Reaction: True Blood (4×02)

To the Americans in the Hathor readership, Happy US Independence Day! To celebrate the occasion, I am wearing my very festive vampire fang earrings. Remember to use sunscreen out there, non-vampires, and to stay hydrated!

Jason Stackhouse comes to in a dark room somewhere, with hound dogs baying in the background. His vision is swirling and somewhat dim. “Peggy?”

“We ain’t s’posed t’talk t’you,” says the nervous-looking brunette girl standing somewhere above him.

Jason’s clammy and gross and on a bed. “Th’hell’s goin’ on? Is someone… lickin’ my head?”

Yes. Someone is. “It’s just me, Mr. Jason,” says Nervous Shoulders (from last episode). “You got a nasty gash, so.” As if that’s explained everything, Shoulders keeps licking Ryan Kwanten’s scalp. That must have been a very weird day on set.

“Timbo– Timbo, fuck, man!” Jason, finally alert, looks around and starts to take stock of the situation. “Uh– it’s not that I don’t appreciate all the lickin’, ‘cuz I do, but I’m–I’m more of a Band-Aid kind of guy.”

Timbo and Peggy ain’t got no Band-Aids, but Jason more wants to know who put them up to all this, because he knows being tied up to a bed, surrounded by ramshackle furniture in a dilapidated… house? Shed? Garage? Is not coming from these children.

“We can’t, Mr. Jason!”

“I been good to you, haven’t I?” Jason fills us in on his sublot for the past thirteen months, that he started out taking care of the kids in Hotshot because of Crystal, even though he didn’t want to, but he’s come to love each and every one of the children, and he knows they love him, too. I like that he’s being honest with the kids, even though it makes him look bad, because respectful relationships should be built up on truth. But the truth will not save Jason Stackhouse.

The whole thing is troubling and confusing, and has overwhelmed poor Timbo and Peggy, who seem emotionally torn. Timbo caves first and starts to loosen one of the knots around Jason’s wrist, when the door to the room bangs open loudly, kicked by Felton, Crystal’s fiance and half-brother. (I told you Hotshot was Hillbilly Stereotype Central.)

“Why didn’t you tell me it was up? Get out!” he snaps at the teens, cocking his shotgun as Peggy skitter-sprints for the door just ahead of Timbo, fast on her heels.

“Where the hell’s Crystal?” Jason asks immediately. How… chivalrous. Crystal’s last words to Jason last season were that someone had to stay in Hotshot to take care of the community after a DEA raid he’d tipped the werepanther community off about, but to appease Felton (who had already started shooting at people– including Hotshot’s resident uncle-Daddy Calvin Norris– and who was high on V) she’d be leaving town with him because it was what she’d been “born for.” Jason, left to deal with an irritated Sheriff Andy Bellefleur, said that sometimes doing the wrong thing was the right thing, and he had done the right thing by saving Hotshot, even though it had cost him and Crystal a great deal of freedom and future happiness.

Anyway, Felton is pissed that Jason’s asked about his woman, but says he should probably be worrying about himself. Jason struggles against his bonds and spits, “Fuck you.”

“Really. Fuck me?

Yeah.” The dialogue here. *kisses fingers*

Fuck me. ‘Cause I’ll betcha my shotgun to yer no arms or legs, you’re the one’s about to get fucked here!” Jason Stackhouse is in a pickle!

~Catfish closeup, guitar riff~

(Watching the opening credits, I also notice that Kristin Bauer is actually Kristin Bauer Van Straten! Huh. Way to pay attention before speculating on people’s last names, Gena.)

“Stay away from me!” Sookie, who seems slightly out of breath, is tying her bathrobe back on and rushing down the stairs, fast enough to be quicker than calm, but slow enough to be trying not to seem totally panicked. I am already tight-throated at the opening of the scene, because I do not like this shit, the trying to run from somebody who has decided you belong to them and who has made you unsafe in your home. DO NOT WANT, YOU HEAR? No me gornsta.

“This is no way to treat your new landlord,” Eric murmurs, calmly pacing behind Sookie until she reaches the end of the steps and zips in front of her. His voice is as bored sounding as ever, but in that context, not being able to gauge how impatient he might be is nerve-wracking, and when Sookie looks up into his face she appears startled and nervous.

HAVE I MENTIONED I DO NOT LIKE THIS DYNAMIC.

