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- TV Series: True Blood
- Episode: Bad Blood (Season 3 Premiere)
- Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Nelsan Ellis, Chris Bauer, Alexander Skarsgård, Deborah Ann Woll, Carrie Preston and William Sanderson
- Written By: Brian Buckner
- Directed By: Daniel Minahan
- Network: HBO
- Series: True Blood
True Blood: Pack of Wolves Review
They're Baaaack with Season 3.
By Rob Vaux
June 13, 2010
True Blood Season 3 Premiere Review
© HBO/Bob Trate
It’s safe to say that the Season 3 premiere of True Blood is the most anticipated television event of the summer, and viewers might reasonably expect a real mindblower when they tune in. That’s not quite what happens. Though solid, clever and well-constructed, it concerns itself more with the future than the present: establishing the tone for the new season while clarifying any lingering threads from last year.
The big question, of course, is who kidnapped Bill (Stephen Moyer) right as he proposed to his best gal Sookie (Anna Paquin) at the end of Season 2. “Bad Blood” sort of has an answer (not that we’re allowed to tell you since Alan Ball has promised to hunt any press member who gives away the details for sport), but in the best serial TV tradition, the answers lead only to more questions. Whoever they are, they promptly land him in hot water by taking him over the border to Mississippi where vampires hold no sway. The creatures running things there apparently form the centerpiece of this season, just as Maryann’s (Michelle Forbes) pagan heinousity did last season.
Bill has to maneuver his way through them, even as Sookie conducts a frantic search to find him. Meanwhile, Sam (Sam Trammell) continues looking for his kin in hopes that they can tell him why he can turn into a border collie. I’m guessing they’re considerably less amicable about that ability than he is.
“Bad Blood” focuses on both threads in order to lay the groundwork for things to come, with Bill’s tormentors and/or Sam’s relatives filling in the enormous hole left by Forbes’ very scary maenid. They seem up to the challenge: an aspect of this universe we haven’t seen before with the power to counter the vamps and (presumably) an agenda to make life in Bon Temps interesting in the Chinese sense of the term. Director Daniel Minahan conjures the right sense of Southern Gothic, aided by the series’ usual mordent wit and a pair of performers in Moyer and Trammell who have settled into their accustomed roles quite comfortably.
The more traditional bloodsucker politics come to an appreciable boil as well, topped by the reintroduction of the second scariest character in the series. The Magister (Zeljko Ivanek) is on the hunt for purveyors of V--vampire blood which provides humans with an unprecedented high--and tasks the Queen of Louisiana (Evan Rachel Wood) and her underling Erik (Alexander Skarsgard) with hunting them down. The problem? They themselves are the state’s biggest V dealers, and now need to divest all of their ill-got blood posthaste. But they still want to make a profit on it… which leaves their hapless middle man Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) with one night to get rid of all his V (at a profit) or face the consequences.
As with the werewolf plotlines, the notion functions more in the promise than in the delivery. Lafayette may be the smartest character on the show, and he has yet another nasty bind to work his way out of. Considering that he’s also looking after Tara (Rutina Wesley)--borderline suicidal after the death of her lover--it constitutes a deliciously tall order.
Ironically, the episode’s weakest link is actually the main character. Sookie doesn’t have much to do beyond bark at the unhelpful and solicit Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) for aid in locating Bill. Her thread provides some basic exposition, and she and Jessica strike up a decent Nancy Drew vibe in their hunt, but overall she feels very much like an afterthought this week.
None of that should imply a bad episode in any way; the atmosphere is right and the tingles on the nerves are every bit as potent as we expect. But True Blood is looking to serve a full-course meal, not a quick-fix appetizer. What “Bad Blood” lacks in immediacy it makes up for in foreshadowing, promising loads of ghoulish goodies to come. Considering the state of television since Lost ended, it arrives not a moment too soon.