True Blood Recap: Season 4, Episode 3 ““ “If You Love Me, Why Am I Dying?”

Witches? Oh, great, now I have to deal with witches?! No! Not my problem!

I have to say that I think Ball and co. seem have taken the complaints about last season to heart. Sookie is much closer to the Sookie of early 1st season and the book series ““ sassy, smart, and self-reliant. There’s a fine line between sassy and intolerable brat, and season 3 trod the hell over that line and well into “What the hell do I care about this girl?” territory. Tara also seems to be hewing more closely to her 1st season characterization ““ smart and strong. It helps that she’s more centered now after three years of having crap heaped on her shoulders ““ within the show it speaks to a real growth for Tara. It’s unfortunate that growth has to be tied to “(possible) political lesbian conversion after bad experience with men” cliché arc, but I’m willing to extend Ball the benefit of the doubt.

This episode is all about power, who has it, what they’re doing with it and how they wield it over other people. Jessica glamouring Hoyt, Tommy trying to screw over Maxine, Crystal and Jason, Bill and his role as King (I am the Authority!) and of course, there’s the sudden power inversion between Eric and Sookie. The scene where she washes his feet is cute and all, with Eric’s little shirtless giggle, but that’s some heavy symbolism going on there. We have both the washing away of sins, in which Eric literally becomes a new man, but we also have the Biblical story about Jesus washing the feet of his followers as a sign of humility.

 “He said to them, `Do ye know what I have done to you? Ye call me, ‘The Teacher’ and ‘The Lord,’ and ye say well, for I am; if then I did wash your feet — the Lord and the Teacher — ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given thee an example, that ye should do as I have done to ye. Verily, verily, I say unto ye, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”

Sookie has power now, but of all the people in this episode who are handed control over another person, she’s the only one not to abuse it. She does the right things ““ she lets Pam know that Eric is in her care, she agrees to care for him once she recognizes he’s in real danger, she tucks him away safe and sound and even feeds and clothes him. Though she tries to foist his care off on Alcide (Hello, Debbie Pelt!), ultimately the responsibility rests on her shoulders. She could really screw Eric over if she wanted to, but she hasn’t, and she won’t, not intentionally.

I mean, the girl even hugged Debbie Pelt. She’s a goddamn saint.

I think, in the question of power and what kind of person you are, the one to watch this season is Lafayette. It’s pretty obvious that he’s the supernatural battery to Marnie’s Wiccan spellage and sooner or later, he’s gonna realize that. I’ll make my predictions now ““ Jesus is going to lean towards abuse of power in the name of keeping people safe, just like Jessica and Bill, and Lala will have a chance to get even with Eric and Pam but won’t. I mean, I hope he won’t. Lala is a monetary opportunist, but he’s not an asshole. Look back at his first season interaction with poor, sad Vampire Eddie. Lafayette treated him with real tenderness when he could have easily manipulated Eddie instead.

In-story highlights:

  • Bill executes a vampire for being filmed feeding on a human, not for the actual feeding. An important distinction ““ especially given how natural and warm Bill’s complexion is these days. He also pretends to be a good father to Jessica after treating her like crap for 3 seasons, and, oh yeah, murdering her. And he starts banging Portia. If I know my True Blood, this will become awkward before the end of the season.
  • Jason is most certainly going to become a werepanther. Yay?
  • Eric murders the shit out of Sookie’s fairy godmother.
  • And, hey, I’m glad to see that my insistence that the first episode originally had a figure lurking in the woods was proven correct — Claudine, prior to being eaten, admits she was the one hanging around in the shadows when Sookie fought off the Rattrays.
  • Jessica tells Hoyt about feeding off the fangbanger and then glamours him into forgetting it. And then she gives an obviously possessed doll to a creepy baby.