“I am not yours, and I want you out of my house, now!” Sookie is a lot calmer than I would be here, and considering this is the second episode in a row where I have something really good to say about Sookie’s awareness/composure, I think things are definitely looking up for my impression of the character this season.

“Funny about ownership, isn’t it? A little piece of paper, and the only power you had over me is gone.” I am also throwing out there now that I’ve had my moment, that I love the writing, direction, and acting here. Being that worked up about a scene framed deliberately as domestic abuse without any explicit threat of violence yet– and for a character that has been portrayed as sympathetic, intelligent, and desirable, if flawed and at times, cruel, to also be written as an abuser without it becoming a scenery-chewing face-heel-turn twist, or something Sookie should have “seen coming” because of his being so much “worse” than other people in her life (which is victim-blaming, btw)– means that the scene has been done well and the metaphor works. Bravo.

“What do you want from me?” Sookie asks.

“Everything,” Eric nearly purrs back.

“You can’t have it!”

“I bought it.” Ewewewewew. Skeeeeeve.

“You bought my house. The house does not come with me inside it.” Sookie looks fucking pissed. Good for her! I’d say go stay with Jason, but he’s, um, occupied elsewhere, and I think antay-vampire magic only works if the person who owns the place has given you leave to stay there (like when Tara was glamored into inviting Franklin into Sookie’s house in season 3 because he needed her permission).

“Well then, I seriously overpaid.”

“That’s your problem,” Sookie retorts, and flounces past him to her dining room.

“Your blood tastes like freedom, Sookie.” She turns in revulsion. “Like sunshine in a pretty blonde bottle. And while they may not know it yet, that is what vampires smell when they smell you.”

“Is that a threat?”

“Absolutely not,” Eric says, because it is (implying that someone will come to harm without your protection is as much a threat as implying they will come to harm directly from you), “but others will find out. And when they do, you’ll need protection. I can provide that for you.” CALLED IT.

“I’m willing to take my chances.” Sookie turns back to her dining room (look, I’m not calling it Eric’s house, because Jason shouldn’t have sold it in the first place), and Eric is in her way again, using vampire speed to make every space his and enforce dominance.

“I bought this house because I care about you.” Oh, really. “If all I wanted was to taste your blood again, I could do it right now, and there wouldn’t be a thing you could do to stop me. But instead I am asking you to be mine.”

Pause for a minute: there are going to be people who don’t get that this scene is about abuse. I just want to remind everyone of that, and for them to let that sink in for a minute. Not just people who haven’t been in abusive relationships, either. People who have seen, recognized, and just outright denied that everything that has happened and is happening to Sookie in the past two-odd minutes of this episode is actually bad. Some of them are people who, if this were real life, might call this behavior out for what it is. Some might recognize it but figure the woman had it coming, or might do the same thing they would do in-fandom, and excuse the whole situation as they way some things are. Some people will find this whole thing very sweet and very romantic and very, very sexy, possibly solely because there are vampires involved.

Heads up: I am going to judge the shit out of these people.

“The first time Bill declared you his, how did it make you feel?” Eric continues, of course, following Sookie as she diverts her path and turns toward the kitchen.

Angry.

“But safe?” She looks down at the floor, very likely remembering her relationship with Bill, angry with herself for trusting him and, yeah, allowing herself to foolishly feel safe, possibly ashamed for doing so. Nice job framing Sookie as having just left an abusive relationship and being shoved into another, Alan Ball! No, really, I mean it. One of the things True Blood has been very good at is its depiction of abuse dynamics.

“…You’ll come around,” Eric says, smug. When Sookie says Eric hasn’t been listening to her telling him to get his narrow ass out of her newly-painted house, he continues, “I know you. There are two Sookie Stackhouses. One who still clings to the idea that she is merely human, and the other who’s coming to grips with the fact that you are better than that.”

“And what do you think is going to happen when I do come to grips with it? Do you think my legs are just going to magically open for you?”

“Well that was saucy! Must’ve been fairy Sookie talking. I like when she comes out. The more you let her speak for you, the more likely you are to go on living. And you want to live, don’t you?” Anna Paquin, who does an excellent angry, raises an eyebrow and bitterly looks Eric up and down.

