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True Blood: Season 1 - Sparks Fly Out (Review)

True Blood

Review by Jack Foley

INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from current television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the pilot episode of True Blood entitled Sparks Fly Out (as aired on FX on Friday, August 14, 2009).

What’s the story? At the Descendants of the Glorious Dead meeting Bill (Stephen Moyer) is invited to talk about his life as a Confederate Soldier. Bill then has a question and answer session when one member of the DGD shows Bill a tintype of the Compton family. Sam (Sam Trammell), Sookie (Anna Paquin), Tara (Rutina Wesley) and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) are also present at the Descendants of the Glorious Dead meeting. Jason notices Tara while he is high on vampire blood.

Was it any good? Arguably, this was the best episode yet! After a few weeks of character building, scene-setting and sexual shenanigans, True Blood finally delivered an episode of genuine emotional clout and a BIG surprise.

Viewers were given an excellent insight into vampire Bill’s back-story, while being left with a genuinely shocking cliffhanger ending.

There were also developments in the relationships between Sookie and Sam, Sookie and Bill and Tara and Jason that all appeared to lay down markers for the future.

And, as usual, the mix of humour, violence and sex was near-perfect. Ryan Kwanten’s Jason continued to hog the lion’s share of the laughs as he once again dabbled with ‘V’ (vampire blood) and found hitherto untapped senses coming to life. He may be the series baffoon, but he plays it so well.

Dimwit cops Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) and Sheriff Bud Dearborne (William Sanderson) also supplied plenty of humour as they continued their investigations into the recent murders, paying a visit to Bill in the process. Their interplay, while subtle, displays a fine sense of comic timing. While Bellefleur’s encounter with Sookie in the bar, during which she repeatedly read his mind, was hilarious too.

But this episode really belonged to Stephen Moyer’s Bill and he really came into his own. As brooding and polite as ever, Moyer also tapped into the tragedy surrounding his back story and the insight it afforded into his character was genuinely touching.

Sparks Fly Out actually showed us how Bill became a vampire, trapped by a lonely woman during the final days of the American Civil War, while displaying the angst he still feels over the cruel trick that fate played upon him.

Moyer played frustrated and tormented to perfection… both during his reflections on that fateful transformation and during his obvious feelings for Sookie (who ditched him at the start of the episode).

Credit goes to series creator Alan Ball and company for making sure that Sparks Fly Out had something of everything to entertain and engross…

And that’s not even mentioning the surprise cliffhanger that drew the episode to its shocking finale. The murder of Nana Adele Stackhouse (Lois Smith) was something I just didn’t see coming. My jaw hit the floor, whilst providing plenty to sink my own teeth into during future episodes.

So, who killed Nana?

What did you think?