True Blood, “Beautifully Broken”

I’ve decided that holding True Blood to a standard of “great television” isn’t worth my frustrations. I’m convinced that Alan Ball and co. don’t really want the series to be something like that and I guess that’s fine. So while I still had a load of problems with “Beautifully Broken” that I’ll point out, I’m naive to think they’ll be addressed. I’ll say this: this second effort was much more enjoyable than last week’s premiere, even if it did fail to balance the dozens of stories it pursued. We met at least six new characters in this episode, adding to an already massive cast of people. After seeing these first two episodes, I’m wondering if True Blood can handle the world expansions that it wants to dive into. Season one was self-contained in the sense that the action rarely stepped outside of Bon Temps, whereas season two actually became more interesting when Bill, Sookie and Eric took their little tryst to Dallas.

However, that Dallas trip was very personal for some of the characters and with the introduction of werewolves, flashbacks to the SS, more vampire royalty positioning for territorial throw-downs and whatever the hell Sam is doing with his family, the environment has expanded fairly substantially and rapidly. It’s certainly not a bad decision to create a larger, fully formed world like they’ve done with Bon Temps, but when the execution is too busy and not focused, it’s apparent that it’s not be handled as well as it could be. Obviously, we still don’t know where any of these stories are going and the inner David Simon in me says that I can’t judge this season’s attempts at adding new characters and building the surrounding communities just yet. But so far, color me disappointed.

Moreover, “Beautifully Broken” still featured elements that I don’t care for: Tara moping (really, Lafayette showing her his messed up is going to snap her into sobriety when she surely already knows about her aunt?), Sookie pushed to the sidelines and lots of meandering. But again, are those things really going to change anytime soon? I guess they’ve decided to have 15 disjointed characters/stories build separately before (hopefully) coming together later, so whatever. I’m skeptical of the series’ ability to do that kind of storytelling, but we’ll see. Why don’t I discuss a few of things that have me intrigued about the season’s potential, alright?

Again, Bill separated from Sookie is doing wonders for his character. Not only does he tear the hell out of some werewolves here, but he also lights that bia Lorena on fire just for showing up at the Vampire King Russell’s crib. This is the kind of vampire Bill I can get behind. Perhaps more interesting, it seems that Bill was perhaps ordered by Queen Sophie-Anne to return to Bon Temps so that he could keep an eye on/possibly hook-up with Sookie. Not only does this re-color the series’ main couple and their initial interactions, but it suggests a number of different possibilities. Why was Sophie-Anne interested in Sookie? How did she know? If it wasn’t Sophie-Anne that ordered bill to get with Sookie, who could have?

Vampire King Russell offers Bill a sheriff position and it’s clear that he A.) has something on Bill and B.) wants to take down Sophie-Anne. It looks like the vampire politicking is going to be another major theme of the season and it would be compelling to see Bill actually participate instead of being his wet blanket, abstaining self. It’s also apparent that not only do some werewolves work with/for vampires, but the lead were is actually a vampire. Is there a hybrid coming?

Moreover, we learn some of this information about Bill thanks to a sneaky scene where someone breaks into his place — thought vamps had to be invited in? — and rummages through his stuff, which includes lots of files on Sookie. Based on the shot focus, we’re supposed to consider something about Sookie and her relationship with her grandfather. Perhaps the powers skip a generation? Even better, the vamp who breaks into Bill’s place shows up at Merlotte’s and saves Tara, kicking off what will hopefully make her more interesting. However, I’m guessing she starts screwing this vampire, Sookie and Bill find out, tell her she’s making a mistake, she ignores them and it ultimately bites her in the ass. That’s a Tara arc for you.

Sookie and Eric get a little closer in this episode and thanks to a nicely placed flashback of Eric and Godric posing as SS soldiers in hopes of finding the big werewolf bad, we see more of Eric’s humanity. It seems completely obvious that Bill’s secrets are going to come out just as Sookie starts to feel something for Eric, pushing the triangle to new heights, and at this point, I’m okay with that. Skarsgard does a great job with those scenes and here, Eric has a number of watery-eyed looks and cracks in his voice that make his more outwardly dick-ish comments hit better. Sookie’s still kind of a ditsy waste thus far in the season, but Eric brings something out of her that makes it at least interesting to watch.

Also enjoyable but not worth examining: Lafayette’s new love interest Jesus played by Kevin Alejandro, Jessica’s search for a chainsaw in her pursuit to get rid of the body, Jason wondering if Santa and Big Foot were now real too and Terry sharing heartfelt moments with both Sookie and Arlene.

“Beautifully Broken” still feels like place-setting and piece-moving, but it’s an enjoyable hour of True Blood that suggests bigger and hopefully better things to come.

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