Knowing what we now know about season three, I thought the replay on HBO would be the perfect time to take a look back episode by episode and try to figure out how all the pieces fit together. The topic of discussion may vary from week to week, but will try and touch upon the themes of various main story arcs of the show. Needless to say, the entire thing is a giant season 3 spoiler, I’ll do my best to keep it season 4 spoiler-free.
From my perspective, there are a couple of major themes for this season:
– Sense of Self
Almost all of the characters fall into one of these categories or another and arcs will be discussed in that context. I’ll try to hit on as many characters as I can, but may not hit on everyone if nothing particularly noteworthy occurs.
S3E01 – Bad Blood
Alan Ball said that if you pressed him, the one word description of season three was “politics” so that seems to be as good a place to start as any. Items of note of vampire politics we learn this week:
– The Magister has learned that Louisiana is in competition to “become the V capital of the world” and clearly believes that the vampires are in on it, but allows Eric time to resolve the problem.
– Sophie-Anne is broke.
– Bill is the only other vampire (outside of Eric and Pam) with knowledge of who is selling the V inside of Louisiana.
Though one’s financial status isn’t generally a political issue, that one little tidbit about Sophie-Anne is hugely important – it’s why she ordered Eric to start selling V (to make money needed to pay off the IRS), it’s a large part of Russell’s ploy to take over Louisiana – marry me and I’ll get the IRS off your back – and it’s what brings the Magister into Louisiana in the first place (which of course will ultimately end in his untimely demise at Russell’s hands)
At this point we’re not sure what roll Eric will take in all this, except for the fact that he’s on the defense from the get go – Rubin wasn’t able to get to Bill before Bill was kidnapped, and now he has to find a way to move all the V in one night (a task thrust upon the shoulders of Lafayette) and find a way to convince the Magister that all really is well in Area 5. His competing worries are all huge: the Magister can cause him major problems as well as Sophie-Anne, but if he doesn’t find Bill he knows he’ll be truly fucked because even if he somehow does convince the Magister that all is well, Bill can still blow it all to shreds.
As for Bill, at this point in the game we just don’t know much of what’s going on with him: we know that werewolves kidnapped him (you can see Cooter sitting in the front seat of the car) as evidenced by the howling heard outside that little old ladies house and the rune found on the wolf that Bill drained in the car. We also know that he’s somewhere in Mississippi. Both things are explained in the next episode, but for now we’re left hanging about who would kidnap him and why. Eventually, that little fact of Bill’s knowledge of who is selling V is very important. It only took maybe four lines to impart the knowledge of Sophie-Anne’s indebtedness and Bill’s knowledge, but look at how important they are! It’s definitely good to pay attention!
Finally, a political side note: the episode even touches on racial politics briefly. When Arlene is done talking to the Sheriff about Egg’s murder, she starts to ramble about the need for police in their society and how they’re all the better off for it. Tara, who is still in shock and very upset, goes off on Arlene and Arlene immediately assumes it is because Tara’s black and goes off on a rant about how she hates it when people play the race card.
Is Tara really playing the race card here? I don’t really think so. She firmly believes in Eggs’ innocence and his laid back nature. All she knows is that Eggs was shot in the head at close range, and that she doesn’t buy that he’d threaten anyone. I’d say that it doesn’t matter what race or ethnicity a person was: they’d question the police’s motivations too.
As for Arlene pulling the race card, well, as someone who didn’t really know Eggs, and only knew what she heard on the news or in the gossip around Merlotte’s as events unfolded, it was an easy reaction to have. Would she have said it later when the shock had fully gone? It’s questionable. Either way though, that moment did nicely portray a bit of institutional racism there as there are a ton of people who’d reach the same conclusion she did. Subtle racism in our society still abounds, and assuming everyone is pulling a race card definitely counts.
Sense of Self
There seems to be a mini-theme this season of people trying to find themselves: Tara is clearly lost after the death of Eggs, and trying to find out who Tara is and what she wants is going to be one of the recurring themes of the season, one which won’t necessarily get resolved, if her cutting off her braids and running away at the end of S3E12 is any indication. We also get just how broken her familial relations are: Lafayette easily spotted that she was suicidal (or at the very least shouldn’t be alone) while her mother was completely oblivious: if Lafayette hadn’t come home when he did, who knows what would have happened.
