True Blood “Hard-Hearted Hannah”… Getting to the Heart of the matter…leading to Questions…and Even More Questions!

August 4, 2009 by  

hhh-billThis episode left me with an excessive anxiety-overload…with so many beloved characters in either physical or emotional peril (and sometimes both at the Same time)… I find myself taking to heart Terry Bellefleur’s wise advice…imagining a golden glowing ball radiating warmth and safety… sincerely hoping that there will be rescue for those in danger and some resolution to the zillions of questions we are all asking at this halfway point in the season…

Such as….Who and/or What in the blazes IS Maryann? What does she want? Will anyone survive to tell the tale? Can’t some even bigger and more bad-assed supe please come along and kick her ass OUT of Bon Temps? There are seemingly no depths to which she will not sink to ensnare everyone and everything into her madness … and it is just very difficult to watch while something so apparently unstoppable takes over the entire town of Bon Temps. The Good Times have simply stopped being any good for most of my favorite characters…and it makes me feel like screaming like a banshee!!

WHAT is Eric doing with Lorena? I am anxiously awaiting the answer to that question. Alan and his merry band of writers must know what the heck they are doing…mustn’t they? I am trying to trust in that and to stop feeling as though I have entered the Twilight Zone (noooo, not That Twilight!!) and I just know that Rod Serling is going to come around the corner at any moment to reveal that we have left this dimension entirely. Please tell me someone is old enough to understand the reference here! [Editor’s Note: I’m old enough to remember black and white talkies…]

Where,oh where has our sassy outrageous Lafayette gone…oh where,oh where can he beeee??? I. just. miss. him. SO much. It breaks my heart into pieces to see him so frightened! [Editor’s Note: Lafayette in general makes me think I’m transgender AND gay.. ]

These and so many other questions had my head spinning like a top during this entire episode… and I had to think long and hard about how to put my feelings into any coherent words after watching it…

pamA few Illuminating* lyrics from “Hard-Hearted Hannah”

“…A pretty gal there
Who’s colder than an arctic storm
Got a heart just like a stone
Even nice men leave her alone
They call her “hard hearted Hannah”
The vamp of Savannah
The meanest gal in town
Leather is tough, but Hannah’s heart is tougher
She’s a gal who loves to see men suffer
To tease them and thrill ’em
To torture and kill ’em
Is her delight they say…”

Seems to me that this description could be appropriate for all manner of characters on True Blood. Lorena, Maryann and Daphne immediately spring to mind since each of them is more than able to claim that title for their very own. [Editor’s Note: I always find myself screaming ‘That BITCH!’ to which everyone replies, which one???] The lines between who is Good and who is Evil have continued to blur, leaving us careening wildly on an emotional roller coaster that has lost it’s brakes!!

I confess, this episode really threw me for a loop. I passionately miss the balance of Light and Darkness. I find myself craving the laugh-out-loud humor and the wackiness and the belly-busting hilarity that has been such a cornerstone of True Blood in the past season and a half. Don’t get me wrong…there has always been danger and evil deeds lurking all along…but there has always been a balance. For instance, we could always count on Jason or Tara or Lafayette to do or say something outrageous to break the unbearable tension…and now they are each in such conflict and in so much danger that the lighthearted moments are few and far between these days. There are so many irons in the fire and so many explosive situations on the verge of spontaneous combustion that I am worn out just trying to keep track of all of it. Even so, here is my best effort at unraveling the tangled web of episode 6…

We find Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) trying to enjoy his *meal* (provided by a beautiful and most willing blood donor)…and he finds that there is just not that much thrill left in feeding on the willing. She does her best to act the part of frightened “prey”…but her “performance” is sadly interrupted by the arrival of Eric‘s invited guest, Lorena (Mariana Klaveno). (WHAT the …. ???!!) I am holding onto hope for some clarity and awaiting many more facts before deciding what this could mean as regards any future events. Not that anyone, and I do mean anyone, could possibly guess what the writers are up to this year. As always, Time will Tell.

