True Blood: Is it Better to Bite or Be Bitten?
Let’s start with season 2’s finale: sacrificial offerings on the part of both Sam and Bill, though it was Bill’s blood that finally made Sam’s sacrifice possible. Ever since Bram Stoker gave us the vampire as inverted Christ feeding off the body and blood instead of offering his own, vampires make prime targets for Christ and anti-Christ figures. But I don’t think that’s what Alan Ball was up to; I think he is playing with the very idea of sacrifice itself, especially juxtaposed to both the maenad’s madness and the Fellowship of the Sun’s fanaticism.
There were so many plotlines running through this season – the Dallas vampires, Godrey’s saintly self-offering, the return of Lorena (and all the fantastically gory period kitch flashbacks that ensue), the introduction of the Queen (and Eric as the Queen’s V-selling proxy?!), Jason’s conversion and disenchantment with the Fellowship (not to mention his adulterous affair), then Jason’s own turn as self-appointed town hero, the maenad and the seduction of most of the town into orgiastic violence, Tara’s battle with her childhood demons, Lafayette’s imprisonment, torture, and PTSD, the self-destruction of the town’s apparently only straight black man (like Tara we might say “well ain’t that fucking how it always is”), Bill’s parenting attempts (which are completely abandoned once he gets to Dallas), Jessica’s coming of age and potential corruption – the list is dizzying. Having read the books, I can see how some of the plot lines are necessary to set up what might be coming next. Though watching Alan Ball & Co. play with the second book, I am not at all sure what he has in mind for the next season (I mean, do we really think he is ballsy enough to show us Bill’s betrayal? Isn’t he going to play nice for all the Stephen Moyer obsessed fans who fantasize about exactly those fangs, and no others?). But I digress.
In the midst of these overlapping, often disconnected plotlines, I wasn’t sure at all why a return to Bon Temps to witness the maenad’s final paroxysm of lust was a fitting dénouement, except that is the way it goes in the book (kind of). Unless of course the entire season was about lust, desire, and sacrifice, which I am starting to think it was (maybe the entire show is about this).
Lust and desire are easy to see, and they sort of come with the vampire territory. But the theme of sacrifice ran through this season especially in the contrast between The Fellowship of the Sun and Dionysian madness. Sure, sure, we get the point: look how hypocritical the fundamentalist Christians are, and look how similar their bloodlust and sheeplike obedience is to the hypnosis of the maenad. Is there really and difference? But if all Alan Ball wanted to do was point out that any kind of fanaticism leaves us unhinged, there was something startling about the solution: a kind of communal self-giving that reigns in selfish desire and abdicates senseless lust. And I have to admit, it was pretty kick-ass not that the sacrificial victim wasn’t Sookie all dolled up in her wedding dress.
posted by Kathryn