[Editor’s note: with Lost gone to the great recapper in the sky, we’re looking to add a few more TV recaps here to The Beat. First up, the hot vampire soap opera, True Blood, recapped by comics editor/promoter/maven Shannon O’Leary. Let’s dive right in, shall we?]

by Shannon O’Leary

Season Three: Episode One – Bad Blood

Welcome to a recap of the premiere episode of True Blood’s Season Three.  I will be recapping episodes of True Blood for the Beat throughout Season Three.  Read on and let it bleed in the comments section, bitches.

Season Three of True Blood picked up right where Season Two left off jumping from character to character to character at a frenetic pace in Bon Temps real time.  The episode opened with Sookie running out of super romantical Maison de Paris restaurant screaming Vampire Bill’s name.  She was extra anxious to find him – and not just because he’d been kidnapped.  Unfortunately, she may also have led him to believe she was turning down his marriage proposal when she ran into the bathroom de Maison de Paris completely freaking out. Then the action cut immediately over to Sam the Shapeshifter’s quest to find his birth parents in Arkansas, then over to Jason Stackhouse’s place where he was totally losing it after killing poor, unfortunate manhunk and unwitting Maenad pawn, Eggs.  Cut to Jessica, Bill’s baby vampire sire-ette who, when we last saw her, was embarking on new adventures as a truck stop serial killer. Then came the unexpected money shot of Vampire Bill Compton being held in a hot silver chain chokehold by a group of scruffy looking biker gang-esque captors calling themselves the “Fuck You Crew.”

And this was all before the credits and theme song!  Gee it’s good to have True Blood back after, what… nine months?

Except there’s no time to waste getting all nostalgic as this is the fastest episode of True Blood ever.  Seriously. It was. The action moved from so fast, so obviously and so purposefully that it verged on bad.  But I didn’t really care. I’m just happy to hang out with my buds from Bon Temps again. I can forgive them and their little writer friends who filled their little blood sucking mouths with an overflowing plasma bag of expository dialogue in every scene.

Like Andy and Terry Bellefleur!  Did we know they were cousins last season?  I can’t remember if the Sookie Stackhouse books or Alan Ball told me.  Anyways, they had a heartfelt cousin talk like cousins sometimes do about – what else – what it’s like to kill a man.  See, Terry’s a vet and since he’s a vet, he knows of the angst that lurks in men’s hearts after they’ve killed for the first time.  What he doesn’t know is that Andy didn’t kill anyone. Jason did.  If we didn’t already know this, we’d sure suspect now because Andy looks pretty uncomfy.

Not half as uncomfy as Tara though, who’s pretty much inconsolable after losing Eggs, the first dude who ever really loved her.  Fortunately, Lafayette swoops in and saves her after tempers flare when fool-for-love Merlotte’s waitress, Arlene, gets unexpectedly racialist about the Eggs-is-a-murderer-and-I had-to-shoot-him-in-the-line-of-duty ruse Deputy Andy Bellefleur is setting up.

Can I just pause for a minute and say, YAY! It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for!  Everyone’s favorite, Lafayette, is back, bitches!  And the writers gave him a truly killer exit line, “And we gonna steal this tequila ova chee but I doubt that surprise any of y’all.” Meh. Maybe it wasn’t that great.  But it was sure was great to see Lafayette all the way back in full-on diva mode.

But I digress. The plot does not, however. It’s got places for us to go! People for us to see doing things to advance that plot! So now we’re at Vampire Bill’s house where Jessica is still dealing with her new friend/victim from the truck stop when Sookie shows up looking for Bill.  Jessica’s concerned but not as concerned as she is with the now dead truck stop guy.  As soon as Sookie leaves, she tries to dispose of him by… siring him? Yes. In a perils-of-youth moment if there ever was one, Jessica thinks the best way to get rid of the dumbass she just predatorily fucked and killed at a truck stop is to turn him into someone she has to hang out with for all eternity.

