Monday, August 23, 2010

My Review of True Blood's 3x10: "I Smell A Rat"

Written by Kate Barnow And Elizabeth R. Finch
Directed by Michael Lehmann

Eric: “Do what you want; I won’t be around much longer anyway. I wish you the best, Sookie Stackhouse.”

And for those who have been frustrated that the majority of this season hasn’t been pandering to Sookie and Eric from a shipper perspective, this episode should make you happy and frustrated in equal measure. Eric Northman really does love Sookie Stackhouse but he’s got a terrible way of showing it.

I knew that as soon as Pam had told him to find a way of using Sookie due to Russell’s growing interest in the girl that Eric would resort to something reckless. Why the fuck couldn’t he just sit Sookie down and explain to her why Russell is so interested in her? It would’ve been a lot better than deciding to keep her prisoner in Fangtasia.

Also, in my eyes because of Eric’s actions, he’s every bit as bad as Bill if not worse in the matter. He loves Sookie but treats her like she’s something he’s got the right to imprison instead of actually trying to save himself in the process.

Russell’s not going to be won over if Eric handed Sookie to him on a platter right about now. The only way Russell won’t be a threat is if Eric mans up and just kills him already. Another thing that would have been better than keeping Sookie captive.

It’s annoying as well because Eric and Sookie do have an interesting chemistry. The blood bond and dreams aside, even I realise that there’s a part of Sookie that’s attracted to Eric of her own mind but Eric doesn’t make himself look like a very good choice when he treats Sookie in such a rotten manner to be honest.

The dream sequence and later, the very real kiss between Sookie and Eric wasn’t something I had been waiting for a long time to see. They were certainly highlights of the episode and while I understand Eric’s motive and genuinely believe that he doesn’t want to harm Sookie, it’s episodes like this that make it hard for me as a viewer to get behind an Eric/Sookie pairing.

Pam raised some good points about Eric making wills and being inactive and while her harsh words brought out the worst in Eric at the end, I did agree with her. Pam definitely cares for her maker a lot more than he seemed to care about his own survival at the start of the episode.

And then there’s the rivalry between Eric and Bill, which in this episode made the both of them come across as irritating assholes to the very end. I hate that Bill openly lied about Sophie-Anne’s motives and the extent of his own knowledge to Sookie on her fairy lineage but Eric’s actions at the end proved that he’s just as bad as Bill in that regard as well.

Also for some odd reason, it didn’t feel right that Bill was basically explaining to Sookie about who she was. I really felt that those scenes belonged to Claudine and if there was an episode that essentially needed her, it was this one. Claudine talked about protecting Sookie before, so now it’s about damn time we actually saw it onscreen for once.

When Sookie wasn’t getting an information dump on her family tree, wondering about Bill’s true feelings towards or being held prisoner, she had some interesting scenes with Jason and Tara. I loved that she finally copped onto the fact that Tara went through a horrid ordeal at the hands of Franklin and she was right to tell Jason to confess about shooting Eggs.

There was never going to be a good time for Tara to find out that Jason killed Eggs and while this was definitely one of the worst times to tell her, I’m still glad that she knew. I know it’s going to sour things between her and Jason after she tried to kiss him and praised him for saving her but Jason was genuinely trying to do the right thing and ease his conscience by telling her the truth about Eggs.

Tara fleeing was probably the only reaction she could’ve given at this point. She was tired and broken from everything else that had happened to her and judging by the preview for the next episode, it does look like Andy will bear a fair chunk of her anger. Whether or not Tara decides to send Jason to prison because of this will be an interesting thing. I hope she doesn’t though and at least gives Jason a chance to explain himself.

It’s amazing that Jason’s plot was more interesting this week but that’s because he worked better with his moments between Tara and Sookie than he has done with the Hotshot plot and Crystal. Also in a weird way, Crystal was actually a lot more interesting in this episode because she was largely kept away from Jason.

I felt bad for her when Calvin rejected her for not wanting to procreate with Felton and for him blaming her for Lafayette using V to save his pathetic existence but I was actually surprised that she revealed herself as a panther to Jason. After weeks of this plot going nowhere, it’s nice to actually get some bloody progression as well. Here’s hoping for Crystal’s sake that Jason doesn’t reject her after all.

Speaking of advance plotting, it’s typical that Russell’s on air slaughter of a news anchor gave slimy Steve Newlin further justification behind his anti-vampire stance and also furthered Arlene’s own bigotry as well. I know I should berate Jessica for slamming a pregnant woman in a corner but Arlene’s stupidity and downright selfishness never ceases to annoy me.

