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True Blood 311: Walking into sunshine

Everyone was in need of counselling this week. A freelance Mississippi therapist could have strolled in and made a killing. Not literally, of course; that they can leave to Russell.

Candidates for couples counselling:

Ah, just a nice quiet time in the garden...

1. Sookie & Bill. So cute watching them drive along, imagining their wonderful life when ‘all this is over’. Bless them that they think it’s going to be over any time soon: series four’s already in the pipeline and I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that it won’t have domestic bliss as a major storyline. Funnily enough, the exact moment they swore to a fresh start, their car was upended by Eric and Russell, and just minutes later Bill had agreed they could drain Sookie dry in order to ‘day walk’ – every vampire’s dream, according to Russell. Though why we should believe anything said by a man who carries his lover’s entrails around in a jar is beyond me. Anyway, nought out of ten for Bill’s contribution to this so-called ‘fresh start’.

2. Tara & Sam. A drunk mean Sam scared everyone away except Tara, who doesn’t need drink in order to be mean. They were shagging before you could say hey guys, remember it wasn’t such a good idea last time, before you both went round the twist. As Tara had spent the earlier part of the evening sobbing dementedly at Eggs’ grave and blackmailing Andy this rounded off her night nicely.

3. Hoyt & Summer. Though they’re not really a couple anymore, a fact mourned by Maxine Fortenberry, one of my favourite characters. Summer was mainly upset that Hoyt hadn’t been seduced by her best bra.

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True Blood 212: I swear I’d wear him like a scrunchie

So, after all that. All that scheming and manipulating and sorcery – showing up at the jail to befriend Tara, wandering round naked with Daphne/Piiiig, turning people black-eyed and crazy – all that wild dancing, all those orgies, all those fruit platters and candles and meat sculptures, all that removing hearts from people and feeding them to other people, all that enormous effort. And at the end of the day it’s just so Maryann can get married? What is this? Bridget Jones: The Southern Years?

Oh look! We're something old, something borrowed, and something blue

I’m afraid there was a definite ‘is that all?’ feeling this week, but how could there not be, after the frenzied peaks of episodes 9 and 10? Lafayette forced Sookie into a bridesmaid outfit – we knew he was definitely under Maryann’s influence when he told a woman to take off her clothes – and Maryann named her ‘matron of honour’. Sookie somehow allowed herself to be tied to a chair (when did that happen?), which coincidentally is the only way I too have ever allowed myself to be designated a bridesmaid. In fact, the black-eyed black-out thing might explain why I can remember little about any nuptials I have attended.

Once we knew the ‘wedding’ was a-coming, there was a certain inevitability to proceedings. We knew Sam would be delivered as a sacrifice, though admittedly we didn’t know how he’d get out of it; we knew the townsfolk would stand around smiling dopily, going, ‘Wooh, Dionysus’; and we knew Bill would have to save the day. So while I wasn’t exactly yawning, I wasn’t digging my nails into my cheeks with tension either.

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True Blood 211: Oh hell, what now?

Thanks for seeing me, Sir Alan. I mean Queen Sophie-Ann.

I couldn’t understand why Bill shlepped all the way over to Queen Sophie-Ann’s pad to find out about maenads. He was forced to hang round for hours while she lazily teased him, breaking off from Greek mythology lessons to slag him off for his restricted diet of Sookie, and insisting – by far the cruellest touch – that he play Yahtzee, a game of mind-numbing tedium. My question to Bill is this: why didn’t you just look up ‘maenad’ on Wikipedia? It would have saved you a ton of trouble.

Meanwhile, Sam asked Eric for help with Maryann – this crazy situation is producing some weird bedfellows – and bizarrely, Eric also set off to see the Queen, the Wonderful Queen of Oz. Even if Eric, like your grandpa, is too old to get his head round the internet, surely Pam could help?

Any road up, the vampires all swanned about Sophie-Ann’s, which resembled the sort of house they put The Apprentice candidates in, to demonstrate the glitzy naff Essex lifestyle they won’t be enjoying any time soon. Meanwhile, Lafayette and Sookie were having to keep Tara locked up with Lafayette’s fluffy handcuffs. Lord knows I was happy to be on the porch with Sook and Laf, ready to face any kind of monster, rather than inside with the snivelling Lettie Mae. Why can’t she get eaten or de-hearted or just go on a nice long vacation? Spare me any more of her eye-rolling, god-bothering, lip-smacking nonsense. Anyway, Tara knew just how to manipulate her, and soon she was free and hightailing it off to find Eggs, while poor traumatised Lafayette cowered at the sight of Lettie Mae pointing a rifle at him. Or as Lafayette himself said, ‘Oh hell, what now?’ It was worth the price of admission to see Eric in a blouse and skirt.