Speaking of youthful folly, “The Fuck You Crew” is now wilding around the back roads of the Louisiana/Arkansas border off the hook from drinking Bill’s 174 year old top of the line vintage vampire blood. In the two previous seasons we learned that humans become euphoric after ingesting vampire blood – the older the vampire, the better the buzz off the V.  They must be wasted.  And they’ve still got Bill in that sexy little dog collar. Looks like good times.

Jason Stackhouse, on the other hand, is off the hinges.  Andy Bellefleur knows it and is gonna put a stop to it before Jason does something stupid.  Knowing this is a more than distinct possibility, Andy shows up at Jason’s so they can get their stories straight. He cautions Jason for even thinking about coming clean about killing Eggs, driving his point home with the best line of the episode: “Conscience off! Dick on!”  Basically telling Jason he needs to act normal, by which he means be the simple but charming, enthusiastic pussy hound we all know and love.

You can be sure that the consciences are off and the dicks are on at Louisiana’s premiere vampire bar, Fangtasia, when Sookie stops by to see if Eric knows anything about Bill. Eric’s busy boning Yvetta, the new Fangtasia dancer but he’s not too busy to walk across the room to Sookie, giving the audience its first gratuitous male butt shot of the season and Sookie a look at something much more creepin’ up the front. We get a hint that there’s a whole lot more sexual tension to come between these two this season.

eric's gratuitous butt shot (source: HBO)

Then it’s back to the nonstop action as Bill escapes his kidnappers by breaking the neck of the Fuck You Crew member driving the car and crashing it. Because he’s a bad ass mutherfuckin’ vampire (albeit one with really good southern manners) he turns over the car no problemo. As he walks away from the scene of the crime he does some long distance vampire maker mind meld jujitsu on baby vamp, Jessica, who seemed like she needed a much needed break from moping over what to do with the now for sure dead truck stop guy.  In yet another vampiric young ‘un angst scene – she can’t even sire anyone right!

Cut to Tara and Lafayette hanging out at chez Stackhouse.  Lafayette promises to keep Tara medicated on tequila and klonopin till she can deal with the death of Eggs, proving once again that these two have the best, most fucked up co-dependent relationship of any two TV relatives since possibly ever.

That was nice but it can’t beat Pam and Eric lounging around in matching black and red silk S&M pajama sets.  The main point of this scene was to show viewers that Eric was not employing The Fuck You Crew.  He was in fact planning another; possibly more diabolical plan to kidnap Bill because of what Bill knows about him forcing Lafayette to sell vampire blood for him and Louisiana Vampire Queen Sofie Anne. What he was planning to do with Bill after that foiled kidnapping does not interest me as much as their pajamas, however.  Although to be fair, Pam’s was wearing more of a rubber fetishistic nightie.

Then it’s back to Arkansas for what promises to be another boring scene of Sam looking through a phone book  when there’s an unexpected knock at the door.  Vampire Bill is at his door shirtless and dirty!  Soon Sam is shirtless and about to get dirty with Vampire Bill!  But not really because Sam is having an erotic dream because he drank some of Vampire Bill’s blood last season, bonding them forever in more ways than one. But he nor we have much time think about it because Sam has to answer a boring phone call about his search for his squirrel and moose parents.  At least that’s how I’m going to imagine his long lost shape shifting parents until shown otherwise.

Some entertaining daylight scenes pass by that, while fun, were obviously constructed to move the plot along as quickly as possible. Like Tara’s mom showing up at Lafayette’s house to tend to Tara. He lets her in even though she tried to shoot him last season because he gots to get paid.  It’s the South and it’s a double dip recession so this makes perfect sense to me.  Sookie goes to report the kidnapping to Bud at the sheriff’s office and name drops Bill’s maker and ex of many decades, Lorena, as a possible suspect.  Sam goes to a gas station where he thinks his real brother from his moose mother and squirrel dad works.  He then meets a guy who is so obviously foreshadowed to be his brother that if he doesn’t turn out to be his brother in the next episode then my mom’s a moose and my dad’s a squirrel.

Then it’s nighty night, lights out. Time for Tara’s mom to put her to sleep after her 36 hour tequila and klonopin bender.  Time for everyone else to wake up!  Bill crawls out of the makeshift grave he had to dig while on his impromptu road trip and Jessica wakes up with the still dead and starting to smell truck stop guy.

