Jason Stackhouse is tied to a bed, his rippling abs displayed prominently, while backward hillbilly Werepanthers (yes, it's as stupid as it sounds) gnaw at his torso.
The next week, Jason remains in his predicament as one of the female Werepanthers rapes him for the child Werepanthers to watch.
Why does this storyline exist? What the hell is a Werepanther? And, do the writers of True Blood think this constitutes good television?
Do they even care if it is good television?
True Blood started as a fun, sexy and campy vampire drama topped with nice helping of southern gothic storytelling. It never sought the status of The Wire or The Sopranos because that would be a hopeless endeavor. It tried to be fun and buzzworthy. The show's stars show up naked (save for some conveniently placed limps) and are always on hand to shoot the camera a sultry glare, their hair neatly coiffed and fangs showing.
And I admit, I watched. The acting is great, the production value is top notch. Every episode ends on a cliffhanger, usually involving Anna Paquin screeching into the camera followed by a quick cut to black. Not quite the definition of high-brow entertainment, but never boring.
As Season 1 became Season 2 and Season 2 became Season 3, my admiration for the show waned. I'm no prude, but the show devolved into vampire porn. There must be a site out there that counts down the minutes until a man takes off his shirt and a woman does the same. Don't even get started on the short time it takes before we see some, can I say, passionate and rough intercourse.
Still, I watched. True Blood had yet to break the No. 1 rule of TV - At first, do not bore.
Which takes us to the current season, which just aired its third episode. Let's count the screw-ups, shall we?
There's one everlasting truth in Bon Tomps -- no one is human. Everyone has some secret power. Everyone is either a vampire, a Werewolf, a shifter, a Werepanther, a witch, a mindreader and even a maenad. If someone in that hellhole Louisiana town is not some supernatural being, that person soon will be.
This leads to Mr. Stackhouse and his mind-boggingly stupid storyline. It's not fine that he remain a dim figure of comic relief; he needs to turn into a panther. The Werepanthers are dumb characters who waste precious time, yet every other scene involves them and their lack of teeth while they charmingly chew on dead squirrels.
They are far from alone in the wasteful character dump that infests this show. Tommy Merlotte ... don't care. Get him off my screen. He's annoying and useless. The witches ... again, don't care. Don't we have enough going on with vampires and Werewolves and warlocks and hobbits and sonic hedgehogs? Must we spend time watching Marni mumble in gibberish? Arlene and the baby ... just not interesting. Tara and her ratings-friendly lesbian relationship ... not interesting. Sam's new shifter support group ... more of the same. There's only 50 minutes or so of show time. Save it for Sookie, Eric, Lafayette, Jessica and Bill. Sprinkle the others here and there.
I forgot to mention fairies. The first ten minutes of the season opened with Sookie in some fairy netherworld where people eat glowing golden apples. These apples are bad! The fairies are farming .... people!! Oh wait, there's Sookie's grandfather! Let's have a heart-to-heart. Oh no! The fairy queen is turning into some kind of gremlin. Now every fairy is a gremlin. They shoot laser beams from their hands. (This looked straight from a show you'd find on Saturday afternoons on the old UPN network.)
Sookie and her grandfather jump into a closing portal and re-enter the real world. But heavens no, her grandfather is dying! Sookie cries. I'm broken-hearted because I've known this grandfather character for five minutes. He turns into a sickly gray mass and disappears. We're supposed to be sad.
I'm just mad at what this show has become.
Yet I still watch. It takes a lot for me to give up on a series. I have only done it a select few times (Boston Legal, ER). There is still just enough to keep me intrigued. I'm a big fan of Jessica. I like Bill as the King of Louisiana. Eric and Pam are always fun. But I'm setting an eye-rolling record for this season, and I doubt I'm alone.