“Well then, I hope to hear from you girls soon,” he says, and leaves through the back, tacking on as he goes through the squeaky screen door, “I’ll see to it that gets repaired.” Sookie is going to have to make some decisions about whether her home and the memories therein are more important to her than control over her life. Being someone who’s moved around a lot and had to start over in new places, fuck that house, move in with whatever friends you have left or rent a trailer from Sam on credit; but people get attached to these things, so Sookie will have to ponder.

In Bill’s “castle,” the king and Glasses Witch are reviewing what happened at Minerva-the-bird’s wake-turned-reanimation. He says the witch’s work for him in that circle is done, because it is no longer safe for her– she takes off her glasses and undoes her hair, and asks what Bill plans on doing to them.

“What I’ve already told you will have to suffice. Any more and I’ll just have to glamor it out of you.”

“Well, we wouldn’t want that, would we?” She unbuttons her shirt and approaches Bill, then offers to fetch his procurer for him. Nope, the procurer’s getting the night off. Sexy vampire dinner! But Bill, you shouldn’t shit where you eat. Mixing business with pleasure goes badly, just ask Eric about the stripper from last season!

Speaking of, outside Fangtasia, a conservative group has gathered in the parking lot to protest. Pam looks absolutely done with all of this shit in advance.

“Steve Newlin was right! You devils of the night!” Nice catchphrase, guys.

“What the hell,” says Jessica, accompanied by Hoyt making derpy thinking faces.

“Welcome to vampire night life, post-Russell-Edgington,” Pam drawls, oozing disgust.

“Hey! Fangbanger!” a guy in a button-down and a screenprinted “Light of Day” sweatshirt hollers in their general direction.

“You better not be talking to me,” Hoyt says.

“So what if I was? Fangbanger?” Most of the chanting stops, with the occasional outbursts (“You’re going to hell!” “You will pay!”) in the group being made by people who didn’t get the memo it was time to BRAWL.

But no. Hoyt marches up to the guy and starts lecturing him on how being a good Christian means seeing people for who they are, not what they are, and being full of love, not hatred. Jessica tries to stop him, because it’s kind of embarassing, but more she can see that the whole thing is more trouble than it’s worth, and dangerous, and doesn’t want her tree in a plaid shirt getting whomped by a crowd of fundamentalists.

Instead, Sweatshirt gestures to another member of the crowd, filming the whole thing on a cell phone, apparently in 720p. Duuuude! Someone thinks they’re fancy. He wants to “report” on what Hoyt and Jessica end up doing, but makes the mistake of calling Jess a “vamp whore.” Fangs out, and in the guy’s face with her vampire quickness, Jessica challenges, “You wanna call me that again?

Pam acts quickly, this still being at her job and all, and maaaaaaybe she has a soft spot for the baby vampire. Zzzzzzip! She grabs Jessica and Hoyt, telling them to go on home and “let these good people practice their Constitutional right to be fuckin’ idiots.” Wait, I thought they’re in the Fangtasia parking lot? Isn’t that private property? Hmm.

“I may be a fuckin’ idiot, but at least I ain’t dead!” one protester yells hilariously, which will surely be autotuned into millions of ringtones when this footage hits YouTube. Sweatshirt, who wants to beat Rebecca Black’s hits by next weekend, deliberately bumps into Hoyt, and Hoyt, because he is not the brightest fellow, takes the bait and uppercuts someone who has numbers on his side.

Pam restrains Jessica while Hoyt gets publicly beaten, saying, “I know. I know. It’s hard for me, too. Technology’s taken all of the fun out of being a vampire.” They both look directly into Cellie’s cameraphone lens.

Sam is jogging naked in the woods, back within 30 feet or so of the Angry Shifters Anonymous meeting house. “I was watching you, you know.”

“Uh, yeah, from behind.” Luna, the shifter who is a teacher, is likewise naked, and reclining on a patch of grass and dead leaves. Sam is still panting with the effort of having caught up.

“That’s how it is, huh? I didn’t realize this was a competition.”

“Next time you’ll know.” How does her makeup stay so nice even after shifting? Does Luna turn into a horse with fake eyelashes? She must have some awesome sweat-proof eyeshadow.

“Truth is, I don’t mind so much bringing up the back. It’s a magical thing, watching you run.”

She smiles incredulously. “Are you coming on to me?”

Sam is, but wants to look cool, so he’s all, “Maaaaaybe.” If this were a conversation in emoticons, Sam would be a winky face. He says he wants to know more about her, and when Luna looks away, saying there wasn’t much to know, Sam flirts back, “People don’t get to be as beautiful as you are without having one hell of a story to tell.”

