True Blood: Scratches Review - Mania.com



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  • TV Series: True Blood
  • Episode: Scratches
  • Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Nelsan Ellis, Chris Bauer, Michelle Forbes, Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd, Deborah Ann Woll, Carrie Preston and William Sanderson
  • Written By: Raelle Tucker
  • Directed By: Scott Winant
  • Network: HBO
  • Series: True Blood

True Blood: Scratches Review

True Blood's Scratches: Two Fangs Up

By Rob Vaux     June 28, 2009


Mania's review of TRUE BLOOD: Scratches(2009).
© HBO/Robert Trate

 

One of True Blood's biggest curve balls came with the revelation that Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) periodically spends his nights as a mixed-breed collie. It established that vampires weren't the only supernatural creatures in this particular universe, throwing open a Pandora's box for all kinds of wackiness. If vampires aren't alone in the night, then who knows what other monstrosities may be lurking in wait. One of them--a minotaur? a satyr?--comes barreling out of the woods this week to take a swipe out of Sookie (Anna Paquin) after another of her endless spats with Bill (Stephen Moyer). The incident ends up complicating a number of people's lives… because when freaky things start digging into your spinal column, you apparently go straight to Fangtasia and let Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) find a solution to the problem.
 
Director Scott Winant strikes a quieter tone for this week's foray into blood-soaked mayhem, as Eric exacts a price for his aid (and a few other favors) and sets the stage for the season's second act. The unsettling attack by… whatever the hell it is… also turns speculation back to Maryann (Michelle Forbes), who spends another episode sinking her fingers a little deeper into Bon Temps' libido. True Blood has enough on its plate to mark time with her for a bit--this week's orgy looks a lot like last week's--but as the depth of her scheming yawns ever wider, it's increasingly clear that the vampires stay away from her for a reason.
 
The episode's more profound developments (which I won't reveal here) underscore True Blood's usual acerbic irony with a deep sense of sadness. As the title implies, our heroes are dealing with abiding injuries--emotional and physical alike--which Winant reveals without jokiness. Actions have consequences, and "Scratches" devotes itself both to the desires which lead to bad choices and the bill which comes due in the aftermath. That gives Jason's (Ryan Kwanten) sojourn with the Fellowship some much-needed energy, mainly by granting Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp) a little depth beyond her Betty Crocker façade (though she seems increasingly attracted to Jason, and that fundamentalist fornicator routine was old hat when Reagan was in office).
 
The calm, regretful tone this week allows us to luxuriate in the characters more thoroughly than previous entries, while still displaying the flashes of imagination which keep the series fresh (Eric's never heard of the thing which attacked Sookie, for instance--not a good sign for one as old as he is--while Sam's new waitress Daphne [Ashley Jones] has a few surprises up her sleeve). As with earlier episodes, True Blood's newcomers receive the choicest morsels here. This week, it's Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) stealing the show when she finds a romantic fixation that balances sweetness and violence in equal measure. She's young, and hasn't learned the harsh truths that Bill and his ilk have. How she'll react when her new toy becomes boring is anyone's guess.
 
As a place-setter episode, "Scratches" holds its own remarkably well, handling the drudgery of preparing for upcoming developments (Maryann's ultimate aims, a trip to Dallas for Sookie and Bill) without losing its own sense of appeal. It reveals new sides to its peripheral figures (though the central couple remains charmingly/exasperatingly unchanged) and lets us spend time with them in ways we haven't before. Sookie Stackhouse's world has plenty of undiscovered corners, permitting both continued social satire and the artful blend of horror and comedy which made this series such a hit. If we couldn't pause to savor the darkness as we do here--and wonder what kind of monsters might come stampeding out of it to slash our heroine wide open--then a large part of its appeal would be lost.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 9 of 9
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MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 6/28/2009 5:21:41 PM

I hope we get to see a werewolf soon and no gay ass regular looking wolf werewolf.  I'm talking akin to that old television series Werewold werewolf.

DayDrumFour 6/28/2009 11:23:14 PM

That Minotaur thing wasn't a werewolf, but they do again mention werewolves so we'll probably see one. Maryann is a pleasure-vibrator woman of some kind but probably not the Minotaur either. There are plenty of other suspects though.

NotAFan 6/29/2009 12:58:12 AM

Can't Sam turn into something better than a cuddly dog? Go to the zoo for cripes sake and then turn into tiger or something! I mean it's such a dangerous world and you choose to turn into a foofy dog? WTF?

hanso 6/29/2009 4:31:14 AM

I think we'll see werewolves in Dallas. 

I also think the minotaur is Maryanne.  She was a maenad in the book but with Alan Ball already changing stuff for TV, it wouldn't surprise me that she is now that minotaur thing.  Also, I had read an interview with the actress that plays Maryanne and she had mentioned Maryanne had an interest in Daphne.  This episode shows Daphne's with the scars, so maybe Maryanne attacked her for some purpose.

Cool episode this week, sucks next week is a rerun.

Darkknight2280 6/29/2009 4:55:12 AM

True Blood has been great this season. Each week gets better and better. I agree with Hanso, possibility of seeing werewolves in Dallas. Looking forward to the next episode in 2 weeks. Last week i was thinking Maryanne was some sort of Sucubus, but its looking like she could be the minotaur thingie. Thought the little old lady doc was funny. Was dissapointed they didnt make Laffeyette a Vamp, but looks like that arc isnt done yet by far as per the preview; just hope he doesnt die (but i doubt he will)

ripum853 6/29/2009 2:24:28 PM

Kind of  a spoiler, but it's way down the road:

 

It won't just be were"wolves" that we'll see, but other Were-creatures as well.  I don't "think" it starts until season 3 though.  I never actually read the books, just read some synopsis' of them during the first season, so my memory of it is kinda foggy at parts.  But I don't want to reveal some of the bigger plot points that I heard about.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 6/29/2009 5:56:11 PM

Yeah, I heard that there is going to be a wereoctopus.  That'd be weird.

mrBig 6/30/2009 7:53:21 AM

Great episode. Good pacing and performance by all, especially the Lynch-esque old lady doctor.  I still hold that Maryann is a witch, or a priestess of Pan. The orgies, the obvious power she gets from sexual feelings, smoking, drinking, food everywhere-very decadent and Pan like. Seems to me that Daphne is the beast on the road; her having similiar scratches and all. It was a let down about Lafayette, I agree DK. From the preview of next week, it looks like his story isn't over.

velgron 7/3/2009 8:59:14 AM

In Dallas Sookie is supposed to get into the Fellowship's headquarters in order to find the missing vamp... it will be interesting that now her brother is involved with them.  Also, she is suposed to meet a Werewolf (not a werewolf).

In the books they define "Weres" as being born that way, with shapeshifting to the actual animal (wolf, tiger, collie...). The "weres" are defined as humans that are turned into a shifter (usually by constant bitting of the victim), they are only able to shift as half human half animal (something like Underworld's Michael Corvin).

I hope they don't kill Lafayette, that character is superbly written and played.

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