True Blood: The Complete Third Season Review

I’ve never been into vampires. I don’t read fantasy books. I wasn’t part of the Buffy craze. I’ve never read Twilight nor have I seen any of the films. Anyone who knows me, however, knows that I’m a huge Alan Ball fan, who created True Blood as well as Six Feet Under and American Beauty. I believe what Alan does best is to depict the complexities and nuances of human relationships, and, perhaps more importantly, our relationship and perception of ourselves; how we fit into the society we live in, what’s expected of us, and what we’re capable of.  

True Blood (pun intended) sucks you in from the start. Yes, this world is full of the fantasy  beings we’re all familiar with (vampires, werewolves, telepaths, shape shifters) but these creatures are not simply portrayed as monstrous menaces. The creatures in True Blood are assimilated into mainstream society. They’re minorities in America imbued with humanistic qualities.  Lobbyists appear on news programs championing for Vampire Rights. They have their own system of government as well as the AVL (American Vampire League) and monarchs secretly govern the vampire population of each state in the country. Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell), the owner of the community bar where telepath Sookie Stackouse (Anna Paquin) works is a shape shifter, and the show’s namesake, True Blood, refers to the synthetic bottled blood that’s manufactured by the Japanese.  

The conflicts in True Blood arise from the relationships between these creatures and humans,  both personal and political. It does well to depict what might really happen in America if these creatures existed. How would they fit in? What kind of prejudice might they come up against? Should they be allowed to infiltrate human society when they are not actually human? This is the genius of the show. Their true weaknesses are revealed, not garlic or crucifixes as rumors suggest but silver, which burns into their flesh. Their blood provides a euphoric high when ingested by humans (something that’s sparked a drug trade, the blood is referred to on the street as “V”) and it can heal the wounded.  When vampires cry, they cry tears of blood.  

This season, the people of Bon Temps, Louisiana are still reeling from having a devilish maenad come in and try to take over the whole town by placing them all under a pleasure spell and sacrifice mysteriously powerful telepath Sookie Stackhouse to her God. In the opening episode, vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) has just asked Sookie to marry him and she’s taken a moment in the ladies room to think this through.  She decides that she wishes to accept his proposal, but while she’s gone, Bill is kidnapped by an unknown perpetrator armed with chains of silver. This incites a long search for Bill which eventually reveals more about his past and loads of new creature types along the way.

Let’s just say a lot of big questions are answered in this season, questions that have been around since the very beginning of the series and nothing is what it seems. For example, we find out why Bill came to Bon Temps in the first place, the complexity of Eric (Alexander Skarsgard)’s past, and at long last, Sookie’s true nature. Sookie’s best friend Tara (Rutina Wesley) is more badass than ever this season, and we get to see just what she’s made of. Sookie’s dim-witted, well intentioned brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten) continues to grapple with his identity now that he’s left the extremist church organization The Fellowship of the Sun, and he’s fighting his own demons.

A host of new characters are introduced this season, among them the tricky and powerful Vampire King of Mississippi Russell Edgington, (Denis O’Hare), the mentally unbalanced but hilarious vampire Franklin (James Frain), and more appearances from the glamorous Queen of Louisiana (Evan Rachel Wood).  

Blu-ray Bonus Features

This set is chock full of extra features. Each episode has a True Blood “Postmortem,” a short snippet that reveals more about the edisode you’ve just seen, whether it is interviews with actors and creators, or additional scenes that explore the theme of the show. For example, in the post mortem for episode four, an unknown vampire is shown in an interrogation room providing classified information about his kind to the police. He points out that no vampire wants for money. This is because their century-long lives have allowed each of them to amass unspeakable wealth. He says: “Do you really think the worldwide financial crisis was caused by a few bad mortgages in Tallahassee?”

There is also an option to play each episode in “enhanced viewing,” which includes character perspectives, the option for flashback/flash forward, and histories/bios/FYIs. This is entertaining but I found myself wanting to turn the character perspectives off and just watch the episode as is, even though I’ve watched the entire third season already when it aired on HBO.  No matter how many times you’ve seen it, you never want to miss a beat of True Blood

"True Blood: The Complete Third Season" is on sale May 31, 2011 and is not rated. Drama, Fantasy. Directed by Alan Ball . Written by Alan Ball, Nancy Oliver. Starring Alexander Skarsgard, Anna Paquin, James Frain, Rupert Friend, Rutina Wesley, Ryan Kwanten , Sam Trammell , Stephen Moyer.

May
31
2011
Marissa Quenqua • Staff Writer

Six Feet Under is her favorite TV show, with The L Word and Sex and the City coming in second and third, respectively. Always up for discovering a new favorite, she also enjoys True BloodNurse Jackie, and Mad Men. Marissa has a background in writing, editing, and cinema studies.

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