'True Blood': A Twisted Family Tree

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HBO

This week's episode of True Blood just overflows with revelations—and not just from this generation, but even delving back into ancestral histories. These multi-generational insights come largely from drugged trances (including Bill's Sookie-stoned dream): one of the most promising discoveries is that Jesus's grandparents are both magic workers and his sorcerer grandfather had some unspecified (but definitely creepy) "big plans" for him. Lafayette's ancestors worked magic as well, but it seemed to be benign and focused on survival during slavery. Jesus's grandfather's magic seemed far less benign, and I strongly suspect that the creepy evil-faced monster in the preview for next week's episode was sent by him (though I'd hedge about a 20 percent chance that it is a bizarre alien-fairy third cousin of Sookie's, based on Bill's revelation about her genealogy).

On the topic of alien-fairy ancestors: it doesn't seem like it should be that hard to specify the difference between aliens and fairies—they're nothing like synonyms. Just tell us, did Sookie's great-great-rapist-grandfather come from a different planet or not? That should have been Sookie's first question. Her second should be pertaining to her powers and limitations, and her third should be to ask what actually killed her parents, because that has been bugging me since the episode when Claudine touched on the subject. If not from mere curiosity (and filial devotion, etc), it would be a good idea just to make sure whatever got the parents isn't coming for the kids. Since Claudine said it wasn't the water that killed them, we can probably assume Sookie isn't going to have to do battle with King Neptune any time soon, but that's about the only deity or supernatural being we can rule out.

Amidst all these fairy-laden family trees, it's beginning to seem like the non-supernatural folk are firmly in the minority—even Crystal's family of hicks has turned out to be a group of jaguar-shifters, and it's unclear at this point if Holly's status as a Wiccan puts her in the supernatural list or not. And ... is she a Good Witch or a Bad Witch (to put it in Oz terminology)? I want to like Holly, because she seems to be trying to help the women of Bon Temps, but she's an unknown factor and there's always the fear she may turn out to be a Maryann-style manipulator. On top of that worry, it now seems that sweet Sam has as dark a past as he's hinted at—Holly's understating the issue when she says he has some problems controlling his violent side. It could be that the flashbacks to Sam's past as a thief and semi-accidental murderer are just to highlight his emotional issues, but it's possible he's about to be haunted by his past in a more than psychological way.

With so many new unknowns, it is almost a relief to know for certain whether Russell is out there plotting vengeance. (Eric went so far as to write up and sign his will in preparation for his death at Russell's hands, but Pam lovingly informed him she had no interest in inheriting his windy shit-hole of a farm. They decided to hold Sookie as bait in their basement, instead, since they are problem solvers.) Though never a pillar of sanity, Russell does seem to be in something of a downward spiral. He carries Talbot's gooey remains in a crystal container, and after ripping out the newscaster's spine for a live national audience, he has taken to roaming the streets for Talbot look-alikes. In a twistedly touching and appalling scene, he picks up a male prostitute and lay in his arms speaking to him as if he were Talbot, lamenting his failure to be at his side for the True Death. Then, as a sort of do-over, he stakes the (human) prostitute through the heart and cuddles him as he dies. I'd say, "and thus is a serial killer born," but Russell is already a serial killer so many times over that it would just be silly, and we try to avoid any silliness in our in-depth vampire-werewolf-fairy-alien-sorcery coverage.

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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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