Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer had quite a week. It started on the cover of Rolling Stone, where they were totally naked and, naturally, covered in blood. Inside the magazine, Moyer says, "It's interesting to think about sex as a search for a moment together which is a glorious combination of orgasm and sexual oneness that might lead to death." Either the twisted erotic violence of the show has gotten to him or this man was perfectly cast. Or maybe he just gives a good quote.
By Saturday, Paquin and Moyer shifted gears, pushing against the show's outré spirit by getting married. Come on, everyone knows it's much better to run out of the room after a proposal, to be followed by an abduction, a break-up, a reconciliation, and much more tension-building drama. But they went the more conventional route with a ceremony near a beach in Malibu. The story broke in Us Weekly, which, like Rolling Stone, is owned by Wenner Media. Does that mean the honeymoon will be covered in Men's Journal?
"So that brings us to last night when instead of sexual oneness and marital bliss, the show gives us big doses of distrust and division between Sookie and Vampire Bill. It begins with a close-up of Sookie finally ending her wait for an explanation of her true identity: "I'm a fairy?" she says. "How fucking lame."
No one is better than Alan Ball at beating his critics to the punch. After the drawn-out wait, he knew that the revelation would be an anti-climax, so he made Sookie—actually part-fairy, part-human—the first to complain. I like how the show has been giving Sookie coarse dialogue with a mocking sense of humor. It livens her up. Then we hear that fairies have other names (aliens, old people), that they force themselves sexually on humans (vampires aren't the only rapists), and that they were supposed to have been wiped out by vampires. Bill tells her that fairy blood is delicious to vampires, and the conversation turns from the magical to the mundane. Sookie begins to wonder if Bill is only after her for blood and not the sweet miracle of love.
What follows is a tense talk that is sort of like what happens when a Chinese girl learns that her boyfriend has an Asian fetish. He desperately tries to convince her that while that may be true, he really cares for her, and for the right reasons. It's a tough sell. So you can understand why Bill refrains from adding that drinking fairy blood helps vampires survive the daylight. No need for too much truth all at once.
Episode 10 was even more packed with big moments than usual, with secret histories revealed (Sam once was clean-shaven and dapper! Gasp!), a flood of new supernatural creatures (wiccan, were-panther, sorcerer, etc.), and some startling shifts in characters that are more interesting than plausible. I am not sure I buy Russell going so psycho this quickly or Jesus suddenly wanting to experiment with drugs but, hey, the season is coming to an end. There are also some metaphorical pokes in the ribs comparing the divide between Russell and the more assimilated vampires to the politics of Islam in America. There was so much going on that there was less time than usual for sex and violence—not to mention werewolves, thankfully.
But the real theme of the episode is the problems of telling the whole truth. Sookie, unsurprisingly, is squarely on the side of revealing all, as ugly as it may be, though that said she will probably not rush to tell Bill that she's been dreaming about Eric. She encourages Jason to tell Tara that he killed her ex-boyfriend. He does tell Tara, and she runs out. This will surely blow up in everyone's face.
If the show stays true to form, next week will see the death of a regular character. Jason's bohemian girlfriend Amy was strangled in the penultimate installment of the first season; and Karl, Maryanne's assistant, received a bullet through the head in Episode 11 last season. Brett Martin, a GQ correspondent working on a book about the rise of serialized cable drama, tells me killing off a familiar character right before the finale is standard practice for HBO. "The formula's become ingrained enough in my head that, in the next-to-last Entourage each season, I fully expect Turtle to go out in a hail of bullets," Martin writes in an e-mail before adding. "Which is actually sort of a nice idea."
Does that mean Russell goes down next week? Who knows? True Blood's plot has always moved at a different pace than most shows, and we have already seen several beloved characters knocked off. But keep your eye on anyone who upsets that wiccan waitress. Alan Ball has told us that next season will focus on witches. That's the first hint she will play a crucial role. She also just seems awfully nice. That can only mean trouble.