Over at Fangtasia, the joint is jumping.  That is, until the Magister Vampire shows up with Queen Sofie Anne in tow, who quickly kicks everyone out of the bar so the two can gather some intel on who’s being selling V blood in these here parts.  We haven’t seen the Magister since he presided over Vampire Bill’s tribunal for killing the vampire Longshadow back in Season One.  It’s good to see the effortlessly sinister actor Zeljo Invanek back for a recurring role this season.  Not just because he’s awesome. His appearance also indicates that we’re going to see a lot more of the inner workings of the vampire justice system and politics this season.

Then it’s back to Merlotte’s for more human interaction.  Arlene’s probably preggers, Jason forces a broken-hearted Hoyt, who’s just been blown off by a seriously preoccupied Jessica, into being his wingman with two veterinary students hanging out at Merlottes while Andy Bellefleur looks on approvingly.  Clearly he’s taking Andy’s Conscience off, Dick on advice to heart.

Bar split screen!  No, not really but the action shifts back over to Fangtasia where Sophie Anne and Eric are trying to throw the Magister off their scents by throwing the other one under the bus for selling V blood on the black market.   As it would turn out, the Magister is just there to inquire of Eric if perchance there’s been any vampires missing in his area?  Nope. Eric doesn’t know nothing about no missing vampires.  When the magister leaves, Sofie Anne finally reveals why she’s masterminded this whole V selling scheme – she’s in trouble with feds for not paying income taxes.  I like it! Vampires they’re just like us. They don’t pay their taxes but they’re prettier and stronger when not doing it.

Where’s Pam in all of this?  She never leaves Fangtasia.  Unless she has to do her sire Eric’s bidding by say going to Sookie’s house to pay her a twisted courting call on Eric’s behalf.  While she’s there, Eric vibes her from afar to make like a tree and leave.  This sets a light bulb off over Sookie’s head.  Jessica!  Made by Bill.  Pam! Made by Eric.  Jessica will surely be able to feel Bill’s vibes and lead Sookie to him.

But first more of Pam who Eric has vibed into stopping by Merlotte’s to tell Lafayette he has to move more V fast. When he starts to get sassy and calls her a hooker, Pam gets mad.  She says she used to be a hooker but she’s not anymore.  Character origin story alert!

Back at the Compton Ranch, Sookie barges in on Jessica to demand what she “feels” about Bill.  Jessica can feel a place!  It’s a sensation probably not unlike Sookie smelling the dead guy from the truck stop festering in Jessica’s vampire hidey hole.  She doesn’t know it’s a dead guy though.  She just thinks it’s smelly and besides she wants to find Bill. Meanwhile, Bill’s been crawling around in the dirt and staggering through the wilderness when he comes upon a cabin.  An old woman with an air pump lives there.  Her invalidity makes it all the better for him to bite her, which he uncharacteristically does.

The episode continued cutting quickly back and forth from scene to scene right up to the end.  We’re at Tara’s mom’s house, we’re back with Sam on his moose squirrel brother hunt. Then we cut to Jason screwing the two veterinary student chicks.  Or trying to anyways. He can’t get quite get his dick on and his conscience off.  Still haunted by killing Eggs (about what was it .. 48 hours ago?) he keeps hearing gunshots and seeing his vet wanna-be conquests with bullet holes in their heads.  He tells them about the bullet holes on their heads and they’re so outta there.  Stay outta Bon Temps, future puppy savers. Odds are any guy you pick up at Merlotte’s is going to be having some kind of supernaturally induced auditory or visual hallucination.

Or he’ll be forcing one on you as Bill does when he kindly glamours the old invalid lady into a sentimental stupor.  Or you’ll be so bummed about the evil spell your boyfriend was under last season that you down all the klonopins your fun but fucked up cousin gave you which Tara does  – conveniently when Lafayette is coming back to check on her. Assuming the action keeps happening in real time this season, I look forward to him choking the pills right out of her throat next episode and calling her a hooker while doing it.

