Monday, June 28, 2010

They ain't Bill and Melinda, that's for sure

But I'm still finding The Gates vaguely entertaining.  I've read various reviews likening it to Desperate Housewives - the humor + Twilight, which is probably not far off, despite my total resistance to all things Twilight thus far.  None of the characters have completely engaged me yet - they all seem rather stiff and cardboardy - but I do appreciate their ambiguity.  No one is a screamingly obvious villain; everyone has issues that turn them potentially interesting shades of grey.

Two issues I do have.  First, while it's fun to see Rhona Mitra on the small screen, I'm having great difficulty buying her as a wanna-be Stepford Wife.  Those 1950s-esque dresses do nothing for her and I find myself wishing to fast-forward when her proper public persona is onscreen, skipping ahead to whatever bad-assery she might be up to.  There should be more Rhona Mitra bad assery, imho.  Second: I find it cliche to have the high school girl as the veiny, lifeforce-draining succubus (Hello - Rogue and Jennifer from Jennifer's Body, anyone?  The succubus should have been a dude, just to change things up a little. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

True Blood episode recap “Shake and Fingerpop” (S2E4)

Church camp. After dinner with the Newlins, Jason comes back to the bunkhouse to find all the campers strewn across the floor, necks and wrists bloody. As he stares, horrified, a hooded figure lunges out of the shadows and knocks him to the ground, threatening to kill him. The “vampire” bites at his neck then starts laughing: it’s Luke, messing with him, and all the “dead” guys giggle and stand up. Luke notes that Jason was scared and then, noticing the real blood on Jason’s face, asks how his lip is. “It’s okay,” says Jason thoughtfully, “How’s your nose?” Luke: Huh? Jason: *punches him* Pulling off his clip on tie (ha!), Jason shouts, “Vampires are not a joke! There’ a war on and you’re either on the dark side or the side of light – there ain’t no in-between!” The other boys stare at him, uncomfortable, while Luke rolls on the floor, moaning that his nose is broken.

Back at Bill’s house, Bill throws Hoyt out of the house (not literally) and as he leaves, Hoyt assures him that he wasn’t going to try anything with Jessica. “It’s not her I’m protecting,” snarls Bill. Hoyt pauses in the doorway to smile at Jessica and tells her, “I don’t believe a word he’s saying.” She smiles, flushed and pleased. She looks really pretty right now, fangs and all. After he’s gone, she tells Bill that Hoyt is the best thing that’s happened to her since she was turned into a vampire and all she wanted to do is kiss him all night: “Is it my fault that my fangs come out when I get turned on?” Realizing they’re still out, she giggles and runs upstairs.

Sookie tells Bill that she thinks Jessica should come with them to Dallas – he needs to spend more time with Jessica because, as Sookie’s noticed, even though Bill IS a vampire, he doesn’t really LIKE vampires. Bill protests that as a vamp he’s supposed to be tormented, but Sookie rolls her eyes, saying that he doesn’t have to be, and neither does Jessica – Bill can teach the girl “how to walk that fine line between human and vampire.” Bill: “Yes, because I have clearly mastered that.” Another joke from Bill – wow! But he gives in, saying he’ll call the airline to arrange for a second travel coffin.

At the swimmin’ hole, Sam and Daphne paddle around, talking about stuff that I’m not really interested in, except that if Sam keeps mentioning how much he loves it in Bon Temps so why’s he so determined to leave it? Daphne suggests that they go get something to eat – sweet potato pancakes, yum! - but Sam shyly turns her down, mostly because he’s left his clothes somewhere out there in the woods. When Daphne climbs up onto the dock, Sam sees the scars on her back. She has to know that he saw them, but doesn’t say anything.

The next day at breakfast, Marianne is giddily snarfing down strawberries (she sure does like her fruit) when Tara tells her that she’s moving in with Sookie, and would she please tell Eggs? Marianne says yes, of course, and gives her a big supportive hug, telling Tara that she’ll miss her. But when Tara goes up to pack, the other woman’s expression goes cold. I mean icy.

Church camp. Jason, Luke and some unnamed campers are having a debate about potential vampires in the Bible. There’s Lazarus, rising from the dead (Jason: “Jesus made the first vampire?”), and Cain, since vamps are said to have the mark of Cain upon them. Then Jason gets on a roll, saying that maybe Jesus himself was the first vampire since he rose from the dead and told folks to drink his blood because it’d give them superpowers. I’m not biblical scholar, but his interpretation may be a little broader than most. Luke gets annoyed and says it’s all Eve’s fault: Eve as in “Eve-il.” Jason points his fork at Luke and says, “True evil is making the premedicated choice to be a dick.” God, I love Jason Stackhouse – he’s sooooo dumb and pretty. This scintillating discourse is interrupted when Jason is paged to go meet Reverend Steve outside. As he leaves, Luke tries to get one more shot in, saying that God promises that all evil will be punished. Jason: “Oh yeah? Then explain Europe to me!” Luke is at a loss, as am I.

At Sookie’s house, Sookie gives Tara a photograph of the two of them as little girls, with Gran. It’s Tara’s birthday, by the way. Sookie feels bad about leaving for her trip on Tara’s birthday but promises that they’ll celebrate for real when she gets back. She also lets Tara know that her “fool cousin” is back in town.

Over at the morgue, Sheriff Bud, Deputy Kenya and the coroner are examining Miss Jeanette’s body: she has the same enormous, gory, poisoned gouges down her back that Sookie had: the minotaur got her too. Andy comes in, wanting to ask Kenya about the giant pig Tara talked about at the end of last season when she got into her car accident. He gets kind of uppity with Sheriff Bud who says that he can’t depend on him any more, what with all the drinking these days, and asks him to hand over his badge. Tearfully, Andy does.

Tara goes over to Lafayette’s house and pounds on the door until he lets her in. He looks bad, but has at least showered and shaved. Tara wants to stay and take care of him – seems like she doesn’t want to be alone on her birthday - but he is in no mood for company and kicks her out, fairly rudely. She slams the door on her way out and he collapses back down on the couch.

At Merlotte’s, Sam is loading the walk-in cooler, confusing poor Terry on whether he’s leaving or not. Sookie notices the cook’s agitation and he tells her it’s because of Sam’s leaving. She is not happy to hear this and follows Sam outside, pestering him with questions and then also assuming that he’s leaving because of her. “Look, Sookie,” says Sam, “I got some serious shit to deal with and I don’t have time to make you feel better.” Fine, she replies, I’ve got some serious shit to deal with too … so I’m taking some days off. Sam just rolls his eyes and watches her flounce off.

Reverend Steve drives a four-wheeler through the woods while Jason shoots vampire targets with a pistol. He’s a good shot and Reverend Steve is impressed, seeing big things in Jason’s future. Afterwards, the fellas go back to Reverend Steve’s house for a beer. Sarah is making ribs out on the barbeque and we are treated to a sexy little sequence as Jason fantasizes about her dancing around the grill, rubbing her pert little boobs and fellating a beer bottle. He can’t keep his eyes off her, even while he tries to listen to Steve’s ramblings. A little while later, during dinner, Steve asks him to join the army he’s assembling, the Soldiers of the Sun – basically elite church campers who are going to get to kill lots of vampires, is my guess.