She makes a face. “Okay, that was a good line.” Sam admits he’s only used it on two women before, and it only worked on one, and they both laugh.

“Seriously, you can talk to me. Me and Emory and Susanne, we all share our deepest and darkest, and nothing bad’s come of it.” Luna looks vulnerable, and leans in to kiss Sam, then pulls away, thinking better of it. She gets up to run, shifting back into a horse, as Sam calls after her.

Sookie, now fully dressed, is cutting across the graveyard to Bill’s house, which she didn’t realize had gotten such extensive royal renovations, and where she also doesn’t realize Bill is sexin’ up his very own Witch Mole. I feel like that might have been an episode of Totally Spies! Oh, and Sookie also doesn’t realize Bill has his very own Secret Service. Whoops!

“Nobody sees the King unless they’re on the Manifest.”

“Buwhuh?” Sookie manages, because nobody tells her anything. But it’s okay, though, King Bill’s Sookie Sense was all a-tingle and she can totally come inside even though the clubhouse sign says No Girls Allowed. She goes in and wanders around, staring at the new hotness wallpaper and such and wondering where her old busted ex-boyfriend is at.

Because Sookie has no manners, she opens Bill’s bedroom door without knocking and finds Glasses and Bill getting dressed post-coitus. Awkward. “This is Katharina. Katharina’s… part of my security.”

Kat doesn’t even fake being pleased to meet Sookie, and with extra-cutting dagger eyes, Sookie tosses out an insincere greeting. Katharina rolls her eyes and leaves, making a point not to cover the fang marks on her neck, because if she’s going to do the Walk of Shame, you do it with no regrets, no apologies made, and no fucks given. Challenge accepted! Now it’s double awkward for everyone but Katharina.

At Lafayette’s house, Jesús is barefoot and shaving in the bathroom with the polka dot wallpaper. So I guess they made up after reanimating an avian corpse?

“You know, I’ve lived my entire life knowing that magic was all around me. But when I saw that little bird start to flap her wings? So fuckin’ cool.” What? Dude, no. That shit’s not cute. *makes the “x” fingers*

“You don’t think that maybe… We steppin’ in on someplace we don’t belong?”

“Black magic?” Jesús asks, with his eyebrows far higher than they should be given that he just took part in summoning spirits and shadows to return a corpse to the realm of the living. “I don’t believe in that.” He and LaLa start tossing the extra decorative pillows off the bed, with its leopard-print sheets to match the leopard-print curtains. There is more really cool religious art in Lafayette’s house hanging on the walls.

“Don’t tell me you don’t think evil witches exist.”

“Of course I do. But don’t blame the magic for how it’s used.” It’s all the practitioner, you see, because good people do good magic and bad people do bad magic. Because no one good has ever done anything bad, and no one bad has ever done anything good, and the road to hell is not, in fact, paved with good intentions. Science Magic is a tool, you don’t need to use it responsibly if you’re on the right side of an arbitrary moral line! Hell, the morality is inside of you, and therefore, anything you do ascribes to that morality as well. I am faint with the effort of being so sarcastic, but know, dear readers, that it’s all for you.

“If your soul is light, like I know yours is, you got nothing to worry about.”

Rubbing his head, Lafayette muses, “I’ve never been accused of being overly ‘light’ before.” Then again, Jesús is the only one who’s seen behind Lafayette’s “mask” of hardness, so hey. They kiss.

Sookie is sadfaising at Bill, because she already didn’t want to have to come and ask her ex-boyfriend/fiance for help when his former boss was threatening her, but now that her Bill’s Eric’s boss, he is unwilling/unable to help her out anyway. Louisiana Vampire King Billiam, despite outranking Eric, won’t take his (wrongfully gained) property away, even though he theoretically could.

“Eric has friends in high places,” Bill says.

“Higher than you? Who?”

“That’s all I can tell you.” Sookie looks frustrated and hopeless, so Bill hastily adds, “Maybe I can come up with some kind of workaround.” It would take time, however, so Sookie should stay in another human’s home.

“What good would that do when he could just buy that, too?” It’s true that not everybody would be willing to sell, but Sookie’s also special in that she can’t be glamored to forget, or change her mind about things, and her friends don’t have that advantage. As soon as she hides with someone, the ink might still be wet on Eric’s check and the person harboring Sook will truly think they did want to sell the house, and now they can use that money to travel the world! Vampires, realizing hidden dreams everywhere.

