TV Review: Tonight’s ‘True Blood’, Episode 1.04 ‘Escape from Dragon House’


Photo: HBO

Last week I finished my episode review up by saying “The show hasn’t really found a groove yet and still seems to be creating its world and drawing lines in the sand as to which side the folks of Bon Temps, Louisiana will side.” Well, this week’s episode, “Escape from Dragon House”, certainly does a lot more in fleshing out that world a little more as new elements are added and subtext that has always been there continues to bubble to the surface and “True Blood” may slowly be turning into of a great vampire series, but it still has a long way to go. One episode does not make for a great series, but this one was a good start.

When we last left Bon Temps, the small town brunette beauty, Dawn (Lynn Collins), was killed and the fourth episode begins with all eyes turned on Jason (Ryan Kwanten), who gets a lot of attention this episode. Jason’s desperate disposal of a vial of “V-juice” (vampire blood) results in a serious case of priapism (long lasting erection) which results in one doctor saying his penis looks “kind of like an eggplant” ultimately ending in a scene that is sure to make the male eyes in the audience squirm in their seats. Just put the words penis and needle together in one sentence and tell me how comfortable you are. This of course is after a strange blister pops up, but I don’t want to ruin it all for you.

Jason also delivers one of the best lines I have heard in the show to date when he is being interrogated and detective Andy “Don’t Call Me Andy” Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) insinuates he gets turned on by having sex with women and then killing them to which he responds, “Sounds to me like it turns you on.” The delivery gives it all its charm and should give you a laugh.

Meanwhile, Sookie (Anna Paquin) is trying to use her powers to figure out who really killed Dawn and Maudette, which prompts an impromptu visit to a vampire bare called Fangtasia (don’t worry, the show realizes the name is stupid and makes fun of it as well), which introduces something of an S&M world where humans walk around begging to get bitten as Sookie is able to hear some of their thoughts including one person saying, “How come no one wants to fuck me? I got a dog collar too.” That one gave me a laugh and makes me wonder why they had to go for the obvious heavy metal, techno loving, skin tight leather, fish net wearing stereotypical vampires. Sure, it’s a bit moodier than if it was a country music bar, but it doesn’t really show much evolution.

One thing to be on the lookout for at Fangtasia is when Bill and Sookie go to the bar to get their drinks check out the poster framed on the wall. You will notice the Alex Ross painting of George W. Bush as a vampire sucking the blood out of Lady Liberty. I thought it was fantastic and loved how it was prominently visible in the entire scene. Outside of a vampire bar or maybe Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters I can’t imagine many places that poster actually fits, but this was perfect.

The bar visit also gives the series one more thing, and that is an introduction to what is so far the oldest vampire to be introduced even though I don’t believe his actual age was mentioned. Alexander Skarsgard, son of actor Stellan Skarsgard, plays Eric Northam and it is the interaction between Sookie and Eric that climaxes in a moment that really gave me a feeling this show may be headed in the right direction.

Elements of continued race relations with vampires being the new segregated group in society as well as sexual subtext are also escalated in this episode. I have a strong feeling the male vampire on male victim is going to one day play a big role in an episode and depending on how long this show is on air the racial comparisons between the African American search for equality in America and this show’s focus on the vampire search for similar rights looks like it is going to continue and it will be interesting to see how the solve it.

Episode four is an early turning point in “True Blood” and the best episode so far. I do wish they would get rid of the lengthy and annoying opening credit sequence just as I wish all television shows would get rid of the credit sequence, but that is really the only complaint about this episode. Hopefully the trend will continue.

“True Blood” airs on HBO on Sunday nights at 9PM.