Tara is watching television at Sookie’s house, eating chips and crying a little when she hears something out on the front porch. She goes to investigate and it’s Marianne, Eggs and Karl, here to surprise her on her birthday. They’ve had a big party for her planned for weeks and when she moved out, she threw them for a loop – but they’ll just party here. “I’ve spent all day calling all your friends!” gushes Marianne. Tara: “What friends?”

It’s a slow night at Sam’s bar – all the regulars are at the birthday party. Andy is the only one there, slowly getting drunk, and Sam kicks him out. Arlene suggests that they close up and go to the party. Just then Tara’s mom comes in, carrying a present for her daughter. She asks Sam how Tara is doing and asks him to give her the gift. He takes it – and now he’s got to go to the party, even though he was hoping to avoid Marianne.

Sookie has availed herself of the mini booze bottles on “Anubis Airlines” (“They gave me ten!”) and giggles at the limo driver waiting for her. But he’s twitchy and she reads his mind, hearing that he’s going to kidnap her. She screams and Bill bursts out of his travel coffin, grabbing Limo Driver by the throat.

The party is in full swing by the time Sam gets there. Marianne sidles up, teasing, and Sam tells her that he cares about the people in this town and doesn’t want her to hurt them. “Even when they’ve dumped you? Or chosen a dead man over you?” She chuckles and strokes his face, “You’re really not an alpha, are you?” Poor Sam. Then he catches sight of Daphne and decides to go talk to her. The music starts booming and throbbing and everyone starts to bump and grind. Marianne looks around at the partygoers and smiles, satisfied. She twirls around and heads outside, walking into the woods.

In Dallas, Bill teaches Jessica how to glamour Limo Driver. As she works on it, he and Sookie try to figure out who is behind the kidnapping. Bill thinks it might be the nutso Sun Church folks. Sookie’s like, “Bill, they may be crazy but they’re still a church – they wouldn’t kidnap anybody.” Bill smiles at her naiveté and tells her that churches have done much, much worse throughout history.

Jason returns to the bunkhouse to pack his things, crowing about being a Soldier of the Sun. Luke’s all, whatever, there are fourteen others in that army, including me. Jason says that’s great – you going to bunk at the Newlins’ too? Luke laughs, “No, but I get it: Preacher’s wife wants something to play with.” Jason is indignant, saying that his recruitment to be a Soldier wasn’t like that: “I earned it.” Luke laughs nastily: “I bet you did.”

Bill, Sookie and Jessica are staying at a posh, vamp-friendly Dallas hotel – apparently Dallas is the most pro-vampire city in the country. After they check in, Bill glamours Limo Driver and confirms that it was the Fellowship of the Sun who hired him to abduct Sookie to keep her from helping find Godric. Ooh, Steve’s in this deeper than I thought!

With the party in the background, Marianne starts to chant and then the festivities start to really ramp up, sexual energy rising and overflowing, Marianne feeding on it. Eggs leads Tara upstairs.

Meanwhile, Eric has stopped by Lafayette’s house. Lafayette refuses to let him in but then Eric offers him a hit of his 1,000-year-old blood, which will heal Lafayette’s infected leg. Lafayette wants to know why Eric would give him such a gift and Eric says that Sookie cares for him, and what Sookie finds meaningful, he finds curious. Lafayette thinks about it and then invites him in. After Lafayette’s had a hit, Eric gets a call from Bill, updating him on the attempted abduction. Eric’s like, I suspected as much, and now we know. Bill is upset but Eric tells him to stuff it: he is the sheriff here and if Bill doesn’t like it, he can “take it up with the Magister … or the Queen.” There’s a queen? When Eric hangs up, he glances at Lafayette: the blood has taken full effect and Lafayette is completely recovered, dancing around and humping the furniture. Eric, wryly: “How’s your leg?”

Sarah checks in with Jason as he’s unpacking his things in the guest room. She’s wearing a silky white negligee and robe and while she doesn’t come onto him overtly, he gets VERY uncomfortable. This is probably the longest he’s gone without sex since he was old enough to get a boner. Plus he really kind of likes her. She tells him to call her if he needs her and flounces off.

Bill and Sookie are just about to get down to doin’ it when there’s a knock on the door: it’s Eric, just arrived in Dallas, and wanting to talk to Bill, down in the bar. “Fudge,” sighs Sookie. Downstairs, Bill wants to know what’s so great about Godric that they have to find him. Well, he’s 2,000 years old and extremely powerful, and if the humans can kidnap him, who knows what else they’re capable of. Eric says that if Godric is not restored to his Texas vampire clan, the Texas vamps may start retaliating against humans. “But that’s crazy!” says Bill. Eric: “No, that’s Texas.”

At Tara’s party, Sam and Daphne are flirting in the kitchen. She kisses him and he kisses her back. After a bit, he pulls back, unsure. Daphne, however, is sure: “[This is] a great idea! You’re cute as hell, and scruffy and adorable with that gray in your hair, and that hot little nose, and damn, boy, do you know how to wear a pair of pants.” All these things are totally true – Sam’s a muffin. Still, he says he needs to tell her something. “No, you don’t,” she replies, “I know what you are.” He goggles at her but she just takes him by the hand and leads him outside.

The orgy is full on now. Tara and Eggs are having sex (nice butt, Eggs!) and other folks are in various stages of getting it on too. Also, people are rubbing food and wine on themselves, and fighting, and thrashing around on the ground, eating dirt, eyes full of black. And through it all, Marianne shudders and flickers, as she does, and digs around in the dirt. When she raises her hands over her head, ecstatic, her hands are huge, three-fingered and tipped with nasty looking claws. I knew it. I totally knew she’s the minotaur. But what is she?

Up in the hotel room, Sookie is bored with flipping channels. There’s a knock on the door and she runs for it, but Jessica has ordered room service: a half-naked, straight and B negative boy named Travis, delivered by a uniformed bellhop. As she watches Jessica take her snack back into her room, Sookie wonders – to herself – if that boy is even old enough to be doing this. The bellhop answers her out loud: “He’s 21.” “That’s weird,” thinks Sookie, “It’s almost like he read my mind.” To which the bellhop thinks, without speaking out loud, “I did read your mind … oh just smile and keep your mouth shut, Barry, and she’ll think it’s a coincidence.” Sookie’s eyes light up and she says, out loud this time: “But it’s NOT a coincidence, Barry!” Barry’s jaw drops and he runs away down the hall, Sookie chasing after him.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Thursday, June 24, 2010

True Blood episode recap “Scratches” (S2E3)

Bill drives the girls back to Bon Temps, very fast, very angry. He pulls over so he and Sookie can scream at each other while Jessica sobs and shrieks in the backseat. Finally, Sookie has had enough of Bill’s condescension and gets out of the car, stomping off into the darkness. Jessica points out that Bill should go after her and kiss her and tell her he loves her; Bill insists that Sookie will come back when she calms down.

As Sookie continues down the dark, forested road, she senses something behind her in the darkness. There’s something there all right: a Minotaur with huge, three-fingered hands tipped with nasty claws. The Minotaur gives chase, catches up with her and slashes at her, tearing deep and awful gashes in Sookie’s back. Sookie screams and collapses, hard.

