Christopher Meloni plays the powerful and well-dressed Roman. (HBO )
Think Dick Cheney's thoughts on torture are extreme? Meet the Authority.
Meet them and be afraid. Very afraid. Because underneath the sheen of gentility, bureaucratic formalities and a really sweet reception area, the Authority is pretty vicious.
Indeed, Nan Flanagan was murdered and they want to get the bottom of it. But seriously, silver pulsating through Bill and Eric's veins during interrogation? Whatever happened to we want to live with the humans peacefully?
The bulk of the second episode of the season was set at the Vampire Authority headquarters in what appears to be an underground labyrinth of a warehouse (it's super dark). Bill, Eric and Nora are in handcuffs and escorted in to meet Salome (Valentina Cervi) a fellow Authority chancellor who is not happy with Nora.
Quick summary of the meeting:
Nora: "They're more valuable to us alive!"
Salome takes the three down to their jail cells where they meet a fellow prisoner, Nigel, who Nora tells us was eating babies instead of delivering them. You just can't trust all vampire doctors to not eat newborns, apparently.
Nigel's face is severly scarred and we soon find out why — UV light blankets each cell and smoke stars to come off of the prisoner's faces. Authority does not play.
It only gets worse. We don't see what the Authority has in store for Nora (she's being suspected of treason, so that can't be good for her), but Bill and Eric get separate interrogations.
Bill is questioned by an older gentleman (I say this loosely) and he's attached to a machine with three vials hooked to his arm via a tube. It looks vaguely like a Jack Kevorkian suicide machine.
There's a copy of a "Vampire Bible" on the table, and Bill's interrogator wants to know if he's a true believer. Here, we interestingly learn that before God created Adam and Eve he created Lilth, "who, like God, was vampire." I could already hear the church protests forming.
The Bible also says that man was put on Earth as food sources (co-mingling peacefully, huh?).
"Do you believe it?" the man asks Bill.
"I do not," Bill responds.
When Bill later says he isn't a "true believer" again, the man presses a button and the silver floods Bill's veins. He grimaces wildly, appears out of breath and looks to be suffering something similar to a heart attack.
Eric is tortured similarly by Salome.
"Was it you or Bill Compton who murdered Nan Flanagan?" she asks.
"Nan Flanagan is dead?" Eric says.
Later, the two are hooded and transported to a chamber where we finally meet Roman, the Guardian of the Vampire Authority. And what an entrance.
Played by Christopher Meloni, Roman is a hulking menace in a tailored suit. He appears and slices his wrist, sucks out some blood — "the blood of Lilith. The first, the last, the eternal" — and places blood drops into the mouths of the fellow chancellors (who seem to be his right-hand men and women) sitting around a table.
Think the president's Cabinet but with more vampire religion and blood.
There's a little boy, a woman who dresses and looks like Elizabeth Dole, Salome and an older man (who seems more sympathetic to Bill and Eric's motives).
Meloni is great. He embodies power and fear with a single glare. We don't quite know what he's all about (in"True Blood"tradition, we'll have to wait to see if he's purely evil or a conflicted antagonist), but for now, I'm happy with his edgy performance, even if he does say stuff like "We are the Authority. I am the Authority. The True Death for Northman means the True Death for Northman."
The chancellors say the "mainstreaming agenda is too important" to let these guys live, though the older man says the two "destroyed a very real threat."
"They killed an Authority member!" the little boy screeches. He is, officially, my least favorite Authority chancellor. Elizabeth Dole lookalike is a close second.
It appears Roman has decided to give Bill and Eric the True Death (he loves his wooden stake) but lets them have a final word.
"I offer an exchange," Bill says. "Our lives in return for Russell Edgington."
Bill explains that he and Eric did not kill Russell, but "consigned him to the ground" and now he has broken free ("We felt like the True Death was too good for him," he explains).
Bill says that while he fully expects to eventually get the True Death, he and Eric will help track down Russell and kill him. Good move, Bill Compton.
Roman agrees to the terms but not before a truly scary scene of his jumping onto Bill and yelling, "I feel like staking so f---ing much right now!"
See what I mean? Meloni = awesome.
Speaking of Russell, we see him for another moment, this time post-feeding-on-humans time. He's in bed trying to ... I guess ... regenerate himself. He licks his lips and his face appears to be half-human. He opens his eyes briefly. But who is procuring these humans for him?