Sookie’s up shit’s creek without a paddle, and Stephen Moyer looks despondent as he bids her goodnight. “How did you become King, anyway?” Bill opens his mouth and makes a face, like he’s searching for words. “Never mind. If there’s one thing I learned from us being together, every time I learned something new about you, I wound up wishing I didn’t know it.” Harsh, but true.

Bill’s face is all, “You wound me! You wound me with your words!” but Sookie leaves anyway. Then he flashes back to a mystical time and place… Punk scene London in 1982!

Bill’s hair is spiked out and he’s wearing a black leather jacket, relatively unadorned but appropriately worn soft, and swapping out partially full beer glasses for empty ones to maintain the illusion of requiring mortal sustenance. He is very low-key rocking out to the music (though Stephen Moyer skanking would have been awesome), and Bill gets to flex an English accent this time around!

An eyelinered, earringed, and nail-polished Bill flirts with the bartender and takes him out back– to messily, noisily, and painfully bite him one good. Fake-out! “Reverting” to his Bon Temps accent (ha), Bill glamors the struggling and crying Callum the bartender, nicking the tip of his own finger and using his vampire blood to seal the puncture wounds on Cal’s neck.

“None of this happened tonight, do you understand? You’ll feel weak four or five days, so I recommend an iron supplement, and vitamin B twice daily.” It’s a very tender scene, because Bill is kind at heart, just trying to get by as a vampire the best he can while minimizing the suffering of the delicious man-aphids from which he sups.

“You don’t kill them,” a voice comes from behind him offscreen. Bill snarls, fangs out, and turns, to see Nan Flanagan, fangs out as well, in some positively massive earrings and a tailored suit. They make their introductions. “I know who you are,” Nan says. “I’ve been watching you for weeks.” Bill looks around nervously, but goes with her.

You see, Nan Flanagan is a kind of community organizer, putting together a group of vampires who, like Bill, believe that while people may be delicious, delicious food, they don’t deserve to die if they don’t have to. Or rather, she is putting together a group that needs spies to infiltrate the vampire monarchies to fracture their power bases, and ensure that the movement toward mainstreaming won’t be shut down. Six of one, half dozen of another.

“Right now, on three different continents, the most brilliant scientific minds in our community, including Louis Pasteur, by the way, are working on synthesizing–”

“Pasteur’s a vampire?

“You didn’t hear it from me, but yes. And he is close, Mr. Compton, to synthesizing human blood. Real human blood, made in a lab, that we could survive on. Consider what this will mean.” It’ll mean I will be giving my milk major side eye in the morning, that’s what.

At Merlotte’s on the opening shift, Sam comes in to set up register, and Sookie skips up to him to apologize for making him worry so much. When it’s safe for her, she says, she’ll tell him the truth, and he’ll see how she had no choice but to keep everything a secret. Sam isn’t exactly friendly about it, but he seems okay enough. “I look forward to that. I really, really do,” he says.

Just then, Arlene and Terry come in, Mikey in a papoose on Terry’s chest, since they couldn’t find a sitter. Sookie runs up to see the baby, remarking on how big he his, and how beautiful, and how he looks just like his mama.

“I’ll tell you what he is,” Sookie starts to say.

“What? What is he? Can you hear him?” Arlene is still freaking out about the Barbies, and her eyes go really big.

“He’s a baby, they don’t think in words,” Sookie says cheerfully, “But I can tell you one thing, he is an old soul.”

“Wait, don’t say that!”

“Arlene,” warns Terry. I think they’ve probably been down this road before, because every single mellow baby will at some point be called an old soul. Word to the wise.

“Well, he’s not an old soul! He’s new, alright? He’s brand-fuckin’-new!” Terry covers Mikey’s ears and Sookie stares. “And don’t try to listen in on me, either, ’cause my thoughts are pure.” Arlene starts crying, and adds, “I love that baby! I love that baby boy with all my heart!” She runs into the back, and Sam and Sookie look confused.

“Sorry. Sleep’s been hard to come by,” Terry explains. Sookie nods understandingly, but glances over to Sam, who shrugs.

