudes upon Laura and her family, and Simon, who already had two imaginary friends, says he's made six more friends: children who live in the orphanage, who will never grow up. Things get worse when Simon and Laura are playing a treasure hunt game (purportedly set up by Simon's imaginary friends, although his mother thinks he did it himself) and he finds the file saying he is adopted. Both upset, Simon and Laura have a fight. The little boy disappears during a party - also during which Laura is violently visited by a tiny being dressed in old-timey orphanage clothes and wearing a creepy mask made out of a burlap bag.

The rest of the movie is about Laura's heart-wrenching search for her son. After the police have no leads and no luck for nine months, she turns to a medium (Geraldine Chaplin! who knew Geraldine Chaplin could speak Spanish so fluently?!) who puts her on the right, if scary, path. "Seeing is not believing," says Geraldine, "It's the other way around [paraphrased]." Channeling all her love for Simon and her pain over his loss, Laura learns to believe and then to see - and in a touching and tragic turn, finally finds her boy.

This is an outstanding ghost story, on a par with The Others (which I liked quite a lot - Nicole Kidman notwithstanding). Tense, dark and unsettling (creepy children - eesh!), there were plenty of watching-through-the-fingers moments and jump scares; there is no gore or violence, which is apparently a departure from most Spanish horror genre movies. The youthful screenplay writer says he thought of it as Peter Pan from the mother's point of view, which would be terrifying: her children get kidnapped and taken to a place where they never grow any older; what would she do to find them again?

Don't be put off by the subtitles: the story pulls you in quickly enough that soon you won't realize they're there. El Orfanato is a movie that translates well on both sides of the Atlantic.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fringe recap S1E2 (09/16/08)

In Boston, it’s the aftermath of more motel sex, this time with a guy who picked up a girl in a bar (not with FBI agents). Oh dear: the guy’s got a whole bunch of knives and cutting tools in his bag, plus a syringe. Before he can do whatever horribleness he’s got planned, the girl starts grunting and shrieking in the other room - something is scurrying around inside her belly like an alien. The guy packs up his knives and drives the girl to the ER. She is SCREAMING. He drops her at the entrance to the hospital and drives away, not looking back. In the ER, the doctors think the girl is pregnant even though she insists she isn’t and also wasn’t, back at the motel. Suddenly there’s a terrible ripping sound and the girl dies. The docs cut into her swollen abdomen and pull out … something. Some of the doctors vomit, the nurses scream and scream. That ain’t no regular baby.

Broyles calls a meeting with some muckety-mucks, including Ms. Sharp (is that her name?), the Massive Dynamic executive with the attitude and the fake arm, to introduce his new team in the face of this latest anomaly: Dr. Walter Bishop, Peter Bishop (a/k/a Pacey), and Olivia Dunham. In case we completely forgot the main characters from the series premiere last week, I guess. Ms. Sharp has objections to each member of this new team but Broyles stands behind them. Methinks the executive doth protest too much.

Cut to Olivia, fretting over the files on the last episode. Broyles calls her and tells her to retrieve the Bishop boys and meet him at the hospital. Wherever they're staying, Walter is sleeping in the closet instead of his bed– must feel safer there or something. Peter doesn’t have much patience for his dad’s insanity. Broyles brings the Fringe Team up to speed: at 12:24 a.m., the girl did in fact give birth, just before she died, to a baby that grew visibly in front of the doctors’ eyes. It lived for 30 minutes, grew to adult size and then died of old age. Walter has a theory about cell mitosis or something.

