Monday, September 07, 2009

My Review of True Blood's 1x08: "The Fourth Man In The Fire"

Written by Alexander Woo
Directed by Michael Lehmann

Sookie: “Do you have any idea what I’ve been through today? A friend would ask.”
Tara: “Don’t tell me how to be your friend.”

These cliff hangers really can take a lot out of you. Sookie has had the misfortune of either nearly being killed or walking into to find someone killed and while it’s definitely getting formulaic, I don’t think the are going to stop anytime soon.

With this episode there was the fear of Bill being done in once and for all. I’ve done something I shouldn’t have and went and read the first book, Dead Until Dark. However even if I hadn’t done that, I still didn’t think for a second that Bill was actually dead.

However Malcolm, Liam and Diane presumably are along with some unfortunate fang banger to boot. As deaths go, vampires when killed certainly do look suitably grisly on this show. Now if this was Buffy, they’d just be dust with no fuss. Even the skeletal remains of The Master have nothing on the gnarly corpse that Sookie had to see here.

Unfortunately for the first quarter of the episode, Sookie was convinced that Bill actually did die and it certainly did little to improve her mood. I was actually shocked when she started yelling at Tara. Granted Tara was an episode too late with the ‘I can’t believe you let a vampire bite you’ reaction but even then, I thought Sookie was being way too harsh.

Of course, Sookie has had to endure a lot of shit in the space of a week, so there was something of a relief when the thing that clawed its way out of the grave was Bill. Without sounding like a shipper, I have to admit that Sookie and Bill’s graveyard sex scene was actually quite hot. Sure we’ve seen Buffybot and Spike do the nasty in a graveyard but this was something else.

The more Sookie seems to sleep with Bill, the more enamoured she becomes. She really does change a lot personality wise too. She was too perky the next day in Merlotte’s when telling everyone that Bill was alive. Sam didn’t exactly do much to contain his sadness over Bill surviving either, did he?

Then there was Sookie and Bill babysitting Arlene’s kids. I don’t really like Arlene’s bigotry (something that Sookie even addressed twice) but I can understand why she wouldn’t be so keen with Sookie having Bill over with Coby and Lisa. Rene on the other hand seemed less fazed about Bill around the kids.

As for Bill and the kids, nice wholesome family fun apparently can be order of the day. I think the fact that he was a vampire automatically made him intriguing to Coby but it was sort of hilarious seeing Lisa trying to coach him into being a better boyfriend for Sookie. By the end of the night, even Arlene seemed less tense about Bill. Then again, she did get engaged to Rene so that would improve a lot of people’s mood.

Fun times might have been had with Bill but Eric finally popped up in an episode where he felt more like a character to me. Granted all he did was order Bill to bring Sookie to Fangtasia but it was certainly better than anything else we’ve seen Eric do so far. Still not completely sure of him though.

Sookie’s second trip to Fangtasia almost seemed delightfully mundane – finding the halfwit dumb enough to steal $60,000 from Eric. It would’ve been almost anticlimactic if Sookie hadn’t made herself a deal with Eric. Nice of her to try and protect a human suspect but bad in the sense that Eric will only too well make her stick to her end of the bargain.

Bruce and Ginger made for okayish staff members, though the latter was somewhat annoying in her attempts of flirting with Eric. The end reveal of Longshadow being the culprit was interesting. That being said, there’s no way he’s going to do that much damage to Sookie, what with Bill, Eric and Pam all there to help her out.

As for Jason and Amy, god damn it! I really wanted to like Amy, I really did. At the start of this episode she was earning some massive brownie points. She managed to make Jason a lot more interesting and sympathetic than we’ve ever seen him be and she even got him to open up to her as well and they didn’t even have proper sex, just touching and no naughty stuff. Hell, she even managed to get into Arlene’s good books as well and I doubt that’s something easily achieved as well as snagging a job at Merlotte’s.

So, where did it all go wrong? The V addiction of course. It turned out that Amy had worse withdrawal problems that Jason but at least Jason was realistic enough to know that Lafayette wouldn’t sell any to them. Amy however got around that problem by kidnapping poor Eddie (one of Lafayette’s clients, who clearly had a thing for Lafayette), which is damn proof that I’m beginning to feel sorry for vampires in this show.