Cut to a beautifully tender moment in the afterglow of lovemaking for Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Bill (Stephen Moyer), interrupted by a knock on the door, announcing the arrival of Isabel (Valerie Cruz)and her human, Hugo(Christopher Gartin). Isabel has come to offer her assistance since it is obvious to her that Bill is worried for Sookie, feeling it is only right since Godric (Allan Hyde) is her sheriff and not Bill‘s responsibility. Sookie reads Hugo‘s mind, feeling reassured that he and Isabel are in love…but I am not really sure why this is of so much importance to her. Perhaps she is identifying with Hugo and trying to understand him in order to trust his offer of help?  There seemed to be an underlying atmosphere of tension, despite Sookie‘s efforts to remain obstinately optimistic about her ability to solve the problem at hand… and I am once again frustrated with the way in which Sookie seems so blind to the enormity of the danger all around her. Believe me, I very much appreciate the whole “I am Woman, hear me roar” sensibility, but there is also a much needed wisdom in being able to evaluate the situation at hand in a realistic way…and she often seems completely clueless.

Back at the Hotel Carmilla lounge, Lorena and Eric are having a conversation…and I had the feeling that there was more subtext and deceptive double-talk than there was any actual communication going on between them. I think that Eric could be seriously underestimating Lorena and her vicious nature. Ditto Lorena, as regards Eric and the power and fury of his tenacious will.  Something tells me a showdown between these two would be cataclysmic!! I think we have only begun to imagine the cost to everyone involved in this scenario.

Meanwhile, we flashback to Chicago in 1926…and Vampire Bill…umm…Guillaume (which is French for William, by the way) is playing the piano and belting out “Hard-Hearted Hannah”. Bravo to Stephen Moyer for showing off his mad skills as a singer and piano player! [Editor’s note: I’m pretty sure that was Nathan Barr tickling those ivories.. as to the singing.. who knows?] Lorena (also with an assumed French name) is doing her best to seduce an unwitting couple…admiring the woman’s beautiful necklace (though not nearly as much as she is admiring her Neck!!) Bill, breathtakingly gorgeous in a tux, could charm the birds right outta the trees…and he presses his lips against the woman’s hand lingeringly… “Enchante”, indeed!

At Merlotte‘s, we find Sam (Sam Trammel) and Daphne (Ashley Jones), naked as jaybirds on the pool table…and Sam wonders about those three nasty scratches on Daphne‘s back. She claims that she remembers the incident well, but “never got a look at who or what it was that jumped me”. HA! I have been wondering about Daphne‘s hidden agenda for a long while now…and Sam totally melts my heart and looks so happy and at peace that it makes me want to weep…and then…slap him upside the head! This girl is Trouble with a capital T. He finally asks a really good question when he wonders where the eff she came from. That is a VERY good question Sam! But the question-and-answer portion of the evening comes to a quick halt as more “pool table sex” is next up on the menu. Sam! Quit thinking below your belt before it is Too Late!

Over at Sookie‘s, an exceedingly crabby Maryann (Michelle Forbes) is seriously pissed that the ancient water heater has given up the ghost…No hot water for her shower? Scandalous!! is giving her a mani/pedi (or maybe just a pedi!) and Tara (Rutina Wesley) finds the part they need to repair the hot water heater at a shop two hours away. She finagles permission to take Eggs (Mehcad Brooks)  with her and they are off on a road trip…

jasonBack at the Light of Day Institute, Luke (Wes Brown) and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) are summoned to meet Sarah (Anna Camp) and Steve (Michael McMillian) on the Sanctuary Lawn for a little construction project. Can I just say that Steve Newlin with a drill in one hand and a smug self-satisfied grin plastered on his face just creeps me out, bigtime? Especially when he proceeds to “enlighten” Luke(Wes Brown) and Jason about the purpose of the “platform and cross” that he is having them build. The juxtaposition of some very superficial trappings of religion combined with an agenda motivated by hatred and the intention of wiping out an entire “race” of beings is disturbing in the extreme. It is a reminder to everyone about the inherent danger in any group supposing that they are better than any other group and that they have a right to decide who lives and who dies. Maybe that is why I find Steve and Sarah Newlin and their henchman Gabe(Greg Collins)  so nauseating… seeing hatred and intolerance all dressed-up as a righteous “calling” just gives me a royal pain where the sun don’t shine…I am sure you get my drift. Especially when Luke describes the ceremony in which the vampire is chained to a cross just before dawn to “meet the sun” as Steve yells out, “Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding,Ding” … like some kind of demented gameshow host… Gee, what do we have for them today, Steve?  Behind door number two, charbroiled vampire!! I don’t mean to be crude…but, dammit, I need something to laugh about…this show is getting waaayyy toooo heavy…and Dark! Somebody turn on the Light, and quick!

