From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

True Blood Season 2, Episode 9: “I Will Rise Up”

Again with the apt titles! “I Will Rise Up” rises from the midseason doldrums to give us one of the best hours of True Blood this year. And it does so not with thrilling plot twists or throbbing drama, but characters who act like they know one another. Novel!

If last week’s episode seemed a little uneventful, this one might have been scripted by Samuel Beckett. It’s tough to do a beat-by-beat recap, because there aren’t really any beats. What distinguishes “I Will Rise Up,” however, is that it puts all the right characters together in the same room.

** Spoilers! **

After Luke the Frenemy’s suicide bombing of Dallas Vamp HQ (which fails to kill a single major character, of course), a shaken Sookie and Jason bond and catch up and generally act like siblings who a) haven’t seen each other in a while, and b) almost got blown up. Oh yeah, we realize. They are siblings. Season 2’s biggest misstep, I think, has been splitting most of our main characters into isolated groups of two or three, and here we get a reunion with real punch. True Blood is an ensemble, and its characters work best when everyone plays off of everyone else.

In another bit of exciting reunion, Lafayette and Lettie Mae kick down the door of Tara’s place and demand she come home with them. They’ve seen Tara bruised and crazed and they know that somehow, it’s Maryann’s fault. Tara falls into an ecstatic fit, prompting Lafayette to throw her over his shoulder, jump into a car with Lettie Mae, and speed away from Maryann as fast as possible.

I actually skipped over what is likely to be the most important plot development of this episode. When Luke pulled the trigger on his silver explosion, Eric dove in front of Sookie and took a bunch of shrapnel. Which would seem uncharacteristically altruistic, except that afterward he tells her that she has to suck the silver from his chest pronto, or he’ll die. Which is a lie. Bill walks in on Sookie sucking metal out of a grinning Eric, and mopily informs her that, since she’s tasted his blood, Sookie and Eric will now share a permanent emotional connection. Also, she may find herself sexually attracted to the sheriff. Sookie denies that she could ever think about the big blond vampire that way, and then freaks herself out by having a sexy dream about him. All of which is deeply creepy.

Back in Bon Temps, Maryann slinks into the county jailhouse to, ahem, have a few words with our framed friend Sam. Fortunately, Sam catches a glimpse of a fly and is able to escape through an air vent. An enraged Maryann sends entire swaths of the town’s population into zombie fits, commanding them—in her best spooky Galadriel voice—to Find Sam Merlotte. Sam shows up (naked) on the doorstep of the only person he knows he can trust: drunken ex-detective Andy Bellefleur.

Hoyt and Jessica resolve to have a civil get-to-know-you dinner with Hoyt’s mother, Maxine. Before the meeting, Hoyt berates his mother for being a hateful misanthrope, rattling off a lengthy, hilarious, and (at least in my experience) totally spot-on list of the many hates of a particular brand of Proper Old Southern Lady. Just this once, he says, maybe she should try embracing another human being. The dinner goes reasonably well—as well as these things ever go—until Maxine points out that Jessica and Hoyt can never have children, which prompts a horrified Jessica to run away weeping. This subplot continues to be the best and most authentic thing about Season 2, relatable and full of palpable feeling.

The larger vampire community is so out of sorts about events in Dallas that Nan Flanagan—who we’ve previously seen as a talking head in TV news debates about vampire rights—shows up to smooth things over. She demands that Godric resign, which he calmly agrees to do. “I will make amends,” he says, and we can tell by his tone that he’s definitely not going to do it by moving to Bon Temps and becoming a series regular. After making some small arrangements, he ascends to the roof of the vampire hotel and waits for the dawn sun to rise.

Eric and Sookie follow. Eric begs Godric to reconsider, and when it’s clear that Godric’s mind is made up, the Louisiana sheriff begs his Maker to let him die by his side. Alexander Skarsgård does truly amazing work here—I have no love for Eric as a character, and indeed, his trick at the beginning of the episode prepares us to despise him, but man, you can’t help but feel what he feels here. Godric denies this request as well, and commands Eric “as [his] Maker” to go inside, just as the first dawnlight starts to spill over the horizon.

Eric leaves with the blank eyes of the glamoured, and Sookie moves to Godric’s side. This is one of those rare but lovely moments when I really like Sookie, when she displays a tact and compassion that I can believe in. She understands that Godric made this choice long ago, and that while she may not be an important person in his life, she’s the only one in his personal sphere—the only human in his personal sphere—who can be with him when he dies. She asks him what he’s feeling, and he says that after two thousand years he feels sincerely joyful.

And then the sun rises.

Episode Grade: 10 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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