Back in Hotshot, a police car pulls in to the sort of central cleared area between the buildings (it’s not really a cul de sac, but it’s the closest Hotshot has), and Andy Bellefleur climbs out of the car, screaming for somebody to come outside. Not realizing Andy’s probably just looking to score some drugs, Felton hides around a corner, telling Timbo to get rid of the Sheriff, or they’ll all go to jail because of Jason Stackhouse.

Meanwhile, Crystal comes into the room where Jason is being held. She’s talking a mile a minute, and says Felton’s got her all hopped up on V. When Jason starts cursing, she rips off a piece of his shirt and stuffs it in his mouth. “Oh, baby, I missed you so much, and I got a way for you and me to be together forever, but if the cops hear you, you’re going to ruin everything.”

As I suspected, Andy has just been relieved to not be tailed, so he hasn’t been thinking too much on Jason’s not showing up to work beyond how he will get his next fix newly unimpeded. He has a partially folded warrant, to disguise what it was actually written up for, and hears tell the residents of Hotshot are dealing V again. Hearing Andy, Jason attempts to scream through the gag, and Crystal pulls a jagged piece of tetanus-steel on him to silence him.

Andy hears something over the barking dogs and constant sounds of misery and poverty, noises coming off from another area not far off, but because he’s not actually there to investigate anything but his own addiction, he is quickly distracted trying to figure out where the blood is being kept. Felton recognizes the twitchy signs of V withdrawal in the sheriff, and in case we-the-viewers didn’t get the hint that Andy is a sweaty junkie, Felton displays similar symptoms to visually show how he made the connection. He hands a vial of deader juice off to an old man to give to Bellefleur, and the gambit works.

“The fuck, Uncle Luther!” Timbo is understandably twitchy by this point.

It’s okay. Luther? Thank you– for coming forward with this, uh, evidence. Which I am now going to take with me. Again– as evidence.” He hustles to his car and drives away, and Felton relaxes.

Crystal hears the car pull off as well. “Good. You did real good, baby,” she says, and starts rubbing her face on Jason’s arm, in case any of us forgot she is a cat. Jason is weirded the fuck out, and wonders what he is going to do now, knowing he missed what might have been his only chance at escape.

Sam is dropping off some boxes in his office/storage room, to see Luna lounging in a very comfortable looking leather chair. “Ain’t you s’posed to be in school?”

“I’m between classes,” she says, stroking the arm of the chair. They start to banter, but, actually, Luna’s kind of stuck, because the chair is comfortable, but too sinkhole-tastic to get up from gracefully, particularly in a skirt and heels. Sam helps her up, and she apologizes for running out the night before. She has secrets– Sam does, too, but that doesn’t make opening up easier.

“I want to let you in,” she says, “and I’m gonna try. I promise.” Sam’s happy! But Luna could have called? Two winky flirty faces. “Then I wouldn’t have gotten to do this.” They kiss. “You coming out tonight?”

“That ain’t even a question,” Sam mutters back. They keep flirting all the way out as Luna leaves and Sam trails after her, and it’s super cute, but then Tommy is watching with one of his new friends and they are buzzkill incarnate.

“Who’s your friend? Sure smells pretty,” Tommy calls out from his table near the front door.

“Looks pretty, too,” says the other polo-clad teenager.

“Who my friend is is none of your business, Tommy,” Sam replies coolly. “If you want a friend that smells, smell your own.” Tommy seems crestfallen that Sam won’t take his bait, and has a slightly outraged look on his face as Sam walks past him. How dare someone be important to his family that he doesn’t know about! How dare his brother have friends without his permission, and then refuse to engage!!

In the kitchen, Terry is chatting to Arlene about renting a movie and having a date night in, and Arlene has taken the opportunity to have a creepy staring contest with the baby until a blood vessel bursts in her eye. “Motherfuckface!”

“Oh, my God, your eye.” Terry backs up, because eye injuries freak a lot of people out, like how fingernail injuries make a lot of people cringe. See, you’re doing it now, aren’t you? Haha, I have power! Power like a baby. The power of voodoo.

“Terry. It was him,” Arlene says, legit scared and pointing at her infant. “He did this to me. He ain’t right! Look at him, looking at me, laughing. You’re rotten to the core, just like your daddy was!” She runs out, crying again, her nerves and eyes both probably rubbed raw.

