From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

True Blood Season 2, Episode 8: “Timebomb”

“Timebomb” is a coy, on-the-nose title for this week’s episode, but it might as easily have been called “Everything and Nothing.” The first fifteen minutes seem to resolve more or less everything in the Dallas plotline, and the rest of the episode is a whole lot of nothing. This skewed distribution of action somehow both bores and thrills—it bores us because, with one of its major conflicts apparently resolved, the show spends most of its running time treading water, and thrills us because we’re left anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop.

** Spoilers! **

Godric snaps Gabe’s neck, but not before the Soldier of the Sun hisses, “Godric, it’s me, Gabe!” Hmm, something fishy going on there. Before Sookie can get her bearings or speak at any length to the long-lost sheriff of Dallas, Eric shows up and falls over himself in kneeling, servile glee. The reunion between Maker and makee is short-lived, however; Godric says that he must remain in the church, and orders Eric to take Sookie and escape the Fellowship compound, avoiding human casualties where possible.

Incredibly, Eric agrees. Just one problem: the Fellowship sets off their apocalypse-is-comin’ alarms, puts the compound in lockdown, and calls out their stake-wielding suburbanite militia. Eric briefly pretends to be a meek, aw-shucksy member of the church—and oh man, Alexander Skarsgård is jaw-droppingly awesome here—but is discovered and strapped to an altar with silver chains. Sookie, who knows that Eric could disembowel everyone in the room without breaking a sweat, looks on in both horror and relief. Well, not too much relief—the Reverend decides that since she loves vampires so much, maybe he ought to tie her to Eric come dawn.

Back in Bon Temps, Sam is stupid. He’s scared enough of Maryann that he’s sleeping in his car, parked out in the middle of nowhere, but when he receives a wordless, breathe-y phone call from Merlotte’s, he decides to investigate. All is quiet at the bar, but the freezer door is cracked, and Daphne’s heartless corpse is inside. Sam gapes in horror, and after a moment of indecision calls 911. Too late, though—the cops arrive seconds before the operator answers. Oh poop.

Jason wakes up in the woods, alive despite a point-blank shot from Sarah Newlin. How am I alive? he wonders. His shirt’s spattered red, but as Sarah quickly explains, it’s more of a paintball red than a lifeblood red. Whew. Sarah accuses Jason of being a double-agent and a homewrecker and never really makes clear why she tracked him down in a golf cart. And then she makes the mistake of insulting Sookie, who she notes is in Steve’s clutches. This sits none too well with Jason, who snatches the paintball gun from her hands, hops in the golfcart, and speeds back toward the compound.

Lorena bites poor kidnapped Barry in an effort to seduce Bill back to the dark side—surely a whiff of bellboy blood’ll get him excited, right? She’s confused, however, by Barry’s unfamiliar telepath seasoning, and Bill capitalizes on his Maker’s confusion by bashing her over the head with a flatscreen. He darts into Jessica’s room, only to find her and Hoyt between the sheets, which is as delightfully awkward as you’d expect. Bill recovers quickly, however, and orders the crazy kids to hightail back to Bon Temps. Then he races to the Fellowship stronghold.

So now we have the makings of a good old-fashioned showdown. The kind we had back in the day, when vampires were vampires and terrified suburbanites wrapped themselves in silver chains. The showdown’s not all that exciting, actually. Bill, the Dallas vamps, and Jason all show up at roughly the same time. Jason shoots Steve with some paint balls. It looks like the vamps and the Fellowship folks are all going to kill one another, and then Godric shows up and gives a persuasive speech about mutual respect and peaceful coexistence.

Kind of anticlimactic, you know?

Back home in Bon Temps, Hoyt and Jessica try to make love again, but are dismayed to discover that Jessica’s hymen has regrown. Since she can heal and all. “I’m a virgin forever!” she despairs. On one hand, I’m sort of impressed that the writers thought of this. On the other hand, the scene seems to play up the persistent myth that a woman’s virginity is magically ensconced in her hymen, which of course never wears away due to perfectly boring things like mountain biking. I’m anxious to see what direction the writers take with this subplot—at this point, it seems like it could end up being either thoughtful or disastrous.

Eggs and Tara continue to freak out over their increasingly frequent episodes of lost time. Happily, Maryann is there to comfort them with some very old-fashioned country cooking. Maybe we should ease up on the parties, she says—perhaps her divine senses allow her to hear the desperate pleas of the audience from across the Fourth Wall. She then serves our heroes a juicy serving of baked Daphne heart, which everyone finds totally delicious. So delicious, in fact, that they start beating one another and laughing.

Over at Merlotte’s, Bud and Kenya try to extract a confession from Sam. Though the cops’ questioning is genial enough, it’s clear that they think he’s a crazed mass-murderer. After all, a whole lot of people have died or gone missing around Merlotte’s. Andy Bellefleur interrupts the proceedings to support Sam’s claim that he’s been framed, but the ex-detective’s stories about pigs and devil orgies hurt Merlotte more than they help.

An uncanny percentage of the episode—it feels like 2/3 of the running time—is spent on Sookie, Bill, and company schmoozing at Godric’s vampire HQ. Bill explains why he couldn’t rescue Sookie any sooner, and she accepts his explanation. Godric gives like thirty-seven speeches about how humans and vampires need to live together in peace, and even releases the traitor Hugo. Lorena crashes the party and declares her undying love for Bill, and Bill rejects her, and Lorena tries to kill Sookie, and Godric admonishes Lorena, and… _ _You know, I’m getting bored just thinking about it. And irritated, too. Just as it became clear last episode that Daphne was an unusually cute plot coupon, we realize this week that Lorena serves no real purpose in this story whatsoever. The writers positively strain to shuffle her offstage now that she’s served her extremely narrow purpose (ie. restrain Bill for a couple episodes). It’s dumb writing. It’s lazy writing. It’s disrespectful to the characters and the audience.

Anyway, a mysterious figure enters vampire HQ with, wow, no difficulty whatsoever. And whoa, it’s Luke, Jason’s burly frenemy! “What are you doing here?” asks Jason, to which Luke responds that Jason needs to leave as fast as he can. Then he opens his coat, revealing a hell-ton of explosives wrapped in silver.* Everyone gasps, and Luke triggers the bomb.

Told you the title was on-the-nose!


Episode Grade: 6 out of 10

* Of course, we’ve already been told that silver only incapacitates a vamp, so it’s sort of obvious that our vampire heroes are going to be fine. Which makes me wonder: why didn’t Luke and the Fellowship just buy a lot of woodchips? Hell of a lot cheaper than silver, you know?

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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