While Walter takes the aged dead baby back to his lab for tests, Peter wants to know what’s going on. Broyles sits him and Olivia down to discuss the Pattern: a series of anomalous and unnatural events that may suggest a larger strategy. Right – you told us all that in the last episode. A tip comes in about the motel and Peter and Olivia go to check it out. Peter scoops up some sort of orange gel from the bathroom sink; Olivia notes that the girl’s things were left behind but not the man’s. She also notes that there are medical-grade (non-motel) sheets on the bed and has a eureka moment: she recognizes the profile of the man as a serial killer from NJ and NY, and is outraged because she and John had worked on that serial killer case together. Now she realizes got to go back and reexamine every one of their cases to see what John might have hidden from her. As she and Peter drive off, she recounts the nasty habits of that serial killer: kills five girls in a stretch, uses an orange colored muscle relaxant, goes in through his victims’ mouths and takes a piece of brain as a trophy.

Meanwhile, Serial Killer has picked up another girl at another bar/club. He takes her to a workshop of some sort in Stoughton, Massachusetts, and when she moves in for a kiss, he injects her in the back of the neck with the muscle relaxant.

Peter goes to his dad’s lab to find Walter milking the cow. Peter is not interested in fresh milk: he wants to know about their “80-year old man-baby.” Walter confirms that related rapid-growth experiments were performed in his lab seventeen years ago. He’s also remembered where he left his car seventeen years ago and makes Peter take him to find it. The car is full of specimen jars and boxes of files; Peter notes that while his father may be able to reanimate dead tissue, he can bring any car back from the dead and they drive the beater back to Harvard. Back at the lab, they search through Walter’s files for … something about the pituitary gland (which is what the serial killer removes from his victims). Fortuitously, a former colleague of Walter’s who did rapid-growth research is currently a professor at Boston College, and off they go to find him.

The serial killer’s victim has awakened in time to watch him advance towards her face with a scalpel. Yikes.

Olivia and Peter meet up with the Boston College professor, Claus Penrose, and show him a photo of the dead old man-baby. Penrose vaguely alludes to having been involved with such research but stresses that the work he had done with Walter was wrong. He was actually glad when Bishop went crazy and got locked up: “No one in power should ever learn what [Bishop] knows.” Olivia and Peter take their leave, realizing Penrose is not interested in helping. Meanwhile, Charlie has found a dead Jane Doe with both a gum line incision and a missing pituitary gland, and sends the cadaver to the lab.

After Walter does some more lab work, he tells his son and Olivia that his former research was on growing soldiers for the military, but the problem was they were unable to stop the rapid aging that accompanied the accelerated growth. Walter then makes a huge leap and theorizes that the serial killer is actually one of these rapidly-grown humans who needs to ingest the pituitary glands of his victims to keep the accelerated aging in check; the birth of the man-baby was a mistake as the quik-gro killer inadvertently impregnated his victim and passed his rapid growth/aging propensity onto his offspring.

O-ho! Professor Penrose has arrived at the serial killer’s workshop and called him “son” – not only does he know about this guy, he knows all about the killings and has figured out the mistake with the pregnancy! The killer’s name is Christopher. Apparently Penrose doesn’t think the research was completely evil if he went and grew himself a child.

Walter is raving about how Jules Verne wrote something about the last image a dead person saw being imprinted in their neural pathways at the moment of death. Peter decides to play along, despite his protestations that Jules Verne wrote FICTION, and they rig up some ridiculous whoozit to recapture the last thing Jane Doe saw, borrowing a piece of fancy equipment from Massive Dynamic to finish it. The image-capturing gadget retrieves an image of the bridge in Stoughton and Olivia recalls a warehouse district over there in Stoughton where the victims just MUST have been taken. She and Peter are hot on the trail while Walter waxes ecstatic about his gadget’s success.

While they’ve been working, Christopher has found yet another pituitary gland donor at another bar; this time, Daddy Penrose is there at the workshop to help him with the gland extraction.

Incredibly, Olivia and Peter discover the right warehouse on their very first try. The victim is still alive. They hold Penrose at gunpoint; Christopher makes a lot of noise running away; Olivia chases after Christopher. Penrose sneakily cranks up the anesthesia to try to kill the victim and then scurries off. Peter calls his dad to figure out how to restart the victim’s heart without a defibrillator, managing to do so with some jumper cables and a couple of phone books. Don’t ask. Makes McGyver look like an amateur.

