As much as I love ‘True Blood’, I have to admit that the show’s second season finale was frustrating and oddly disappointing. After a whole season building up the conflict with evil maenad Marianne and her attempt to take over Bon Temps, that storyline was dispatched (rather well) only halfway through the finale. The early climax of the episode was then followed by a weirdly anticlimactic half hour of dénouement exposition. The tepid cliffhanger about Bill being kidnapped wasn’t much to leave fans hanging with for the long nine months to follow. Here, finally, the series has returned for its third season on HBO and, almost as apology, ramps up the action very quickly. (Spoilers after the break.)
According to HBO’s official site, the Season 3 premiere episode is titled ‘Bad Blood’. For some reason, my DVR program guide calls it ‘Pack of Wolves’. I’m not sure which is correct. The first name is awfully generic, while the second too clearly a plot spoiler.
In any case, the premiere picks up right where the prior finale left off. Sookie is upset that Bill’s been kidnapped, but can’t seem to get anyone to sympathize with her. Everyone else has their own crap to deal with. Tara, for example, is a complete wreck about Eggs dying. She lashes out at everyone around her, and eventually falls into the consoling arms of her mother, who isn’t such a good person to count on in a time of distress. Left alone for a minute, Tara appears to try to kill herself with pills, but is discovered by Lafayette.
Jason, of course, killed Eggs. And now he’s totally freaking out about it. Even though Andy has taken the blame for the shooting and ordered Jason to act like his old lecherous self to avoid suspicion, Jason keeps having visions of bullet holes in everyone’s foreheads. He can’t even manage to get it up for a pair of slutty co-eds, and that just ain’t right.
Jessica drags the trucker she attacked back to Bill’s house, and doesn’t know what to do when he dies on her. She tries unsuccessfully to vamp him, but winds up with a rotting corpse beneath the house.
It turns out that Bill’s been kidnapped by a band of redneck V junkies. We assume that they must be working for Eric. Their incompetence causes a car crash and allows Bill to escape. He makes his way to the home of an elderly invalid, and feeds off her to regain his strength. Since he’s still basically a good guy (or at least wants to believe he is), he lets her live, glamours her into forgetting, and leaves her with some obviously-needed money.
Meanwhile, Sam is off in Arkansas searching for his birth parents, who don’t seem to want to be found. He has a disturbing and hilarious sex dream about Bill, much as Sookie had about Eric, the result of his drinking Bill’s blood last season.
Assuming his involvement, Sookie heads straight for Eric, who denies having anything to do with the kidnapping. It turns out that’s true, though not by design. He indeed ordered some minions to snatch Bill, but Bill had already been taken by the time they got to the restaurant. The rednecks were not his doing.
The Queen (Evan Rachel Wood) also makes an appearance at Fangtasia, along with the Magister (Zeljko Ivanek). The Magister has suspicions that vampires have been selling their blood to humans, and is very upset about it. The Queen acts shocked, shocked! by such developments, and Eric plays along. Once the Magister is gone, the Queen orders Eric to sell off all their remaining V at half price if necessary. She’s having money problems and needs cash quickly. This order filters down through Pam to Lafayette, who’s stuck getting rid of the merchandise.
As the episode ends, Sookie and Jessica find the remains of the car wreck, and learn (via a tattoo on one of the redneck bodies) that the kidnappers were involved with something called “Operation Werewolf.” We then cut to Bill racing through the forest on his way home when he’s set upon by wolves. He pauses for a moment with a glint in his eye, gives them fair warning that he’s just fed, and leaps to attack. End episode.
‘Bad Blood’ (or ‘Pack of Wolves’, whichever you prefer) has a lot going on, and is breathlessly paced as it charges through so much plot. It’s certainly a lot more exciting than the Season 2 finale. Even so, the episode feels a heavy burden of all the exposition. It’s just plot, plot, plot, plot, plot. There are a couple moments of humor (and sex!) here and there, but very little time for character moments or atmosphere, both of which are usually the show’s strongest assets. I would say that the series seems to be off to a good start this season, but this isn’t one of my favorite episodes overall.
I will give a lot of credit to the final scene, however. Normally I find Bill a very boring character, and wish that Sookie would couple up with Eric instead. But Bill’s reaction to the wolves in that last moment is admittedly kind of badass. The scenes from next week tease all sorts of bloody mayhem. I can’t wait. This would have been a much better cliffhanger to end on last season than the one we got.