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“Bill, you were just licking blood out of my head. I don’t think it gets much more personal than that.”

We pick up right where last week’s episode ended, with Sookie getting thrashed by the Rattrays. It’s a brutal scene — I couldn’t use any stills from it because the images were so gory.
They don’t  give Sookie a “pretty” beating, where the wounds just happen to enhance her cheekbones or the cuts are only near the hairline. Sookie looks awful. When Bill makes her drink his blood because it’s the only way to heal her, I believe that she might have died without it. Bill shows up just in time to save Sookie by killing the Rattrays and doing the blood thing. Later, when she’s thinking about it in the light of day, it seems so damn romantic that Bill killed someone to protect her. He rescued her. Just like a knight! Or something! Sookie should just carry around a sign that says “I have never been in an adult relationship and have formed all my opinions from terrible bodice rippers.”

Bill and Sookie by the lake

The fairy-tale imagery is intentional.

Mark this on your internal calendars: the second time Bill and Sookie see each other, Bill gets Sookie to drink his blood. It’s rather explicitly spelled out as important in the end of the third season, but keeping this in mind explains a lot of Sookie’s actions over the course of the show. Drinking a vampire’s blood connects them to you. But it also makes you predisposed to wanting to please them, to think about them, to feel attracted to them. In short, you feel like you love them.

The rest of the Sookie-centered storyline this week concerns her brewing romance with Vampire Bill. He’s learned that flat-out seduction isn’t going to get him anywhere with her, so he takes an older fashioned, more wooing-centered approach. He comes to meet her family. He tells stories about his life in the early 1800s – and cheerfully admits that his family owned slaves without seeming to understand while Tara looks so damn indignant about it. (To be fair, Gran seems awfully excited about this fact too, which doesn’t reflect well on her either.) They go on a midnight walk through the cemetery and kiss under the moonlight – and Vampire Bill escorts her home before things get out of hand. Sookie thinks of herself as a lady. The quickest way to her heart is to treat her like one.

At the end of last week’s episode, B-Plot brother Jason was taken into the station for questioning regarding the death of Maudette Pickens, who in the books is somehow supposed to be beneath Jason’s station in life as town idiot/sex god. It’s supposed to be just as embarrassing for Jason to be questioned in a murder as it is for people to find out he was plowing Maudette, but I’ll be honest, I don’t really see how she’s any worse than Jason. Frankly, I think I like Maudette more.

You know how sometimes when you’re having The Sex, you might get into it and say lots of stuff that sounds exciting and sexy at the time, but if anyone were to hear it or repeat it outside of that situation, you’d sound like the biggest doofus to ever walk the earth? I imagine Jason Stackhouse’s life is like that all the time. He says things that in his head sound awesome, but real world people are giving him the side-eye while he’s talking. We are treated to a montage of Jason saying inane things as we watch the playback of him banging Maudette, while he sits in the sheriff’s office, being watched by the police as Jason watches himself doing the banging. I feel like I just pointed out something real meta in that sentence, but I’m not sure where it is.

Jason freaks out

Jason is the reason the phrase ‘its a good thing they’re pretty’ was invented.

Jason, of course, didn’t actually kill her. He just thinks he did. Maudette faked passing out during a bit of sex-time strangling to freak him out. Jason, being Jason, ran like hell out of her house. We see on the tape that she laughs her ass off about it and calls him a moron before shutting off her hidden camera.

Several important things about Jason are communicated across this episode. One, he’s willing to run out on someone he thinks he just murdered rather than calling the cops. Two, he lies about sleeping with Maudette because she’s too slutty for a slut like him to be publicly sexing. Three, he’s so arrogant and full of himself that he points at his own reflection in the mirror while having sex with another woman. To sum up, he’s dumb and callous, which is a terrible combination.

Mean vampires

Field Notes: Non-Anne Rice Style Vampires

We leave this episode with the murderer still on the loose and Bill and Sookie becoming romantically entangled, to the consternation of literally every other character on the show except for Gran. Sookie stops by the Compton household after work to drop off some “information about an electrical contractor,” which is at least an inventive excuse to flirt with someone, and runs into a trio of far more aggressive vampires than Bill appears to be.  Cliffhanger!

The book series is strictly Sookie point-of-view about Sookie-centered events. Everyone we see on-screen shows up in the novels. Where the show really shines is by fleshing these characters out. Tara was a secondary character who shows up a handful of times before Ball got ahold of her (and, notably, one of the few instances in popular culture of a character who is recast as a minority on their way to the screen). Two episodes in, it’s already clear that she’s a major player and has some of the best lines – the angry question about Bill having owned slaves is a fantastic moment. That brief exchange really captures the time and location the show takes place in and the way the white characters brush aside the enormous legacy of their slaveholding past. That time doesn’t seem so long ago for Tara – nor for Bill.

You’ll see more of this attention to the secondary characters as the show moves on. There’s no way to sustain a television show that takes place entirely within Sookie’s POV. Where the world opens up, it does so organically, enhancing the storytelling. Lafayette, Terry, and Hoyt are for my money some of the most complex and well-acted characters on the small screen these days. Each of these men have what amounts to walk-on roles in the books. We don’t see all that much of them in these first two episodes, but you’ll want to pay attention to them as the show develops.

Trivia: During Arlene’s lone scene tonight, Sookie reads these thoughts: “I hope to God I get my period tonight. I know Rene wants one of his own but “¦” Fun foreshadowing!

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