Back at the car, Bill hears her and comes after her with all his preternatural speed. She can hardly speak, choking out what she saw: “Bull … man.” She gasps that she can’t move so Bill bites into his forearm to feed her his healing blood. She gulps at it then gags, foam billowing out of her mouth. “Gross!” exclaims Jessica. Bill scoops the convulsing Sookie into his arms, ordering Jessica to go get the car. They drive to Fangtasia where Bill takes his lover inside and sends his pouting daughter home.

Things are not going well at Merlotte’s. Sam is brooding over Marianne and when the new waitress Daphne comes in to tell him that her checks are $64 short, he snaps at her, telling her that she’ll have to pay him back. Tearfully, she throws all her tips at him and runs out. Tara saunters in, noting that Daphne will never improve without some positive reinforcement. Sam snipes that Marianne must have told her that. Tara wants to know WTF is his problem with Marianne: “You don’t even know this person!” “Neither do you!” shouts Sam and stomps out.

A tiny, crotchety little doctor is tending to Sookie’s wounds. They are deep and really awful looking, and infected with some sort of bacterial toxin. Bill is agitated, frightened that Sookie might die. The little doctor sends him and Eric out of the room so she can work. – which work includes digging into the wounds. It’s really, really nasty and Sookie screams a lot. While the vampires are waiting for the doctor to finish up, Eric notes that in 1,000 years he thought he’d seen everything, but he’s never heard of a poisonous man-bull who is so toxic that vampire blood can’t cure it. He sends Pam and Chow (?) out to investigate, over Pam’s protestations that she’s wearing really cute shoes tonight. Eric rolls his eyes. I think I like Eric. When the doctor has finished her work, Bill gives Sookie his blood again. She slurps greedily which is pretty nasty too.

At church camp, Jason is having nightmares whereby Eddie the Vampire (played by Stephen Root - I totally couldn’t remember either the actor’s or the character’s name) is in bed with him, nekkid and gnawing on his neck. Once awake, Jason tries to pray but can’t help dropping an f-bomb in there, so an annoyed Luke pegs him with a pillow and tells him to shut up.

When morning is about to dawn at Fangtasia, Eric offers Bill a guest coffin and they leave Sookie to rest where she is. Bill thanks the sheriff for his assistance and Eric smirks, saying he’s sure he can come up with some way for Sookie to repay him. Bill glowers impotently.

Tara joins Marianne in the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Karl is cooking up a storm in anticipation of a big party the boss lady is throwing this evening. The two women chat, Marianne rolling one of the biggest joints known to man while she continues to build Tara’s self esteem. She hands Tara the doobie and holds out a light. Tara grins and fires up: “Aw, fuck it. I don’t have to be at work ‘til 4.”

Over at Sam’s, he’s loading up his truck: he thinks he might have to leave town, at least for a while. Terry drives up and Sam asks him if he’ll run the bar for him ‘til he gets back. The thought of all that responsibility makes poor, shell-shocked Terry nervous and he says he wouldn’t be his first choice for the job. Oh, you’re not, replies Sam, and hilariously runs down all the other people he wanted before settling on Terry: Sookie, Lafayette, Arlene, Tara … “You’re all I got.” Terry sighs, realizing he’s got no choice. Then, thinking about it a moment, he notes that Sam’s just going to cut and run from whatever is bothering him: “I wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole with you. Coward!” It’s Sam’s turn to sigh now.

Church camp, group session. Sarah Newlin has a bunch of campers sitting in a circle, telling their vampire-centric sob stories. When she calls on Jason, he demurs at first, then confesses that he doesn’t really have a problem with vampires, seeing how his sister is dating one and he treats her real good – except for the biting, but he thinks she likes that. Sarah tries to point out that vampires are evil because they aren’t human but in a moment of clarity, Jason says that his best friend - a human - killed a whole bunch of people, including his gran and his girlfriend, because he had issues with vampires, so the good/evil line is a little blurry there. He gets frustrated and walks out. Sarah chases after him and tells him that he’s special, that God sent him here to her. She asks him to pray with her and they kneel together. As she takes his hands and bows her head, Jason gazes at her, a little flicker of lust firing up in his eyes. Sarah’s a pretty hot little preacher’s piece.

Sookie finally wakes up, feeling much better. Fangtasia’s white trash bartender Ginger is there, offering a peanut butter and chocolate syrup sandwich that she made just for Sookie. Ginger is nervous, however, and quickly lets slip – as Sookie reads her mind – that Lafayette is chained up in the basement. Next, Sookie reads Ginger’s mind about the gun under the cash register. She gets to it first and forces Ginger to take her to Lafayette. She can’t unlock him – Ginger doesn’t have that key – but she swears to him that she will absolutely get him out of this dungeon.

Marianne’s party is underway. Blah blah blah Tara and Eggs – I find Eggs boring. Nice to look at, but boring. Tara, deep into a glass of wine and rocking a 1970s updo and cocktail gown, realizes that she was supposed to be at work 45 minutes ago … but she’s way too trashed to deal with Sam and decides to blow it off.

Once the sun goes down, Bill comes immediately to Sookie, thrilled to see her looking so well. She asks if he knew about Lafayette in the basement, which he didn’t. Eric saunters up and Sookie gets up in his business right away, telling him he ought to be ashamed of himself for treating Lafayette that way and punctuating her tirade with a slap across Eric’s face. Bill, horrified: “Sookie!” Eric, wryly: “I’m glad to see you’re feeling better.” He and Sookie strike a deal: she will go to Dallas to help find Godric and Eric will release Lafayette, pay her $10,000 and allow Bill to come to Dallas with her. I get the feeling that Eric finds her quite amusing, otherwise he wouldn’t put up with her at all. Best lines: After Sookie snits that she can’t stand him, Eric smarms that perhaps he’ll grow on her. Sookie: “I prefer cancer.” Bill: *smirk*

Jessica gets up out of her coffin for the night and is both saddened and put out that she is all alone. So she gets all dolled up and takes herself to Merlotte’s. As she walks down the length of the bar, she is pleased by the lustful stares directed her way. But it is good ol’ Hoyt who is brave enough to approach her. At first she can’t keep her eyes off a vein pulsing in his neck but he is sweet and direct, and she is quickly charmed. When he asks if he can buy her a drink, she takes a deep breath and tells him that she’ll take a bottle of True Blood, B positive. Instead of being horrified by her vampire-osity, Hoyt’s like, “For real? Wow. Awesome!” They’re actually perfect for each other: he’s an unsophisticated good ol’ boy and she’s a newly-vamped home-schooler who’s probably never been on a date.

By now, Marianne’s party is raging: Karl serving some suspect broth or potion to the attendees; music blaring; girls whipping off their tops. Andy Bellfleur drops by to tell Marianne to keep the noise down and catches a glimpse of that giant pig in the backyard. When he asks Marianne about it, she’s all, “What pig?” and when he looks again, the pig has disappeared. She giggles and hands Andy a glass of champagne, inviting him to join the party. “Well,” he grumps, “just one – I am on the clock.”

