True Blood: The Complete Second Season (DVD)
's second season, with episodes involving a new cast of monsters invading Louisiana swamp town Bon Temps, is notably gorier and more camp than the first season. While thematically the central focus in these 12 exciting episodes still revolves around faith and loyalty, these questions are complicated by displays of pagan ritual and obsession. Though the vampire/human relationship dilemma continues, spearheaded by lovers Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), there is less emphasis on addiction to V, or vampire blood, and more time dedicated to outsiders whose supernatural talents make some episodes feel like superhero battles.
Episode 1, "Nothing but the Blood," sets the gory example with a brutal opening scene in which the local shaman has been eviscerated. While gruesome murders continue throughout the season, we become familiar with a new femme fatale, Maryann Forrester (Michelle Forbes), who hosts bacchanalia, such as the one in episode 4 ("Shake and Fingerpop") that gives Bon Temps a collective hangover. Also developing in this season are relationships between Sookie and Bill's vampire colleagues Eric (Alexander Skarsgård), Eric's master Godric, and a vampire queen who plays Yahtzee throughout episode 11 ("Frenzy"). The ever-increasing vampire interest in Sookie leads to her questioning her own supernatural psychic identity, especially in the final episode ("Beyond Here Lies Nothin'"), a semi-ridiculous, over-the-top segment that is more humorous than scary. Also corny but funny are the episodes featuring Fellowship of the Sun zealots Steve and Sarah Newlin (Michael McMillian and Anna Camp), and Jason Stackhouse's evangelical dedication to them (with Ryan Kwanten as Stackhouse). Perhaps the best episodes are those dedicated to the endangered plights of Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell), Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), and Tara (Rutina Wesley). New characters, like Tara's lover, Eggs (Mehcad Brooks), and the young, tempestuous vampire Jessica Hamby (Deborah Ann Woll), also add greatly to an already fabulous cast. Though the extras in this DVD set, "The Vampire Report (Special Edition)" and "Fellowship of the Sun: Reflections of Light," offer lighthearted, pseudo-documentary fun, they feel quaint next to the many wonderful episodes of this horror serial. --Trinie Dalton