True Blood season 1 episode 4 review

Jason’s got problems, Sookie’s got some new friends and Sam’s got some disturbing habits in this week’s True Blood...

4. Escape From Dragon House

After the second murder in less than a week, our fourth visit to Bon Temps opens with the residents standing around a dead woman’s house, quoting Tennessee Williams and drinking beer in the sun. Just another glorious afternoon in the True Blood universe.

Back with Escape From Dragon House, the best show on TV has Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) in a sticky position. Having argued with the now deceased Dawn the previous night, and appeared at the murder scene seconds after Sookie, the usually smooth talking Jason ends up in the back of Detective Andy’s car, en route to the station. Not being the sharpest tool in the box, he’d forgotten about the vial of V about his person, and downs the lot in a panic while no one is looking. Not that you can blame him – apart from the fact that it’s considered contraband, if the cops had taken it off him it would have been a waste of a perfectly good afternoon dancing in his knickers in a Laura Bush mask.

Once at the station for questioning, his mistake becomes apparent – a suspect with a raging and clearly painful hard-on talking about the murders of two women doesn’t exactly scream innocence. Luckily, Tara arrives in the nick of time, and provides Jason with a false alibi. Apparently, she owes him one.

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He might be free, but the V overdose continues to cause Jason problems, with hilarious effect. After punishing himself to no avail, the poor boy goes to Lafayette for help. Once the larger than life cook has stopped laughing, he sets Jason up with a rib eye (for the swelling) in the walk-in fridge. Where, of course, Tara finds him and furnishes him with an ultimatum – move it to the hospital, or lose his best friend forever. Oh, the humanity.

Jason’s recent behaviour isn’t really endearing him to the rest of the town. Most are convinced that he must be the killer as there’s no smoke without fire and whatnot.

Usually so reluctant to use her talents, after an impassioned plea from her Grandmother to clear Jason’s name, Sookie (Anna Paquin) spends her shift listening in to the patrons of Merlotte’s who, frankly, are a bigoted and offensive bunch of drunks. They prove useful, though, as Sookie discovers that both Dawn and Maudette spent time at a vampire bar a few towns over. In typical Sookie fashion, she blows off the rest of the shift after talking Vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer) into escorting her to the bar. It is not a date.

Once at Fangtasia – apparently some vampires think puns are the highest form of humour – Sookie naively reveals her talents to Eric, the Lestat-alike vamp that seems to run the bar. Sitting on a throne, on display for the patrons, he summons Bill and our favourite psychic.

It’s clear that Eric and Bill know each other. He reveals that he also knew Dawn and Maudette, but before Sookie can find out more, she hears an anxious undercover cop worrying about the imminent raid on the bar. She warns Eric not 10 seconds before the cops come busting in. If he was intrigued by her before, and he was, her unexplained foresightedness piques his interest. That’s probably not the last she’ll see of Eric.

Four episodes in and the murder mystery at the heart of True Blood deepens. Both women were fangbangers, both had recently been fed on, and the big bad at Fangtasia even admitted to having ‘tasted’ one of them. But, it’s bar owner Sam (Sam Trammell) who looks the most likely candidate this week – he was Dawn’s landlord, had a key to her home, and was last seen rolling around on the bed she died in – lovely. Coupled with his recently revealed belief that vamps and humans should be segregated, Sam is looking more and more like a psycho, particularly considering he seems to treat the staff as his own personal escort service. Is he a killer? We shall no doubt find out.

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Of course, Eris is an interesting prospect. Clearly a powerful vampire who is disdainful of mainstreaming, and not averse to feeding on the many humans that throw themselves at his feet, it’s possible he’s a little too involved in the cult of Eric to be killing off his worshippers. He is, at the moment, a tad Lestat-like – moody euro-vamp with a penchant for the dramatic – so let’s hope the character fills out a little more and pulls away from the obvious comparison. It would be a shame to waste the excellent Alexander Skarsgard on sub-Anne Rice characterisation, but given that this is an Alan Ball production, it’s probably not time to worry just yet.

Finally, a quick word on Ryan Kwanten, who having spent the better part of four episodes naked, this week gave True Blood some of its funniest scenes yet. Priapism is never not funny, but the genuine hilarity of those scenes is thanks in large part to Kwanten’s 100% commitment to playing them as straight as humanly possible. The wide-eyed innocence and complete lack of shame make his the stand out performance of the episode (no pun intended), and is typical of the superb casting across the whole of True Blood.

Entertaining, sultry and fantastically well written, Escape From Dragon House is yet another delicious slice of life in the melodrama that is Bon Temps. If this is what HBO can do with an hour of prime time TV, it’s about time everyone else upped their game.


Check out our review of episode 3 here.