Church camp. Blah blah blah – The Newlins have invited Jason over for dinner. While Sarah gets supper ready, Reverend Steve is ranting against vampires. Jason is dim as usual (Steve: “It’s a war out there …” and Jason looks out the window. Steve: “Not right there, Jason, but in the world.”) but attentive, just what Reverend Steve is looking for, I suspect.

Jessica brings Hoyt back to Bill’s house. He notices that they have a Wii (rather incongruous in Bill’s decaying mansion) and offers to show her how to play it. Jessica has other ideas, however, and plants a smooch on him. He responds happily, moving to kiss her neck. And then her fangs pop out, to her horror and dismay: “I’d die of embarrassment if I wasn’t already dead.” But Hoyt is sweet and gentle with her, saying that he doesn’t mind – it’s natural and she shouldn’t be embarrassed about what she is because she’s great. He says he likes her, a lot, and that’s why he thinks they should wait before going any further. She turns to him, moaning, “I’ve waited too long already” and pounces on him with a growl.

Bill and Sookie drop Lafayette back at his apartment. He’s in rough shape but refuses to go to a hospital – too difficult to explain his injuries. Lafayette staggers into his home and collapses on the couch. He looks around himself, pulls a homemade afghan over him and sags down, crying.

Tara and Eggs are macking in the hot tub when they a topless hussy interrupts, wanting to give them – both of them – backrubs. This does not please Tara, nor is she pleased when she looks around at the other partygoers and sees a big ol’ orgy going on, with Marianne laughing in the middle of it. She jumps up out of the hot tub and goes up to her room, not seeing the black eyes of the ecstatic Maenads around her.

When they get back to Bill’s house, Sookie teases Bill about all the girlie pink clothes he’s bought for his daughter. He admits to preferring it when women are a little covered up: petticoats left something to the imagination, plus required a little skill to remove. Sookie grins and tells him that there’s a Halloween shop in town that might have some petticoats for rent. They walk into the house smooching and thus it takes a moment for Bill to notice his protégé hunkered down over a body on the couch. He rushes over and throws Jessica across the room. “I wasn’t gonna bite him, I swear!” she protests as a shirtless and unharmed Hoyt tries to stand up. Bill shoves him back down onto the couch and snarls at him.

Sam has just about finished loading his truck when that cute collie shows up and barks at him. Sam pulls off his shirt – thank you! – and they run off into the woods for one last romp. When the two dogs get to a pond, one jumps off the dock, transforming into Sam as he hits the water. The other dog runs off … and then mere seconds later, waitress Daphne strolls out onto the dock. Wait a minute. She’s not that collie-dog, is she? (IF she is, why has she got clothes on?) She and Sam flirt, just a little, and Daphne notes that the water looks nice and cool. When she strips down to jump in, the camera shoots her from behind: there are HUGE ugly scars all down her back. Looks like a werewolf to me.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Monday, June 21, 2010

Also read

I just finished two of the three books I was reading simultaneously.  Neither is going to get a full book report here but I'll share them with you briefly all the same.

For the Sake of Elena - by Elizabeth George.  The fifth book in George's British murder mystery series finds Inspector Lynley and Sergeant Havers taking a field trip to Cambridge, where a deaf student has been brutally murdered.  The university's ivory tower vs. the townies, deaf culture, extramarital affairs and fine art all play a part.  The Scotland Yarders are only slightly distracted from the matter at hand by their own personal lives:  Lynley is still pining away for the fabulous and resolute Lady Helen; and poor Havers's mum is fast sliding into dementia.

The Mabinogion Tetralogy - by Evangeline Walton.  Yeah, I bet you never even heard of this one before.  First published as separate stories, in 1936 and then in the mid-1970s, and finally compiled into one massive volume, The Mabinogion Tetralogy is a retelling of Welsh mythology in novel form a la Tolkien.  Walton takes the old stories and reworks them into four novellas that, impressively, all sync up by the end of the fourth.  The first tells the story of Prince Pwyll who meets Death and does him a favor, killing the one man Death cannot defeat.  The second tale follows the children of Llyr - the siblings and half-siblings and their in-fighting for control of the throne.  The third story continues with the line of Llyr, what few are left to face the changes coming to their island.  And the final book chronicles the struggles between Gwydion, heir to the throne of Gwynedd, and the powerful Lord Pryderi of the line of Llyr.  There is a lot of sex, violence, socio-political upheaval, conflict between the old ways (earth goddesses and lmatrilineage) and the new (early Judeo-Christianity and patriarchy).  Even though the names are difficult to keep track of - and impossible to pronounce - this was not drudgery.  Walton is smart and funny and knows how to tell a good tale.  Plus I adored Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain when I was younger and it was fun to get a better handle on this source material.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

True Blood episode recap: “Keep This Party Going” (S2E2)

After the gorefest, Eric tosses an arm at Lafayette and burps blood all over himself. Hilariously, he asks, “Is there blood in my hair? This is bad – Pam’s going to kill me.” Lafayette wonders, “Who the fuck is Pam?” before thinking the better of it. Eric unlocks Lafayette’s collar and leads him upstairs to meet the lady herself, and also to find out what Lafayette knows. “I wouldn’t try anything if I were you,” he says, matter-of-factly, leading Lafayette up the stairs, “I’m still hungry.” Good opener, show. (Unfortunately, the rest of this episode doesn’t quite live up to it.)

At Bill’s house, Sookie is all afterglowy and giggly about their first “make up sex.” Bill wants to know how it compares to “thinking I was dead sex” … did Bill just make a joke? Weird, and a little funny even. They talk, about Jessica and how Bill should be easier on her and why Bill isn’t easier on her, and then they have sex again.

Surveying the wreck of Eric’s hair, Pam states: “This is a disaster – we’ll have to go much shorter than I had planned.” Exasperated, Eric says: “I said I was sorry.” Then the vamps turn their attention to their bloodied captive, Lafayette. They ask him what happened to the vampire he had his arrangement with – when they press him, Lafayette says that he thinks maybe Jason Stackhouse took him. Eric and Pam confer privately - speaking French? Russian? - thinking that Sookie’s brother might be entertaining. Then Eric asks if Lafayette has any V customers in the Dallas area; an associate of his, Godric, has gone missing and Eric is concerned. Lafayette gives them an email address and then Eric has his muscle vamp Jim (who awesomely is the fat coach from Glee!) drag the prisoner back down into the bloody, disgusting dungeon. Lafayette protests, to no avail.

On the bus to church camp, Jason makes a friend, Luke MacDonald, a big dumb kid who played a little college football before blowing out his knee and finding Jesus. Luke has worked for years and years to get to this leadership conference; he is a little nonplussed to find out that Jason didn’t even know about it until a few days ago. Still, he’s hopeful that some of Jason’s luck will rub off on him and suggests they bunk together.

At Marianne’s, Tara finds Eggs working in the garden. She likes him, she says, but she’s had so much terrible luck with men that she wants to get to know him before throwing herself all into this new thing. He is reluctant, but finally tells her that when Marianne found him he was homeless and broke, plus he spent some time in prison for drug dealing and possession, armed robbery and assault. Tara is nonplussed to hear all this but the fire in her loins is burning hot and she’s still tempted.

