Note: This will contain spoilers, there’s just no way around that. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.
So let’s get this out of the way early on. If you don’t know me, I’m a huge True Blood fan. I’ve read all of the books (save the newest one, for reasons we’ll discuss later), I’ve greedily devoured the episodes, and for the most part I’ve liked what they’ve done. I liked that they kept Lafayette around because I thought he was a good character, I dealt with the fact that Tara is quite frequently annoying, and I understood the reasons for why they developed secondary storylines. I even understood Jessica, who added another attractive female to the cast (nerds like redheads), and who allowed the show to explain Vampire things to the audience without dumbing down the show. The simple fact of the matter is: The books followed Sookie. Ensemble cast TV shows are more successful than ones that focus on a single main character to the exclusion of all others. You can’t do what Charlaine Harris did and just helter skelter murder regular characters, nor could you just have them disappear for an entire season or so (because Charlaine didn’t bother writing them). Beyond that, I adore Anna Paquin as Rogue, but I don’t really like her as Sookie. There’s just something subtly “better” about the Sookie in the books than the Sookie as Anna portrays her. I think her demeanor is different in the books, she’s less skeptical, more accepting, more optimistic. maybe I’ve just watched X-men too many times though and Rogue’s characteristics just show through too much. I also hate this facial expression, and she does it a lot:
That said, I hated the 1st episode of Season 4 (although Episode 2 somewhat redeemed it, but that’s another post). The plotline with Sookie going to Fairy was out of nowhere, and serves no immediately identifiable purpose. Yes, it gives Eric a reason to purchase Sookie’s house, and to therefore “own” her. It furthers the Faery plotline, which I understand (they’d been hinting she’s special every episode before she was revealed as one, and people have shorter attention spans with TV than with books), but it just seems… well… lame. The concept of the Fairy realm seemed a lot more natural when the Fairies were introduced slowly in the books. Not, “Boom, you’re a Fairy, let’s go visit Fairy now.” I’ve also been kind of bothered by her “Fairy Powers” as one of the more interesting things about her in the book was that she frequently got by on wits, looks and charm alone. But again, this makes sense as you don’t want her to come off resembling Bella from Twilight too much. I suppose the whole thing with Fairy allows them to introduce the whole Fairy Civil War thing a bit slower than it was introduced in the books, but still… very hokey. And her “real grandfather” dies mere moments later, and we’re left with far more questions than answers. The problem is – I didn’t want any of the answers.
The fact that the police, and really everyone else too, dropped the subject for the most part and trusted Bill’s excuse for it was pretty shaky as well. After what Russel did on television, they’ve mentioned numerous times that humans are becoming more distrustful of Vamps. Speaking of Bill, the whole “King of Louisiana” thing reeks of future lameness. I assume that this is partially to cover the time period of Hadley’s death (seeing as she was never alive in the books), and also to make him a more interesting character (as during these parts in the book, he was… well… either absent, or lamely pining over Sookie).
I think part of the reason we’re seeing “Evil Bill” is because Charlaine did a lot of early foreshadowing that Eric and Sookie would end up together. Despite his bad deeds, Eric was frequently the one who was saving Sookie from harm – even when that harm was Bill’s deceit. But unfortunately, the TV show seems to have cut out many of the places where Eric comes through for Sookie. This is largely because of how much Season 2 strayed from the book it was based off of, so we didn’t see the crucial developmental scene of their relationship while Sookie investigated the “Orgy” caused by Mary Anne. One of Sookie’s struggles in the recent books is most clearly evident when Niall says, “The vampire is not a bad man, and he loves you,” and Sookie realizes that she does not know which Vampire he speaks of. Sookie’s love and loyalty had been split between Eric and Bill for some time, long before they got together when Eric lost his memory, and long before Sookie herself realized it. But the TV show has portrayed Eric very negatively, moreso than in the books. Sookie has seen him at his worst, and she is disgusted by him. TV Sookie would have no problem deciding between Bill and Eric, despite Bill’s betrayal of her. In making Bill appear more demonic, it makes her decision actually a decision again, and it also serves to placate people who are disgusted by the current trend of making Vampires warm and cuddly. In fact, because the dynamic of Eric and Sookie’s interactions have strayed so much from the books – with so much more negative, and so much less positive, I wonder how well received the eventual Sookie/Eric relationship will be from the perspective of people who have not read the books. I also wonder how they’re going to explain how Bill – who frequently seems to be the black sheep of the local Vampire community – ended up as King. I haven’t given up hope that they’ll come up with something plausible… but it better be good. One possible reason why the writers of the show would go in that direction would be to make it apparent how low Eric gets without his memory, since previously he has clearly been the Alpha Vampire. Elevating “Mopey” Bill and Brainwashing “Masterful” Eric might be an interesting flip flop.
It was good to see Sookie and Jason get some bonding time in, as it feels like their relationship is completely different in the books than it is in the show. A lot of this is because Jason’s V addiction wasn’t originally written in the books, so they didn’t have the initial strife that all that caused. But Sookie was always loving of her brother, albeit slightly skeptical of his lovelife, and his penchant for getting into bad situations. Her relationship with Tara was similar, and while the decision to send her away to be a lesbian cagefighter isn’t necessarily surprising, it’s definitely the complete opposite of book Tara. I truly hope that they make Tara be a more optimistic, less self-injuring type through this plotline.
Which brings us to Lafayette.
I like seeing a gay male character on a popular TV show. I love his portrayal, and I love how he makes the best of sometimes being dealt a fucked up card. I don’t like the frequent references to his “darkness” and in fact most of this whole business with Jesus. The problem I have with it was that Sookie was a magnet for Supernatural beings in the books, but most of the other human characters were reasonably normal by comparison. This push to make every single character (including Arlene’s baby) some dark, creepy, Supernatural thing just detracts from it all a good bit. Someone needs to be normal in it all, or at least relatively so, and right now the most normal one we’ve got is Terry, the extremely PTSD war vet. Everyone in Bon Temps has a darkness about them, save Hoyt Fortenberry! Even our dowdy Sheriff Andy Bellefleur is a V addict.
There were some smaller positive things that I noted that were worth mentioning. The scenes with Pam and Eric were a welcome breath of fresh air to the whole thing. Even Nan was far less aggravating than normal when compared the the remainder of the clusterfuck that was occurring. I was also somewhat glad to see that Jessica and Hoyt’s relationship seems to be disintegrating, because I think it opens up Jessica’s character to be far more interesting than just the “Vampire Virgin who pines after the Awkward Human.” The situation between Tommy and Sam interests me, because it adds a depth of character that Sam desperately needed (although seriously, more drama and negativity! Yeesh)
All in all, when things were said and done, I think the first words out of my mouth were, “If the rest of the season is like this, I’m not watching it anymore).