True Blood – I’m Alive and On Fire
We’re now a third of the way into this season and I can’t honestly say what the season’s arc is supposed to be – which of the stories is supposed to be drawing me back to the show week in and week out – as the innumerable plot-lines are yet to converge in any meaningful manner; so all these episodes in and we are still getting nothing more than fifty minutes of varied vignettes. Admittedly though a good number of those scattered stories could have taken some interesting turns this week, had they also been given the time required to flesh out fully.
Bill’s steamy sub-plot proved short lived as the relationship with his colleague ended abruptly in a clever little twist of mythos. These were the kind of observations that kept me coming back in the early days when the show was otherwise simply sexploitation, I wonder though if they aren’t better suited to such an early period of the show, here such a stunted story seems too inconsequential to have dedicated all this time to, clever as it was. Then there were the less clever moments that one has come to expect from this show; more evil baby, some nice not-a-baby with Sam and a groan inducing re-introduction of Sam’s shifter folks who look set to repeat last year’s storyline verbatim. I really liked Sam early on but he has been stuck in a rut for the past two years, simply reciting the same sorry lines again and again, never once involved in any story-lines bigger than himself- again, a waste of time.
Jason’s unfortunate rape-centric B-story began on an even more disturbing note with a young teen girl being forced to rape him, but thankfully the show found a line there and had him escape instead; a move that even more thankfully may have just wrapped up the storyline, for now at least. Of course, given that this is True Blood, nothing is ever that simple and so we are then given the beginnings of a new relationship, a new story and a new ball for the show to juggle when Jason, on the verge of death, is forced to drink Jessica’s blood; this combined with her current, coital itch (no, not in that way) suggests that the two will soon be getting sexy.
Speaking of sexy, Eric was again rather dull this week and again I know that the majority of the shows fans won’t agree with me on this, but I simply don’t see the currency of this current thread; yes he’s acting all cute and wide-eyed this week and yes he has a good body – which is nude for most of the episode – but those aren’t traits of good television, they’re traits of good porn (good porn?). This is a problem that the show as a whole had but it was one I had hoped it was close to conquering last year where the episodes started to suggest a little more than they showed. Being on HBO is a godsend, it allows a program to do so much more than it could on even another cable channel, let alone a broadcast network, and yet I think that this freedom is in fact the shows biggest flaw.
Writers are told time and time again to show, not tell their stories and while this is generally good advice it still needs to be tempered with moderation; sometimes a little telling is enough, sometimes you can leave the show to the viewers imagination. Alan Ball obviously disagrees as his show shows everything; every inch of their actors body and every idea in their writers imagination. Admirable in theory but I think the best shows all have a plan in place and trim their images and ideas to fit inside those lines; I mean even Curb Your Enthusiasm is rigidly controlled in its own way, despite being praised as improvisational comedy. If True Blood were to take a similar approach to its storytelling – using these rounded characters and firm-footed creative staff to tell a story as tight as its first seasons – than it could be amazing, unfortunately though this episode takes the show a step away from that destination by doing the exact opposite.