As I was watching True Blood: Episode 11 last night, I was struck by a particularly existential exchange between Bill and that club promoter chick–or was it LaFayette and Jason–I don’t exactly remember. Anyway, it’s not that important which conversation it was, because the entire show over the course of ten episodes has taken on the classic Philip K. Dickensian theme of human vs. non-human entity in terms of which one is really “alive”, and what we’ve come to consider as “living”. In many ways, drama sets out to level the playing field, reminding us that at times we can all be the Villain. It also reminds us that the Villain is often misunderstood, or reacting to mistreatment which has spurred his or her devious behavior. In True Blood, the vampires perceive humans as “lesser life forms”, yet we’re led to believe throughout that, because they lack a beating organ that pumps blood, they’ve got no heart.
Of course, Bill and Sookie are going out of their way to prove that ancient adage incorrect. And so is Ball, I think. He knows enough to show the good and bad sides of all of his characters, and rarely presents us with a thoroughly distilled archetype one way or the other. That’s why we begin to care for them: because they’re like us. They fuck up, just like we do. And it’s when True Blood started showing that in storyline after storyline that I started wanting to see more.
What struck me last night was either a bit of lazy writing or another concerted effort to blur the lines. Not to give too much away for those who haven’t had a chance to see the penultimate episode, but there’s a moment when Sookie confesses to Sam that she was bitterly angry at Bill for going off without any guarantee that he’ll be back. Erm…that’s not how I remember it, Sookie. Basically, Bill killed one of his own to save her, and did everything he could to let her know that he had no choice but to leave immediately to face what he’d done. It may have been several days in Bon Temps time, but in narrative time it was a only a single episode before Sookie was again trying out that dirty dog from work. People forget easily in Bon Temps. Maybe it’s the heat, I don’t know, or maybe Ball is trying to mix it up a little too much in order to push things in the direction he needs them to go.
Without looking at it too closely (something almost impossible for me, I admit) as things became even darker last night (and funnier, too–Bill’s “makee” was definitely one of the highlights of the season for me) we got a lot of mixed signals and ambiguity that made me wonder if the characters remained true enough to their essence for me to pine for them over the long, winter months. Right now, I’m sort of in mourning for two characters that won’t return (some people do just “die” die on True Blood, come to find), and the others are sticking with me in a rotating state of flummoxed flux. I do love a competent series, though, and waiting for last night’s episode to start brought back that great anticipatory feeling that I hadn’t had since BSG. Regardless of any narrative weaknesses one might clearly or not-so-clearly perceive, wanting to know “what happens next” is a powerful drug; it’s almost as powerful as “V”. Well, okay, that might be overdoing it.
Anyhow, we were dropped a bomb last night, and the coming attractions pretty much left very little doubt as to who might be behind the reign of terror in the town. And if I’m right, you’ve got a better chance of getting out alive after a debauched night at Fangtasia than you do in the comfort of some close friends. We also saw the introduction of a new character which tempts me to guess what page of mythology she comes from, and I suspect Ball will leave us with plenty to think about over the close season. I just hope he stays consistent with what we’ve seen thus far.
One more piece of business before I’m out: I’m considering producing a podcast that will consist of reviews, comments on the world of dark fiction and horror (with perhaps a little “light side” thrown in for balance), and a serially narrated story of my own original fiction. I’ve got tons of it, and I’m always writing more. There’s been a resurgence of interest in “Horror Radio” since podcasts and the like have become so popular, and I like the idea of giving my visitors (which have grown in number lately, and for which I am very grateful) a few minutes of drama to stew over every week like they used to do back in the day. As someone who does lots of voice-overs and impressions and so forth, it would be a fun way to get my ideas out. Now I’d like to know what you think. Comments below or by email would be muchly appreciated.
That’s all for now. Tune in next Monday – or earlier, I haven’t decided yet – and I hope you have an exciting week of stories to look forward to. As for me, I’ve got to go plan some shows.