True Blood Mania TV Review -

Mania Grade: B-

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  • TV Series: True Blood
  • Episode: You Smell Like Dinner
  • Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Sam Trammell, Rayn Kwanten
  • Written by: Brian Buckner
  • Directed by: Scott Winant
  • Network: HBO
  • Series:

True Blood Mania TV Review

Ups and downs.

By Rob Vaux     July 05, 2011

True Blood
© HBO/Robert Trate

 So what the hell happened to Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) anyway? The undead sheriff takes the first blow in the presumed battle between the local witches’ coven and the vampires, with Sookie (Anna Paquin) likely suffering the consequences. Of course, we have to wait until next week to find out what happens, illustrating one of True Blood’s more annoying tendencies: setting up a big revelation, making us wait a while and then inevitably wrapping up things in a less than spectacular fashion. Whatever happened to Eric will likely leave him incapacitated for some time, but the specifics don’t leave much hope for a satisfying resolution.

The same thing could be said of this week’s other big revelation: how Bill (Stephen Moyer) became king of Louisiana. The showdown between him and the queen last season resolves itself in a quick flashback here… in which Bill quickly cuts her down with help from a vampire-owned SWAT team. The arbitrary and dismissive way it plays out makes a mockery out of the cliffhanger that started it off, getting it out of the way to make room rather than drawing it out into something more interesting. Thankfully, the episode recovers nicely with additional flashbacks charting Bill’s gradual admission into the American Vampire League. A sequence in punk-80s Great Britain stands as the high point, reminding us of Bill’s essential morality even as we grapple with the shabby way he’s treated Sookie of late. It also further highlights the divisions in the vampire hierarchy, which always makes for intriguing viewing.

True Blood also does well by moving some of its moonier relationships into more interesting territory. Bill and Sookie clearly have serious baggage between them (and frankly Bill is a much cooler character when he’s not sighing over his mortal beloved), but Hoyt (Jim Parrack) and Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) have hit the skids as well. The tensions and squabbles between the two of them feel very much like a normal relationship… spiced up by Jessica’s condition and presenting a whole new plethora of tensions that the show delivers with quiet glee.

As for the new element this season – the witches’ coven – True Blood gives it a freshness by making its members a little unsure of themselves. They’re a far cry from the maenids and mad kings of previous seasons, yet “You Smell Like Dinner” still keeps them as credible threats. Eric arrives to keep them in line, and you can small their palpable fear at his presence. Yet at the end of the day, he’s the one staggering along the highway like a lost infant and they the ones free to plot their next move. The ability to reinvent new dangers in imaginative ways is vital to this series’ survival. The moment it loses its touch with subplots like this, the show is essentially over.

It’s been over for Jason (Ryan Kwanten) for some time, unfortunately. Every single season, he thrashes out superfluous subplots cut off from the remainder of the drama and going nowhere fast. There’s still hope this season with his boss’s V addiction, but tonight furthers his predicament with the inbred panther people… an already dubious notion that takes some truly ridiculous turns here. Kwanten seems like a good egg, but his character basically takes up space that can be better used for more intriguing developments. Sam (Sam Trammell) hasn’t found his footing yet either, though his self-help group of fellow shapeshifters at least carries the kernels of something more interesting.

It’s still early in the season yet and True Blood tends to struggle for traction while getting its ducks in a row. “You Smell Like Dinner” reflects a typically mixed bag, with solid material competing with the dross for our attention, and placeholder plot twists waiting a few more episodes to pay off. The show hasn’t let us down yet, and we don’t expect it will. This week merely holds the line, but still conjures enough to make watching it worthwhile.  


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TheMovieGuy28 7/5/2011 12:54:52 PM

This weeks episode was miles better than the premiere, but I agree with a lot of the review. SPOILERISH ahead

I'm thinkin Eric's condition has something to do with his mentioning being around during the inquisition/. Perhaps it's possible the head witch is channeling some long-dead witch that was around during the time, and did a memory wipe of some sort. Or perhaps because he's dead, his memory of life or function of life was pulled away, as maybe his dead brain can't make new thoughts. Yes, out there I know, just an opinion though.

Was really let down with Bill & the Queen's fight. Last season made it really feel like there was nothing left to lose(Bill's line) and yet we find out he's been in cahoots this whole time. But that doesn't jibe totally with the earlier years, when the Arbiter was about to seal him in a coffin for a millenium. Wouldn't the arbiter have known the VDL's intentions? Weren't he and the head vamp lady (can't think of her name) working together?

Jason's story sucks. That's all that needs to be said about it.

And oh Tara is now back in town? They should have let her arc go for a few more episodes as MMAButch, which is what last weeks' episode implied, yet there she was, runnin back to Sookie.

While I said the episode was indeed better, I still don't feel any connection to anything yet. Oh, and wtf is up with Arlene's baby?  Should we just think her kid is little Damien since what the coven did to her, or what she did to herself more specifically?

That's my 2 cents.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 7/5/2011 5:45:31 PM

Why wouldn't she run back to Sookie? It's her best friend from childhood who she thought was dead. I'd run back, too, especially if I was only a couple of hundred miles away, if that. I'd comeback from another country if need be.

evilbeagle 7/5/2011 7:11:59 PM

Don't like the idea of Eric being a pussy...

SarcasticCaveman 7/6/2011 12:39:14 AM


Why is it that nobody in Hollywood is willing to call it "The Book of Revelation" instead of "The Book of Revelations"?...seriously, religious or not, it's a proper title...just irked me today after watching Tombstone on DVD then catching some Supernatural reruns.

goldeneyez 7/6/2011 6:49:20 AM

The shapeshifter part of the episode was actually the most intriging part to me.  The idea that a Shapeshifter can shift into a person by killing a family member that is a shifter sounds like there will be interesting times for Sam and his brother.

SgtTechCom 7/6/2011 10:07:51 AM

Don't Worry Eric wont be that way for long - enter Sookie and then then both of them together at last.

O sorry spoiler alert.

fenngibbon 7/6/2011 10:34:19 AM

 My problem with the Hotshot storyline (i.e., the inbred panthers) is actually my one problem with the series as a whole:  the TV series is at least 30% more white trash than the books, or, at least, the impression I get from reading the books.  Hotshot is the extreme example of this:  in the books, the place is insular and inbred but  they're not dirty, gap-toothed illiterates (Calvin Norris, the leader who got killed last season, is the well-respected shift boss at the local mill in the books, not a violent, scuzzy meth dealer).

Unlike most of the other changes, which have generally worked out, I really don't get why Ball made that particular change.  It really seems just to be a product of some sort of prejudice against people from rural areas, Southerners, or both. 

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 7/6/2011 11:49:33 AM

He is from the South.

InnerSanctum 7/6/2011 11:50:51 AM

 Cool.  I need to bookmark this page and reread it next year when this season of TB is released on NetFlix.  

zalder 7/6/2011 5:42:47 PM

looks like this was no where as good as game of thrones which is unfortunante but not surprising.  I gave up this show awhile ago and it seems I am not missing much.  Just seeing abstract mortal combat like violence doesn't so it for me.  I admit I do enjoy the sex in game of thrones but i certainly wouldn't watch it just for that (and if it ever gets to the point it isn't serving story then it needs to go).



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