After starting off strong last week with the thematic and thrilling opening episode to the second season, "Keep the Party Going" works instead to begin to build a broader theme to the season. Two themes begin to emerge; one is that of cults and their followers, both ultra-conservative (Fellowship of the Light) and ultra-liberal (the Dionysus-approved Kool-Aid MaryAnn is serving to the unsuspecting at Bon Temps).
Meanwhile, True Blood is also looking at vampire mythology through the lens of the old (Eric) and the new (Jessica). It's this quadrangle of stories that Bill and Sookie weave in and out of, thank goodness, because without the support, I think the series would fall flat. Chicago Tribune's Mo Ryan may have said it best recently when she remarked that True Blood "is a donut show -- everything/everyone around the center is way more interesting."
To that point, as far as I'm concerned the more of Eric (Alexander Skarsgard), Pam (Kristen Bauer), and Chow (Patrick Gallagher) the better. The scenes with Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) could be its own successful spin-off, especially if the drag queen's option 'C' were to be filled by Eric and he becomes a vamp. Through the books, it's been assumed that Eric was a Viking, so hearing him and Pam confer in *Swedish confirms it even more, but it also makes Lafayette's chained appearance more disturbing given the Swedish Viking's slave trade history. Of course, the Vikings era ended before the Swedes ever traded in African slaves, but Lafayette's bondage and treatment feel tightly bound to that despicable history. Is it any wonder he's ready to tell them just about anything (even if it amounts to giving up poor firstname.lastname@example.org)?
So if I even got a Jew at an Al Qaeda pep rally shot at gettin' my black ass up outta this muthaf**ker, I'm takin' it.
*Swedish, of course, is actor Alexander Skarsgard native language. He's been named Sweden's Sexiest Man five times since 1999.
From the new vampire perspective, adding home-schooled teen vamp Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) to the story seemed necessary to add some punch to the Bill-Sookie dynamic, but she also provides some comic relief and serves as a useful (and common) plot device: a newcomer who learns about who she is while the audience, in turn, does the same. Like crying tears of blood, for instance. With Sookie guiding her, it becomes a (perhaps unfortunate?) metaphor for her first period, and brings up a theory I had before about women and fascination with vampires. I posed this theory to my own bleeder at home, and she thought it was amusing so I blame her if it offends. OK, it goes like this ... based mostly on the Twilight phenomenon, it's well established that the most rabid fans are 1) female and 2) both near the beginning (tweens) and end (mid-lifers) of their menstruation life. To that I merely ask, is it just a coincidence that bleeding and bloodsucking should be so intertwined?
As far as the cult Ying (Fellowship of the Light) and Yang (MaryAnn's debauchery) goes, I'm mostly going to reserve delving into those for next week. It's just worth noting that cult extremism (and all extremism for that matter) is like a circle -- the further right and the further left you go, it's inevitable that you meet on the other side of rational, i.e. crazy. Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) just happens to be the perfect example of someone who can walk across those extreme cults and find a way to fit in. And by find a way, I of course just mean he's dumb.
Other things noticed, music edition:
• Speaking of Fellowship of the Light (and dumb), that was Molly Burnett (Melanie on Days of Our Lives) as Amanda Jane singing "Jesus Just Asked Me Out." And yes, it actually is available on iTunes (bonus track to soundtrack release). Here's hoping for the second single ("Jesus Met My Parents (and they thought he looked like a hippy)"
• I'd think Merlotte's would be the last jukebox to have the B-52's on it, but I guess having "Keep This Party Going" as the episode title track made it necessary to bend reality a tad. (It's popcorn TV, right?)
In attempts to get True Blood posts up the night of airing, these playlists will appear a tad incomplete until updated on Monday. UPDATED!
Playlist: True Blood - Episode 2.02
1. "Forty Years Down The Road" - Stock music from Black Toast Music (George Strait knockoff) - MaryAnn orders the menu at Merlottes
2. "God Blessed Texas" - Little Texas - Jason shows up Luke at capture the flag
3. "I Can See It" - Stock music from Music Box - Background at Merlottes
4. "Lighten Up" Stock music from Downright Music - Background at Merlottes
5. "Jesus Asked Me Out Today" - Amanda Jane And The God Rockets (Molly Burnett) - leadership retreat performance
6. "Not Coming Down" - Stock music from Messy Music - Bill in department store shopping for Jessica
7. "You're Gonna Miss Me" - Stock music from 5 Alarm Music - Daphne talks with MaryAnn
8. "Wanna Cause Some Trouble" - Stock music from Black Toast Music - Sam and Andy talk at Merlottes, MaryAnn starts to work her magic
9. "One And Only" - Stock music from Black Toast Music - Eric and Bill at Dept. store
10. "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" - Sonny Terry - Tara & Eggs talk at Merlottes
11. "Keep This Party Going" - The B-52's - patrons get hot & heavy, Sam confronts MaryAnn
11. "Deeper Into You" - Johnny Hazzard - Lafayette pleads with Eric to turn him
12. "You Did" - Chuck Prophet - closing credits
Previously: "Nothing But the Blood": Payback Sucks