TV Detail: True Blood review. Episode 2—The First Taste
The second episode of True Blood is better than the first. As stilted as Stephen Moyer was as Bill Compton in the pilot, he and Sookie’s budding romance seems more grounded this time. Bill is confounded both by Sookie’s innocence and her absence of fear. He lost his wife and children in the 1800s and has returned to Bon Temps to try to build an inconspicuous life, reclaiming the old Compton manor. Sookie has spent her life trying to quiet the voices in her head, but always feeling different. A moral compass and the gutter minds of her horny customers keep her at arm’s length from normal human relationships, but Bill brings Old World manners to a self-respecting girl, asking her when he might “call on her.” She can’t hear Bill’s thoughts, and Bill has no power over her mind. If only the vampire haters don’t come between them. Hey, wait—I signed up for a vampire show. How'd I get inside a romance novel.
No worries. At least it's a well-crafted romance in an intriguing setting. The show maintains its quirky mix of a reality dominated by cheap beer,
Southern sin and scattershot redemption and tabloid headlines reading
“Angelina Adopts Vampire Baby.” At odds with this new world order are
rednecks, hyper-judgmental Christian televangelists and just plain
folks with the sense to be a little scared. “You know they can
hypnotize you,” says Sookie’s African-American friend Tara. “Yeah,”
Sookie responds. “And black people are lazy and Jews have horns.”
Balancing the religious bigotry that’s painted by the show’s creators
in even more ridiculous shades of black and white than sadly exists,
Sookie tells her grandma, “I don’t think Jesus would mind if somebody
were a vampire.”
As for the fanged ones themselves, the few on screen so far delight in scaring mortals. Beyond that, we’ve only seen teasing glimpses and learned some of the ground rules—Healing blood: check. Restrained by silver: check. Superhuman strength and speed: check. Bat transformation: No, at least for Bill. And they can only enter a house with the invitation of its inhabitants, tipping the series' hand that this is a full-on embrace of the mythology rather than trying pseudo-science the explanations. It’s a bizarre little world in small-town Lousiana, but one that I’ll be visiting again next week.
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