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True Blood 208: They say I sodomised a pine tree

Honest, I'm really into the church. The blood on my mouth? Uh, just cut my lip.

Poor old Eric was a bit rubbish this week. When he wasn’t being ordered around by Godric, he was being totally hopeless at busting himself and Sookie out of the Church. Even the pea-for-brains nitwits of the Fellowship could see he was a vampire and not a leather jacketed Cliff Richard type. Then he allowed himself to be tied up without so much as a whimper of protest. Big fail, Eric. Nonetheless, Sookie seemed to warm to him a bit.

It was left to the unholy trinity of Bill, Jason and Godric to save the day. Bill managed to escape Lorena’s clutches by whacking her with a plasma telly. As she later told Sookie, ‘Everyone says they’re so thin and light, but when wielded properly, they’re quite a weapon’.

Jason found that a woman scorned will go ape-crazy with a paintball gun. Sarah screamed, ‘You’re worse than Judas’, and Jason’s puzzled reply, ‘Why, what did he do to you?’ made her realise, at long last, that Jase, bless him, was not one of nature’s cleverclogs. ‘Why can’t you grown a brain cell?’ she yelled, but I do think that’s asking a bit much. Despite his daffiness, Jason managed to disarm Sarah, and arrived back at Fellowship HQ just in time to shoot Steve in the forehead. Only with the paintball gun, unfortunately, though it did dent Steve’s pride, and leave a rather fetching green splodge.

Pretty cute for such an old guy

Godric was so peace-loving he made his near contemporary, Jesus, look like Genghis Khan. Thanks to Godric, there was no bloodshed at the Fellowship headquarters, other than when he snapped Gabe’s neck (that was a fairly clean break though).

Back in Bon Temps, Sam was arrested on suspicion of having de-hearted Daphne. And just down the road, Maryann was gruesomely cooking the evidence into Hunters Pie, reminding me of an episode of Tales of the Unexpected from the 1970s. Maryann’s bacchanal dancing style is strangely similar to that of the silhouetted woman who danced  in the credits of that show. True Blood has so many plot twists that unrelated links from other cultural phenomena are slowly being sucked into its vortex.

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True Blood 207: It’s all Greek to me

Yes, Sure does keep me dry, right through the whole bacchanal

My deodorant keeps on working, right through the entire bacchanal

So Maryann’s a maenad. Course she is. Knew it all along. Um. Some kind of Greek devil handmaiden, apparently. We, and Sam, found this out from Daphne, who didn’t seem as remorseful as someone who’d tried to get their boyfriend killed ought to be. Instead of apologies, Daphne couldn’t stop banging on about her love for the god-like Maryann. This love was clearly a one-way street as Maryann gave Daphne was a brisk, ‘thank you for your service’, like Meryl in The Devil Wears Prada, then had her stabbed through the heart by a blank-eyed Eggs. Even Meryl didn’t do that. More shocking still was Daphne smiling gratefully at her through a mouthful of blood. As if there weren’t enough gore-soaked scenes with the vampires. Props! More ketchup over here, please.

You might have thought Daphne, being a shape-shifter, not to mention a waitress, might have still had her uses, but clearly Maryann was pissed off with her as the sacrificial Sam had gone walkies, just moments before he was about to be dispatched to the great dog kennel in the sky. This wasn’t Daphne’s fault so much as Andy’s, who bumbled into the orgy looking like a prawn cocktail at a bris, and broke the spell that Maryann had quivered so hard to produce. It’s a sad day when Andy’s the only one who’s noticed that something’s wrong in Bon Temps, bless his bewildered little face.

Humans, eh? So untrusting.

Talking of wrong, I was proved so about everything I’d guessed re the Sookie/Hugo infiltration of the Fellowship of the Sun. I’m never right about plots, to be honest. I’ve read hundreds of Agatha Christies and am always astonished when the murderer is revealed. So it turned out that  Eric wasn’t a great big double-crosser after all, which was a relief, because while I like Eric being bad, I don’t want him to be really bad. The turn-coat was Hugo, who foolishly imagined that a church that goes in for weapons bunkers and burning vampires at dawn would overlook his fang-banging.

