In Which True Blood Contains Multitudes
Monday, August 24, 2009 at 3:56PM
Alex in FILM, alan ball, charlaine harris, eric, godric, john at the reception, organic space rock, sookie stackhouse, true blood

Tears of a Clown


True Blood

creator Alan Ball

While the sheriff of Area 5 Eric Northman is all sad about his maker dying, the town of Bon Temps, Lousiana has been overcome by a maenad. The god Dionysius in the person of Michelle Forbes, called Bacchus by the Romans, has had her way with the town, and the only person who can help matters is Sophie, the Queen of Louisiana.

True Blood has a funny way of introducing major characters when you're not looking. What's never explained is why this show doesn't have all the characters it needs. When the only chance Hoyt Fortenberry has to shine is trying to keep his Mom occupied while she battles zombies on Bill's Wii, you know this show has sailed clear of all meaning to a darker place.

When Alan Ball gets tired of finding motivations for deep characters of color, he assembles them into a makeshift army with their oppressers and consumes their leader with the idea of locking up Sam Merlotte. It's hard not to lack confidence in the abilities of the Jason Stackhouse-Andy LeFleuer-Sam Merlotte triumvirate. Like Sookie, we've resorted to calling Biiiiiiiiiillll in a really shrill voice until our vampire arrives to comfort us.

On the other hand, turning Andy into the hero is best thing this show has going right now, and his inspired nonsensical musings about the pig he saw have now given way to the man he saw disappear. Andy isn't going to like that his fridge buddy defies the laws of physics — cops rarely do.

It was only a few weeks before that Sam Merlotte was having sweet, savory sex with another one of his barmaids. Randy Newman might hate Merlotte's kind, but I love little people. Why must happiness for Sam Merlotte be so fleeting? Dionysus turned the love of something at the expense of all else back on Midas, why not to those who believe that workplace romance will take them to the promised land?

The maenad replaces the need humans have for expressing themselves; they killed Orpheus after all. The idea of a destructive, impossible to control God runs throughout the spine of history. Gods were born vengeful, or didn't you know?

The vampires can only extract their fangs and try to make the entranced humans cower. Sookie, for her part, has an ability that repels it. She is part-fairy, or nearly so. Bill's like, "Hey Sook can you do that again?" When he bites a maenad, he becomes infected with her vile poison. "Don't call Biiiillll so much anymore Sook. I can't come everytime you call."

Instead True Blood simply picks on the simpler ones, those of us more susceptible to life's torments. Ex-soldier Terry, for example, is a lot more emboldened as a possessed lunkhead than he ever was as a short order cook. It's fascinating to watch how each group deals with their deluded friends and family. For example, I suppose it really is true that videogames keep families together.

I used to have a similar expression on my face when I played Wii Tennis. Lafayette and Tara's mom, however, prefer the bitchslap method. To each his own is what the first disciples of Dionysus said to one another before they descended into the fury that was to come.

In Donna Tartt's classic first novel The Secret History latin students venture in the Dionysian beyond for beautiful experiences and sometimes painful ones. It is a learning process that allows humans to achieve enlightenment, see George R.R. Martin's A Song for Lya for another example. We all ache to belong to a fugue that exceeds the bounds of the possible.

Bill gets really mad when humans sell vampire blood. Lafayette cares enough to send some a really pretty coed who needs V for finals. Men and vampires are obsessed with worldly concerns that do not trouble the entombed, or Hoyt Fortenberry. The afflicted give themselves over to the deadly haze, but at its epicenter it is a wonderful mask to wear.

In our dreams we find ourselves waiting to be overcome.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He tumbls here. You can find past True Blood reviews here, here, and here.

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