True Blood: Season 2 - Review
Review by Jack Foley
TRUE Blood remains the vampire drama of choice for those who like their bloodsucking to cater for adult sensibilities.
While the likes of The Vampire Diaries and Twilight come over all revisionist in pandering to the teen market, Alan Ball’s take on Charlaine Harris’ novel series places more of an emphasis on danger and decadence (often with a capital ‘D’).
Season 1 set the scene well… slow paced but gripping in the way it combined vampire-human romance with bloody murder, identity forming and clever insights into social issues.
Season two upped the ante considerably, introducing new characters, a heightened sense of promiscuity and ever more blatant social commentary (whether turning it into an allegory for gay rights, or the dangers of religion).
Yet it never lost sight of any of its principal characters, all of whom were afforded the chance to grow and develop.
Season two focused on two main plots, as well as the continuing difficulties faced by mind-reading waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) in her relationship with vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer).
The first main plot was centred around the disappearance of the 2,000-year old vampire Sheriff of Area 9, Godric (Allan Hyde), which prompted Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) to enlist Sookie and Bill’s help in finding him in Dallas.
In doing so, their paths unwittingly cross with Sookie’s brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten), who is seeking to re-discover meaning in his life with the aid of The Fellowship of the Sun, a church group dedicated to wiping out the vampires.
The second plot line concerns the arrival of a maenad named Maryann (Michelle Forbes) who visits Bon Temps after Tara (Rutina Wesley) attracts her attention.
At first sympathetic towards Tara’s insecurities, Maryann slowly exploits them as she bids to turn the town into orgy-worshipping followers intent on sacrificing shapeshifting bartender Sam (Sam Trammell).
Hence, the scene is set for a hedonistic romp that involves copious amounts of explicit sex, buckets of blood (and entrails to boot), deceptions, betrayals, unlikely alliances and whatever else Ball could throw at the screen.
For some, True Blood may be a little too excessive and OTT, but there’s no denying that Ball’s writing cleverly plays on this ability to shock and push TV boundaries, while providing fans with plenty to think about, laugh about and care about as well.
His characters, without question, are richly drawn… whether it’s the likes of Sookie and Bill (arguably, the least interesting of the pack but still attention-grabbing), the ever-excellent Sam and Tara, or the fantastically clueless Jason.
Newcomer Michelle Forbes had a blast as the wickedly sinister and manipulative Maryann (a character you simply loved to loathe), while Alexander Skarsgård really came into his own as the dubious Eric. An engimatic presence throughout, he was dangerous yet irresistible.
Strong, too, were the performances of Chris Bauer’s grumpy, alcoholic detective Andy Bellefleur (whose belated partnership with Jason was a genius comic double act), as well as Nelsan Ellis’ outrageously camp Lafayette Reynolds, whose own brush with vampires led to a major turnaround in fortune.
If there was a criticism surrounding this generally excellent second season, it’s that the momentum built towards its pressure-cooker final episode was released perhaps a little too easily… but in doing so it still enabled Ball to set things in motion for the inevitable third season.
Hence, the residents of Bon Temps still have plenty to offer, as the repurcussions of Maryann’s spell will provide plenty for them to mull over… whilst Bill’s last-reel disappearance offers yet more intriguing possibilities (was it the work of the jealous Eric?).
True Blood: Season 2 is therefore a grisly, sexy guilty pleasure of the highest quality, that’s refreshing in that it offers proper adult entertainment that’s prepared to break new boundaries.
It’s exciting, funny, intelligent and rewarding viewing that marks one of the very best programmes on TV at the moment. Make sure you don’t miss out!
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: May 17, 2010