Olivia finally catches up to Christopher who has aged about sixty years in fifteen minutes. He says he wishes Penrose had let him die years ago. Then he dies. Olivia looks flummoxed. Penrose gets away. It’s all very anticlimactic.

Olivia returns the expensive equipment to Sharp at Massive Dynamic. The executive offers her a job, saying that a woman like her isn’t suited to public service. Blah blah blah – Sharp goes on about how Massive Dynamic owns international armies, arms, etc., while Olivia goggles. Plus, Sharp points out, Massive Dynamic could help Olivia in her quest for the Pattern. Olivia goes back to her job in Boston, telling Broyles about the job offer and her response to it: “I told her you were going to give me a raise.” Broyles smiles just a little.

At the lab, Peter is grousing about some disclaimer the government is asking him to sign and eventually storms off; Walter says he’ll sign it. He mutters about understanding Penrose’s love for his son and the blurry line between being a scientist and playing God. Then he asks Olivia if she would mind keeping Peter’s medical history a secret. She’s utterly confused, saying she doesn’t know anything about a particular medical condition. Oh, that’s good then, says the crazy doctor, and now Olivia looks concerned. Ooh: did Walter grow his son in a Petrie dish too? The last shot of the episode – of Peter, or possibly multiple Peters, lying in what might be incubators - shows that scenario might not be too far off.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

True Blood recap S1E2 (09/14/08)

We pick right back up with Sookie getting badly beaten by the drug-dealing couple, really badly. The “dog” comes to growl at them semi-menacingly but before they can shoot him, the husband drug dealer is thrown against a tree and now he’s the one that looks really bad. Must be Bill the vampire to the rescue (finally). Next, the wife is thrown into the trees and dropped from a great height – yeesh. The “dog” whimpers and skulks away as a man walks up and reaches down for Sookie.

During the still-excellent credits, “God Hates Fangs” is on a quickie-mart store sign and there’s also possum road kill.

Ah, the sheriff, another guy and Jason watch the video of Jason having sex with the currently deceased Maudette on tape. And oops, yes, it appears that he’s the one who strangled her and left her hanging there by her wrists. But wait, there’s more: psych! She was faking being dead. “I didn’t kill her,” Jason exults. “Well, somebody did,” grumps the guy who is not the sheriff. Jason thinks maybe it was the freaky vampire on the videotape he saw.

Bill the vampire has taken the wounded Sookie to a secluded spot and rips open one of his veins for her to drink. “I don’t want to be a vampire,” she wheezes, but he assures her she won’t. At first she chokes on it, then she starts sucking, hard. We can see Bill’s vitality draining away. Gosh, that’s not at all a sexual metaphor.

Tara comes home to find her momma drunk on the couch. She calls her cousin Lafayette (the over the top and out of the closet line cook who is thus far the most entertaining character on this show). He agrees to come pick her up to get her out of the house. Meanwhile, not-a-murderer Jason shows up at the doorstep of the brunette bar waitress with whom he often has sex, drunk and crying and soon creeping under her robe.

Sookie regains consciousness while Bill is licking the blood off her forehead. Um, thanks? She tells him that she is telepathic but that she can’t hear him, and finds that peaceful. He asks how she manages a social life; she laughs that she doesn’t date. They talk about her telepathic abilities for way too long, actually. I’m bored. As she gets up to go, she realizes that drinking Bill’s blood has completely healed her. Doctors don’t know about this effect and he asks her to keep it a secret.

Jason and the brunette waitress have loud and athletic sex. He may have an addiction, I’m thinking. In the morning, he notices that she has fang marks on her neck and is discomfited by it.

Bill was 30 when he was turned, in 1865. Sookie guilelessly notes that he looks older than that. She asks if he was in the Civil War (he was) and if he’d come talk to her grandmother’s group. He asks if it would make her happy if he did it. She says yes and he agrees to do it. Anna Paquin sure makes some strange choices when she’s going for “flirty” and “sexy.”

