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Mark Blankenship

Mark Blankenship

Posted: July 21, 2010 03:32 PM

True Blood Sucker Punch: Season 3, Ep. 5

What's Your Reaction:

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

(Warning: Spoilers Ahead)

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This episode, "Trouble," was kind of flawless. It may be my favorite of the entire series.

I've been chewing on why this television morsel tastes oh-so-sweet, and here's what I'm thinking: It perfectly balances the multiple dichotomies of the show. Humor and terror, sweetness and cruelty, sex and romance... we get just the right amount of everything. And perhaps just as importantly, the funny moments spring from the scary ones, the cruelty springs from the sweetness. It's much more satisfying when one element leads organically to another.

Take what happens with Eric. He starts the episode all silly-flirty with Russell and Talbot as he tries to manipulate the V situation. This leads to Talbot's lust-face as he takes Erik on a tour of his expensive old junk, and I'll tell you... that mess is hilarious. Theo Alexander plays his lusty antiques collector with so much verve that I want him to have his own talk show. Possibly with Mo'Nique.

Anyway, the great thing is that the tour prompts Eric's discovery of his dead father's viking crown. And then.. boom! We're sucked into a somber, affecting flashback about how Mississippi Russell instructed werewolves to murder Eric's family just so he could steal some bling.

To review: we get a shocking revelation about Russell, an understanding of why Eric hates weres, and a touching insight on how his family paid for the arrogance of his youth. Add in his earlier desperation to get Russell's help in setting Pam free, and you get an thicket of potential problems. When Eric inevitably discovers that Russell killed his dad, will he also be indebtted to the vamp for setting Pam free? Oooh!

Meanwhile, I have to praise Jessica, who glamours two customers at Merlotte's so they won't give Arlene a tip. Awesome! I say we need more scenes of vampires using their powers for petty gain. It doesn't always have to be "save her life" and "rescue my people from bondage," you know? Shallow behavior just makes the supernatural characters more relatable because seriously... if I were a vampire, sometimes I would just use my powers to get from my house to the mall in fifteen seconds or, like, hypnotize the kid at Wendy's into giving me a free Frosty.

And let's recall why Jessica glamours those customers: Because Arlene sasses that she won't look at Jessica in the eyes, lest Jessica put her in a trance. Oh Arlene! Only you can make prejudice seem so spunky. Shrewdly, this episode balances her vamp-hatred with the sweet "Terry moves in" scene. Those two seem perfect for each other... both a little crazy (as Sam points out) and both excited to be in love. When we see Arlene in that light, it's easy to forgive her a little Jessica-bashing.

Also? Terry? Is the cutest. His excitement about doing "normal" things like moving in with a woman he likes is so romantic that it makes me want to pass out. (This could be because I'm moving in with the love of my life tomorrow morning.)

You know what makes me want to pass out even more? Lafayette and Jesus. The writing and performances in their scenes are incredibly subtle and detailed... notice how few words there are compared to how much we learn. And that's totally appropriate, since the first sizzle of attraction isn't about speech. It's about chemistry. It's about not being able to breathe when another person is in the room. It's about the sigh that Jesus gives after Lafayette walks past him into Merlotte's. Jesus is just... overwhelmed. And that makes me capital-s swoon.

Plus, the tingly-toes moments are paired with Lafayette's genuine surprise that Jesus is interested in him. First, he assumes Jesus has come to tell him his mama is dead, then he assumes Jesus is coming to harass him about his criminal behavior. Then, when Jesus flat-out flirts, Lafayette doesn't comprehend what's happening. And then he does. And we see a fresh vulnerability in him. And it's great.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, James Frain and the writers reveal fresh craziness in Franklin. It makes me feel really weird to admit this, but I find his psychosis kind of charming. I know! I know! He's kidnapped Tara and is threatening to turn her into his vampire bride, and that's bad. But when he insists that she watch how fast he can type naughty words? And when he goes off on a tangent about how "hooker" sounds like "hookah?" It's sweet.. in an I'm-a-little-boy-with-grown-up-issues kind of way.

I feel very conflicted about this developing Franklin crush, you guys, but I'm okay with that. It's keeping me interested.

This week's episode of Franklin and Tara: Totes in Love is also appealing because Tara demonstrates some gumption. Sure, she gets caught while she's running through Russell's yard in a flouncy lace dress -- which is a delightfully bizarre image, by the way -- but at least she runs away! And she's mastering the "I love ya' baby" language that keeps Franklin from going fully crazy. I have faith that she'll do something interesting next week. Maybe she'll try to bust out of that Shoney's where Franklin is promising to take her for a romantic meal.

And you know who else is finally taking action? Sookie! She starts with a fantastic wisecrack -- "I'm not dying because of your shitty girlfriend and a Mississippi pothole!" -- and she rides that sassy wave into a confrontation with Debbie, an effective analysis of Alcide's pack master, and no-nonsense reunion with Bill. She doesn't just fall into Bill's arms: She demands information. And then she pulls out the Power Hands on Coot, which makes me think that, like Tara, she'll be more than just a victim next week.

All of this, however, is merely icing on the cake of Jason Stackhouse. I'm digging everything about him in this episode, from his naive belief that being a cop means living in a perpetual action movie to his musical montage of bored office behavior to his passionate insistence that after one day behind a desk, he's about to explode.

And most of all, I'm digging his truckside seduction of Crystal Norris, the mysterious babe he saw crying in the woods a few weeks ago. The banjo music as he chases her in a stolen police car? Amazing. His hilariously awkward English as he tries to intimidate her into giving her his number? Perfect. His cockiness as he flashes her those puppy dog eyes? Sexy as hell.

And the fact that he does all of this without wearing a shirt? Well... it's kind of genius. It's so over the top that you just know the creative team was watching bad porn before they shot this scene. I mean, right? It's one nipple away from being called Body Cavity Search or Frisk Me, Officer! or Naughty Cops 7: A Night In the Hole.

In other words, the truckside seduction is so juicily ridiculous that I can't just laugh at it. I have to admire it, too. And that's why it's this week's Sucker Punch.

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