True Blood Season 3 Adds A Power Struggle

“True Blood” is set mainly in a fictional Louisiana town called Bon Temps, where Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a toothsome waitress at Merlotte’s roadhouse, first met the morally upstanding vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) two seasons ago. A Civil War veteran, the immortal Bill returned to his home town after the “great revelation,” in which America’s vampires came out of the coffin (so to speak) and revealed their existence to the rest of us. (They were able to do this thanks to a new beverage, Tru Blood, sort of like the Diet Coke of blood substitutes, that meant they could live without feeding on humans.) Bill hoped to start a normal — if nocturnal — life in Bon Temps. He and Sookie fell in love.
Turns out, a fake-blood beverage isn’t nearly as much fun as slurping the real thing; thus, “True Blood” knows it must offer at least one vicious neck-gnawing per hour. It also giddily obeys some old vampire lore, especially the one about hiding from the sun, but also the quaintly helpful protocol that vampires cannot come into your house unless you formally invite them in.

Since Season 1, the show has largely abandoned its obvious gay-rights metaphor (“God Hates Fangs,” reads a sign in the opening theme) in favor of the much more interesting battles among factions and territorial kingdoms of vampires — going from Miss Manners-style social dilemmas to full-on politics. The second season ended with Bill proposing marriage to Sookie; she went to the bathroom to get over her shock and decided to tell him yes; when she came out, Bill had been kidnapped.

By werewolves. Who, it turns out, are merely werewolf servants who report to someone else. (And that’s all I’m saying here, except to indicate that this season finds Bill committing the kinds of mortal sins we’d not expect him to.)

Sookie asks her local vampire sheriff, Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard), to help her find Bill. “True Blood” now completely belongs to Skarsgard’s beguilingly strong performance; although Paquin and Moyer are still the stars of the show, the camera loves Skarsgard more than anyone. So long, Bill Compton — I’ve learned from teenage girls how to switch vampire allegiances, and I’m Team Eric now.

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