Hey, Sookie and Hugo are getting engaged… well, not really… but Hugo produces an engagement ring for Sookie to wear to the Fellowship of the Sun to complete the illusion that they are a happy couple looking for a place to get hitched. Hugo wonders if Sookie will be able to act the part of a vampire-hating zealot…and Sookie reassures him that she has heard enough from the minds of hateful people to give her plenty to work with. What she really wants is to compare notes with Hugo about dating a vampire…and I am sure she regretted asking when Hugo bemoaned his humanity and his miserable fate of growing old while the vampires remain young and gorgeous. Sookie slapped her infamous nervous grin on her face and said it would be okay if she died today since she would then never have to know what it would be like to be unwanted and unloved once she became too old for Bill. Are we supposed to imagine that vampires cannot love in the way humans can love? I would be very interested to see Bill‘s reaction to this concept, since he seems to love Sookie so desperately…especially since he did not “turn her” when he had the opportunity to do so. It seems to me that Bill loves Sookie all the more because she IS human…and she has helped him to find his way back to his own humanity …something he cherishes and works so hard to reclaim every day of his existence. [Editor’s Note: I really think they better worry about how to keep the vampires looking young in season 14 before we worry about aging humans!]


Tara and Eggs are on a road trip…and Tara cracks me up when she mocks Maryann… “Bitches! Don’t you know that sarcasm and cold water don’t mix?!!” All of a sudden, Eggs has a kind of “premonition” that they will see a red diner built out of an old barn just around the next bend…and lo and behold, there it is! This freaks them both out…but Eggs beseeches Tara to pull off the road so he can follow his intuition. Off he walks into the woods, with Tara following…not knowing where he is going or why he wants to go there…

Back at Merlotte‘s, Arlene (Carrie Preston) wants to know if Terry (Todd Lowe) is still up for doing something after work. Terry nervously says yes…but when Arlene tells him she has a surprise lined up for him later… he lets her know in no uncertain terms that he does NOT like surprises. She gives him a meaningful look and says that’s too bad since she is a “very mysterious woman”. Good grief! There is just something about Arlene that makes me want to smack her. I always have the feeling that she is about to “step in it” at any moment and woe befall the poor suckers who are there when she does.

Meanwhile, Maxine (Dale Raoul) is having lunch at Merlotte‘s and in storms Hurricane Hoyt (yeee haaaa!!!!) fit to be tied when he discovers that his mama has turned off his cellphone service. Why do I think that Hoyt will live to regret it when he feels the need to inform her and her lunch buddy that his girlfriend only calls him late at night because she is a vampire! UH OH! If looks could kill, Hoyt would have been struck dead on sight!

I am absolutely loving Jim Parrack as Hoyt…he is doing an amazing job this year and has become one of my very favorite characters on the show. Ditto, Deborah Ann Woll as Jessica. These two are such a sweet treat in the “little shop of horrors” this week…and I can hardly wait to see what the future will bring for them. Hopefully a whole lotta lovin’!

