'True Blood': Romance, Religion, and Shakespeare

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This has been a rough week for our friends in Bon Temps: Sam's family is broke and camping out in his parking lot, Sookie just got dumped over the phone by Bill and his breathy ex, and the Magister has been tipped off about Eric and Pam's stash of V. The most fascinating moments, though, come in the crazed kidnapping/courtship scenes between Franklin and Tara.

TWISTED LOVE
After leaving Tara tied to the toilet all day (which is ... sort of thoughtful?), Franklin returns with a bouquet, which he then proceeds to duct-tape to Tara's bound hands (it's the little details that really make a relationship). He then rips the tape off Tara's mouth, causing her to spit and swear and drool a little, and he leans over and licks the day's accumulated saliva from her lips. Half the audience probably had to jump off their couches and do a sympathetic jig of disgust at this point.

Then there's the moonlit ride to hunt down Sookie and Bill, during which Franklin gives a sweet, insane little speech about how lonely he's been, how emotionally unfulfilled—pre-Tara, of course. So, exactly how nutty is this guy? Is he just playing with Tara and acting insane to get more sadistic joy out of the whole experience, or is he seriously under the delusion that they are falling in love?

GETTING RELIGION
If these questions aren't enough to keep you up at night, the religious overtones of the past few episodes offer plenty more to keep them company. The True Blood writers have already explored various religions—it's one of the things they're best at. There are the "God hates fangs" signs in the battered churches in the opening credits, the Voodoo exorcism scams, Tara's oblivious evangelizing mother, the Greek gods who exist primarily in the minds of their worshippers—and this season it looks like we're finally getting deeper into the drink-of-my-blood religions.

The vampires view their blood as sacred, and the sale or general misuse of the blood qualifies as blasphemy. The werewolf pack that has been drinking Russell's blood throughout "the ages" drinks the blood as part of a religious ceremony (to make the religious allegory very clear to the viewer, the background music for this scene is a very churchy-sounding choral piece). This all raises some interesting questions:

1) Are these "ages" as in, pre-Christian? Are they going to imply that Christianity came about because of distorted rumors about the pack's drinking habits?

2) What powers are these werewolves getting in exchange for fealty to this vampire king? Just being a bit stronger than everyone else (and a bit high) for short periods of time doesn't seem like quite enough to make a pact last through generations.

3) Alcide says that werewolves doing V and bowing down to Russell goes against everything they stand for—what do they stand for?

4) Will Alcide take off his shirt for us again?

THE FUN STUFF
Aside from the delusional undead and theological riffs, there were several other entertaining moments in this episode:

1) Eric's daydream: for a tough-guy vampire, this is a rather sappy little fantasy. In it, Eric appears in Sookie's room and she starts smelling (yes, smelling) his memories of playing by the ocean in his childhood. Eric, you smell like the ocean in winter!

2) Eric again! When he rescues Lafayette from a group of angry hillbillies and bullies them to sell V for him, he threatens to kill all the leader's "brother-cousins." A graceful hick-insult is a useful tool in every man's repertoire.

3) I'm pretty sure Russell just implied he used to know Shakespeare, and that the Bard had a spoon-stealing habit.

Presented by

Clarissa Matthews contributes to TheAtlantic.com, mostly in the form of product management. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia University's Publishing Institute and lives in Washington, D.C.

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