As Sookie pours herself a cup of coffee – and her hair is foolish, BTW, curly and big – she sees Jessica’s parents on the T.V., pleading for their daughter’s return. It makes her go, “Hm.”

Sarah Newlin, Reverend Steve’s wife, welcomes the church campers to the leadership conference as a little helper hands out real silver fellowship rings – silver so they can protect themselves if need be. Everyone is so earnest and giddy that it turns my stomach. The campers cheer and applaud and get ready to get their God on.

Marianne, having driven Tara to work, saunters into the bar and takes a seat in one of the booths. She grabs a menu, saying she’s heard the food is just marvelous. Sam gets in her face and tells her to stop fucking with him and get the hell out of his place. Marianne looks at him coolly and points out that since she forgave him that $100,000 debt (theft), the least he could do is let her buy herself some lunch. He backs off and asks what she wants. Marianne: “I will go with the stuffed snapper with the crawfish topping, the blackened rib eye, the fried catfish and, ooh, would it be possible to get the smothered pork chops for lunch even though they’re on the dinner entrees? Now, how are your …” Sam sighs.

Church camp game of capture-the-flag. Jason is a superstar and Luke soon becomes competitive, slamming him into the grass. That’s okay as that just gives Jason the opportunity to take his shirt off (awesome!) and wipe the field with him. Also, Sarah Newlin totally has the hots for Jason now. This will not end well, I predict.

Even though it’s her day off, Sookie swings by Merlotte’s and drags Tara off for a break. She tells her about her new vampire stepdaughter and then asks Tara to move in with her as she’s just rattling around that big ol’ house by herself. Tara doesn’t know what to do – living at Marianne’s is weird, but awfully cushy. Sookie’s hair is still foolish. As she leaves the bar to go to Bill’s, Marianne catches her. As the older woman blathers on, Sookie tries to read her mind but only gets snippets of Marianne chanting, possibly in Greek.

Back at the basement dungeon of Fangtasia, Lafayette remembers a story the redneck told him about breaking his hip and getting a metal replacement (that I didn’t recap because: too long) and then sets about digging the metal bits out of the squishy body parts bestrewn across the floor. The sound effects are extra gross but he manages to get the metal pin out and uses it to break the chain around his neck. So far, so good.

He tiptoes up the stairs and out into the bar. But the door to outside is locked and he can’t get out, plus that skinny skanky blonde bartender is there with a pistol, having been set on guard by Eric and Pam in case “the drag queen in the basement” tries to escape. Lafayette gets her nervous and riled up and she shoots him accidentally, smack in the thigh. This is obviously less good.

Church camp: some pop princess is singing some cloying pop song about saving herself for Jesus. Everybody hoots and hollers and praises the Lord. Afterwards, Reverend Steve says they’re going to do a little role-playing on how to deal with vampire sympathizers. He asks wifey Sarah to be the sympathizer and then picks Jason to be the “good guy.” Everyone hoots and hollers, except Luke who looks rather put out at all the attention his new buddy is getting.

When Sookie gets to Bill’s house, Jessica immediately tells her that she just saw her parents on T.V., and now understands why they never let her watch it in the first place; “It’s horrible.” Sookie asks where Bill is and Jessica tells her that he’s out, running some sort of errand, and she hates it here so much. She collapses on the couch, crying, saying that she thinks she misses her parents and her little sister. The two girls bond a little bit and then Jessica asks if Sookie would drive her to her house, just so she could peek in the windows and see her family. Sookie hesitates, then agrees to a drive-by – but they have to stop by her house first for new clothes for Jessica as she’s not taking her anywhere dressed like a whore dressed like a Catholic schoolgirl.

The errand Bill is running? He’s at the mall, trying to find some clothes for his “daughter.” A redhead wearing tiny clothes and big cleavage totally hits on him, even more so after she touches his arm and realizes he’s a vampire. Then Eric – sporting a fabulous short new haircut and unfortunately wearing a tracksuit – comes up. The redhead watches their interaction and immediately decides they’re gay. Eric just cocks an eyebrow at her as she totters off on her stiletto heels.

Church camp role-playing. Jason is holding his own until Sarah sneaks a set of plastic vampire teeth into her mouth and hisses at him. He fuh-reaks, grabbing an American flag, snapping the flagpole and lunging at her. She falls back, terrified and panting, and he arrests himself just in time … but then has a flashback of Amy staking the vampire they kidnapped. He staggers back, apologizing, and stumbles off the stage as everyone in the audience (except Luke, who looks murderous) applauds. Reverend Steve, impressed with the enthusiasm, asks Sarah if she’s okay. She is, and she watches Jason walk off like he’s a cupcake and she hasn’t eaten all day.

Terry is fuh-reaking out at the bar’s kitchen because the joint is jumping and he hasn’t been able to take a break. Arlene feels sorry for him and takes over at the stove for a while, sending the new waitress to take the order out to table 4. Terry notes that most of the orders are going to table 4 – what’s going on out there? It’s Marianne, starting to work whatever mojo it is she works when she eats. What is she? A goddess? An incarnation of Dionysus? A demigod? A sorceress like Circe? She gets up and starts to gyrate on the dance floor, and the mojo flows out from her to all the other patrons. Soon everyone is dancing, grinding, making out in the booths.

Back at the mall, Eric tells Bill that he’d like to take Sookie with him to Dallas to find the missing Godric. Bill says no. Eric points out that he’s only asking permission out of respect; if he wants her, he can just take her. Bill is adamant and Eric stalks off, muttering, “Poorly played, Bill.”

Sookie pulls up across the street from Jessica’s house. The moment the young vampire sees her sister in the window she is out of the car and pounding on the door. Her mom comes out and is overjoyed to see her daughter. Jessica’s sister runs to call her father to tells him that Jessica is home, and Jessica manages to get her mom to invite her inside. Sookie’s got a bad feeling about this.

At Merlotte’s there’s a near-on orgy going on, people stealing beer from the taps, screwing on the pool table, dry humping on the dance floor. Marianne is in the middle of it all, either feeding on the energy or exuding it. Some of the ecstatic women’s eyes turn solid black.

Church camp: Luke catches Jason as the latter is flossing his teeth, blessedly shirtless. Luke spits that Jason must think he walks on water. Jason: “I’m pretty sure that was Moses.” Aw, don’t ever change, Jason. Luke corrects him and then demands to know WTF he was doing, snapping the flag in half “like you was some Muslim Buffy with a dick!” That may be the best line of the night. Luke snarls that tomorrow will belong to him and stomps off in a huff. Jason shakes his head – and more flashbacks seep in, of him being kind to the kidnapped vamp.

Sam drags Marianne back into his office and demands to know what the fuck is going on. She decides to feel threatened by his shouting and starts to flicker in and out, as she does. Sam backs away, pleading with her to stop it: “You can’t!” And then there’s a whine. Marianne kneels down in front of Sam-the-dog. She says: “Abracadabra, Sam. What I just did to you I can do anytime, anywhere. So unless you want your customers to know your little secret you better think twice before you threaten me ever again.” Sam-the-dog looks nervous.

