6. Cold Ground
Halfway through our first stay in Bon Temps, and events have taken a decidedly downbeat turn. After last week’s fun and games with Priapism, Cold Ground is in stark contrast, focusing on the aftermath of Grandma Stackhouse’s murder and the general state of depression most of the characters find themselves in, but manages to be far more interesting than it sounds.
The third slaying in what is now officially a serial murder leaves most of the town in no doubt that Sookie’s association with a vampire is to blame for Adele’s death, an opinion shared by even Jason Stackhouse, if only for a little while.
After ignoring the calls from Sam, Jason showed up at work still high from the V, and it was up to Hoyt and Rene to break the bad news. Being the slap first, don’t think ever kind of guy he is, Jason’s immediate reaction is to attack Sookie and blame her for everything.
Having retreated to her room to get away from the ‘mourners’ – the Stackhouse place has become death-tourist-Disneyland – the poor girl has no idea what to do when her usually laid back brother turns into Mike Tyson. Luckily, Tara is as handy as her cousin, and physically removes Jason from the room before he can do any real damage.
His fighting career isn’t over just yet – cornered by Det Andy, who still isn’t convinced of Jason’s innocence, the man-whore brushes the detective aside without even blinking, thanks to the wonders of V. And in the process convinces everyone that he’s more than capable of the sort of violence necessary for a killer. Oh dear.
Thanks to Sookie’s never ending need for comfort, Sam and Bill have a pissing contest over who gets to do the comforting this time, but as Bill can only do nights, Sam is free to work on Sookie during the day. Nothing he does makes even the slightest impression on the girl, and after an interesting, if brief funeral, Sam turns to Tara when it becomes obvious Sookie won’t bite.
Luckily for the serial waitress dater, Tara is still reeling from the revelation that her mother is not, in fact, a helpless drunk, but a woman possessed by a demon. The demon needs exorcising and that just doesn’t come cheap. Despite having no contact with her daughter since hitting her over the head with a bottle, Mrs Tara has the temerity to ask Tara to pay for the exorcism. At the funeral. Incredulous and angry, Tara refuses to pay and runs straight into Sam on her way to Sookie’s. Bingo. Although she does run out on him almost immediately after he’s served his purpose – to go and see her mum. There’s nothing like sleeping with your boss to help you see what’s really important.
Refusing to leave her home despite the gruesome events, Sookie returns alone after escaping from the funeral. Filling a gran-shaped hole with the last homecooked pecan pie she’ll eat for a while, she puts on her best nightgown and runs barefoot through the cemetery that houses Bill’s grave, straight into his arms. Taking a leaf out of the Jason Stackhouse book of grief coping strategies, she and Bill work through her feelings, just before he has a Sookie-flavoured snack – with permission, of course. If it happened, of course – we all know how fond Ms Stackhouse is of her Bill Compton fantasies.
It’s been a tough few days for the Stackhouse siblings, and this week’s episode amply reflected that, although it seems the entire town is just as unhappy. It’s quite possible that Bon Temps is already TV’s most miserable town, and has just become one of the most dangerous. Considering that three women have been murdered because of their supposed associations with vampires, you’d think the rest of the women in town would be a little more annoyed.
Someone is freely slaughtering their friends and neighbours, and the police haven’t got clue one about who did it. Veering wildly between Jason and Bill as prime suspect when there is no proof that either had anything to do with the murders doesn’t exactly scream competence. But, depression and self absorption plus vampires equals nobody cares in Bon Temps, and despite the public outpouring of grief, Tara’s description of the neighbourhood as circling buzzards is right on the money.
Questionable values aside, our sixth trip to Bon Temps was as entertaining as ever, if in a slightly different way. With a tighter focus, it’s concentration on the effects of Adele’s death and the grief of the central characters made for some very touching moments. Tara’s physical manifestation of her loyalty to Sookie, and Sookie’s own method of dealing with her loss – with pie - were beautifully handled, and incredibly real, a testament to the quality of this show.
Nudity and horror are all very well, but if the characterization and story aren’t there, what you’re left with is essentially Lost Boys 2 – something that we’ll hopefully never witness on True Blood.
One of the classiest dramas on TV by a mile, True Blood once again treats us to an excellent character driven episode, drawing us ever deeper into the mysterious goings on in a small town in the Deep South.
It shouldn’t be as good as it is, but somehow HBO and Alan Ball have taken a good idea and turned it into a near perfect TV show. Thank you, HBO.
Check out our review of episode 5 here.