I shouldn’t really be surprised that Jason would go down a darker path, given everything we’ve seen with him so far on the series. I was just hoping that Amy would’ve been more of a calming influence instead of being the person who brings him further down a slippery path.

Speaking of slippery paths, I loved the cat and mouse antics with Sam and Andy in this episode. Sam really should stick to one story. He told Terry that it wasn’t him running naked in the woods and then made up some naturist crap to get Andy off his back. He would’ve been better off sticking to one story and committing to it. I wasn’t surprised that Andy then went to check up on Sam’s little fable. Sam, you idiot. First you piss off Tara (though she was out of line with the racist comment) and then this.

Tara was also another person who had a rotten time of it. Most people would be delighted to see their mother kick the booze if she was a raging alcoholic like Lettie Mae but Tara’s no idiot and she had every right to be suspicious of her mother. I don’t buy Lettie Mae’s U-Turn either.

Sure, it’s a well constructed act. No booze means a lot of hoe cakes, renewing your church ties and even throwing subtle hints to your daughter about the demon being gone. In the end with all the crap that Tara went through in this episode, I bet Miss Jeanette saw her coming again. Damn, Tara, you don’t have a demon but what you do have are two opportunistic vultures around your neck.

Also in “The Fourth Man In The Fire”

Another interesting vampire myth was Bill telling Sookie that it’s a longer process to die due to sunlight after she told him about her dream of him burning up.

Amy: “You’re an extraordinary being.”
Jason: “What’s that supposed to mean?”

This was another episode where Steve Newlin was spouting off about his avowed hatred towards vampires. At some point, he’s going to descend on Bon Temps, right?

Amy: “You never talk about things to anybody? You don’t even talk to your sister?”
Jason: “Least of all her. She brings out the worst in me.”

Arlene (re Amy): “Sam, I think we might have found a replacement for Dawn.”
Sookie (to Jason): “Looks like you did too.”

Due to reading the first book, I know for a fact that Amy has a bigger role on this show than the book. Then again, so does Lafayette and others. I also liked that little scene with Terry and Arlene in this episode as well. I think he fancies her.

Hoyt: “You look mighty pretty tonight, Tara. That colour suits you.”
Tara: “Fuck you.”
Hoyt: “I’m sorry, was that sexist?”

Sookie: “What’s it like to sleep in the ground?”
Bill: “Well, it’s not exactly comfortable but it is safe.”

Eric really did know how to unnerve Bill. Then again, I wouldn’t be that comfortable just making themselves at home in my bathtub either. And Eric is Sheriff of Area 5, giving him more clout over Bill.

Tara: “A grunting sound. Like a farm animal?”
Sam: “No, it’s athletic. Like tennis players when they serve.”

Arlene: “Would you be a bridesmaid for me again?”
Sookie: “Why of course. You hardly have to ask.”

The fourth man in the fire actually was a man – Mike Spencer’s assistant, Neil who had dreaded Sookie outing him as a fang banger back in “Cold Ground”.

Andy (re Neil): “Jesus, Bud, the kid was creepy. What nineteen year old goes to work for a funeral home?”
Bud: “I worked in a slaughter house when I was fifteen.”

Andy: “You’re a naturist?”
Sam: “No, no, good lord, no. My folks were, I’m embarrassed to say, they spent most of their lives in a nudist colony.”

Standout music: Greg Laswell’s “Comes And Goes” (he’s being used a lot on US TV nowadays) and Johnny Cash’s “The Fourth Man In The Fire”.

Lafayette (to Tara): “Trust me. This world is filled with things we’ll never understand.”

Eric (to Bill, re Sookie): “Honestly, did you think you could keep her to yourself?”

Chronology: As per usual, this takes place from where “Burning House Of Love” left off.

“The Fourth Man In The Fire” is certainly a fun episode. Having Bill use fake fangs to amuse Coby and Lisa, coupled with graveyard sex, more trips to Fangtasia, and references to Heroes all add to an episode brimming with utter brilliance. Too bad that Amy and Jason’s little antics are going to cost them dearly.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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