The Louisiana Lagniappe That Seasons HBO’s True Blood
A lagniappe is a little something extra, a gift with purchase, that unexpected bonus that sweetens a transaction. If LaFayette Reynolds doesn’t fit that description on HBO’s True Blood then I don’t know what would. If you have read the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris and are watching Alan Ball’s HBO’s “reimagining” of the series known as True Blood, you know there are several major differences between them. For me LaFayette Reynolds is one of the best of them. The LaFayette of True Blood is sure of himself. He telegraphs his confidence and sensuality in the way he holds himself, as well as in what he says and how he says it. Unlike the character of the books, this LaFayette is alive and kicking into the television series’ second season. He reads Tarot cards, deals in V (vampire blood), still cooks up a storm at Merlotte’s, and has excellent survival instincts which come in handy should you end up on the wrong side of a vampire dispute. I was delighted to find he was rescued from the jaws of death and hope they keep him around for the full run.
The actor that plays Lafayette is Nelsan Ellis and he is convincing. It is one thing to be able to play a wise-cracking flamingly gay cook who has stepped over the line of the law and another to be able to draw us in so that we can feel the hurt, the joys, the terrors that this character experiences. Mr. Ellis’s performance allows us to see beyond the glib exterior to a human being who has had more than his share of persecution. It is a tribute to both actor and writers that this delicate balancing act is managed without turning LaFayette into either a buffoon or a maudlin drunk/addict. In many ways his experience as an openly gay black man, living in a small backwoods northern Louisiana town makes him understanding of the intolerance suffered by others, such as the vampires. In the world of True Blood, vampires coming out of the closet has made people like LaFayette seem familiar and even comfortable at least when compared to the undead. Even the most unusual human is looked at as human as opposed to well…NOT human or formerly human.
If you were a repeat customer at Merlotte’s and LaFayette was on duty then you should know enough to steer clean of criticizing the cooking. This man does take pride in his work even if it doesn’t exactly define him. What does define him? A need to be valued, trusted, and hopefully loved.
In True Blood LaFayette is swimming with sharks, no cancel that, he is swimming with Piranhas. Danger or not he hasn’t totally lost his sense of humor. LaFayette to Sookie:” Well you go ahead on, hookah with your badass. Good for you. It ain’t possible to live unless you crossin’ somebody’s line.” That is something you shouldn’t expect to see happen any time soon; Lafayette living within the lines. He brings something that the others don’t quite manage, a special perspective.
Where will they take this character? Only Mr. Ball knows for sure. Still, I’m hoping he will be called upon to act as a counselor of sorts for Sookie and Tara. There is no doubt that Andy Bellefleur would be better off if he listened to what LaFayette has to say, Of course he would have to listen and LaFayette would have to care enough to say something to him. Even Eric and Pam may find he has more to offer than they think he does. He is a good judge of character and if more people paid attention to what he has to contribute the weekly body count could go down considerably.
by JKW © Buzzy Multimedia