Last night’s episode of True Blood ended with the much-hyped “most shocking sex scene ever shown on TV.” The Interwebz are certainly abuzz with commentary, but was it truly the most shocking sex scene on TV? Was it even the most shocking sex scene on True Blood?
Vampire Hate Sex: After Bill is forced to change allegiance from Sophie-Ann and Louisiana to Russell and Mississippi in order to protect Sookie, Lorena can’t leave well enough alone and goes to his room to gloat. And possibly under the misguided assumption that since Bill has more or less renounced Sookie, he’s ready to be Lorena’s TRUE LOVE 4-EVAR! Instead, Bill is in pain, having given up happiness in order to protect the woman he loves, clinging to his humanity by joining forces with the inhumane. As Lorena provokes, Bill’s control slips and he attacks her again.
I was pleased to see that Bill throwing the candle at Lorena at the end of last week’s episode was in fact real, not Bill’s wishful thinking. Bill turning on his maker so violently and so suddenly was a huge step for him as we’ve seen what kind of control makers have over their progeny. Watching him struggle against Lorena’s pull when she cornered him in the bedroom was heartbreaking. His agony when the struggle turned sexual even more so. Spurred on by Lorena, the vampire hate sex was disturbing, yes. Twisting her head 180 degrees during intercourse? Definitely creepy. Most shocking sex scene on TV ever? Not for this viewer.
Bill, Lorena & A Bloody Bed: In my book, that wasn’t even the most shocking sex scene on True Blood. Bill & Lorena’s Season 2 carnal romp on a blood-soaked bed, with a drained corpse lying next to them, was both shocking and gruesome. My aversion to blood is fairly well documented here, along with plenty of self-deprecating comments about how I can be a fan of a show about vampires if the blood bothers me. Having sex in pools of blood, I would hope, is shocking even if the red stuff doesn’t bother you as much as it does me. Perhaps the shock factor last season was increased because we had no warning what was coming. We’re enjoying a flashback with Bill & Lorena. We learn that Bill is a fine pianist. We know the couple at the hotel are doomed but expect a few bites, maybe a neck crack. The action progresses thusly, then suddenly we’re watching two vampires filled with bloodlust writhing on a bed. I was stunned.
Runners Up for “Watercooler” True Blood Sex Scenes: the vampire and Jason’s sex buddy in the pilot; Sookie and Bill in the graveyard in season 1; Eggs and Tara’s violent, Maryann-induced encounter in season 2; Eric and Yvetta’s 6-hour marathon in the season 3 premiere
Why This Wasn’t Shocking: This time, I knew something “shocking” was coming in episode 3. I knew who it involved thanks to various interviews (note: just because you only give us a tiny clue in your interview, doesn’t mean the clue someone else drops in their interview will go unnoticed, folks). I knew it was supposed to be a watercooler moment. By the time we FINALLY got there last night, I was already worn out from anticipation and from the rest of a stuffed-to-the-gills episode. It wasn’t out of character for either Bill (torn between rage and honor) or Lorena (we already knew she was off-kilter), which really is a compliment to the writers, but it’s also a reason why it wasn’t all that shocking. In the end, what was hyped as another True Blood-induced minor heart attack, was more of a “WTF? That was weird” moment.
Why It Should Have Been Shocking: Looking at it from the other side, I understand why all involved were calling the scene “something that will be talked about for 20 years.” First, it was hate sex. I don’t recall ever seeing that depicted on TV before. Revenge sex, pity sex, makeup sex, relief sex…sure, in abundance. But not hate sex. Second, it was near rape, although it’s hard to tell who was violating whom in this case. Between rage and manipulation, the lines quickly blurred. Third, it was rough sex. Rough sex to the point of one person’s head being twisted 180 degrees, which leads us to probably the most disturbing part of the whole scene: we were reminded that these are dead people. We were watching two dead people have sex. It’s easy to forget that vampires are dead, even if we’re told that repeatedly. When the vampires are so attractive, when they walk and talk and emote and brood, the fact that they’re dead slips to the back of your mind. But here? Here we got a vivid reminder.
What We Should Be Discussing: Franklin Mott and Tara. Now that was sinister. Manipulation that promises to only get more twisted. Rape under the guise of glamoring. Why aren’t we talking about this instead?