Warning: This post contains spoilers.
Welcome to Sucker Punch, the only blog post that ranks the gaudiest moments on this week's episode of True Blood.
Um... remember last week, when I worried the show was slowing down? Well, "Heard-Hearted Hannah" has settled my hash. There are so many sucker-punchy scenes in this installment that I could get carpal tunnel syndrome writing about them all.
But before we begin... have you noticed that on the bottom right side of the screen, there's an automatically generated ad leading you to the books I supposedly wrote? Well, I am not that Mark Blankenship. He's a celebrated composer of Christian hymns, not the dude watching vampires have sex and then writing about it. Or at least, he's not writing about it on The Huffington Post. However, if he writes a hymn called "Lord, Thy Sun Shalt Kill Bill Compton," we'll know why.
Speaking of church... let's start with the Fellowship of the Sun. Sarah giving Jason a beejer in the choir loft is crazy, if unsurprising. After she anointed his bishop last week, her advances were bound to get more intense, and doing it in the church certainly ups the trash factor. Also trashy? Convincing poor, witless Jason that his trampy behavior is mandated by God.
Ryan Kwanten's performance makes me believe Jason is gullible enough to fall for Sarah's "God told me to get freaky" routine. If he actually believes what he's doing is consecrated, then he could feel wounded later, which gives this storyline more electricity. (And if Sarah believes her own nonsense, which I think she does, then the inevitable fallout will be even worse.)
I also enjoy how the Fellowship scenes in this episode swing so easily between blatant stereotyping and creepy scheming. On one hand, we've got Luke spouting kneejerk rhetoric about how gay sex is the worst sin of all, and on the other, we've got Reverend Steve getting googly-eyed about building a giant platform so that his followers can watch a vampire get burned alive by the sun. Meanwhile, everything is tinged with ludicrous sincerity, so that when Sarah explains her horror over Steve's behavior, she's as outraged by his desire to provoke a vamp-human war as she is by the fact that he says "the C word."
The mishmash of tones lets True Blood play a fascinating game with these characters: We're simultaneously invited to fear them and laugh at them, which means we can't totally brush them off or totally take them seriously. And when characters keep you off balance like that, they feel more dangerous.
Speaking of danger... look out, Sookie! Her failed church infiltration is a strong Sucker Punch candidate: It's just so over-the-top and exciting, watching as she and Hugo, her pretend fiancee, get surrounded and captured by 'Shippers who hip to their game. (And did Steve scream that Sookie is "probably on V?" Awesome.)
Also, who told the Rev that Sookie's a mind reader? And since he knew that, does that mean his goon was waiting for her, and not some random human, at the airport? And doesn't it seem like Lorena knew that Sookie was going to be in trouble, which is why she showed up to restrain Bill? And wouldn't that mean that Eric, who called Lorena to Dallas, also knew about the danger at the church? Is Eric feeding information to the Fellowship? Or is it that Texan vampire from last week? Or Barry? The mind reels.
All those questions form their own Sucker Punch candidate, because you've got to admire a series that will drop so many bombs in fifty-four minutes. Kudos to writer Brian Buckner for flipping his script again and again.
Out of all those revelations, one of the tawdriest is Daphne's other life as Maryann's pig. When she lures Sam into Maryann's latest orgy---which is so powerful that even Eggs and Tara are in the black-eyed sex club---she gives new life to the season's most repetitive plot device. Now it's not just fornication: It's fornication and the horrifying sacrifice of a major character.
I can't quite call this the Sucker Punch, though, because we've known Maryann was up to something awful for weeks.
For unexpected gaudiness, nothingnothingnothing tops this episode's flashback to the late 1920s, when Bill isn't a tortured, reticent vampire at all, but an enthusiastic killer. Watching Bill and Lorena have grunting sex next to the bleeding, still-living body of a woman they've just attacked, stopping only so Bill can steal the necklace from the poor girl's oozing throat? It's.. it's...
... it's terrifying. It has the cold maliciousness of Grand Guignol, and it's even worse because Bill is such a willing participant. It's like that time I was seven, and I saw my cat rip the head off a shrew. I was shocked to learn that Tucker wasn't always as gentle as he was with me, and now Bill is Tucker. And the shrew has a mother who will miss her.
For being gory, lusty, and upsetting, the murder-tryst is our Sucker Punch of the Week.
This flashback gets bonus points for having Bill sing the big band classic "Hard-Hearted Hannah," which calls its title character the "vamp from Savannah, GA." Way to retroactively inject vampires into the American songbook!
For more, please join me at The Critical Condition.