Things get a little tense at Jessica’s house when her dad comes home. At first he hugs her, but it doesn’t take long for him to start yelling at her. She has had enough and pushes him off. “Go ahead and get your belt, Daddy,” she says as her fangs pop out. “This time I’ll be ready for you.”

When Lafayette regains consciousness, he’s on the couch in Eric’s office. Eric, Pam and Jim the bodyguard are watching him. They debate whether they should let him bleed out through the bullet wound or whether they should kill him. Lafayette has another plan: Eric should turn him into a vampire – “I’m already a person of poor moral character so I’ll hit the ground runnin’” – and he’ll work for them. They say they’ll take it under advisement … but first, chow time. Pam gets his throat, Eric a wrist and Jim muckles onto a leg vein. Lafayette screams and screams.

Apparently Jessica’s parents abused her and she’s gonna end it, right here right now. She shoves her father up against the wall and prepares to drain him. Then the front door bursts inward and a Very Angry Bill is there. He commands Jessica, as her maker, to step away from her father, then he glamours the little sister into inviting him into the house. She does and he comes in, tossing Jessica to one side. He grabs Sookie and throws her out of the house, yelling that this is all her fault. She runs off, frightened. Bill stares long and hard at Jessica, and then turns his attention to her father. He growls.

Okay: I’m not a huge Bill fan but dang, he is scary when he wants to be. Nice - can’t wait to see what’s next.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Titles Nine - #10

Wow: it's been over a year since my last "Titles Nine" post.  What can I have been doing in all that time?  Best not to ask, I guess.  For those of you come late to the party, this series is where I go to my bookcases and pick out nine books to share with you.  Usually it's just nine books sitting there in a row although sometimes there's a theme: cookbooks, comics, Stephen King.  This time there's a theme: books I own and while I'm always intending to read them, I've just never quite gotten around to it.  Yet.
  1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson - Now, to be honest, I haven't had this one that long and the plan is in place to read it on an upcoming flight.  I figure it's best to read it first before I see the Swedish film - I'm guessing I'm going to like those two versions too much to bother with the American remake.  (Why o why must Americans remake everything?)
  2. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson - I rarely read nonfiction but I find that Bryson keeps the pace moving right along, plus he's pretty funny.  This book is technically Mr. Mouse's but he's willing to share.
  3. Ulysses by James Joyce - No, really, I am going to read this one of these days.  Mr. Mouse and I need to find a cabin in the middle of nowhere and in between hikes and mountain bike rides, I shall drink whiskey and read this book. Yes I said yes I will yes.  Or something like that.
  4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - My mother will be appalled that I haven't read this yet.  I might have but I don't think so.  I think I tried but kept falling asleep and so probably put it aside from some swords-and-sandals fantasy series.
  5. The Coming of the King by Nikolai Tolstoy - This is another one that I may possibly have read - seeing how it's historical fiction/fantasy with Welsh names and thus right up my alley - but I just don't think so.  Not yet.  Maybe soon as I seem to be on a Welsh mythology kick of late (book review to come soon). 
  6. Contact by Carl Sagan - I have not seen the Jodie Foster vehicle and have no intention of doing so.  This is another one that would be on the mountain cabin/whiskey list.
  7. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Persig - Let's be honest.  I'm never going to read this.  I tried back in high school or maybe college - a long time ago, regardless - because everyone was all, "Ooh, it's so good," and I tried it and was all, "Ack - boring."
  8. Wild Fruits by Henry David Thoreau - Someone gave this to me as a gift ages ago, Thoreau's final and unfinished manuscript whereby he ponders religious and philosophical ideas whilst opining and sketching native North American plantlife.
  9. Collected Poems by George Seferis - I had to read some of these for a study abroad program in Chania, Crete.  Seferis is the national poet of Greece or something and I suppose they're good poems. I struggle with poetry, though.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

True Blood episode recap S2E1 “Nothing But the Blood”

Previously on True Blood: Sookie Stackhouse, a mind-reading waitress, falls in love with Bill, a Confederate era vampire, and due to the extreme differences in their ages and habits, it’s a challenging relationship. Sookie’s boss, bar owner Sam Merlotte, has been carrying a torch for her forever but has some issues of his own: he’s a shape-shifter, most usually into the form of a sweet collie dog. Sookie’s best friend Tara, a mess of poor choices and poor impulse control, is burdened with a crazed drunk of a mother. When Tara attempts to get her mother help via a voodoo exorcism, she finds herself confronting demons of a figurative sort until a mysterious benefactor specializing in wayward but beautiful youngfolk, Marianne – first seen naked in the middle of the road with a buffalo-sized pig – takes her into her home. Sookie’s gorgeous but dumb and easily-led brother, Jason, recently fell in love with a junkie and helped her kidnap a vampire for the purposes of extracting vampire’s blood – also known as “V,” a powerful aphrodisiac. After the vamp ends up dead, Jason’s girl soon does too – and he is struggling to sort out his feelings of right and wrong and love and lust. Lafayette, Tara’s out-and-proud, V-dealing, internet prostitute, line cook cousin, has disappeared and will hopefully not be found dead. And Eric, regional vampire sheriff, has forced Bill to make a new vampire in reparation for the one he killed at Eric’s nightclub, Fangtasia, in Sookie’s defense. This new vampire is Jessica, formerly a seventeen year old home schooler and now a pain in the ass baby vamp. Oh, and there was some stuff with a vamp-hating serial killer murdering town folks who were pro-vampire.

We pick right up where we left off: Sookie and Tara screaming their heads off at the body they’ve found in Officer Andy’s car, as a drunken Andy tries to gain some semblance of control. Sam runs out to calm the girls – Tara is nearly hysterical, hoping that the painted toenails don’t mean the body is Lafayette. Andy confirms that it’s not Lafayette: it’s Miss Jeannette, the faux exorcist, whose heart has been torn right out of her chest. Tara screams some more.

BTW, the opening credits are STILL awesome.

As the sheriff’s department tries to get a grip on what happened, Sookie stands to one side, unable to shut out everyone’s mind-chatter. The police question Tara closely but she denies knowing anything about the dead woman; Sookie, overhearing Tara’s thoughts, understands differently. Sheriff Bud finally arrives and tries to send Andy home, pointing out that he’s overworked and drunk. “I! Am not! Overworked!” shouts Andy hilariously. When Tara comes over, Sookie asks her how she knew the woman, and reminds her that she needs to tell the police everything she knows. Tara is at first annoyed that Sookie read her mind but then realizes that Sookie is right. Sam tells her that he and Sookie will close the bar – she should just go on.

Over at Bill’s crumbling mansion, he is attempting to lay down some rules for his new ward, for instance, bedtime is at 4:00 a.m. and not a minute later. Jessica is all, whatever with maximum eye rollage. He tells her that there is no hunting of humans, plus in his house they recycle: glass containers in one bucket, paper in another. His funny litany is interrupted when Sookie calls to let him know that she’ll be late. They’re sicky-sweet on the phone, grossing out both Sam, who overhears Sookie, and me. When Bill hangs up, he tells Jessica that he will be having a guest over for the evening and he wants her on her best behavior. “Can we eat her?” Jessica wants to know. “You may NOT,” growls Bill.

