Welcome to Sucker Punch, the only blog post that ranks the gaudiest moments on this week's episode of True Blood.
(Warning: Spoilers Ahead)
I'd like to begin this recap of "I Smelled a Rat" with an ode to Russell Edgington, who has become one of my all-time favorite TV characters. This ode will be presented as a free-verse poem.
My Mississippi King (Is a Mississippi Queen)
Even when you were just a campy weirdo
You conquered my heart.
But then there was more
so much more.
One one hand, you're an unfettered psycho
who terrorizes humans
and conquers the wolves
so many wolves.
But on the other, you're a passionate lover
left woefully undone
by the death of your man
your beautiful man.
So when you stake a prostitute
or de-spine an anchorman
I see levels
so many levels.
You are vicious yet tender
abhorrent yet admirable
and I want more
so much more.
As you can probably tell, I edited my high school's literary magazine. Contact your rare bookseller about getting a copy of Ooltewah High School's Voyages from 1997. You won't be sorry.
Anyway, I had to write a poem because at this point, I can't just write a paragraph about someone like Russell. He's too amazing for that.
Of course, he isn't the only one getting wild this week. As the episode's title suggests, lots of characters are grappling with honesty and trust. (And by the way, "I Smell a Rat" is a classic song that was recently recorded by the outstanding singer-songwriter Patty Griffin. Her version plays over this week's end credits, and it's on her fabulous new album Downtown Church.)
In the most obvious iteration of the theme, Sookie doesn't know which of her menfolk to believe. The episode teases us with the suggestion that Bill returned to Bon Temps not only to be in his old house, but also because Sophie-Anne wanted him to capture Sookie Fairy Girl. But we don't know that for sure, and neither does Sookie. Instead, we're all left to doubt him, no matter how many bloody tears he cries.
And then there's Eric, who occasionally seems to be looking out for Ms. Stackhouse, but who eventually gets convinced by Pam to use the Fairy Girl as a tool against Russell. How can Sookie (or we) trust Eric when he ends the episode by chaining her to the Wheel of Misfortune in Fangtasia's basement? Is there no one who doesn't want something from our heroine?!?!?
Well, there's Jason, but he's having problems of his own. I commend writers Kate Barnow and Elisabeth R. Finch for the scene where Jason tells Tara that he shot Eggs. His broken, pleading confession and Tara's desperate response are both perfectly realized (props to the actors, too), and the moment is even more powerful because it comes immediately after Tara tells Jason he's the only one she can trust. Watching that, I get a knot in my stomach: Tara is so close to regaining her strength, and now... boom. Another blow.
I won't be surprised if Tara ends up in a coven with The Wiki-Wiki-Wiccan and Arlene, who has her own Trust Moment with Terry. Unlike Tara, who runs from bad news, Terry takes Arlene's confession about carrying Rene's baby in absolute stride. Did anyone else notice that Todd Lowe's face registers about forty emotions when he hears that his dream family is not so dreamy? Amazing. And it's even more touching because we learn that Terry has been doing research on pregnancy, just so he can be a better boyfriend. (If only they were all that sweet, right ladies?)
Similarly, Hoyt and Jessica finally decide to trust each other and confess their love, and the result is tenderness.... and violence. I'm not surprised that Tommy attacks Hoyt after Hoyt punches him in his snotty face -- Tommy has been living as an attack dog, after all -- but with Jessica jumping to Hoyt's defense, I hope the little squirt realizes that he's not going to be Jessica's puppy.
But speaking of lovers, I'm starting to doubt whether Lafayette should trust Jesus. That V trip, despite being filled with super-cool effects, also suggests that Jesus is into some seriously dark magic. Just like the vamps want to steal Sookie's light, it's possible that Jesus wants to steal Fay Fay's power. Just like his mama said! Oh, Fay Fay!
In other news, I personally distrust Nan Flanagan. Last week, some of you astutely noted that despite proclaiming to Eric that she only drinks True Blood, she was still in a limo sucking some real blood out of a lady prostitute. Turns out, she's just as duplicitous as Reverend Steve (who makes a cameo this week), and I'm guessing she's going to cause problems sooner or later.
I'm also assuming that Crystal the Panther will keep raising hell... and I'm totally into it. She fascinates me. Yes, she's yet another female character on this show who is constantly victimized -- welcome to the overstuffed club, homegirl! -- but she's being written and played as someone with an unpredictable wild streak. Her big reveal to Jason, for instance, is kind of crazy. If a Pantherlady broke into my house and growled at me like that, I would freak, so we'll see what Jason does. (I should add, too, that the scene of the panther prowling in Jason's room gives me a genuine scare.)
This leads us to Sam, who appears to be getting honest with himself about his own murderous, con-artist past. As True Blood analyst Dallas mentioned to me on her radio show last Sunday, his flashbacks suggest that in the aftermath of beating Crystal's daddy, he's acknowledging that he's more like the Mickens than he cares to admit.
But here's the thing... by letting Sam be honest with himself, the show makes it harder for us to trust him. Or at least, it's harder for me to trust him, now that I know he's not the gentle soul I took him for. (Maybe he's reformed, but on this show...) Just like Jason's honesty made Tara less trusting, Sam's internal revelation actually makes him harder to embrace.
Of course, it's better to know the truth, even if learning it can be a shock. Watching a man murder two people in cold blood, for instance, is kind of troubling. It's a sucker punch.
For more, please join me at The Critical Condition.