To our female readers out there (And yes, I know that we have some – Hi, Junie!), if you aren’t already familiar with it, allow me to introduce you to the concept of “fan service.” The term derives from anime circles, and generally refers to an attempt by show producers to appeal to the base urges of their core audience (typically teenage boys) by featuring gratuitous sexualized images of important characters in various states of undress for no particular narrative reason. I bring this up because this week’s episode of ‘True Blood’, called ‘9 Crimes’, opens with a big honkin’ sample of fan service aimed directly at the ladies watching.
Don’t get me wrong, ‘True Blood’ has never been shy about featuring sex or offering up fan service for the guys. (Bless your heart, Anna Paquin.) It’s only fair to spread the wealth. If the occasional shirtless scene with Jason, Sam, or Eric doesn’t do it for you, the show brings out the big guns (no pun intended, but damn!) with hunky werewolf Alcide this week. This guy’s so ripped that even his muscles have muscles. As the episode begins, Sookie tends to his wounds from last week’s bar fight, which gives a convenient excuse for him to strut around showing off his 24-pack abs. He radiates so much brute testosterone that, for a moment there, Sookie forgets all about Bill and stands on the verge of tearing all her clothes off and throwing herself at him. But then Bill has to call and ruin the moment.
And he really ruins the moment. Not only does he interrupt the scorching sexual tension, he calls to tell Sookie as coldly and cruelly as possible that he’s just had sex with Lorena, he’s returning to his vampire ways, and he’s breaking up with her. He also tells her not to search for him. “I do not wish to be found.” Ouch, what a dick.
Sookie has a total breakdown at hearing this. We’re reminded that, for as strong-willed as she may be, she’s also a young girl in her first serious relationship. Alcide comforts her, but doesn’t cross the line. After a moment, Sookie decides that Bill must have been coerced to say such hurtful things. She resolves to find him anyway. We all knew that was going to happen.
At the King’s residence, Lorena gloats about getting her man back, but we see that Bill still holds her in great contempt, and does nothing to disguise it. He’s clearly using her as a means to an end. When she presses the issue, he punches her right in the face and knocks her clear across the room. Now, I don’t condone violence against women, but the bitch kind of deserved that one. This saps away her good mood, but doesn’t seem to overly phase her. She is a vampire, after all. And she knows that she’s getting what she wants.
Back in Bon Temps, Sam is still having family trouble. He learns that they’ve been sleeping in a van in his parking lot because they were evicted from their home. Eventually, he offers them a place to stay if they promise no more drinking or stealing. Sam’s kind of a sap sometimes. This won’t end well.
Vampire Franklin is in uber-creepy mode throughout the episode. He interrogates and terrorizes Tara into telling all she knows about Sookie and Bill. He forces her to call Sookie to find out her location, and almost gets it, but Sookie hangs up without telling. He bites Tara and ties her up in the bathroom. He has a sick obsession with Tara, and acts like he thinks they’re in a relationship together. Later, he drives her to Mississippi, where we learn that he’s been working for the King.
If the sexual tension between Sookie and Alcide wasn’t enough, Eric pays her a visit as well. This time, she actually does throw herself at him. “I’ve got skills you cannot even dream of, cowboy.” Yowzah! But then… Oh wait, it was just a dream… A dream Eric was having. Yes, now Eric is having the kind of sex dream about Sookie that those who’ve drunken his blood have about him. That’s weird.
Lafayette is enjoying the new car that Eric gave him. He tries to make a deal with some yokels to open a new distribution channel for V, but they gang up on him and start beating him. Eric flies in to save him in time, and persuades the rednecks to take the deal. He then offers Lafayette some advice on being a better salesman.
Sookie concocts a new plan to get information on Bill’s whereabouts from the werewolf gang by having Alcide’s sister give her a white trash makeover. She reads the girl’s mind and learns that Alcide’s ex-girlfriend – who he still pines for – is now running with the bad pack, is shacked up with Cooter, and will be undergoing an initiation ceremony at Lou Pine’s bar. Alcide doesn’t like the plan, but agrees to help Sookie anyway.
Sheriff Bud has officially retired, and names Andy as acting Sheriff. Jason uses this as an opportunity to blackmail Andy into making him a cop without any of that pesky book-learning business. He also has a jealous confrontation with the new hotshot high school football player.
Bill makes a deal with the King. He’ll help him usurp Queen Sophie-Ann, in exchange for being allowed to kill Lorena without repercussion. He tells the King about Eric selling V, which the King leaks back to the Magister.
At Merlotte’s, Arlene is in a tizzy about being pregnant (which she hasn’t told anyone but Terry) and about being the only waitress who ever shows up for work. Sam hires Jessica as a new hostess, which doesn’t really help matters. On her first night, one of Jessica’s old Bible Study friends recognizes her. She tries to glamour him into forgetting the encounter, but still hasn’t quite mastered the skill yet. Fortunately, he’s pretty weak-minded. Her eventual success gives Jessica new confidence.
The Magister raids Fangtasia and finds the supply of V. He arrests and tortures Pam. Eric arrives and claims they’ve been framed. With Pam’s help, they concoct the story that Bill is behind the V ring, and they were merely collecting evidence. The Magister gives them 48 hours to supply proof.
Sookie and Alcide slip into the werewolf initiation party, and find the vampire King making an appearance to give his own blood to the pack. This drives them into a transformation frenzy that even Alcide can’t seem to resist. He yells at Sookie to get out of there.
As the episode ends, Bill has been ordered as one of his first assignments for his new King to procure a nice meal. He brings a stripper back to the King’s limo and, at the King’s urging, joins him and Lorena in a horrible bloody feast. Ick.
I think it’s clear that Bill hasn’t really turned to the dark side. He has ulterior motives and a plan for what he’s doing. The question is just how far into his old life he can slip back before it consumes him.
Oh, and personally, I was a little unclear about what the ‘9 Crimes’ of the title referred to. Maybe I’m just being dense. After she’d finished ogling the sexy werewolf man, Mrs. Z suggested that it has to do with the charges that the Magister leveled against Eric. Perhaps I need to rewatch that scene and pay closer attention. Or maybe I’ll just cue up that Sookie and Eric sex fantasy scene instead. This episode has fan service for everybody!