From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

True Blood Season 2, Episode 2: “Keep This Party Going”

True Blood always starts with a bang, and this week is no exception. Below Fangtasia, Eric hurls the severed arm of his most recent meal—in slow-mo—at poor, captive Lafayette. After he regains his composure, the always fabulous vampire sheriff stalks toward his surviving prisoner.

“Is there blood in my hair?” he demands.

Lafayette doesn’t understand. “Is there blood in my hair?” growls Eric. He’s completely soaked in gore, so yes, there’s a teensy bit of blood in his hair. Lafayette delivers the news with his best please-don’t-eviscerate-the-messenger face. “Pam’s going to kill me,” Eric deadpans, then grabs Lafayette and drags him out of the dungeon for full interrogation. Cue theme song.

The first scene really sets the tone for the episode: a bit more humor than usual, a bit less plot development. In contrast with the season premiere, “Keep This Party Going” feels light and slow–perhaps inevitably so, since the density of incident last week was kind of black-hole-esque. But even if the gears of plot aren’t turning quite as quickly this go round, no scene is really wasted; we get a great deal of meaty character work and plenty of even meatier gags.

When we return to Fangtasia, an angry Pam cuts the vampire sheriff’s hair as he interrogates his prisoner. Eric knows all about Lafayette’s sex-for-vamp-blood arrangement with Eddie Gautier. He doesn’t seem to care too much about that, but he does want to know what happened to Eddie. After a short speech in which he declares himself a survivor above all else, Lafayette admits that Jason Stackhouse probably had something to do with Gautier’s disappearance. Eric decides not to act on this information for the time being, and then proceeds to exposit. Has Lafayette heard anything about some kind of super vamp blood hitting the market? ‘Cause an ancient Texan super vamp by the name of Godric is totally missing.

Elsewhere, Bill and Sookie debate the finer points of vampire parenting. Sookie thinks that Bill is unreasonably hard on Jessica–after all, she’s just a teenager. Bill doesn’t believe he’s strict enough with the girl–after all, she’s an impulsive blood-sucking creature of the night, and she’s undergoing all kinds of dangerous physical changes. Sookie makes the obvious comment about teenagers. The two ultimately resolve to have crazy offscreen sex, and agree not to become “one of those couples” who run a perpetual circuit of spats and reconciliations. Awww.

Off at Christian Slayer Camp, Jason relives his high school years by rocking a game of Shirtless Capture the Flag, arousing everyone in a fifteen mile radius, and making a burly, earnest frenemy. Suddenly Jason is the golden child, a role he clearly relishes (in spite of several agonized flashbacks to that one time he kept a vampire in his basement and grew to sort of like the dude). Every three seconds or so, Sarah Newlin glances significantly at Jason, which can only mean that drama and sweatiness is to come.

During a “how to talk to liberals” roleplay, Sarah pretends to be a vampire rights supporter, and Jason is meant to argue her over to his position. When she puts on a pair of plastic fangs, however, Jason gets a little too method about the whole thing: with a crazy scream, he snaps an American flag in half and nearly stakes her with the pole. Sarah looks terrified and totally turned on. Everyone else is kind of turned on too, except the burly frenemy, who chastises Jason for “going all Muslim Buffy with a dick.”

Over at Merlotte’s, Maryann is ready to party. Much to Sam’s chagrin, she sits down and orders plate after plate of greasy, delicious-sounding food. No one seems to notice that the lady is seriously packing it away, because the more she eats, the more footloose and fancy free the Merlotte’s clientele becomes. Tara and Eggs are along for the ride, and though Tara feels a bit wary after learning that her new love interest spent some time in prison for armed robbery, she gets into the bacchnalian mood soon enough. When Sam confronts Maryann about the burgeoning rave in his establishment, Maryann does her creepy shaky goddess thing and forces him to turn into a dog.

In my absolute favorite scene of the episode, Bill goes to the mall to buy some new clothes for Jessica. The department store saleswoman tries to sell Bill a pair of tiny sequined shorts, which he politely declines. When she realizes that he is vampire, she attempts to entice him back to the dressing room, which he also politely declines. Bill looks like he’s going to die a second death of awkwardness when Always Fabulous Eric happens by (Lousiana only has so many malls, you know), tricked out in his new haircut and jogger’s jacket.

“It’s the new me. You like?” Eric asks.

“I do,” says Bill. “Very much.” And the saleswoman is all aha, they’re gay vampires. Once she’s gone, Eric tells Bill that he needs Sookie’s particular talents for a special mission in Dallas. He’s asking permission, he says, simply as a courtesy. But Bill’s not having that cup of tea at all, and tells Eric to go to hell. Eric shakes his Always Fabulous head ruefully.

“Poorly played, Bill,” he says.

Meanwhile, Sookie sees Jessica’s parents on TV, begging their lost daughter to come home. This understandably plucks at her heartstrings, and ultimately leads her–against her better judgment–to drive homesick Jessica by her old house. Just to catch a glimpse of her parents, they agree; there’s to be no contact, since that would put everyone at some brand of risk. But when Jessica actually sees her mother and sister, she can’t resist running outside to greet them. The family tearfully reunites as Sookie looks on, wide-eyed and full of silent Oh shit.

The reunion goes well until Daddy Jessica comes home. We’ve already had strong hints that Daddy Jessica isn’t a particularly nice guy, and those guesses are quickly reinforced: he begins to berate her mere seconds after he walks through the door. Jessica chooses this moment to reveal that she, in Bill’s wonderful phrase, is vampire, and makes it clear that verbal abuse is not going to take Daddy Jessica anywhere he wants to go. She makes this clear by slamming him against a wall and choking him.

At which point Bill arrives.

Someone has to invite him in, of course, and Sookie doesn’t seem to think this would be for the best. Daddy Jessica (still about to get his ass choked to death) commands his wife and daughter not to let the new vampire inside. But Jessica’s sister, who is maybe glamoured and maybe just thinks Bill looks like a nice guy, finally and very politely relents. Bill pulls Jessica off of her father and brusquely sends Sookie away, insisting that he’ll take care of the situation. Uh oh.

Back at Fangtasia, Lafayette decides to try his luck at escape. He remembers that his erstwhile, eviscerated comrade had a metal hip replacement, and digs in the dude’s nasty, nasty remains to find it. This is completely, utterly squicky, and kind of badass. Lafayette manages to extract the hip and break his chains, but then his luck runs out; he’s shot in the leg and captured by Eric.

Eric gives him two options: die by the leg injury, or die by vampire. “I’ll take Plan C,” says Lafayette, and the sheriff clearly wants to grin. Plan C, as Lafayette sees it, is to become a vamp. “Not only would I be a badass vampire,” he says (totally correctly), “I’d be your badass vampire.” Eric, Pam, and Fangtasia’s new bartender exchange a meaningful glance, gather around Lafayette, and begin to feed.

Cliffhanger!

Episode Grade: 7 out of 10

Eric Gregory spends too much time writing and hiding from the light. His stories have recently appeared (or are forthcoming) in Interzone, Black Static, Strange Horizons, Apex Book Company’s The Blackness Within, and other cool venues. He blogs semi-regularly about books, writing, food, and sundry.

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