Monday, June 27, 2011

My Review of True Blood's 4x01: "She's Not There"

Written by Alexander Woo
Directed by Michael Lehmann

Sookie: “I’ve been gone two weeks?”
Jason: “Sook, you’ve been gone twelve and a half months.”

And if there was a show that could’ve been benefited from a time jump, it would be this series and not Brothers And Sisters. A lot can happen in over a year, especially if you’re Sookie and you think you’ve only been gone for a few minutes at the most.

I knew fairyland would have something sinister about it but even I didn’t think the writers would reveal it so quick. Sookie was only there long enough to realise that humans were being harvested and psychotic Queen Mab wanted to close the portal between the fairy world and the human world for good.

In that brief fifteen minutes of the opening episode, it was nice to see Barry again, nicer to see Claude (if he’s good, does that mean Claudine’s bad?) but more unexpectedly was seeing Earl Stackhouse. I know some viewers felt that Gary Cole was effectively wasted in the role but like fairyland, I have a sneaking suspicion that we haven’t seen the last of Earl Stackhouse yet.

One thing that pleased me endlessly about this episode was the fact that Jason was the first main character to be reunited with Sookie again. For all their ups and downs, I do love their sibling dynamic and while Jason might have been hasty in selling her house, he was great in getting Andy to back off.

Everyone’s reaction to Sookie’s return were interesting – Jason’s very brotherly approach were far more interesting than Bill and Eric’s attempts of trying to act like they cared the most. Similarly I did laugh a little at Arlene’s presumption that a bad boyfriend might have done Sookie and felt a little put out by Sam being more sour faced, even if I understood where he was coming from.

For the time being, Sookie is probably wise not to let everyone know where she was exactly but I did like the fact that she was honest about Jason with it. As for Eric buying her house, how do I put this?

I know there are fan girls out there who think Eric can do no wrong but I found myself irritated during his scenes with Sookie in this episode. Acting like he was the only one who never gave up on her sounded disingenuous and the fact that he bought her house to own her really rubbed me up the wrong way. How again is he supposed to be a better suitor for Sookie than Bill? This episode certainly didn’t suggest that he was.

However not everything Eric did in this episode actively pissed me off. He was great with Nan’s PR campaign in trying to win back public support and much as I’ll always love Pam and her snarky putdowns, I think this might have been the rare episode where her scanting banter actually worked against her for once.

Speaking of PR – Bill as the King of Louisiana? This is an excellent plot stratagem. He can’t be much worse than Sophie-Anne and by the way, writers, let us know what’s happened with her and it might be a little fun to see him lording it over Eric for a bit as well. Also Bill is acting smartly, if spy lady Katarina is anything to go by.

After Rene, Maryann, the Fellowship and Russell Edgington, it’s nice to see that the witches are coming out to play this season and I have to admit, the low key introduction of Marnie was the best way of going about bringing this character into the mix. I’ll also keep my gushing of Fiona Shaw to a minimum but great casting, show.

I like that in spite of Jesus and Holly’s encouragement that Lafayette has some open scepticism about the witching world. Marnie’s starting (and not succeeding) with trying to raise dead birds. Lafayette is doing what everyone else in that coven isn’t doing – he’s being cautious and more power to him for it as well. Nice to know that since last season, Lafayette hasn’t lost his general savvy.

Too bad that Jason’s savvy seems to vary. He’s great with helping Sookie and trying to keep Andy of the vampire blood but he’s sort of hopeless with the Hotshot kids and now they have him trapped in a freezer. This was one plot I didn’t love last season and I have a feeling that my mind isn’t going to change on that one either. As always, I’ll concentrate on the good stuff though.

As for Tara – cage fighting and dating a woman? Well, considering her history, perhaps cage fighting is a healthy way for Tara to channel her anger but I’m not sure about her relationship with Naomi. Don’t get me wrong - Naomi’s lovely but Tara’s never really shown any inclination of being attracted to women and the fact that she’s lying to her girlfriend ain’t so good either. This is a story I’ll keep an open mind on.

Another thing or two to keep an open mind on – Tommy being looked after by Maxine. I’d liken it to a fate worse than death but it could be an amusing plot that ends up making two unlikeable characters more likeable and it’s a bit more original than Sam’s anger management club with shifter Luna, Suzanne and Emory, which is another storyline that could go either way.

Last but not least, there was Hoyt and Jessica. I really do not want to see this two split up but there are definitely issues there between them that need more than a night in Fangtasia to fix. Even though Pam’s snarky banter wasn’t great here, she raised a point and now I’m worried a little. I like Jessica and Hoyt too much to see them split up. I really hope they pull through this season but for now, they look like they’re on shaky ground, domestic wise.

Also in “She’s Not There”

One of the HBO stations in Canada aired the second episode, so be cautious of spoilers looming about. Also Jessica Tuck (Nan), Fiona Shaw (Marnie), Lauren Bowles (Holly) and Janina Gavankar (Luna) are in the opening credits.

Sookie: “Okay, if your job is to look after me, can I say you suck? Do you know how many times I could’ve used a fairy godmother?”
Claudine: “Well, you’re still alive, aren’t you? You’re not exactly Miss Trouble Free, you know.”

The light fruit seems to be a bad thing to eat. Sookie had enough savvy to stay from it. Too bad Barry and Earl couldn’t do the same.

Claude (to Sookie): “It was once our world. We have a right to travel there.”

Sookie: “Time stands still there and no-one knows it. It’s how I lost a year of my life and granddaddy lost twenty.”
Jason: “Where is he? You didn’t leave him there, did you?”

Also in the last year, Arlene and Terry had a baby boy named Mikey and his Barbie breaking ways have freaked Arlene out. We also met Andy’s lawyer sister, Portia as well in this episode and she was a bitch to Sookie.

Andy (to Sookie): “You owe me a plaque.”

Lafayette (re Marnie): “Greatest witch ever, huh?”
Jesus: “Don’t be an asshole.”

Lafayette, Tara and Arlene have all changed their hairstyles and Jason seems to have some facial hair. Also Marnie’s place is called Moon Goddess Emporium while Bill and Sookie’s homes have been redecorated.

Pam: “What’s idiotic is that the AVL believe the public to be so naive.”
Nan: “I have proof. Scientific. People are far dumber than they realise.”

Eric: “We welcome you into our world as well. We’re always more than happy to serve humans here at Fangtasia and I don’t mean for dinner.”

Standout music: Nick Cave and Neko Case’s version of “She’s Not There” to end the episode worked well.

Sam: “A lot’s happened, Sookie. A lot’s changed.”
Sookie: “Yeah, you’ve gotten a lot more prickly.”

Sookie: “Is this another dream? It’s been a year. How much more of your blood is left inside me?”
Eric: “It’s not a dream, I assure you.”

Chronology: October 21st or twelve and a half months since “Evil Is Going On”.

As an opening episode, “She’s Not There” had to cover a lot of ground and for the most part, it did it well. Both the fairyland and witch antics are important as is the attempts of damage control in a post Russell Edgington world but the stuff with the shifters and Hot Shot is going to need some working out though. Still, it’s good to have the series back again.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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