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'True Blood': Making sense of that goofy dog painting

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Trubloodafter_l

Trubloodbefore_lThe most indelible image from the second episode of HBO’s True Blood last night — even more so than the sight of Anna Paquin gulping blood from Stephen Moyer’s arm, or the intermittent presence of Ryan Kwanten’s perpetually exposed (and exceedingly ripped) torso — had to be the bizarre bit of artwork hanging on the wall during the conversation between Paquin’s Sookie and her boss Sam (Sam Trammell). I would’ve been obsessed with the bunkily drawn “Fido Watches Over Sleeping Nellie Oleson and Her Doll” even if the director hadn’t decided to zoom in on it, then let the camera linger with a “Symbolism Alert!” closeup. But the “bad artwork + extended screentime” equation got me wondering: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? My friend Drew (whose brain is clearly better equipped than mine to interpret unsubtle symbolism) offered a theory that makes total sense to me. Since it’s kind of spoiler-y (if Drew is right, anyway…and not having read the Sookie Stackhouse books, I don’t know) I will offer it, after the jump…

Trubloodafter_lIs it possible that Sam can somehow take the shape of the mysteriousdog who’s always watching over Sookie? And would Sam’s ability to getway in touch with his inner canine make him a werewolf? Or possibly oneof the shape-shifting types of vampires that Bill was telling Sookieabout? Think about it: Sam (who only seems to work at night!) clearlywanted Sookie to read his mind and discover some kind of shockingsecret about him. And I don’t think said secret is that he’s in lovewith her, since his wears that truth like a beer stain on his flannelsleeve. What’s more, if the kindly barkeep and the brown-and-whitepooch are one in the same, could it be that Sam was the one whomurdered Sookie’s low-rent attackers? After all, Bill only admitted tofeeding on the couple’s blood in the wake of the assault, and making theirdeaths look like a tornado-related accident; maybe the pale vampire wassimply covering up the crime scene on behalf of a fellow blood sucker.

Am I on to something here, or is it possible that I’m overthinking theprop department’s motives to distract myself from the fact that TrueBlood‘s not-quite-thrilling characterizations (those final-scenevampires came off like extras from a Billy Idol video!) aren’t asnuanced and intriguing as I’d expected from the creator of Six FeetUnder?

(If you’re thirsty for a little more True Blood, click here for Ken Tucker’s official EW review, and here for my reaction to last week’s pilot episode. We’ve even got a little backstory on the show’s viral ad campaign via our Hollywood Insider blog. Enjoy!)