She finally plucked up the courage to tell Terry that the baby was Rene’s and when Terry insisted that he would love the child like his own, she decided to go to Holly to find a way to end her pregnancy. Was Arlene dropped on her head multiple times over as a kid or has the hot sun and hair dye sapped her brain because either way, her stupidity does defy logic at this point? I never liked Arlene all that much but I will hate her if she does get rid of the baby now.

As for Sam, I wasn’t expecting such a dark back-story but I am really interested given how well it’s being intertwined with his present day story. Past Sam didn’t mind pulling cons and killing the couple that screwed him over and present Sam is drinking himself into oblivion and seems on the verge of a major self-destruction, one that Tommy’s influence could end encouraging even more if Sam really takes any heed of his little brother.

I lost respect for Tommy in this episode anyways with his attempts to try it on with Jessica and attack Hoyt whilst in pit bull form. I absolutely loved Jessica tossing Tommy into the air and finally putting her doubts away and taking Hoyt back. It sure as hell took her long enough to do and there seemed to be a parallel with Jessica feeding Hoyt her own blood like Bill did with Sookie back in the first season.

Finally, Lafayette and Jesus are continuing to be a mixed couple for me. Great chemistry between the actors and I love that the V trip gave us some needed information on the fact that both Lafayette and Jesus each come with their own magical histories (which was more of a shocking than Sookie’s fairy lineage) but it doesn’t explain Jesus’s intentions towards Lafayette all that much either.

Also Russell had more of a low key appearance in this episode as well. All he did was pick up a prostitute that looked like Talbot, waxed lyrical about his dead husband and then impale the prostitute for his troubles. I guess I want the more commanding and scary Russell rather than the melancholy one in this episode.

Also in “I Smell A Rat”

We’ve gone from having no magical characters on this show to have three. As well as Lafayette and Jesus, Holly also mentioned to Sam that she was a Wiccan.

Sookie: “I’m a fairy? How fucking lame!”
Bill: “Fairy is one of the names.”

Sookie’s fairy lineage is seemingly consistent with the books – she’s intoxicating to vampires (who apparently have wiped out most of the fae kind) and it’s down to the fact that a fairy mated with a female relative. It’s gonna be Adelle, huh?

Sam: “What is this?”
Man: “This would be you getting screwed.”
Sam (to Woman): “Are you in on this?”

Sookie: “If my blood is so delicious, does that make your feelings for me based on ...”
Bill: “No! Oh, it definitely drew me to you at first but we grew into something much deeper. You must know that.”

The woman Sam was with looked very similar to Daphne and the flashbacks themselves took place in 2003.

Jessica (to Arlene): “Okay, we get it – you don’t like vampires. Well, I don’t like narrow minded, skinny bitches with bad dye jobs but at least I have the courtesy to keep my mouth shut about it, most of the time. I suggest you do the same.”

Lafayette (to Jesus): “Yesterday morning you made coffee. I thought today we’d graduate to juice and pancakes.”

Jesus’s grandfather was into the dark arts and we learned that Lafayette’s great grandmother was a conjurer.

Sookie: “Will your blood ever wear off? I’m tired of dreaming about you.”
Eric: “It’s not just the blood. You know you have feelings for me.”
Sookie: “Eww.”

Jason: “Tara, you know I ain’t that deep.”
Tara: “For some reason you like pretending that you’re too dumb to know better, do better.”

Jason got angry with Bill and rescinded his invitation during this episode. Hoyt also dumped Summer before declaring his feelings for Jessica again and Pam’s full name is Pamela Swynford de Beaufort.

Sookie: “What do you mean you’re not gonna be around much longer?”
Eric: “Don’t pretend you care about me, this is about Bill. Deep down you know you shouldn’t trust him.”

Jessica: “Hoyt, I love you too, now drink my blood.”

Standout music: Patty Griffin’s “I Smell A Rat”.

Russell (to Tony): “Talbot, you saved me from the world, from myself. I was a fool to trust him and I’m more sorry than I ever could say.”

Chronology: From where Sookie and Bill left off in “Everything Is Broken”.

“I Smell A Rat” isn’t one of the stronger episodes of the season but there’s enough ticking over to keep the hour moving at a nice pace. It’s also nice to see weaker plots such as Sam’s and the Hotshot stuff gather pace as well.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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