Back at Merlotte‘s, Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) comes barreling in, looking for Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), wanting to interrogate him about where he has been for the last few weeks, accusing him of the murder of Miss Jeanette. He gets right in his face…wanting to know why Lafayette has “lost his pizzazz”… and threatens to lock him up in a cell until he confesses. Suddenly, Lafayette imagines Andy morphing into Eric…and cringes in fear, backing into a corner in total terror. [Editor’s Note: I admit it, I laughed, then felt guilty as heck so I ate chocolate as penance] Just in time, Terry comes in and demands that Andy stop immediately. I loved it when Terry told Andy that he used to “make his arrests with dignity” when they played cops and robbers as kids…and tells him that this is not the kind of cop he set out to be…reminding him that he actually isn’t a cop anymore (since Sheriff Bud (William Sanderson) took his badge away from him a while back). Andy apologizes to “Mr. Reynolds” and leaves shamefaced.

Todd Lowe absolutely *shines* in the following scene, comforting Lafayette, relating to him as someone who really understands what it is like to relive the harrowing moments of life. He puts his arms around Lafayette, telling him to close his eyes and imagine a “golden glowing ball radiating warmth and safety”. This was a highlight of the episode, not to mention really good advice!!  Poor Lafayette… he is in a really dark place right now.

Daphne and Sam decide to blow off work after Sam tells her he can’t concentrate because he keeps picturing her ON the pool table. He pretty much orders her to “take all her clothes off and meet him out back” so they can “shift” and run and play. I am pretty sure he is most interested in Playtime…and Daphne seems to be hot to trot as well.

Luke and Jason are doing a little bonding while hammering nails into the platform they are building…and Jason slips and hammers his own thumb, with Luke scolding him for not paying attention because he is “distracted”. Little does Luke know just how distracted Jason really is…especially when Luke tells him that is the “holiest woman he knows”. Hmmm.

Sarah , meanwhile, is out in the parking lot, greeting Sookie and Hugo (aka Holly Simpson and her fiancee Rufus … or is that Doofus?)  as they drive in. Sookie and Sarah compete to see who can give me a bigger cavity with their honey-sweet compliments to one another…and Sookie cannot seem to stop herself from bubbling and babbling away, while Hugo looks like he would love to stuff a gag in her mouth. Sarah tells them that she wants them to meet Steve

In Steve‘s office, Sarah and Steve talk to them about joining the “church” and Sookie “hears” Steve wondering about the platform, thinking that he “cannot wait to bring that vampire up from the basement and watch the sun do him the justice that 2,000 years of living couldn’t do”. Sookie reassures them of her attitude regarding vampires, telling them that she knows that “every one of them is a vicious bloodthirsty killer”.

bill-lorenaCut to Lorena, lovingly touching her necklace, remembering a particularly bloody romp with Bill/ “Guillaume” in which he presents her the necklace, taken from the blood-soaked neck of one of their victims/meals. This entire scene was disturbing in the extreme and very difficult to watch. We see the depths of depravity into which Bill has descended in his years with Lorena … and watching him cruelly taunt and torment his victims with Lorena urging him on was disgusting to say the least. I kept remembering the many times Bill has described the many facets of darkness in the life of a vampire … and Sookie was right on the money when she told him that she thought he didn’t like vampires, even though he is one. We are brought to full and complete awareness of exactly why he feels that way. Enough said.

Meanwhile, Tara and Eggs wind up in the middle of the woods, in some sort of “ceremonial circle” with clothes strewn about and blood in an indentation on one of the stones. Eggs cannot remember what happened there, but feels it is no coincidence that he was drawn to that spot. He breaks down into tears of anguish and Tara leads him away, trying to comfort him. WHY didn’t this whole excursion into the woods completely freak her out? I keep thinking that Tara is under some kind of compulsion via Maryann that deadens her natural emotions…it is just not “normal” for Tara to be so subdued and not to be more curious…it just doesn’t seem to fit with her nature, and therefore seems ever more ominous as to *why* that is…

Back at the Fellowship “church”, Steve and Sarah make a big show of leading Sookie and Hugo into the sanctuary, saying that when they open the doors, “So much love comes flowing out that it will knock you down if you’re not ready for it”. Both Steve and Sarah really pour on the schmaltz and it felt like a sideshow at a circus…complete with a “ringmaster flourish” of opening the doors and the cheesiest and creepiest grins you have ever seen. Ick. Steve wonders if they have ever been to a “lock-in” and both Steve and Sarah start thinking all kinds of suspicious thoughts about Sookie, who “hears” Steve wondering if “that fangbanging freakazoid can hear me right now, she sure don’t look normal”… Sookie starts to try to talk Hugo into leaving to get their sleeping bags for the “lock down”… and Gabe arrives to accompany them for the rest of the “tour”…