Jason is another character going through a crisis of faith of sorts. Eggs’ death has forced him to try and grow up almost overnight and one thing he’s realized is that the “old Jason” whose normal is “picking up some tail” isn’t what he wants to be. He’s trying to mold himself into something more mature, something more adult – hence his desire to become a sheriff deputy – but like so many of his decisions are, it’s a rash one that will ultimately bring him into Crystal’s life (and should all know where THAT ends up in S4, right?)
We also have Hoyt dealing with his new reality of having disowned his mother. Unlike Jason, who is showing newfound signs of pragmatism/cynicism (“If you want to hurt people, tell them the truth”), Hoyt seems to be rather positive on things. He knows that he’s got a long road ahead of him, but he seems confident that he’s made the right decision because he wants to be with Jessica, something that he’ll reaffirm more and more as we go through the season.
Speaking of Jessica, we see her really starting to come to terms with the fact that well, she’s a vampire and that there’s still so much she </i>doesn’t</i> know. She didn’t know that Bill could call her. She doesn’t know what to do with the body of the trucker that she accidentally killed. She’s realizing that she really does need Bill… and he’s not there. She also still does love Hoyt and knows it’ll be tough, but whether its fear or necessity, she’s at least recognizing that vampire issues are definitely a priority over human relationship issues.
This series has always been about its relationships, romantic and otherwise. This go around – both this episode, and really this season – it’s the non-romances that are the most intriguing.
Sam’s big arc this year is family and taking it for all it entails. We get an early hint that there might have been a reason the Merlottes kept it from Sam for so long: right away we learn the Mickens are squatters (they’ve been evicted, but not necessarily left town) and that Tommy isn’t on the up and up (he sold the nice Chamber of Commerce lady a set of tires that weren’t street safe). Heck, Tommy even lies about who he is, straight to Sam’s face. It’s clear that this path is going to be a rocky one a path born out again and again (Tommy’s thievery, his parents involvement in the dog fighting ring). I’d mention Sam’s dream about Bill, but really, there’s no point as it’s a non-issue for the rest of the season. It was pretty fan service and nothing more (the info about the Mickens could have been easily conveyed another way) unlike…
Sookie’s handling of Eric when she’s looking for Bill. To her credit, we see a pretty resilient Sookie here. She’s frustrated at those who are blowing off her pleas for assistance because Bill is just a vampire, and she’s focused enough that she doesn’t let Pam’s “lesbian weirdness” fluster her or even the fact that she walks in on Eric and Yvetta. She even remembers to demand the $10,000 Eric promised her for her help in Dallas. We also see her devotion to Bill in her desire and even helps Jessica focus to an extent by having Jessica help her search for him. Unfortunately though, this is about the only Sookie we’ll see for the first half of the season.
Terry and Andy’s relationship is touched on briefly, when Terry tries to console Andy that everything is going to be okay even though Andy’s taken his first life. More importantly for later though, we see that things are, for the moment, going well with Terry and Arlene. We know that they’re in for rough times when Arlene realizes she’s pregnant again, but for now Terry is just acting the ‘supportive’ boyfriend by leaving her alone to quietly freak out.
The season hasn’t even really gotten to the most interesting relationships yet: all of the vampires to each other, though we get a hint of this with Eric and Sophie-Anne. There is no love lost between the pair. She trusts him, to a limited extent, but his loyalty to her seems to be tied to the fact that he’s well aware that if she goes down, that she’ll do everything in her power to bring him down with her.
For the most part, the episode is all about set-up as the first few episodes of any series of any season of a serialized show (comedy or drama) tend to be. But now that we have our new ‘normal’ we now have the building blocks for the rest of the season so we can see how the pieces all fit together, it’s a lot to juggle and they’ll succeed to varying degrees, but the ride is half the fun. Next week we really start getting our hands dirty and I look forward to seeing you then!