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True Blood 205: I pray Jesus isn’t watching this crap today

I'm channelling this Gran thing real good. Damn, I could use a strawberry.

Had Maryann ever been creepier than when Tara found her in Sookie’s kitchen, piling the table with supersize-me fruit salad? Tara’s social embarrassment – far more painful than a life-threatening three-clawed gouge – was palpable when Maryann revealed her intention to stay. Tara suddenly found she was dealing with a pair of infuriating hippies. Eggs sat there unconcernedly strumming his guitar and mumbling the Deep South equivalent of ‘what gives, man?’ He explained they were always moving around. Tara stared, agog. ‘What are you? Nomads?’ she cried. ‘Fucking Bedouins?’ No Tara, they’re freeloading dropouts with a side-order of evil destruction.

In fact, Maryann managed to raise the creepiness bar to eleven. When Tara returned from an unsettling evening at Merlottes, reeling from everyone having been mysteriously so mean, Maryann was sitting at the fruit-free kitchen table, wearing a prim smock, hair in a loose bun. Having realised the Greek/excess/orgy vibe wasn’t doing it for Tara, Maryann had cleverly decided to model herself on Gran instead. This tactic worked. Tara, like an eejit, agreed that Maryann and Eggs could move in, saying, ‘Sookie won’t mind’. Oh yes she will, Tara.

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True Blood 204: Maybe Jesus was the first vampire

I ain't heard of no Lazarus, but Moses walked on water

Despite its heavy reliance on shlocky old horror movie staples, True Blood nonetheless scared the bejesus out of me. Twice. First, there was Jason creeping round a darkened building to the accompaniment of scary music. His room-mates lay bloodied and dead, then a clammy hand fell upon his shoulder…. Aaaaaargh! But it was just Jealous Luke, playing a practical joke with a side order of ketchup. Jason hurt his lip in the fracas, but not his pride:

Jealous Luke, sniggering: ‘How’s your lip?’ Jason: ‘Fine. How’s your nose?’ Bam! He knocked that sucker right down.

All before the opening credits. I had to make a big mug of cocoa to steady my nerves.

A little later, Tara, alone at Sookie’s house, heard a noise outside. For several panicky moments, she scouted the place, slowly opening the door, looking this way and that, everywhere in fact  – except in THAT direction, Tara! No, over THERE! My hands shook so much I spilled my cocoa. When it just turned out to be Eggs and Maryann (though saying ‘just’ Maryann is daft when she’s clearly the world’s biggest baddie), I did feel a bit cross. As did Tara.

This is what we learned this week:

  1. Maryann turns into that scary three-clawed minotaur creature which attacked Sookie and Daphne, and killed Miss Jeanette.
  2. If vampires have to take day flights, airlines provide ‘travel coffins’ – like large travel cots, I guess.
  3. At the smart vampire hotel in Dallas – beds optional – you, or rather, a giggling Jessica, can order young B Negative men from room service.
  4. Maryann simply cannot stop eating fruit. She’s soon going to need some Imodium, the rate she knocks back the strawberries.
  5. Lafayette calls his cousin Tara a hooker and a bitch in casual conversation.

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True Blood 203: I’d die of embarrassment if I wasn’t already dead

Here you go honey: another gratuitous reason for me to get real close

‘Sarah doesn’t whip her pudding out for just anybody’, said Steve Newlin, grinning cheesily at Jason.

Too right, buster! We could tell from the lascivious look on Sarah’s face last week, when Jason went for her with his wood (a stake, I mean), that she’d soon be angling for a little more one-to-one time. During their sickly sharing session at Christian Camp, Jason admitted he quite liked some vampires, and Sarah used this apostasy as a chance for a cry/confess/pray session of the sort that doubtless helped her snag Steve. She looks as if she wishes she had waited now – True Lust Waits – and is sublimating by whipping out her puddings and giving Jason the full force of her perfect teeth.

With Bill and Sookie occupied elsewhere, my favourite character Jessica sneaked out to Merlottes, looking wholesome as a Dairy Queen. It was inevitable her gaze should fall upon the virginal Hoyt, his blood pulsing attractively in his jugular vein. When he offered her a drink and she whisperingly asked for a bottle of Tru Blood, Hoyt was impressed. ‘Really? Cool! You’re really a vamp?’

