06/24/2010 11:57 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

True Blood Sucker Punch: Season 3, Ep. 2

Welcome to Sucker Punch, the only blog post that ranks the gaudiest moments on this week's episode of True Blood.

(Warning: Spoilers Ahead)


Howdy y'all! I didn't get around to watching "Beautifully Broken," this week's installment of True Blood, until Wednesday night (!), but it was the cap to an excellent day. I signed a lease for a new apartment and made it through every audition round for a popular game show... and then I enjoyed a tasty stew of fangs, fur, and freaks.

But before I dig into that, let's be real for a minute... This season will keep our core characters apart from each other and that makes me nervous. Remember last year, when the "half in Louisiana, half in Texas" stuff made made True Blood feel like two disconnected shows? I don't want to deal with that again.

That said: This season's storylines have all been really engaging so far.

For instance, I'm grateful the writers are giving the human characters such interesting things to do. When the humans have human problems -- problems that don't arise from werewolf bites or whatever -- then the show becomes much more powerful. To me, at least.

I mean, yes, I love Sam and Sookie and Bill and all the rest, and their "human" foibles blend with their supernatural abilities in fantastic ways. But in the midst of all this, it's wonderful to have a few purely human threads. They let the show reach out to the audience and say, "Look, you real people have a place in our world, too. Humans are not just window dressing."

And honestly, when average people matter, it makes it easier for me to care about everyone.

Do you know what I mean? I'm not saying I need humans in every fantasy story -- I do love the X-Men movies, after all -- but when they show up and they're complicated, I'm appreciative. I feel much more emotionally invested when I can see at least one person who is mortal like me.

Which leads me to Arlene and Terry: As the episode's title suggests, they are "beautifully broken," and I'm touched by how doggedly they're trying to push through their problems and reach each other.

When Terry reads Arlene his list of good qualities through the bathroom door, he reveals himself to be a really tender guy, even if his version of tenderness -- "I saved an armadillo! I have a certificate from anger management class!" -- is a bit unusual. Even better, Arlene, when she isn't pregnancy-puking, sees the dignity in his quirky proclamation, which lets us celebrate both of them as flawed-yet-wonderful people. Way to go, True Blood!

(Also, did you catch the moment where Arlene gets sick and Terry defensively asks if it's his shrimp again? That bit of well-acted dialogue reveals all sorts of things about these people.)

Moving through the human roster, I renew my insistence that Nelsan Ellis get an Emmy nomination for playing Lafayette. This week, the hooker is on fire. It's so nice to hear him berate Tara's crazy-ass mama -- she deserves it! -- and try to talk a little sense into Tara herself. Then there's the fact that he meets Jesus, his love interest for the season, while he's visiting his own crazy-ass mama. Complicated!

Oh, and then? When we learn that Lafayette works so many jobs because he wants to keep his crazy-ass mama in a nice hospital, we are instantly forced to reevaluate his entire character. Turns out, he's not just working on his own behalf.

In other words, Nelsan Ellis has always given Lafayette a soul. Even when his character was mostly spouting attitude and selling V, he made him seem real. This week, the writing catches up to his performance, and the result is outstanding.

On that note: Can we please see more of Alfre Woodard as his mother? She's clearly having fun, and she makes me laugh out loud.

But you know who isn't making me laugh? Andy Bellfleur. Come on, dude. You are clearly scamming Jason so that you can get all the glory for shooting Eggs. You're less interested in your friend than you are in your own reputation as a hero. Of course, now that Jason just caught that drug dealer who got away from you, even though Jason was drunk, his natural heroism may end up overshadowing your phony-baloney bravery. That'll be really interesting to watch.

Um... back to third person.

There's a lot going on in the supernatural realm, but I don't have a lot to say about it. The Jessica/corpse thing is clearly leading somewhere, as is Sam's encounter with his biological family... but those stories are still setting themselves up.

Same deal with the werewolves. Eric's hatred for weres could have serious consequences, especially since he's attacking a wolf in Sookie's house. Also, I suspect that Franklin, Tara's obviously crazy vampire love interest, could be the werewolf master we hear about in Eric's flashback.

But... yeah. It's too soon to react, so I'm reserving judgment for now.

However, I am not reserving judgment on the arrival of Denis O'Hare, that master of unsettling smarm, as Russell Edgington, vampire king of Mississippi. I love every second of this. His impossibly tasteful boyfriend, Talbot? Yes. His crackpot plan to wed Sophie-Ann and extend his kingdom? Absolutely. His decision to kidnap Bill (and apparently Sookie) to make his plan work? Sure thing.

The poncy white gloves he wears while he's horseback riding? Damn right!

God, it's all so wonderful. Just as Michelle Forbes did with Maryann, O'Hare instantly steals his scenes. You have to watch him, because he clearly has ten dirty tricks up his sleeve.

Instead of choosing a single moment, I'm giving the Sucker Punch prize to Russell's entire world: Talbot's blood gelato. The beautiful-yet-deadly guest bedroom. The last-minute entrance of Lorena, decked out in period riding gear, and Bill's impulsive decision to set her on fire. Everything around Russell is trashy, fabulous, and pregnant with dramatic possibility. I want more!


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