True Blood, the show that has millions tuning in to HBO since 2008, is set in Bon Temps, Louisiana where Sookie Stackhouse meets and falls for vampire Bill Compton. However, in this universe, vampires are “out of the coffin” and actively participating in “mainstreaming” efforts. That is, vampires wish to live amongst the humans, complete with the right to marry, the right to vote and other such sociopolitical benefits. Sookie’s relationship with Bill is met with opposition at many ends, and the show picks up gear and doesn’t stop all throughout the season.
Season 1, Episode 2: The First Taste
The episode picks up directly from the cliffhanger from the pilot – with Sookie being assaulted in the Merlotte’s parking lot. Sookie is clearly about to die, but Bill arrives just in time to dispose of the couple and whisks our precocious waitress to the side of a lake. Here he feeds her his own blood, which allows her to heal, but also links her libido to him, causing her to have sexual dreams about Mr. Fangs. During a conversation with Bill we see her flashbacks to her past experience with date, and she clearly indicates she’s inexperienced. Bill is apparently enthralled by her. While he is clearly dumb as a nail, Jason seems to have a one-track mind when it comes to the women around him. He leaves the interrogation at the police and heads straight to Dawn’s apartment to sleep with her. The next morning, however, Jason notices vampire bite marks on her neck and assumes she’s a “fangbanger” as well. Tara’s crush on Jason seems to be the ony thing that calms her down from everything else around her. She is still quite vocal about her disapproval of Bill courting Sookie. We see into her home life, where she lives with an alcoholic mother and escapes from that reality by partying with Lafayette, her cousin. Sookie hears from her grandmother that the couple that attacked her was found crushed underneath their trailer, assumed to be victims of a short-lived tornado. Bill’s invitation to the Stackhouse home to discuss his time during the Civil War era is met with “racism” on behalf of Jason, who aggressively expresses his hatred for vampires. Granny Stackhouse puts her foot down and calls Jason out on his behavior, and standing up for Sookie when she defends the vampires against Jason’s insults. She and Bill go for their walk together, where she learns more about the nature of vampires as well as Bill’s past as a human. The episode ends as she goes to Bill’s family home and is met with various aggressive vampires instead of the man she’s looking for.
Seeing Sookie being beaten to death was definitely disturbing – but almost expected. Her interference from the first episode was clearly not going to go over so well with that couple. The scene where Bill finally arrived was pretty glorious. And you get a quick and brutal death, and you get a quick and brutal death! Also when he’s LICKING Sookie’s forehead – but then he starts again with the “What are you?” nonsense. Bill seems to have toned down his aggressiveness, and asks Sookie if he may call on her much more gentlemanly than his innuendos from the pilot. Also there is clearly that dog is more than meets the eye. There is a very obvious shot of Bill staring back at it while walking with Sookie. One favorite thing I spotted on rewatching the episode was during Tara’s first entrance back to her house. On the stand in the livingroom a newspaper headline reads “Angelina Adopts Vampire Baby!”. I find the political subtexts quite fascinating – and not just as a politics major myself. The show, which started in 2008 – a critical election year – clearly takes on the scope of liberal and conservative politics. I’m sure Nan Flanagan – the AVL representative – will be relevant in the future as she has shown up during each episode, and her opposition was a victim of a gruesome car accident in this episode. Conspiracy theory? Perhaps. Overall, not as exciting as the pilot but thankfully made up for that with more characterization of our leading man Bill. I don’t think I’ll like Jason if he keeps up with this angry redneck trope. I just don’t see how he views the world like that if he was raised by the same person as Sookie, who also seems to be more accepting of the vampires. I do like the little quirks of the townspeople – it adds to the atmosphere of the show quite nicely, and give the feeling that Bon Temps truly is a “small town”.
“Jason – you don’t need any help looking like a fool.” – Granny Stackhouse