  • Creepy baby is creepy. As a parent, how do you think you’d feel about your child getting cast in a show because he gives off demon vibes?
  • Marnie gives a really depressing plea to the nether world. She just wants to know she’s special, even if that means becoming a vessel for a spirit. Any spirit. An evil one will do just fine. Next week, she’ll have a picnic in the park and take into her all the powers of Manno.

  • Pam and her red dress. I would like her to just parade around in that all season, because it’s fabulous. She had a lot of great moments in the episode ““ the way she smoothes back her hair and pastes on a fake smile after Eric throws her across the room, the desperation she breaths when asking Sookie to look after him, the threat she levels on Tara, Jesus and Lafayette ““ I think this is going to be her season to stand out. (Again, Ball seems to recognize that the audience just loves this character and is responding accordingly.)

There’s one thing left to discuss about this episode and I know you all know exactly what I’m going to say: Jason gets raped.

I’ll eat my hat if no one on the writing staff has seen the movie A Boy and His Dog or read the Harlen Ellison novella. The last scene with Jason is set up essentially the same as the sequence in the movie ““ “˜Boy’ Don Johnson (seriously) has been lured to an inbred mutant community to help fertilize the women, and after being drugged, ends up strapped to a bed while his semen is harvested while a line of young women eagerly wait their turn.

Apparently there’s some sort of dancing around the way to discuss this part of the episode. But I don’t know how anyone could view this scene and frame it in any other way. Jason is drugged and tied to a bed while Crystal has sex with him ““ even the establishing shots seem like something out of a horror movie. Just because he’s not yelling “no” or “rape” doesn’t make it any less of an act of violence.

I don’t know how the show will ultimately deal with this ““ they did a fairly unapologetic take on Tara’s storyline last year. They never shied away from saying Tara was raped and even had her attend a survivor meeting as part of her healing process. And like Jason, Tara had willingly had sex with her rapist at one point, as well as being shown having several unapologetic dalliances throughout the series. It’s not a show that deals in slut shaming or punishing people for their sex lives. Jason is not “getting his” for being heavily sexed-up as some people seem to be suggesting; he just has had the bad fortune to get involved with and trapped by two really screwed up methheads (V-addicts).

Female on male sexual violence is not something usually dealt with in popular culture and I’m going to be keeping a close eye on how the story develops. Clearly they’ve deviated heavily from the Hotshot storyline in the books. Now that Jason is going to be used to impregnate the Hotshot women, or at the very least, become a were-panther, there seems to be no way of extracting him from this storyline. We’re going to be dealing with the fallout from this all season long.

 

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[E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of powderroom.jezebel.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at slay@persephonemagazine.com. She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

11 thoughts on “True Blood Recap: Season 4, Episode 3 ““ “If You Love Me, Why Am I Dying?””

  1. Pam’s dress was amazing. So was the spike-y leather jacket! I have been fantasizing about wearing that all week.

    And he starts banging Portia. If I know my True Blood, this will become awkward before the end of the season.

    Can not wait to see how this turns out, lol!

  2. I thought it was really stupid of Sookie to go to Alcide about Eric. Pam told her not to tell anyone and she did anyway. Sookie running to Bill and Alcide for help seemed a little pathetic. It’s almost like her helplessness is really a ploy for romantic attention from them…Pam’s character runs circles around everyone. She is so smart and has an awesome ability to wrangle in her emotions to get things done. Also, does no one care Jason is missing because we know those Stackhouse kids go missing all the time?

    1. Well, we know that Andy has been looking for Jason, because that’s who he was calling when he pulled into Merlotte’s to dose up. I’m not super surprised that Sookie isn’t aware that Jason is missing yet — they do really seem to move in different circles and we’ve all seen how myopic Sookie gets about her own problems.

      I guess the other implication is that he hasn’t been dating anyone since he started taking care of the Hotshot kids, since there’s no girlfriend showing up to bitch about how unreliable Jason is.

