Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blood, Sex, Magic

. . . welcome to the world of True Blood

I’ve really enjoyed the recently concluded Season 2 of HBO’s hit supernatural drama, True Blood. Come to think of it, I quite enjoyed Season 1.

The premise of the show is straightforward enough. Following the creation of synthetic blood by the Japanese, vampires have progressed from legendary monsters to fellow citizens overnight. They’ve “come out of the coffin,” so to speak.

Sookie Stackhouse (played by Anna Paquin, pictured above) is a telepath and waitress at Merlotte’s in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps. Merlotte’s is owned and operated by Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell), a shapeshifter— though Sam keeps this ability secret from those around him.

Into Merlotte’s one night walks Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer, pictured at right), a handsome 173-year-old vampire who has returned to Bon Temps following the death of his last remaining relative. As Sookie cannot hear his thoughts, she finds it easy to be in his company and, over the first season, the two become romantically involved.

An interesting observation from last night’s episode: When Bill proposed to Sooky, he not only did so with a diamond ring but with plane tickets to Vermont. It seems that in the world of True Blood the Green Mountain State isn’t just leading the way on same-sex marriage, but vampire-human marriage as well!

It was just one more reminder that the vampires in the show a
re readily discernible metaphors for gays and other discriminated against minorities in our society - even to the extent of being the target of rabid Christian fundamentalists. (In True Blood one such group of fundamentalists is known as the Fellowship of the Sun).

The Fellowship of the Sun’s Rev. Steve Newlin and his wife Sarah.
“God Hates Fangs,” you know.

True Blood may have ended for this year but thankfully it will be back for a third season in 2010 - though minus that troublesome maenad, Maryann - who got way more than she bargained for when she attempted to conjure her “god who comes,” Dionysus.

Still, shapeshifter Sam Merlott, “sex-on-a-stick”
Jason Stackhouse, Viking vampire Eric, eternal virgin vampire Jessica, flamboyant gay boy Lafayette Reynolds, and all the other colorful though well-drawn characters who comprise Bon Temps, will return to entertain in true True Blood style. (Oh, and somehow I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the Fellowship of the Sun!)

Above: Bad-boy vampire Eric in a dream sequence with series heroine Sooky. Apparently, Eric has quite the fan base. Personally, I prefer the endearingly genteel, though somewhat tortured, Bill - a vampire from the Civil war era who in his efforts to “mainstream,” recycles
and has Fresca on hand for his guests!

The most interesting character in Season 2? It would had to have been Godric, an ancient vampire from Roman times who at one point expresses genuine disappointment at never encountering Jesus, who yearns for vampires to evolve (like him) beyond their predatory nature, and who wishes only peace and equality between vampires and humans.

Here’s what
Wikipedia has to say about this particular character:

Godric is the sheriff of Area 9, the center of which is Dallas. He is a 2,000-year-old vampire who looks like a teenage boy with tattoos from Roman times. He is the first powerful vampire to be portrayed as genuinely friendly to humans. Eric Northman claims “There are none above him in the New World,” implying Godric is the most powerful vampire in the Americas, and therefore probably the oldest. When he goes missing, Eric sends Sookie and Bill to Dallas to look for him. They find him being held prisoner by the Fellowship of the Sun for ritual execution. Freed, he is able to end a vampire-human standoff without bloodshed, but the Fellowship retaliates with a suicide bomber. Godric reveals that he allowed himself to be captured; he is ready to die and hoped that allowing himself to be killed by anti-vampire fanatics would bring about some sort of reconciliation. He takes the blame for the “PR disaster” and the deaths from the bombing, and resigns as sheriff. Then he allows himself to die by meeting the sunrise on the roof of the Dallas vampire hotel, while a tearful Sookie looks on.

I found the character of Godric and his story arc to be quite moving. Following is the dialogue between Godric and Sookie on the rooftop of the Hotel Carmilla.

Godric: It won’t take long, not at my age.

Sookie: You know, it wasn’t very smart - the Fellowship of the Sun part.

Godric: I know. I thought it might fix everything somehow. But I don’t think like a vampire anymore. [Pause] Do you believe in God?

Sookie: Yes.

Godric: If you’re right, how will he punish me?

Sookie: God doesn’t punish. God forgives.

Godric: I don’t deserve it, but I hope for it.

Sookie: We all do.

Smoke begins to rise from Godric’s body. He turns to view the rising sun.

Sookie: Are you very afraid?

Godric: [Smiles] No . . . No, I’m filled with joy.

Sookie: But the pain?

Godric: I want to burn.

Sookie: [Begins to cry] Well, I’m afraid for you.

Godric: A human with me at the end. And human tears! Two thousand years and I can still be surprised. In this I see God.

Godric turns to the sun, walks to the edge of the roof, removes his shirt, and stretches out his arms.

Sookie: Goodbye, Godric.

With a calm look upon his face, Godric is engulfed by blue flames and vanishes. Sookie stands alone on the hotel roof. As the credits for the episode begin, the song accompanying them starts with the words: “And I will rise up. Why be a dead man?”

Strange as it may seem, this exchange - and the ending of the story arc centered on the Fellowship of the Sun and Godric that it signifies - took place three episodes ago. The remainder of the season focused on the efforts of Bill, Sookie, Sam, and others to end Maryann’s reign of chaos back in Bon Temps.

One last thing I’ll share about Sunday’s True Blood season 2 finale: it featured a brief cameo by Charlaine Harris, the author of The Southern Vampire Mysteries upon which True Blood is based. Harris can be seen sitting in Merlott’s after all the craziness associated with Maryann’s demise, and remarking to Sam: “I certainly never expected anything like that to happen here.”

Yeah, right!

Recommended Off-site Links:
Someone’s Disappearance: True Blood Finale Discussion - True-Blood.net (September 14, 2009).
True Blood Finale Postmortem with Director Alan Ball - The Ausiello Files (September 14, 2009).
True Blood (Season 1) DVD boxed set at Amazon.com
True Blood (Season 2) DVD boxed set at Amazon.com

1 comment:

Richard Demma said...

Just noticed your stunning icon of the Compassionate Jesus in the sidebar, looking very native American. Great image! I really appreciate these icons that subvert our traditional view of the wandering Hebrew prophet from Nazareth. Keen fan of the Vampire stuff as well!