Andy is driving down the road and a collie and a pig run across the road…Andy yells out, “I know that pig” and stops his car, running after them, yelling, “Pig! Pig!”…only to fall flat on his face…

Cut to Sam and Daphne, exhilarated after their “shift”… pulling their clothes back on and Sam wonders why Daphne turned into a….PIG (!!) instead of the doe. She tells him that a pig is her “go-to” shift. (OMG!!!) Sam tells her it seemed like Andy “recognized her”…and she distracts him by dropping to her knees in front of him…which seems to work pretty well by the look on Sam‘s face…

Meanwhile, back at Merlotte‘s, Pam is back in her glam gear, paying Lafayette a little visit in the cooler…(commenting how nice it is and that she could sleep there in a pinch..) Lafayette almost jumps outta his skin…and wonders why they didn’t just glamour him. She tells him that they wanted him to remember that he “owes them”. Pam tells him that Eric sent her with a request, producing a bottle of V, and telling him that he is back in business. He wonders why vampires are selling V…she tells him, “We aren’t. You are. Now get to work. ” Poor, poor Lafayette!!

Back at the Fellowship church, Steve tells Sookie and Hugo that he wants to take them to see his father’s tomb on the lower level. Sookie is really starting to panic now and Hugo claims that they both have claustrophobia. This has no effect on Steve and Gabe… and they grab Sookie and drag her down the stairs screaming her head off!

Cut to Bill reacting in alarm to Sookie‘s screams…being pinned to the bed by Lorena, who scathingly wonders if something is happening to his human. Bill is totally stunned to see her…

Cut to Sarah , tearfully whispering, “I’m sorry”, to Sookie…as Steve calls Sookie a certain C word which is not normally uttered by a preacher! This, if nothing else, should make it clear that these people are not even pretending to be “holy” anymore…revealing the ugliness at the core of their being.

Cut to Lorena telling Bill that, “Your blood knows mine. You will never physically overpower me”, as he struggles to escape her to hurry to Sookie‘s rescue.

Tara and Eggs return from their road trip to find Sookie‘s house in a shambles, with clothes strewn everywhere…and they follow the discarded clothing to a clearing in the woods…finding an orgy building to a fever pitch, with drummers, torches, a fire pit in the center and a makeshift altar on which rests a “bulls-head” mask. They see Karl walking about in some sort of ceremonial robes…Arlene and Terry and Mike Spencer are all in the throes of “black-eyed” lust and Maryann is doing her vibrating dance in the center of it all.

hoytBack at the Hotel Carmilla, Jessica is rebelling against Bill by pouring two of the bottles of TruBlood from the mini-bar down the drain. The beginning of an “eating disorder”? Hmm…sure hope not! There is a knock on the door and Jessica finds Hoyt, bearing flowers, full of apologies for not answering her texts…asking her not to be mad at him. She tells him she is so happy she could cry, but she doesn’t want to because it looks gross when she does. Too cute! He embraces her and they passionately kiss. Yowza. Hoyt is HOT! [Editor’s Note: Who knew?]

Jason walks into the sanctuary at the Fellowship church and finds Sarah weeping in the balcony. She tells him that Steve wants to use him and the other “trainees” to start a war. She says that Steve is not the man she thought he was…that he is vicious and cruel and lies to her, shutting her out. Jason is very sweet with her…drying her tears and trying to comfort her…but when she tries to kiss him, he freaks out…telling her that she is married and that it’s wrong. She tells him that she is not married anymore “in her heart” and that God is telling her that she is supposed to be with Jason.  She tells him that she has a “calling”, she has always known that she is supposed to be a great woman behind her great man…and that she thought that man was Steve…but she knows now that it is Jason. She tells him that God is commanding her to be with him, so how could it be wrong? Jason does not take much more convincing after that…and they begin tearing their clothing off, right there in the church balcony. I cannot begin to enumerate the things that are wrong with this whole scenario…so, I will just say Ick and Double Ick…and leave it at that. I actually feel sorry for Jason this year.

