Yesterday, I talked about a subplot in the second season of True Blood and bad Christian representation. That subplot was much more prominent than it probably should have been, since in some ways it distracted from the main plot of the second season, which had more stakes. The main plot could have had potential life-or-death consequences for not only our main characters, but also for the entire town of Bon Temps as a whole, whereas the subplot focused on a group of more minor characters.
The main plot for the second season involves learning about Sam’s past and a Maenad moving to Bon Temps. The Maenads are as of yet previously unmentioned immortal servants to the god Dionysus from Greek mythology. This Maenad in particular, named Maryann, has come to Bon Temps looking for Sam. She plans to sacrifice him in order to summon Dionysus so the two can be married, while all simultaneously driving the entire town insane—people start running around naked, engaging in ritualistic orgies they otherwise would want nothing to do with, and viciously hitting one another. Maryann is convinced that Sam is the person she needs to sacrifice, because, not only is he a shapeshifter, but while at her house one day he was drawn to a fertility statue she owns. Maryann also seems unnaturally obsessed with Tara, who ends up taking the brunt of all the psychological hurt.
Like season one, the plot of this season also takes a while to get going, but a lot of that is because for numerous episodes the seriousness of what’s happening is overshadowed by The Fellowship of the Sun subplot. While I do admit that the Fellowship subplot deserved some screentime, despite my great dislike for it, I was much more interested in what was going on between Maryann, Sam, and Tara.
We discover that Maryann came to Bon Temps due to the exorcism that Tara had last season. Though Maryann confirms that Miss Jeanette was a fraud who knew nothing about demons, the ritual she put Tara through is what summoned Maryann. Coincidentally, it turns out that Maryann also has a history with Sam. Sam’s adoptive parents abandoned him after discovering his shapeshifting abilities, so Sam turned to thievery to get by. When he was seventeen, he found Maryann’s house and stole a hundred thousand dollars from her. Now he believes that Maryann has come to Bon Temps to get her money back and is using Tara to get to him.
But the truth eventually comes out, and to Sam’s horror, Maryann drives the entire town insane and tells the formerly productive inhabitants of Bon Temps to bring her Sam so she can sacrifice him. At one point during all of this, she even takes Sookie hostage. Sookie is immune to Maryann’s mind control, and through their interactions together, we discover that Sookie also has photokinetic and telekinetic abilities as well. We don’t learn much more about these gifts of hers this season, however, but considering everything else that’s going on, waiting to learn at this point is probably for the best.
Bill discovers that the only way they can stop Maryann is to kill her during the ritual, since that’s when she’s most vulnerable. In the end, Sam transforms into a giant bull and Maryann mistakes him for being Dionysus. He then stabs her to death on one of his horns, and it’s a rather anti-climactic ending, considering how powerful Maryann was made out to be and all the trauma she put everyone through.
However, I liked this plot for numerous reasons. First of all, after the Fellowship of the Sun, Jason returns to Bon Temps much more mature and responsible than when he left. We actually get to see him and Detective Andy work together, overcoming their differences and dislike to help Sam and save the town. Do their plans succeed? No, not really. At best, they manage to delay the ritual before succumbing to Maryann’s mind control, but there were some good moments for the two of them. They both discover Sam’s ability to shapeshift, and I like that neither one of them is a bigot about it. Jason has learned to be much more accepting of others and he actually manages to improvise a couple plans in the course of just a few episodes. We also get to learn more about Andy as well this season through the Maryann storyline.
Andy keeps noticing strange things happening in Bon Temps, and he starts to suspect Maryann and a giant pig—another shapeshifter, who is in Maryann’s employ—as the ones behind everything. He’s been in a state of depression since having to release Jason from jail in the first season and he feels as if the whole town disrespects him. So it was really fun seeing him and Jason work together and gain some respect for each other. I daresay that they even become friends.
Another reason I liked this main plot is that we learn more about Sam’s character. Sam is a bit of a misogynistic asshole. I think he’s well written and he does some nice things occasionally, but he’s still a pretty terrible person sometimes. For instance, I thought it was really nice of him to pay for Tara’s exorcism last season, since he knew she could not afford it but really wanted it, and I liked that he attempted to make their relationship better, whether as friends or romantically, even though Tara’s emotional problems kept getting in the way and hurting him. At the same time, however, he kept trying to assert himself on Sookie and acted as if doing nice things for her meant she owed him. He was also a bit of a creepy stalker. As such, last season, I was intrigued by Sam’s character, but he was also hard not to hate.
In this season, we see him worry for Tara, since he thinks Maryann’s using her to get to him, but overall, I like that he’s not pining after Sookie this time around. He has more important things to worry about than whether or not he’s single. He does end up in a relationship with a woman named Daphne, who turns out to be the shapeshifter working for Maryann. Maryann eventually kills Daphne, but her death isn’t done so much as to further Sam’s storyline as it is to further the overall arcing plot. In the end, though Daphne’s betrayal and death hurt Sam, he’s much more interested in stopping Maryann and finding his real family than in his romantic life.
The final reason that I liked this plot is the mythology. I don’t know as much about Greek mythology as I do about Norse, but from what I can tell, Maryann is a fairly decent representation of a Maenad. I do admit that I was a little put off and surprised when I discovered that a Maenad was the main antagonist for the season—like, what do Maenads have to do with hick vampires?—but in the end I really did like the story and watching Maryann bring chaos to Bon Temps was both disturbing and entertaining to watch.
The show delved more into issues like abuse and PTSD through Maryann’s storyline, especially with the characters Tara, Eggs, and Lafayette, and I think it did a really good job of it. But we’ll hold off on talking about that for now. Until next time.