From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

True Blood Season 2, Episodes 10 & 11: “New World in My View” and “Frenzy”

Due to bull-headed, demidivine circumstances beyond our control, this week’s a True Blood recap double feature. And it’s just as well, really, because “New World in My View” and “Frenzy” are very much of a piece, making up the climactic third act of this second season. When our weary Dallas party finally reunites with the god-crazed Bon Temps staycationers, grand plans are set in motion and hijinks inevitably ensue. This being True Blood, however, “hijinks” means meat-altars, extemporaneous impersonations of Satan, and pleasant games of Yahtzee.

Sookie, Bill, and Jason are horrified to discover that Bon Temps has devolved into a debauched riot of mindless sex and violence. You step out for five minutes, you know? They don’t have to stand around gape-mouthed for too long, however, as Hoyt and Jessica—who are holding Hoyt’s zombified mother captive in Bill’s house—quickly get everyone up to speed. Maryann has turned the bulk of the town into twenty-four hour party people, and put a lot of work into redecorating Sookie’s place. Most worryingly, Sam and Andy Bellefleur are trapped in the walk-in fridge at Merlotte’s, with a zombified staff hoping to sacrifice Sam to “The God Who Comes.”

Jason decides that this battle is what he’s been training for, and promptly runs off to save Sam and Andy. Jason With a Purpose is always stellar—he’s one of the show’s few characters who have shone brighter in this second season than in the first—and his idiot savant heroics are the high point of these two episodes. After a half-assed rescue effort in which Sam is dragged away by the horde, Jason returns shirtless, with a mask and a megaphone voice and twigs behind his head, pretending to be their Satanic/Dionysian “God Who Comes.” The less-than-bright zombies cheerfully agree to give Sam over for the smiting, and when Jason waves his jazz hands, Sam changes into a fly.

Meanwhile, Sookie and Bill check out Sookie’s house, which has a brand new meat-altar in the backyard! It’s big. It’s an altar. It’s made out of meat. Sookie is less than pleased that her Gran’s house has been defaced this way, and marches inside to give Maryann what for. Bill, ever the gentleman, races ahead and—in an admirably no-BS effort to have done with the whole mess—bites Maryann in the neck. But the stuff that comes out is black, and Bill starts to puke it up, and the maenad doesn’t seem especially troubled.

Finally realizing that Maryann is the beastie that almost killed her at the beginning of the season, Sookie gives her a shove—which turns into a glow-y, magical shove and knocks her the hell out. I’m of two minds about this. One, awesome! Two, please don’t make Sookie the One, you know? Anyway, the apparently multi-talented Ms. Stackhouse grabs her boyfriend and books, heading for…

Lafayette’s house! (There’s a spin-off I’d watch.) Lafayette and Lettie Mae have zombie Tara tied to a chair, where she raves and cackles and tells everyone that they’re going to die. I want to get into this more in the finale recap, but damn am I disappointed in this season’s handling of Tara. The story that seemed like it was going to be hers has marginalized her more and more in these last few episodes, and I’m pessimistic that she’s going to have a chance to shine in the finale. Sookie and Bill jointly glamor and psychic-probe her, successfully counteracting the zombie spell, but after a short round of hugs, things get tense again. Tara wants to go rescue Eggs, and no one else cares whether Eggs lives or dies, so they continue to hold her captive. This dispute harshes Bill’s mellow, so he decides to go talk to a mysterious someone who he believes can tell him more about maenads—maybe even how to kill them.

And who is this someone? Why, this someone is Sophie-Ann LeClerq, the Queen of the Louisiana Vampires. Opinions seem to be mixed on Evan Rachel Wood’s portrayal of the Vampire Queen, but I’m squarely in the camp that absolutely adores her. She’s cheerful and girlish and more than a bit like an old-fashioned movie star, without ever pushing any of those qualities too far. She’s not quite like any other character on True Blood, and she creates a contemporary regality that both persuades and avoids easy cues, putting to shame many of the characters on NBC’s abortive Kings.

So, you know. Count me as a fan.

Sophie-Ann and Bill have a surprisingly easy rapport, but the Queen’s not easy to pump for information. She implores Bill to stay in her beach-y “dayroom” for the night and play a game of Yahtzee with her friends. Having no other option, and clearly unwilling to piss off the Queen, Bill reluctantly agrees. Among the Sophie-Ann’s friends? Sookie’s missing cousin Hadley, who Bill obviously knows. Oooh. They briefly discuss Stackhouse family business, which is obviously a matter of intense interest in the Louisiana Vampire Court. Hmmmm.

Back in Bon Temps, Tara convinces her mother to help her escape, and runs off to save Eggs. Pretty much the moment she walks past the meat-altar, Maryann rezombifies her. A very pissed off Sookie and Lafayette give chase, and Lafayette is quickly zombified as well. Sookie makes her way into the house, where she’s groped and harassed but never quite captured by zombies, and ascends to her Gran’s old bedroom. There she finds Zombie Tara and Zombie Eggs tending to…a giant egg? Oh, well, okay. Naturally. Maybe The God Who Comes is a dinosaur.

Hoyt and Jessica try to distract Zombie Maxine with violent Wii games, but an old lady’s hatefulness is just too much for a console shooter to tame. She takes to berating Jessica once more, and finally the young vampire breaks. Jessica leaps onto Maxine and begins to feed, and though Hoyt tears her away before she can do any real damage, Hoyt is horrified.

Over at Merlotte’s, there’s disagreement in the revolutionary ranks. Jason and Andy are eager to tackle the maenad problem head-on; Sam’s wary of bringing guns to a god-fight. After some healthy debate, Jason and the detective head off to war, and the shifter takes it upon himself to watch over Arlene’s kids. The helpless children put the gravity of matters into perspective for Sam, and he decides to seek the help of the most powerful person he knows: Eric Northman.

Her lust for Yahtzee sated, Sophie-Ann LaClerq reveals all that she knows about maenads. (And handles the expository lump with enormous grace). Like all gods, she says, maenads began life as humans with psychopathically powerful beliefs. By sheer force of faith, they bootstrapped themselves into divinity, and they’ve wandered the Earth, insane and immortal, ever since. Precisely because they are insane and immortal, they await the rebirth of The God Who Comes—who they reckon is the only entity more powerful than themselves, and the only one capable of giving them a true death. The sort of mad ritual that’s going down in Bon Temps is Maryann’s attempt to hasten her own personal apocalypse, creating favorable conditions for the birth of the God Who Never Quite Comes. If the town’s going to get rid of her, they have to persuade her that Judgment Day has come.

Bill nods sagely and races out the door, only to run into – Eric. Cue Spaghetti Western music. Bill tells Eric to stop pursuing Sookie, or he’ll be forced to discuss certain of Eric’s less reputable business ventures with the Queen. Eric is briefly flustered but recovers, insisting that he’s just here to learn about this whole maenad business. Hard, squinty stares all around. Finally, Eric strolls into the house of the Queen, and Bill races off to war.

What’s in the egg? Who will survive the night? Will Jason reprise his god-act? The True Blood season finale airs September 13.

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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