The next morning at breakfast, Sookie appreciates the sausage flavorings much more intensely than usual. I’m neither using a euphemism nor kidding. Tara shows up after having been out all night and the girls apologize to each other for the argument at the bar. Grandma gets a call just as Jason arrives for breakfast; she shares the news: a tornado touched down last night and crushed the drug dealing couple under their trailer. Yeah, Tornado Bill. Sookie goes to check it out (wearing a green and white polka dot bikini and nearly buttoned cover-up - seriously, why is she dressed like such whiskey-tango?). The sheriff and the coroner show up and the suspicious sheriff questions her about her association with Bill.

Grandma tells Sookie that Jason and Tara will be at the house tonight when Bill comes to call. Sookie rolls her eyes. That evening, Bill arrives at the house and Sookie doesn’t know that she has to invite a vampire into her home. Inside, everyone is awkward except for Grandma, who has lots of historical questions. Bill’s family, the Comptons, lived in town for years and he knew one of Grandma’s forefathers. Tara has some pointed questions about slave owners; Bill says his dad owned some slaves but he himself never did. Jason is belligerent and rude until Grandma rebukes him in front of everyone.

Sookie and Bill finally escape the house and take a walk. She asks about his feeding options, which are the synthetic True Blood; buying pints of real blood from a local clinic; or putting a “love glamour” on a human that will cause them to forget being fed from in the morning. Bill admits to having fed on the drug dealers when he killed them because Sookie had drained so much of his own blood. She asks what the side effects of that will be for her. Answer: heightened senses, revved-up libido, and he will be able to sense her and find her quickly, no matter where she is. Sookie gets a little flustered.

Tara and Jason pout on the couch together, drinking beer. She has such a crush on him. They start to flirt a little, and it’s cute, but then he’s forgotten something (the brunette waitress) and bails. Tara throws her head back and laughs.

Sookie and Bill are still walking. She asks if he’s able to put a glamour on her but he doesn’t want to try. She insists and so he tries to work his mojo … and is completely flummoxed when he can’t do it. She laughs at him, realizing that he doesn’t like it when he can’t control a situation. He notes that she is not much freaked out by his vampirey ways but she replies that what with her growing up telepathic, there’s not much that does freak her out anymore. Blah blah blah: flashback to Sookie’s mind-reading childhood.

Sookie asks him if he can turn into a bat, levitate or turn invisible. No, no and no. She scoffs that he’s not that great a vampire and he points out that he was able to bring her back to life. He asks her to let down her hair. He runs his fingers through it and inhales her scent. Revved-up libido indeed: she grabs him and muckles on for a serious kiss. It’s pretty hot until he breaks it off because his fangs have popped out. That’s awkward. He says he’ll walk her home.

At the bar the next evening, Sam calls Sookie into his office. She apologizes for reading one of the waitress’s minds earlier but he assures her that it’s okay. He asks if she can read him but she says she won’t – she’s had to quit every job she’s had because she heard her boss’s thoughts, and she likes this job. He assures her that she’ll always have a job at his bar and she thanks him, running back to the dining room. Sam sighs and the camera pans to a bad painting on his wall of a dog sitting next to a girl. We get it: HE’S THE DOG.

After seeing a television news report that an anti-vampire advocate and his family had been killed in a freak accident on some Louisiana highway, Sookie rushes over to Bill’s house. There’s a strange car in the dooryard with the license plate “FANGS 1” and a bumper sticker reading “Vampires Suck.” There’s music coming from inside the house and she hesitates. Two new scary not-Bill vamps answer the door – no, make that three new scary vamps, and I think the third is the freaky one from Maudette’s sex tape. “She smells fresh,” they growl, fangs popping. And once again, I end a True Blood episode recap by saying, where’s old Bill?

Previously on True Blood / Next time on True Blood