Over at Jason Stackhouse’s apartment, he is trying his best to read his new book of scripture (which that minister Orry gave him when he was in jail) but keeps getting distracted by memories of Amy and their V-fueled sexcapades. Understandably, since she was pretty cute.

Tara is trying to cooperate with the sheriffs but it is not going well, turning into a heated interrogation as Andy – still drunkish – gets in her face and Kenya scoffs about her wild exorcism stories. Bud no sooner steps in and to tell Andy to back the hell off when Tara’s momma Lettie Mae shows up, frantic and shouting, “What happened to Miss Jeannette?!” Tara tries to explain that the exorcism was a con job but Lettie Mae won’t hear it, insisting that scam or not, she’s been cured. It’s heartbreaking when she cries, “Ain’t I still right?” and no one can meet her eyes.

Next we go to a dungeon (or at least a very damp basement) where several poor souls are chained to a wheel. One of these poor souls is Lafayette. Yay! Not dead! When the door at the top of the stairs opens, Lafayette scurries to the end of his chain, hiding behind a column. Two burly figures drag a hooded man down the stairs, chaining him to the wheel; they unchain another poor soul and drag him back up the stairs. The new guy is one of the rednecks on whom Lafayette had to put a beat-down in the AIDS-burger incident last season. He is bewildered and full of questions but Lafayette has no answers for him: he does not know where they are nor does he know how long he’s been here.

When she finally gets to Bill’s house, Sookie throws herself into his arms for comfort. I find it funny that these two purported stars of the show are, for me anyway, the least interesting characters. Sookie has just settled in for smoochies when Jessica, fresh out of the shower, makes an appearance. Sookie’s jaw hits the ground. Metaphorically speaking – which with this show is necessary to clarify.

Outside of the sheriff’s office, Tara tries to apologize to her mother for the pain she must feel after Miss Jeannette’s death. Lettie Mae says she’s okay and they should pray for Miss Jeannette: “There’s an evil out there that wanted her soul and if you’re not careful, it’ll come for yours too.” Right on cue: Marianne drives up in her little red convertible. She embraces Tara warmly and sends her to the car, then turns her attention to ripping Lettie Mae a new one: “What rare opportunity this is! I’ve always wondered what it would be like to gaze into the eyes of someone so devoid of human compassion … just as I thought, emptiness, nothing inside.” Tara just goggles.

Back at Bill’s. Sookie is getting the Jessica story out of Bill: that Eric forced him to create a new vampire to replace the one he destroyed to save Sookie. Sookie is whiny and condescending; Bill stuffy and uncomfortable. Jessica gets all the best lines in this scene: when Sookie wants to know if Bill had sex with Jessica, both Bill and Jessica are quick to deny it, Jessica squealing: “Eeeeuw – old!” Blah blah blah … Bill sends Jessica off to bed (Jessica: “Compared to Fangtasia, this blows!”) and Sookie and Bill keep discussing this issue. Sookie’s biggest complaint, which is a valid one, is that Bill lied to her for two weeks about his new daughter. She tells him she can’t stay with him tonight. Bill is sad when she leaves.

Reverend Steve Newlin, head of the Fellowship of the Sun Church, is debating Nan Flanagan, the spokesperson for the American Vampire League, on national television, reminding us viewers of the overarching and growing anti-vampire sentiment. After the interview was over, Reverend Steve and his simpering blonde wife head up to their breakfast book signing, where that jailhouse minister Orry introduces them to Jason. He is preciously and adorably stupid. Orry suggests that Jason would be a good candidate to attend the Newlins’ Sun Church leadership conference. He is interested but doesn’t have the $1,200 fee. The blonde wife suggests he pray on it: God will send him a sign.

Sam rings the doorbell of Marianne’s mansion, bag full of money in one hand. When the butler opens the door, he observes that Marianne was expecting Sam sooner. Sam: “Yeah, well, there was a bit of a murder at my place last night.” He shows Sam into the living room to wait. As he wanders around, looking at things, Sam picks up an old, Minoan-esque statue of an earth goddess and flashes back to when he was a teenager, using his shape shifting abilities to enter houses through dog doors for a little theft. Flashback-Marianne catches him, saying that she finds him very interesting and leering at his young body. Back in the present, Sam is shaken out of his reverie as the butler says his mistress is indisposed. Sam says that he has something to give to Marianne but skeddaddles, rather than leaving the gift behind.

Boring: Sookie is trying to bring herself to pack up her dead grandmother’s room. She is interrupted by the local lawyer who tells her that her great-uncle Bartlett has been found dead (remember: Bill went after him because he had abused Sookie as a child or something). Bartlett, ever ickily fond of his grandniece, left her all his money, about $11,000. She doesn’t really want to take it, but she does.

Tara and Eggs lounge by Marianne’s glorious backyard pool. She joins them, bearing a tray of fruit and a joint, which they share among themselves. There’s a fresco on the pool house of Pan and his human lover. Marianne opines that the Greeks believed that the veil between the gods and the humans was very thin then excuses herself to go get more papaya. The two kids pass the joint back and forth, talking about Marianne, and a little about their lives, and are just about to kiss when the butler interrupts them with fresh towels. The moment ruined, Tara goes off to change for work. When the butler returns to the kitchen, Marianne smacks him in the face brutally: “Karl, nobody needed towels!”

Jason and Hoyt are at their road crew job, talking about Rene (last season’s murderer) and Jason’s new calling to the Fellowship of the Sun. Sookie drives up and gives her brother both the news about Uncle Bartlett’s death and also the $11,000 check. He looks at the check, realizes that it means he can now go to the leadership conference, and raises his eyes heavenwards in thanks.

Flashback: Marianne rides teenaged Sam like a racehorse, pausing in her pleasure to raise her arms over her head – in the pose of that statue – and starts to shimmer in and out of existence. Freaked, teenaged Sam throws her off him and she just laughs, “Baby boy, you’re not the only one who’s special.” Sam is snapped back to reality when Arlene knocks on the bar office door, saying that he really needs to hire a new waitress and here, why doesn’t he interview this girl here, Daphne.

In Lafayette’s dungeon, there are only three prisoners left: Lafayette, some pathetic woman and that redneck who insists on talking to him. The redneck wants to confess his regrets – banging his cousin’s girlfriend, hassling Lafayette for being gay, once getting a blowjob from his bunkmate at “safety patrol camp” when he was a kid. Lafayette sits there and rolls his eyes, hoping to God that this moron isn’t the last person he talks to before he dies.

Back at Merlotte’s, a drunken Andy is flashing his badge and interrogating the locals about Miss Jeannette. Over at a booth, a blonde tramp is trying to get Jason to bang her brains out but Jason is currently abstaining, needing to stay pure for the leadership conference. It’s pretty impressive, the level of self-control he’s exhibiting given what we saw of him in S1. Later, when Sookie asks him about the conference, he lies and makes up a name, knowing his sister won’t approve of the Fellowship’s anti-vampire stance. At another table, patrons are gossiping about Rene, making Arlene cry. Terry Bellefleur, the cook – who, as you may remember, has a thing for Arlene – comes out, slaps money down on the tables and kicks the gossipers out. Aw.

