True Blood: Trouble Review - Mania.com



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

True Blood: Trouble Review

Searching for a Reason to Care

By Rob Vaux     July 19, 2010


True Blood Review
© HBO/Bob Trate

 

“Trouble” serves primarily as a set-up episode, getting some logistics out of the way for a larger and more substantial development later on. True Blood apparently requires a number of players to be over at Russell’s (Denis O’Hare) mansion before the shit goes down: Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Tara (Rutina Wesley) are there already, with Sookie (Anna Paquin) and her werewolf protector (Joe Manganiello) lurking nearby. “Trouble” tosses Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) into the equation as well, stirring the pot to an appropriately intriguing mix before an assumed pay-off next week.
 
For better or for worse, True Blood has embraced its Gothic soap opera roots this season, and we need to plunge ourselves fully into the world of vampire politics if we want to stick around. The remaining parts of the episode--including Jason’s (Ryan Kwanten) bumbling efforts to become a cop and a very sweet rendezvous between Lafayette ( Nelsan Ellis) and the cute male nurse taking care of his mother--hold their share of charms, but otherwise do little more than remind us that the participants still exist. So too does Sam’s (Sam Trammell) subplot spin its wheels, as he struggles to help out his biological family even as their alcoholic sponging grows into something more malevolent.
 
On the other hand, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) remains a palpable bright point in the series, despite her comparatively limited screen time. Now working as a hostess at Merlotte’s, she’s learning all kinds of new vampire tricks. Like a teenager trying out her father’s gun, her antics hold an air of danger, but also exhilaration; it almost makes the episode worth watching in and of itself.
 
For the most part, however, our attention remains fixed completely on Mississippi, where Russell apparently puts the whammy on both Bill and Eric as part of his grander scheme to take over Louisiana. The thread smacks of pure Anne Rice, complete with immortal power plays, schemes within schemes and bloodsuckers who hate each other’s guts but can do very little about it. Tara adds a touch of Southern Gothic to the mix, enthralled by the very scary Franklin (James Frain) and unable to escape Russell’s mansion, while various fey associates drool and cavort around her.
 
It’s agreeably steamy, but as with previous episodes, it loses sight of the dark jabs of humor which signify True Blood at its best. In so doing, it slips further towards the Twilight end of things than it should, more concerned with who’s doing what to whom than with the show’s original purpose (looking at how vampires might act as public figures). The secrecy and skullduggery could come from any vampire tale, robbing this one of its real strengths and dropping it back to the pack it once outpaced with ease. “Trouble” compensates with the usual premium cable cocktail of sex and violence (both inferred more than stated here), but the downshift this season is still troublesome.
 
The saving grace this time comes with Eric, who appears to be a hapless catspaw and yet clearly has a few cards left to play that could turn everything on its ear. Skarsgard’s hypnotic presence holds our unwavering attention, as does the implication that he knows far more than he’s letting on. Director Scott Winant adds a fascinating flashback detailing Eric’s origins, and connecting him to Russell through nebulous yet undeniable means. With him as a centerpiece, the episode endures and even thrives, setting the tone for future developments while still allowing its own components to breathe. Season Three just can’t match Season Two for brilliance and intensity, at least for now. Whether or not it can fully recover has yet to be seen. In the interim, it drops from “genius” to “fairly interesting,” an undeniable disappointment that still justifies our attentions.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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1 
trollman 7/19/2010 4:35:56 PM

It was an OK episode. Still no naked Anna P.  which IMO really SUCKS like a Vampire. (pun most assuredly intended).

It was overwhelmingly apparent that Eric is also being manipulated by Russell. He intended for Eric to find that crown. Why else would he have insisted that his boy toy show Eric "everything". He's trying to provoke a response so he is within his rights as the offended King to seek retribution. He let Bill run so he'd lead them to Sookie. And of course just when it's the worst possible time to show itself, Sookies latent fey powers erupt for King Russ and all the wolf pack to see.

They were on the right track for a few minutes last episode when Sookie got all slutty for the pack meeting, but they just don't follow thru with the sex like they used to.  <sigh>

Chopsaki 7/19/2010 10:56:26 PM

Rob Vaux: "the downshift this season is still troublesome."

I do agree in part with that sentiment but it's like you stated earlier about the last couple of episodes being the set up. Now if the payoff doesn't deliver then we will have a cause for concern. It's also difficult to replace Michelle Forbes' terrific villian Maryann from season 2. Sam, Jason & Lafayettes storylines have been rather disapointing. The real bright spot of the show has been Eric. The flashback dealing with his Viking roots were very interesting and I can't wait till we find out who it was that murdered his parents and took his fathers crown...

DayDrumFour 7/19/2010 11:50:57 PM

I give it a D- , although I agree Rob Vaux's review word for word. Couldn't have said it any better.

There is a downshift and it is getting too "Twilight". There'd better be a big payoff.

Also, the loss of nudity is probably to sell the show for future syndication. There is a slight loss of profanity as well.

Darkknight2280 7/20/2010 6:57:27 AM

Things are going to come to a head this week and this past sundays episode was just a set up for it. I still think this has been a good season. Mainly because no more mary anne and eggs! Dumbass characters!

Skroin 7/20/2010 12:22:59 PM

Why must people compare this to Twilight?

The Southern Vampire Mysteries were around WAY before Twilight decided to rip-off everything possible.

I enjoyed this episode and yes, it will come to a head. Sure I'm bummed they have yet to show a naked Anna P. but I also understand that this season is more on the underworld of what goes on behind the scenes of the vampire realm.

- Russel's goal to take Louisiana

- The selling of V being punishable by a "true death"

- If Russel succeeds in taking Louisiana, and follows through with making Bill a sheriff, that place Bill on equal footing with Eric....if not a higher footing. At least as far as the ranking system works.

There's more but I don't feel like going on and on.

But of course we aren't gonna get a naked Sookie for a bit. She's looking for her man, not for a night on the town.

I've been enjoying this season more than the 2nd, actually and I look forward to see where they take everything.

But I gotta say this review slightly disappointed me.....only slightly.

Wyldstaar 7/20/2010 3:33:19 PM

Spoilers...

 

We may get a chance for some naked Sookie soon.  While this season has almost nothing in common with the third novel, it is heading in the same direction.  In the book Sookie & Eric score some alone time, but this may not happen on the show given how much the True Blood version of the character seems to hate Eric. 

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