Back in the woods, Daphne is pulling Sam deeper into the woods…and suddenly, two people burst from the shadows and grab Sam, with Daphne telling him, “Sorry Sam, it’s the end of the road”. I have never wanted to kick anyone’s ass more than I did Daphne’s at that moment. Nor can I use the colorful words I would really like to call her for betraying Sam so completely. They arrive at the orgy, in full swing by now…and Sam sees Tara and Eggs, Arlene and Terry…and Daphne walks to stand behind Maryann, taking the “bulls-head” mask and placing it on Maryann. Maryann begins that chanting we have heard before in some kind of ancient Greek dialect, vibrating and her hands morph into those horrid claws. Karl walks toward Sam, holding a tray with some kind of wicked looking ceremonial knife…as Sam screams in absolute terror.


I am exhausted just writing about this…and it was even more exhausting to watch. Not my favorite True Blood experience, but there is a very important reason for that. It is just very, very difficult to watch characters that you have come to know and love as they are faced with such traumatic and heinous events in their lives. It only feels this bad because this show is so good that it gets under your skin and makes you care so much what is happening in that world. I only object to this episode because I hate to see so much Pain, portrayed in such heartbreakingly authentic detail by actors who have made these characters Live, in every sense of the word. I would prefer to see a little more balance, a little more Light to go along with the Darkness and a whole lot more humor. Pretty Please. With a vampire on top?  [Editor’s Note: I agree, there wasn’t a single guilt-free laugh in the whole show and only one ‘awww’ moment to balance all that EVIL out. Very atypical for True Blood!]

The resounding theme in this episode is Complexity and Choice. At any given moment, any one of these characters could choose a different path than the one they are on…and the capacity for good and evil is present in *everyone*. It continues to be fascinating and addictive to see the characters in the True Blood “universe” unfold and reveal themselves to us in each episode. We are being taught to fully understand the vicious and predatory nature of vampires…but, it seems to me, there is an equally good chance that the humans and the shapeshifters and other supernatural creatures have just as much potential to be Evil as they have to be Good. It is all about Choices. And these characters are multi-dimensional, complicated and nearly impossible to predict. Maybe that is what the writers of True Blood are going for…and, if so, Mission Accomplished. I would just like to see some of the choices reflect the goodness at the heart of these characters…just as much as the “badness”. I would like to see the Light inside of them, just as much as the darkness. If it is true that everyone has all of these elements present, then there is just as much room for Joy as there is for Pain. Just looking for more Balance, that’s all.

I find it interesting that Lorena talked about not having seen Bill in more than 70 years…apparently having severed their “relationship” not long after the bloody scene we revisit from Chicago 1926. What was it that brought Bill back to his “humanity”…and what caused him to even want to mainstream with humans in the first place? It seems to me that Vampire Bill is a kind of “litmus test” for the show as a whole…what he experiences, both good and evil, teaches us so much about that world. I have learned to pay close attention to Bill when he speaks…it never fails to be an important clue to unlocking so much of the mystery in that world.


Up next!

Sam asks Daphne what Maryann is. She tells him that she is immortal. She tells him to go to Maryann and she might just let him live!

Bill tells Lorena that if Sookie is harmed in any way, he will drive a stake through whatever remnant of a heart she has left. Lorena just laughs at him…

Sarah tells Jason they have to tell Steve…due to the vow of honesty! Holey Mackerel!

Sookie tells Hugo that the Newlin‘s knew who they were when they walked in…and that there must be a traitor in that nest…

Eric gets into Stan‘s face, telling him if he murdered Godric for his title, there will be No Mercy. Yikes.

Tara and Sam are eye to eye at the orgy, she is grinning like a madwoman, with her eyes completely black.

Steve tells Jason, “You are going to hell and you are going there today!”
(Photo credit: HBO)