No time to think about the next episode though because this one has to end and there’s still a whole lotta groundwork to lay for this season’s themes.  Since the writers got right to it in the last two minutes of the episode I will too – it’s werewolves, people.  You knew they were coming. They always make it into every modern vampire story eventually, don’t they?  Jessica and Sookie, who have been led to Vampire Bill’s car crash scene by Bill and Jessica’s maker/make-ee bond, don’t.  At least not until they find a special rune app on Jessica’s BlackBerry.  The killer app identifies a tattoo on one of the dead Fuck You Crew’s dudes. It’s a marker known sinisterly as “Operation Werewolf.”  Is anyone else sick of how easily plot mysteries are solved these days in supernatural stories by the magic of the internets?  I guess like all progress, I must accept it.  Sookie surely does.  As soon as Sookie can say werewolf, the episode cuts to the final scene of Vampire Bill surrounded by a pack of menacing looking wolves.  Teeth out, he warns them he’s just fed. Cut to black and an, as per usual, a great closing song as the credits roll.

Bill surrounded by wolves with eeeviiill yellow glowing eyes (photo: HBO)

I, for one, was pretty satisfied and entertained with the episode in spite of the heavy, often clunky exposition.  What did you think?  Discuss below.  Next week, btw, this episode recap will get to you a lot sooner and (god willing) a lot shorter. Technical difficulties abounded this time.

[Shannon O’Leary is a cartoonist living in Brooklyn.  She’s currently co-editing a comics anthology called Stripped: Revealing Comics on Life, Love, Lust, and Women’s Liberation.]


  1. Woo-hoo! Good recap. What with the people who drank vampire blood fantasizing about the vampires (like with Sam and Bill), I’m wondering if the people who take it like a drug (V) form bonds to or have dreams about the vampires the blood came from or does this only work if they drink it direct from the source.

  2. That episode was pretty lame on the blood scale. It suffered from being the set up episode.

    I am really interested about where the whole homo-erotic subtext is going and wondering why they can’t show dongs. That never stopped HBO on OZ. Not that I hoping for the dongs, just trying to be egalitarian.

  3. Abby – Good point about the v blood drinkers and it’s potential bonding powers but I’d have to say that there’s something about the blood exchange method of intake that sets up the bond, maybe??

    Sarah O. – I think we’re gonna get a lot of Northman heiny this season. But what I really want is some Lafayette/Northman erotic blood bonding dreams. You have to have dreams, you know?

    Inkstud and Serhend: This ep definitely suffered under the weight of Season 3’s set up and Season 2’s wrap up.

    From what I understand things get AWESOME in the next two episodes, now that they’ve gotten all that clunky exposition out ofthe way. The main theme is supposed to be indentity and whether or not you can fight your true nature this season. I’m going with no! Kill! Bite! Bone! And lot’s of Northman heiny.

  4. Hmmm, while we’re on that track, how about some Sookie and Pam? Common Sook! I’m glad that there is so much more to come. I hope that at least some story lines stay true to the books, perhaps this time more than in Season 2.

    Fabulous recap of the rapid take madness. I loved the speed and the taste of all of the different characters that this episode gave us and I was willing to give up a little depth just to have a peek at it all. I’m aching now for next week’s episode and perhaps a little more depth.

  5. Whaa-? Talking about a vampires and werewolves film… er, tv show… on this bastion of “the news blog of COMICS CULTURE”??

    Oh noes. TRUE BLOOD RUINED The Beat!

    /steps off the fundanerdtalist soapbox

  6. Much obliged for the recap, Shannon.

    Unfortunely, I was watching this episode at my sister’s house and I was forced to turn it off because my twelve year old niece was sneaking in and trying to watch it with me.

    I didn’t make it past Eric’s breaking in the new hired help scene until my sister went ballistic (heh heh heh)



  7. Who let all these gurls in here?? ;)

    I’m just hoping that Alan Ball WON’T drop the conceptual ball in the 6th Season of the series… to reveal that all of Sookeh/Bill/Sam’s adventures were just the fevered collective dream of bored Anne Rice fans standing in a line for her signing in N’awleans. (LSD and ecstacy laced beignets the culprit.)