Aug 19, 2011

True Blood, Season 2

The psychopath Rene is dead, his stream of "fangbanger" murders stopped just before he managed to kill Sookie. But instead of peace returning to Bon Temps, it appearsthat a new killer is on the loose. Season 1 ended with Lafayette being attacked by something unseen, and Tara and Sookie finding a dead body in Andy's (Chris Bauer) car. But as Season 2 starts, it would seem there are bigger fishes to fry. Eric demands Sookie's help with finding the vampire Godric (Allan Hyde), a powerful sheriff in Texas. At the same time Sookie's brother Jason gets more and more mixed up with the vampire-hating Church of the Sun which operates suspiciously close to where Godric disappeared from. Meanwhile back at Bon Temps, Tara falls deeper under the influence of the charming Maryann (Michelle Forbes), even though the life she offers her seems much too good to be true and strange occurrences keep happening around the town. And if that's not enough, Sam is no longer the only shifter in Bon Temps!

Season 2 of True Blood is by far my favorite so far. There is so much to love about it! Having established the whole campy premise of the world, the show can now go boldly into Actual Plot Land, and it does so with great enthusiasm. There are multiple storylines with the Texas mystery and Maryann's rise to power being the central ones. The former is heavy on world-building, introducing us to vampire politics outside of Bon Temps and Fangtasia, while the latter builds on the mythology of the show, revealing that there are powers older and stranger than vampires roaming the land.

There are a bunch of new characters in Season 2. Chief among them is Maryann Forrester who was introduced in the last episodes of the previous season. She is a woman of mystery, obviously rich and powerful, who enjoys throwing parties that get progressively wilder as time goes by. To say anything more about her would spoil basically everything. The Texas line introduces us to Lorena (Mariana Klaveno) - Bill's vicious maker who is still obsessed with him even after he left her almost a century ago. There is also Godric - one of the oldest vampires in America, yet he is more angelic than demonic, and his authority is tempered by an aura of introvert vulnerability. Definitely the first time I see an ancient teenage vampire who actually acts like his age and not his looks. Bite on that, Edward!

My favorite new addition to the cast however is new-born vampire Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) who got turned at the end of Season 1. She is still trying to cope with all the new abilities and urges her body now has, as well as being an actual teenager who is about to fall in love for the first time in her life. Her little plot line is absolutely adorable as well as really funny, and it intertwines with another so-far-minor character - Hoyt Fortenberry (Jim Parrack) who has the most unbearable mother in the world. There are other new faces as well, around the disappearance line as well as the Church of the Sun, but none important enough to waste review space on.

The production is still as superb as it was in Season 1. I am not much into the technical aspect of tv and cinema, so whatever I say sounds unprofessional to say the least, but the cinematography of the show looks absolutely amazing to me. The style of shooting corresponds so well with the campyness, the scenes and especially episode endings shot in such an in-your-face shock-value way, that if you don't hate it the moment you witness it for the first time, you are bound to fall in love with the style. Then of course there is the soundtrack. The music of True Blood is generally to die for, and perfectly implemented, while the ending songs - with their small town, often country or retro style - are so much in contrast with the usually shocking cliffhangers that they seem to create a weird resonance together.

A point of interest - True Blood doesn't really do character building that much. Even though some experiences change certain people, it is mostly on the surface - they are pretty much set in who they are, as otherwise they would stop representing the aspects of the world that the show has introduced them to represent. It can be viewed as a drawback, and at certain times I would agree, but in the end, the story that True Blood is trying to tell doesn't really require character growth. What's more, its entire plot is built around the predictability of responses on their part. And in the case of vampires, this also adds to the atmosphere of timelessness around them. Plus, the acting is still absolutely superb from everyone.

If a definite drawback is to be found in Season 2, that would be the spreading of storylines. There are too many of them. They are still manageable (nowhere near the absurdity that Season 3 is), but the end result is that the overall plot does not progress too much in any single episode apart from a few of the last ones. I watched the show on blu-ray and within two days, so for me that was ok, but I can easily imagine the frustration if one has to wait a week for the next episode to come out. My sympathies to all of you who are following the show as it airs - it only gets worse as the seasons progress.

My experience was not like that though. Having seen Season 2 within such a short period of time, I fell utterly in love with it. Both major plots were amazing, their respective culminations - totally epic with the Godric one being perhaps the most memorable moment in the entire show. The characters are still as compelling as they were when True Blood started, even if some of them act in unbearably stupid ways some times. I love it when a second season surpasses the first one in such a spectacular way. Especially when the first one was so good to begin with.


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