I’m your daddy,” Terry leans down to say to Mikey, still strapped to his chest, “and I ain’t rotten and neither are you. You hear me? Your mama just gets a little crazy sometimes, which means we just gotta love her that much harder.” He kisses the baby on the ear, and Mikey smiles a big toothless grin. It doesn’t look like a particularly sinister smile, but Mikey could be René’s, and since we know Jesús is all kinds of wrong about horrible magics, the ritual Arlene and Holly took part in trying to chemically (herbally) abort Arlene’s fetus may have done something– or Holly might actually not be a good witch to start out with– or, Jesús could be right, and Holly’s spell may have done something to fix the maenad magic from what could have been Mikey’s conception– or Jesús could be wrong, but right about Holly, and maenad splashback has given Mike Greco-Roman abilities! You never know!

Actually, I’m hoping something is up beyond Arlene being nervous about René’s murderer genetics, particularly if it ties in with Lafayette’s visions, because otherwise I am really uncomfortable with this as a “paranoid crazy woman”/post-partum-depression plotline. Don’t get me wrong, I love Terry as a supportive spouse and parent, especially since he does also think René is Mikey’s biological father, and since Terry’s dealt with mental health issues before, and he gets a lot of funny lines. (I also love the idea that one’s biological family, what one is, and the circumstances under which one’s story begins don’t give those people, things, or past events ownership of or control over who or what you are and can be; but I can rewatch Kung Fu Panda 2 for that.) I just don’t think making Arlene the Crazy Woman of the cast, and to have that be so tied in with her status as a mother, is the way to create story opportunities.

Sookie’s shift is over, and she drives her little yellow car to her little yellow house that isn’t actually hers anymore. I wonder if Jason sold Sookie’s car, too? Hearing someone running up on her, Sookie either flashes back to the fairies chasing her from last week or is seeing beyond the worldwall to fairies still trying to chase her, and screams– but it’s Tara come to visit! She parked out back to surprise Sookie, hooray!

They get teary and ask each other where they’ve been, and I’m really happy to hear Tara pronounce it “Nawrlins,” because that is how you say it, Northerners, not “New Or-leeens” or “New Or-lee-uns,” unless that is the only way to fit it in a song. Sookie hesitates and stammers while she tells Tara she’s been on business for Bill.

“We’re not back together or anything.”

“I didn’t judge you.”

“You look amazing! New Orleans has been good for you, huh?”

“It has!” Rutina Wesley has an amazing smile, and I’m glad Tara’s getting to be consistently happy for the first time in four years, because it is about damn time. Sookie invites her inside, but Eric has left a note on the new screen door, “Out with the old…” and in the kitchen on a new microwave, “In with the new. You like?”

“No, I do not like, actually,” Sookie grumbles. Tara leans against the door frame and wonders if Bill knows he and Sookie aren’t together. Sookie has to explain it’s actually from Eric.

“Sookie, you ain’t with him now!”

“No, never, the son-of-a-bitch bought my house, but that’s all.”

“He bought your house?” Sookie opens the fridge to find only a pitcher of blood inside.

“Psychopathic frat boy.” As she pours it down the sink, she apologizes to Tara. “I feel terrible. This can’t be the homecoming you were expecting.”

Tara just laughs. “It’s Bon Temps, Sook.” They’re just going to eat ice cream in the living room in a homemade fort like old times, but when Sookie goes to get the blankets, she sees a mysterious armoire. Iiinteresting.

This I’ll keep,” she says, opening it. And then a body fell out! No, it didn’t, but it would have been funny. It opens to a ladder going down into a metal lined hidey hole (a full basement in Louisiana is not a good idea), and Sookie very quickly figures out what the whole thing is for.

Motherfucker!” Tara comes in to see what’s wrong. “He built himself a cubby. He built himself a cubby in my house.”

“…Do you need to go?” Sookie just nods, speechless with rage.

At Hoyt’s and Jessica’s, Jess comes out of her cubby for the night to see Hoyt with a bandaged hand and holding an ice pack to his face, trying to watch television out of one eye.

“Hey, hon,” she says, sounding very run-down. “You alright?”

“Yup. Just stupid, that’s all.” They smile at each other, and Jessica checks Hoyt’s wounds, then offers him some of her blood to heal him up.

“You live with a vampire, you might as well get something out of it.”

“I get plenty out of it. ‘Sides, I don’t need that shit.” …In case you were wondering? This was the wrong thing to say.

“‘That shit‘?” Jessica draws her fangs back in, which is extra meaningful because she had them out to heal Hoyt, but vampires also get long in the tooth when they are ready to get physical. “That shit is my blood.”

