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- TV Series: True Blood
- Episode: It Hurts Me Too
- 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: Alexander Woo
- Directed By: Michael Lehmann
- Network: HBO
- Series: True Blood
True Blood: It Hurts Me Too Review
Werewolf Nazis. I Hate Werewolf Nazis
By Rob Vaux
June 28, 2010
True Blood plunges headlong into its soapier tendencies, with new love interests, old grudges and the ostensibly loyal Bill (Stephen Moyer) engaging in a pair of shocking betrayals. Director Michael Lehmann works very hard to blow our socks off with the various revelations. Unfortunately, that particular well runs a little dry this time, resulting in a basically satisfying episode that nevertheless feels like a bit of a letdown.
Bill’s status forms the centerpiece: forced to ally himself with the King of Mississippi (Denis O’Hare) and tossed into the viper’s nest with his hated sire (Mariana Klaveno). The arrangement suits him not at all, but he seemingly has no choice in the matter… at least thus far. Bill usually steers clear of vampiric politics, but “It Hurts Me Too” gives him nowhere to hide, which is an indisputably good thing. Lehmann lets him squirm just enough to let us know he hates his situation, while letting the enigmatic question of his true intentions hang agreeably in the air. Is he going along with the program to keep Sookie (Anna Paquin) safe, or does he have some political cards to play to maintain his old loyalties to the Louisiana power structure? Moyer balances deliciously on that razor’s edge for the entire hour, and the final twist only accentuates the mystery.
Undead scheming forms the gist of the episode’s other major subplot: Tara’s (Rutina Wesley) new vampire beau Franklin (James Frain). We already know he has plans for Bill--breaking into his house, finding super-secret goodies, etc.--and tonight finds him putting the whammy on poor Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), who really has more to deal with than her little noob brain can handle. He has a similar effect on Tara, still deeply in mourning and unsure if she can trust him (she’s right). The episode further establishes Franklin’s exploitative abilities, while letting the intrigue simmer agreeably for another hour or so. The show certainly has no shortage of mysterious figures, but Lehmann gets a charge out of him by eschewing the character’s more generic qualities and using him as a pure plot device. Normally, such a tactic is a sign of desperation, but True Blood’s narrative is well-constructed enough to let the episode skate by.
The rest of “It Hurts Me Too” sticks to similar ground: funny and engaging, but unable to hit the high notes that mark True Blood at its best. Jason (Ryan Kwanten) wants to be a cop (still), but doesn’t like the whole “studying” thing. Pam (Kristin Bauer) makes condescending sneers at everyone while engaging in mid-core lesbian sex--and to be clear, she’s very good at it--while Layfayette (Nelsan Ellis) receives an unexpected gift from Eric (Alexander Skarsgård). None of it explores any new ground, depending on the characters’ charms and general good will to make up for its lack of forward momentum.
The strategy holds things together--goosed by a few choice lines and typically solid turns from the cast--but no more than it needs to, and one can feel the engine that drove last week’s episode slowly coast into neutral here. The good news is that True Blood possesses too many good things in its corner to let the effect derail it. The bad news is that we can’t feel the vibe as well as we might, settling for a reliable hour’s worth of entertainment while waiting for next week to bump things up a notch. It happens in every show, even the best, and “It Hurts Me Too” makes no apologies for its comparatively easygoing nature. Good enough for government work, I suppose, and the barren summer schedule makes “acceptable” look brilliant in comparison. But True Blood can and should do better; if not every week, then often enough to remind us why we get so excited about it.