Monday, June 25, 2012

True Blood Season Five, Episode Three: Whatever I Am, You Made Me

I kept waiting for something significant to happen and move the plot along this episode but it never really transpired, though I guess I should be thankful for the a respite from the the homophobia of the first three episodes. We learned that Steve Newlin is the new Nan Flannigan, but with only a simulacrum of influence and they managed to convey that without turning him into the predatory gay vampire. Don't celebrate though folks, there was plenty of fuckery to go around as usual. Lafayette, the only reoccurring GLBT character was told to be his fabulous self, despite the fact that Jesus recently died and his body has disappeared by Sookie. 

Tara is still extremely upset with Lafayette and Sookie.  I cannot say that her reason is unjust; however, it's starting to read very much like angry Black woman syndrome. The very first episode when we met Tara she was angry and watching her since her transformation has caused me to question how often Tara has been angry in this series, relative to the other characters.  I think she has alternated more between angry and depressed than other emotions and this neatly squares up with many of the tropes the media has invested in Black women. 

Unable to handle Tara, Sookie is forced to see Pam at Fangtasia but Pam is far more interested in the fact that both Eric and Bill are missing.  Sookie doesn't even blink when she hears this.  When Pam suggests that they are in trouble because of their history with Sookie, she is quick to deny responsibility.  This leads to a showdown in which Pam pushes Sookie across the room and Sookie returns fire with her fae power. I saw this as pure fan service and found myself wishing that Pam was the clear victor of the disagreement.

Speaking of Pam, we also got another flashback and this time we learned how she became a vampire, as well as saw the first meeting between Bill and Eric. When Eric arrives at the bordello, Pam offers one the ladies to Eric who she refers to as "the chink".  This sort of racism may very well be accurate for the early 1900's, but coming on a show which has had race fail after race fail, it's simply bitter vinegar. There was absolutely no need to throw in this slur to make the scene historically accurate. Did they think that the period dress and furnishings on their own weren't enough to convey the message that they were in the 1900's?

I think the first meeting between Bill and Eric was interesting; however, I would much rather the writers tackle the fact that they have chosen to make these two BFF's all of a sudden.  Pam choosing to die or be turned, I thought was in keeping with the character that we have come to know. I like that she knew that she wanted out of the life she was leading and went for it. 

Much of the episode was spent on the authority compound where once again, True Blood gave us some disgusting analogies.  First we had Roman comparing Russel to Osama Bin Laden and then compare himself to JFK and MLK in reference to the civil rights movement.  This is not the first time that True Blood has used real people to make an analogy and each time they have done it, it has been wrong. Russel is an imaginary person and Bin Laden is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people and the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.  The writers didn't stop to think about this analogy would make the families of the victims feel, or the emergency responders feel.  They had Russel rip out a reporters spine on television, I think even a slightly competent viewer is capable of understanding that he is not a good person without going there.  

I am not as upset with the comparison to JFK because the reality is that he was reluctant to get involved in the civil rights movement and his actions were forced, rather than inspired from a sense of morality.  I further don't believe that he was assassinated because of civil rights, and it is far more likely that he was assassinated because of his desire to pull out of Vietnam.  MLK is a different story altogether.  There can be no doubt that he was a true civil rights fighter.  Today, his words still inspire people and for the writers to put his name into the mouth of a White man who is a vampire is disgusting. The analogy doesn't even make any sense because Roman isn't fighting for civil rights, he's fighting for a change in vampire society.  Furthermore, vampires are not oppressed in anyway shape or form and to compare their lives to that of a true marginalized group is just simply wrong.

The only character to really intrigue me this episode was Salome Agrippa. Salome refutes her historical reputation as a cautionary tale about teenage female sexuality. I like that she said that she was involved in politics beyond her understanding and was manipulated.  When this happened, she learned that sexuality can be tool as long as one remains focused on a goal. Clearly, she was acting on behalf of Roman, so I am not yet convinced how much agency there was in her decision to sleep with both Eric and Bill.  I do think that the brutality she witnessed while human probably plays a huge role in her decision to fight the sanguinistas.

Both Jason and Hoyt seem to be going through an existential crises.  Jason runs into a teacher who raped him in school. I say rape because if he was under age, this is exactly what happened.  This time he initiates sex, only to realize that it is no longer fulfilling for him.  For me, this is interesting for two reasons:
  1. One of the ways men are taught to express masculinity is to constantly seek sex and to constantly desire it
  2. Jason has yet to deal with being gang raped in Hot Shots.
Not only does Jason need to re-think what makes him happy, he needs to think about the ways in which he has been victimized.  Would he have had so many sexual partners had he not been assaulted by his teacher? I found it interesting that though he didn't want to have sex that he still got an erection, which speaks loudly about physiological responses not necessarily being representative of sexual desire.  There is a part of me that thinks that this is far too nuanced of a take for True Blood, but I suppose that one can always hope.  As for Hoyt, I guess the simple question is, who cares?

We don't need to know what is going on with Hoyt, or Terry and Arlene and still yet every week these characters get screen time.  It makes me wonder if the writers have never heard of a plot box. I would much rather have learned more of what happened to Lafayette than to tolerate, Arlene's judgment of his decision to turn Tara.  At least Andy has a legitimate reason at this point to appear in the story, though I could have done without another shot of his butt.  

This episode ended with Tara trying to fry herself in a tanning bed.  This made zero sense as all she had to do was walk into the sun in the morning.  Why put herself through that kind of pain?  We know that Pam is going to have to haul her out there.  Just pure speculation but does anyone think a relationship between Pam and Tara could potentially develop?