Don't worry, it happens to everyone

The most charming scene then took place when they started kissing, and Jessica’s fangs popped out unbidden. Mortified, she covered her mouth with her hands and wailed, as have teenagers since before Eric was a lad, ‘I’m so embarrassed!’ I was worried that Hoyt was going to be bitten real good, but as Bill and Sookie discovered on their return, the main thing Jessica hadn’t been able to wait for any longer was adolescent love-biting of the more conventional kind.

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True Blood 202: I’ll be your bad-ass vampire

Ooh, the stress, my dear! Even Jason, who usually provides light relief, set my nerves a-jangling. At first it was fun watching him bounce around Christian Leadership camp with other blond chirpy Walton types, all in their silver anti-vamp rings and sunshine yellow t-shirts. Or sunshine yellow pecs in Jason’s case. That boy can’t keep his top on for more than five minutes. But he freaked during role play with Sarah when she popped plastic fangs into her mouth (only slightly less convincing than the ones the real vampires wear). Flashing back to the horror of  Amy killing Eddie, Jason damn near staked Sarah with the American flag. From the way Sarah flushed and licked her over-heated lips, it seemed she’d be purty glad to be staked by him any time.

You could, uh, fry an Egg on that

It was Pecs On Parade this week, as Eggs also swanned about shirtless. He has a perfect washboard stomach, but for some reason Tara was less interested in that than in interrogating him about his past. Though the poor boy wiggled his manly chest at her, she kept her eyes resolutely above neck-level and insisted on knowing what he’d served time for. Who cares, Tara? So it was armed robbery. Never mind that, look at his six-pack!

Maryann was stressing me out too. If she wasn’t eating her way through Merlotte’s entire menu (‘what’s going on at table four?’), she was somehow persuading the entire bar to dance and rut in bacchanal fashion. And turning Sam into a dog when he gave her a hard time about it. When Sookie listened in to Maryann’s thoughts, all she got was a lot of what could be ancient Greek. Or Latin. Who knows? It’s all Greek to me.

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True Blood 201: Bedtime at four a.m. and not a minute later

It’s back! And by crikey, it don’t mess around. Wonderfully, we arrive at the exact moment we left: with the discovery of a leg dangling lifelessly from Detective Andy Bellefleur’s car.

It's not Lafayette. He'd never have painted his toe-nails that tacky red

It's not Lafayette. He'd never wear such tacky red toe-nail polish

The first thirty seconds – before the credits roll – are a masterclass in Hammer House excitement. The chaos, the black humour, the fear: Tara panicking the body might be Lafayette’s; Andy, focusing as ever on the wrong thing (‘someone moved my car!’); Sookie gasping, ‘Check for a pulse’; Andy drily telling her there’s no need, there’s a massive gaping hole where the heart oughta be; Sam yelling, ‘It’s not Lafeyette’; Sookie sobbing, ‘Who is it?’; and Tara realising it’s Miss Jeanette and letting out the mother of all screams. My word, I had to have a lie-down after that and the programme hadn’t even properly started.

I’ve been trying to fill the True Blood gap ever since, like Andy Pandy, it waved goodbye last year.  Glee has helped, but as we tumbled once more into the looking-glass world of Bon Temps, I realised that, lovely as it is, Glee is just a methadone substitute. Nothing can compete with TB for sheer high-octane, suck-you-in-and-spit-you-out enjoyment.

So for starters, we had Miss Jeanette , mouth rigor-mortised into a terrorised silent howl. As Sookie said in her dopey way, ‘Someone just wanted to see her suffer.’ Well, yes, Sookie. Good to see you firing on all cylinders.

Believe me, your hair will need a little freshening when you've been around for a thousand years

We had Lafayette, alive thank the good lord, but chained to other prisoners in a dank dungeon, awaiting some horrible unknown fate. Pretty soon Eric appeared, wearing highlighting foil, making it clear what the fate was likely to be. And I don’t mean dark roots. I’m not worried about Lafayette, though. Worst-case scenario, he’ll be made into a vampire: a laid-back, jive-talking vamp with a penchant for gold lamé. That’s a happy bonus of this show. When your favourite characters get killed off, they’re likely to return, good as new, except with sharper teeth.

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