    2. The way she said ‘Well, maybe I’ll just go to Bill’ was super bitchy — she does seem to expect the benefits of ‘favored girlfriend status’ even though she isn’t in the relationship any longer. But to be honest, I’ve pulled the same thing with exes at her age, when I’m trying to get out of the emotional headspace of being involved with them. Her breakup was like 3 days ago by her timeline.

      But its also nice for her to have to realize she can’t count on the ‘boys’ to solve her problems. This is something she has to do herself.

  3. I loved this episode. I especially loved the Eric scenes (yes, yes, I know, I need to take a cold shower already). I had no idea that he was such a good actor. He plays humble, embarrassed and shy so well that he’s almost not even cute in those scenes, he’s so pitiful (almost being the key word). I’m really impressed with Alexander Skarsgard so far this season. He isn’t a one trick pony. He’s a really good actor (and hilarious, I might add). The last scene, that face. Oh, just awesome.

    And yes, Pam was fierce in that dress. I’m really impressed with her so far this season, too.

    I expect some sort of Debbie Pelt vs Sookie in the future…I don’t believe Debbie is all sweetness and light. Or if she is, she isn’t gonna stay that way. Alcide clearly had the hots for Sookie, and I think Debbie will want to settle that score before it’s all over with. Their fighting scene was awesome, so I’d welcome another one.

  4. Yeah, the reason I’m worried about Jason’s rape is that they *won’t* treat it as a rape and instead will just consider it sex (as punishment or something). Which, just, no.

    I’m still unsure how I feel about Amnesia Eric. I really liked Amnesia Eric in the book, but I feel like he’s going to have to smarten up a little soon and stop being completely wide-eyed and naive, because that may get old soon.

  5. Jason is not “getting his” for being heavily sexed-up as some people seem to be suggesting;

    Unfortunately, some of the people suggesting this include creator Alan Ball and also I think the director of the episode. I can’t find the interview but they were quoted describing it as Jason’s “comeuppance.”

    1. I think its important to draw the line between being punished for being promiscuous and the consequences of a character’s particular actions. Lots of characters on the show have lots of sex and have lots of bad things happen to them, but none of the ‘bad things’ ever seem to come across as finger-shaming because of the promiscuity. I’d be surprised to see the ‘comeuppance’ supposed to be a punishment because of Jason’s sex life, but I’d be unsurprised to see it tied to his .. hmm, how do I phrase this right? — really callow treatment of the people around him. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but from having spent a lot of time revisiting Jason’s actions in the rewatch series, I’ve been surprised to see how really horrible he can be. The very disturbing play rape scene from the first season jumps immediately to my mind.

      All that said — and I’m not sure if I’ve been precisely clear with my feelings on the matter — I haven’t read that interview and I don’t know how the rape is going to play out aside from vague rumors about developments later in the season. I’ll be deeply disappointed if the show takes the Puritan root with Jason.

      1. I think the show is smarter than that. At least, I hope so.

        This is a long shot but I’d love to see them pair Jason with Jessica. She knows something about being changed against her will, and on some level the two are very alike. And also, she could kick Crystal’s ass.

        The whole scene with him being basically gang raped by werepanthers really bothered me. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but now that I’ve read your recap I see it. It IS almost like he’s getting his comeuppance for being a dirty little boy in past seasons. I hope they deal with it in a way that’s not completely offensive.

      2. I think its important to draw the line between being punished for being promiscuous and the consequences of a character’s particular actions.

        I completely agree .
        Also, while I didn’t make a correlation between Jason being a “heavily sexed-up” character and the rape as a comeuppance I did feel that he was punished for falling for a girl just because she was attractive even though he knew she was trouble all along. Almost like the “men think with their dicks” meme.

        1. Jason has been used as a punchline pretty much throughout the series…it’s like, ‘haha, he slept with this girl, now she’s been murdered. Oh, there it is again! Oops, let’s kill this one, too! Oooh, now he’s gonna be in love with the good Reverend’s wife!’ Basically any time he has a love interest I fully expect him to get fucked over.

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