Maryann Forrester: Mysterious, Mad, Maenad

September 1, 2009 by  

Maryann prepares a "Meat Tree" for "The God Who Comes".Maryann Forrester (Michelle Forbes) is a charming yet deadly supernatural creature called a MAENAD in the HBO Series, True Blood, which is based on the best-selling Sookie Stackhouse series of novels by Charlaine Harris. Maryann makes her first appearance in the  season one episode of True Blood, “To Love is to Bury”.  She arrives in town as a sort of Social Worker for hard luck cases whom she rescues at various low points in their lives and brings them to live with her. Maryann’s most recent acquisition? Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley), the new bartender at Merlotte’s and the best friend of female lead character, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin).  At the same time, on the way to Shreveport with boyfriend Vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), Sookie is attacked in the woods by something with the head of a bull and poisonous claws and must endure a painful procedure by an odd doctor in order to save her life.

Maryann’s Enigmatic History in True Blood:

Not much is revealed about Maryann when she briefly appears in the late episodes of season one, except that Maryann seems to share a secret history with Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) the owner of the local watering hole, aptly named, “Merlotte’s”.  This history is further explored through a subsequent episode where we learn that the two had a brief affair when Sam was just 17  -and it didn’t end well.  We also come to find that Maryann not only knows about Sam’s shape shifting abilities but that she has the power to turn him into anything whenever she chooses.

Maryann coddles her new “project” Tara and plays into all the untended emotional scares left by her awful childhood and her alcoholic mother Lettie Mae (Adina Porter).  Soon, Tara discovers that Maryann likes to throw lavish parties. During which, unbeknownst to Tara and the other guests, Maryann likes to steal away and perform ritualistic chants beckoning her God, which also happens to make her entire body vibrate like a cheap massage chair.

“Lo Lo Bromios, Lo Lo Dendrites, Lo Lo Eleutherios, Lo Lo Enorches, Lo Lo Bacchus”

Unfortunately, this ritual seems to turn the partygoers into ebony-eyed, hedonistic “zombies” whose actions are driven mysteriously by reckless abandon and debauchery (which Maryann seems to thrive on). After these parties no one seems to remember what happened, but they are certain they had a good time. Soon Tara and another resident at Casa d’Maryann Tara’s new boyfriend “Eggs” (Mehcad Brooks) are completely enmeshed in Maryann’s world of Dionysian revelry. By now it’s clear that Maryann wants total control over Tara, Eggs and the entire town of Bon Temps and she’s going to use Sam to get it.  After manipulating her way into living with Tara and Eggs at Sookie’s house while Sookie is out of town, Maryann’s master plan becomes clearer. She is going to sacrifice Sam Merlotte to her God known only as “The God Who Comes”… but first she has to find him.

The dénouement – Maryann’s Victory Lap or Crashing Demise?

It’s not long before Maryann has the whole town under her spell … literally.  She has indeed taken control of the minds and bodies of almost everyone in Bon Temps. Maryann now has an army of devout if not completely hypnotized followers to do her bidding. Her orders?

“Find Sam Merlotte and bring him to me”.

At the same time, Sookie, Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) and Bill arrive back in Bon Temps after dealing with their own supernatural problems in Dallas. They find the town trashed and in total chaos. After hearing there’s a mob waiting for Sam at Merlotte’s Jason takes off planning a “Call of Duty” rescue while Sookie and Bill take off to locate Tara. When they get to Sookie’s house they find a strange huge horn statue made out of raw meat and fauna on the front lawn. When Sookie and Bill enter the house they see it has been completely transformed into a different dwelling – only to be confronted by Maryann claiming the house is now hers. When Maryann starts to attack Sookie, Bill attacks and bites her and is subsequently poisoned by her blood, forcing him to jump back, vomiting and retching with pain. But Maryann soon finds out that she might be in store for something she wasn’t expecting in our heroine, Sookie Stackhouse.  Faced with Maryann’s escalating threats and Bill’s debilitated state, a furious Sookie pushes Maryann’s face away from hers.  To everyone’s surprise a powerful energy expels from Sookie’s hand and temporarily forces Maryann to back off. Maryann is amazed and curiously delighted in this display and watches Bill and Sookie leave while pondering out loud “what are you?”

Meanwhile, Sam is tricked by zombified waitress Arlene (Carrie Preston) to come to Merlotte’s where unbeknownst to him, the town is laying in wait. Sam and local, disgraced, alcoholic detective Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) arrive and are ambushed by the frenzied mob and barely escape, by locking themselves in the Merlotte’s freezer. Eventually, with the help of an un-possessed Jason Stackhouse (Sookie’s hunky but vapid brother) they escape twice, the last time with an assist by Andy Bellefleur. It seems Jason and Andy are unaffected by Maryann’s trance most likely because they were out of town when Maryann “zotzed” the Bon Temps townsfolk with her funky magic.

Sookie and Bill hear word that Tara has been snatched from Maryann’s clutches by her cousin Lafayette (Nelson Ellis) and her rehabilitated mother Lettie Mae (Adina Porter) and is the unwilling participant in an ineffectual “intervention”. They need help and fast. Sookie and Bill join forces to simultaneously “glamour” and read Tara’s thoughts which both snaps Tara out of her possession and fills Sookie and Bill in on what’s been going on while they were away.

Bill tells Sookie he now believes he knows what Maryann is:

a Maenad, literally meaning “raving ones” an immortal follower of the God Dionysus that causes and feeds on chaos and all things indulgent.

Bill believes that he might know someone who knows how to defeat her. He leaves at Vampire speed and discover he’s come to meet with, the heretofore unknown, Queen of Louisiana (Evan Rachel Wood).

Will Bill be able to use the information from Queen Sophie Ann to save Bon Temps and Sam?  Will Maryann’s “God” come to Bon Temps and if so what will he do?  What was that power that emanated from Sookie’s hand that shocked Maryann?  Hopefully, at least some of these questions will be answered in the season finale of True Blood airing September 13th.  So get your bottles of Tru Blood ready!

(Photo credit: HBO)