Alan Ball was known for his masterful use of music in Six Feet Under. He's lost none of his touch when it comes to his current HBO series, True Blood -- which happens to be set in the Louisiana swamps, not terribly far from Houston.
There's a very interesting metaphor going on right now in True Blood that's been heretofore fairly buried as the show somewhat hamfistedly put into place several plotlines that were, truthfully, a little poorly thought out.
However, there's some evidence here in episode 3 that it could all pay off with the exploration of an amazing and necessary lesson, that we pay for every scar we inflict on another in our care.
Obviously this ties in most with the fact that Tara (Rutina Wesley) has been turned into a reluctant vampire by Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) by trading favors with Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten). The Sookie and Lafayette side of the story isn't really driving the show past second gear, but the glimpses into Pam's past, her meeting with Eric (Alexander Skarsgård), and the manner in which she became a vampire by giving him the choice of saving her or watching her die is damned compelling.
Throughout the series, Pam has been portrayed as loyal to her maker in a way that transcends most other vampiric relationships. She appreciates the gift of her unlife, something that we now know saved her from an inglorious death as an aging prostitute, and has withstood torture in order to spare Eric every pain she could.
Yet when faced with the burden of her own offspring, someone caught in similar life-threatening circumstances though not someone she cared about as Eric obviously cared for her, she rejects the role. She rejects the need to own her own actions, and it's not until the very last scene that it dawns on Pam what the act of abandonment is, and how you cannot deny the wounds you inflict on another, or turn away when they fester uncared for.
Police found a girl in Kansas City, Missouri, this week. Her mother had been, for some deranged reason, locking her in a closet without food or water while periodically beating her.
Quotes from the child portray her as a soft, innocent thing, as I'm sure she is, but what is born from that level of complete disregard for a life in your care? What do you send out into the world maimed to live, and what do they have to do to survive?
This idea permeates every relationship in the fifth season. Eric and Bill (Stephen Moyer), who are continuing an excellent run as buddy cops for the vampire Vatican, make the acquaintance of the Biblical Salome. She tells Bill of her childhood, how her mother sold her teenage virginity to Herod in exchange for the head of John the Baptist, who had insulted her mother.
From that cold, callous exchange of a daughter's body for personal gain is a legacy of misogyny, fear of women and a whole lot of institutional anti-feminism. All because of one mean bitch.
The song this week is something that fully lives up to the greatness of the True Blood team's best selections, Nina Simone's "Whatever I Am (You Made Me)." Not one of her most famous standards, the tune is still a hell of a good example of the amazing capabilities of Simone's voice. It still rings with power, despite what is essentially a message of slavery.
The lyrics, sometimes lovingly, sometimes condemningly, intone that every mistake, every malformation of self that you end up as is the result of the shot those you love get to take at you with their tomahawks as you go through the developmental gauntlet. Mostly what it says is that you have to gaze upon your work.
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We are all four-dimensional sculptors, shaping lives in flesh and time with every person that we come in contact with. Those that stand the most in our presence suffer or benefit the most from our knives. True Blood has embraced this in all aspects of the current season, and as they have done in the best moments in the past, the team brings it home wrapped in a nice little audio package.
We got off to a rocky start this time around, but things are looking up for the vampires of the South.