Bill has bought all the different types of True Blood and has lined them up on the table, trying to come up with a taste combination that Jessica can choke down without gagging. Jessica: “[The A negative] tastes less like ass than the A positive but more like ass than the B negative.” She bitches that Eric let her feed off “that guy with the tattoos and the nipple piercings” but Bill cuts her off, saying that he is not Eric. Jessica: “Ooh, you are SO not Eric.” I think I like Jessica.

Sookie wanders out back of the bar, finding Sam lost in thought on the steps of his trailer. He doesn’t feel much like talking – especially when she starts blathering on about Bill and the fight they had. Sam: “It seems like you’re either apologizin’ or yellin’ at me – aren’t you tired of it?” He lets her go for the night but snaps that she has to come in early to make up her hours. Sookie just goggles, amazed that someone doesn’t want to listen to her babble. Inside the bar, Sheriff Bud – awesomely dressed in his line-dancin’ outfit – pulls Andy aside and tells him that he is off the Miss Jeannette case.

Flashback time: teenaged Sam makes his break for it while Marianne showers. He grabs some clothes out of the dresser, then can’t help but take her jewelry too. When he opens a drawer, it’s stuffed full of money. He takes that too. Grown-up Sam is snapped back to reality when the sorceress herself appears at his door. He pulls out the bag of money and hands it to her. She chuckles, “You sweet thing, it’s not your money I want ... How in the world did you get the impression that this was about you?” Sam just stands there, open-mouth gaping.

Sookie lets herself into Bill’s house. He is overjoyed to discover that two parts O negative to one part B positive is a recipe that Jessica thinks is almost palatable. Sookie, demonstrating remarkably savvy, sucks up to the girl vamp saying that if Jessica will give Sookie tonight alone with her boyfriend, tomorrow night the two girls can spend the next night together, doing girl stuff, just the two of them. Jessica finds this acceptable and flounces off. After she’s gone, Sookie immediately accuses Bill of killing her uncle Bartlett. “He hurt you,” Bill reminds her: “I cannot and I will not lose you … I am not sorry, I refuse to apologize for what you have awakened in me … for the first time in 140 years I felt something I thought had been lost to me forever – I love you, and for that I shall never feel sorry.” Sookie, of course, loves him too. And then there’s some pretty hot make-up sex, with Anna Paquin, that skinny thing, fearlessly and totally naked. My question: doesn’t all that bloodplay make a mess of the white bedspread?

In the dungeon, the redneck “has a plan” … but someone is coming down the stairs, so Lafayette shushes him and tries to scuttle back behind the pillar. “Shushing won’t help, sweetheart. We hear everything.” This, of course, is Eric – who hilariously has his hair foiled for highlighting. He comes over to the redneck and unchains him, saying they have some questions about that fire from last season that killed three vampires. Amazingly, the redneck does have something of a plan, and slaps a silver crucifix against Eric’s cheek, screaming, “Die, you dead fucker!” Eric shrieks, the crucifix sticking and burning into his skin. And then it gets AWESOME as Eric literally and very messily tears the redneck limb from limb, slurping and howling and growling maniacally. Lafayette cowers behind his pillar, unable to escape the spewing blood.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

I am so lame

It's not like I don't have stuff going on: I'm reading two books simultaneously, have S2E1 and 2 of True Blood sitting on my coffee table and recorded the AMC version of They Live on the DVR.  I promise


I'll get a True Blood recap up tomorrow.  Might be late in the day, but I'll do it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Two quick things

First, why doesn't Jason Dohring have a regular gig on a television show?  I had DVR'd Lie To Me, which I've never before seen in my life, only because he was on it - and he was awesome as a charming psycho- and sociopathic psychology grad student, totally putting ol' Tim Roth through his paces.  Sure, JD is perhaps specializing in bad boys, but jeez, give the kid a break.  Someone give him a full time job!

Also, via USA Today's Pop Candy blog, I learned about Mari-Kari, an animated web series on starring Shannen Doherty as twins.  Mari is a perky, pretty, not-too-bright elementary school girl and Kari is her dead twin who defends her dimmer sister in gruesome and hilarious ways.  Two new episdoes every Thursday in June.  I am totally hooked.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Person undecided

I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment in my quest for science fiction/fantasy-tinged serialized television dramas. I stayed loyal and patient throughout the uneven runs of Dollhouse and Carnivale; I forced myself through to the end of Harper’s Island; I suspended all disbelief and have kept up with Happy Town, gawdhelpme. And so bravely, resolutely, I steeled myself and set the DVR to record ABC’s new summer mystery series, Persons Unknown. It ain’t no Lost or S1 of Heroes (poor, pathetic, wasted-potential Heroes), but it didn’t make me want to gouge out my eyes or, worse, immediately delete the series recording.

The cast is pretty much unknown, the characters stock and the storyline derivative, and the pilot episode was heavy on set-up … and yet there were enough tantalizing whispers to make me wonder. Who is watching on the other end of those cameras? What’s with the Chinese restaurant? Is Maura (Moira?) really a counselor or actually a patient at some facility? Will that intrepid reporter ever wash/comb his hair? Was I alone in thinking that grandmother was WAY creepy? No, I don’t think that Persons Unknown will be the next big thing, the next Lost, the next BSG. But already the acting is better than the appalling Harper’s Island (which really only had the kills going for it anyway) and I have clearly set the bar low. Come on, Persons Unknown, surprise me.  Convince me that you're worth my time.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mini movie review: Law Abiding Citizen

One of the women I work with and I discovered a mutual taste for Gerard Butler, and she was kind enough to loan me her copy of Law Abiding Citizen to watch this weekend. That makes it two mediocre, entertaining enough but certainly not good movies that I've watched in a row now - and this one left me with about as much to say about it as Extract did. Maybe less. What I liked: Jamie Foxx's D.A. actually had a character arc; the movie had a solid cast with, in addition to the stars, Colm Meaney, Leslie Bibb, Bruce McGill and Viola Davis; and GB shows his bare butt. Not sure why it was necessary to the storyline that he showed his butt, but I appreciated it nonetheless. Otherwise, Law Abiding Citizen is a run of the mill vigilante action/thriller with not much new to say.

P.S.  On the plus side, True Blood S2 DVD arrived - let me pour myself a bourbon and get my recapping gloves on!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mini movie review: Extract

Just knocked off Mike Judge's factory comedy, Extract (as opposed to his office comedy, Office Space).  I don't have much to say about it other than it was not an unworthy expenditure of 90 minutes but I didn't love it.  While I found Office Space to be occasionally brilliant in its skewering of office life, particularly in the first half of the movie, Extract just never quite hits the same notes.  Jason Bateman is as adorable and solid as ever, managing to keep the movie grounded; Kristen Wiig and Mila Kunis manage to be both sexy and a bit off; and David Koechner did a spot-on job as the neighbor from hell.  But Ben Affleck's drug-pushing bartender was the only one whose lines made me laugh - and I can't stand Ben Affleck, so that's pretty amazing.  In sum: terrific cast (also including Beth Grant and J.K. Simmons) but the writing never lives up to their promise.