The first season of Alan Ball’s over-the-top vampire series toyed with some big topics with a side of cheese: equality, gay visibility, and substance abuse. The second season looks to take the subject of cults as the dark muse to inspire its sex-and-death yarns. It sounds like a horrible idea — but hey, it’s rewarding so far.
Another season, another murder mystery: We open with Sookie, Tara, Sam, and a gluttonously drunk Detective Andy discovering a dead body in a car in Merlotte’s parking lot. It’s Miss Jeanette, whose voodoo (or con artistry) rid Tara’s abusive and addicted mother, Lettie May, of her demons. Who or whatever killed Miss Jeanette cut out her heart. Telepathic Sookie convinces Tara to tell the police what she knows; Andy is convinced they’ve set him up.
But the past is as much a problem for Sam as the bloody present. The shape-shifter once stole from — and hooked up with — Tara’s new guru, dilettante social worker Maryann. The flashbacks don’t reveal what special power is responsible for her weirdness in their sex scene, but Sam wants to make sure this dangerous woman doesn’t try to get back at him through Tara. Suggesting Sam’s pride might be operating alongside lust and greed, Maryann asks, “What makes you think this is about you?”
Even vampires have problems, and wrath is Bill’s. He killed Sookie’s uncle Bartlett after hearing that he’d molested Sookie and her cousin. Sookie is pissed — but that pales beside her jealousy when she finds out Bill is mentoring a pretty teenage vampire. Turning and taking care of Jessica was Bill’s punishment for killing another vampire to protect human Sookie, but that doesn’t stop Sookie from repeatedly accusing them of sleeping together. Jessica’s response: “But he’s old!”
Jason is off the v-juice, off the hook for all those murders, and in search of redemption. Inspired by the anti-vampire tract Children of Light, he’s becoming an ardent follower of its late author’s son, Reverend Newlin. The fundamentalist reverend knows a mark when he sees one, and he invites Jason to his $1,200 leadership seminar. Broke Jason hesitates, but then there’s a sign, in a scene conveniently illuminated by a beam of light from the heavens: Sookie doesn’t want the money Bartlett left her in his will and gives it to her brother.
Sookie is learning a little about faith herself, wondering how she can trust vampire boyfriend Bill when he’s always killing people in her defense or secretly harboring eternal teenagers. But he apologizes and promises to atone. They seal the deal with the sacrament of sex, complete with erectile fangs and a glorious spraying of blood.
Meanwhile, a butched-up Lafayette is no doubt praying to get out of vampire leader Eric’s slave dungeon.