“That’s not– you know what I’m sayin’.”

“No, I have no idea what you’re sayin’.”

“Just that I don’t want to drink your blood every time I stub my toe, I’ve seen people get all kind of messed up off of too much vampire blood!” Jessica purses her lips and gets off the sofa.

“Where’s your keys?”

“Jessica, don’t just go runnin’ off, like that’s–”

“I’m going to the drugstore, if you won’t take my blood you need to at least take some Advil.”

“I don’t want any Advil,” Hoyt pouts.

I’m going,” Jessica replies.

Hoyt gets the keys out of his pocket and drops them on the floor. I think he was aiming for the side table next to the sofa, but he wasn’t bothered when they dropped. “There you go.” Jess glares as she crouches to pick them up, and makes sure to slam the door on her way out.

She takes the keys and leaves, and comes to a fork in the road; to the right, Shreveport, 22 miles away, or to the left, the Bon Temps Town Center, sure to hold a 24-hour pharmacy? “Shit,” she mutters, and takes off to the right toward Fangtasia.

“It’s my motherfuckin’ cousin, here to bring back my car!”

“Surprise!” Tara’s come to visit Lafayette and Jesús. She got his text and came to see Sook, but she had to go, so here she is! Jesús says Tara looks good.

“That’s the calming influence of that Asian pussy at work.”

Fuck you!”

“Now, hooker, you know I’m right.” They all laugh. Like old times! But Jesús and LaLa are late, they have to go.

“I just got here!” Tara exclaims.

“We got a thang.

“A gay thang?”

“A Wiccan thang.”

“…Seriously? You a Wiccan now.”

“Hooker, you gon’ come or what?”

“I guess so,” Tara smirks. They all head to the Moon Goddess Emporium OF DEATH AND RESURRECTION, not knowing that Katharina and Beel may have sealed their fates!

Cut to Bill, in his executive leather chair. “Thank you for coming.”

“Of course,” says Eric. What are you wearing? His jacket looks like quilted pleather or something. Bill tries to open the conversation by wheedling Eric into selling Sookie’s house back, either to her or to Bill. If Bill didn’t still harbor feelings for Sookie and secretly want to get back together with her, that would be a lot less creepy, though he would probably have to give/sell Sookie her house back to protect her from Eric coming in uninvited.

When Eric’s like, “No, and no. Sooo, we’re done here,” Bill stops him.

“There’s a new coven in town.”

“Oh, no! Witches. I’ll put Pam on it.” Eric won’t be so sarcastic when he finds out he has to deal with it himself, and they are NECROMANCERS! Interested now, huh?!

“If they can control the dead, then they can control us,” Bill explains.

“I do remember the Inquisition, I was around back then.” If Eric had done that in a Valley Girl voice, it would have been amazing.

“Excellent. Now will you deal with this yourself, or is it still beneath you?”

Eric waits a moment before dignifying that with a response. “Has the AVL signed off on this?”

“I am the King of Louisiana! I don’t have to ask anyone for permission.” Duuuuude, Nan Flanagan is going to tear you all kinds of new asshole. She has a crappy job dealing with the press, but that doesn’t mean she won’t rip out your throat. She knows Louis Pasteur, motherfucker!

“I will go tonight.” Eric does an extra flowery bow, and I would like a .gif of it to use when I am feeling extra snarky. “My King.”

“Thank you, Sheriff.” Eric struts out, and Bill has ANOTHER FLASHBACK. This time to the finale of season 3, in his wire-fu battle with Evan Rachel Wood!

“You dare… challenge me? I’m over twice your age.”

“Yes,” he replied, “but I have nothing left to lose.” They launch into the air, and Queen Sophie-Anne easily tosses Bill down on the floor, pa-POW! But his SWAT team comes in, guns pointed at the still-floating ruler of Louisiana. “I brought backup.” Cheater, cheater, pumpkin-eater!

“You. Brought. Humans? Into our affairs?”

“No. You did, when you sent me after Sookie. On my command.” Their laser sights all train on Sophie-Anne’s heart (what, the show’s prop and costume designers couldn’t spring for green lasers?).

“Their bullets are wooden?” she asks.

“With a silver core. Nothin’ but the best for my Queen.” WOW, that sounded really campy B/C-horror-movie. And hey, is that the same leather jacket from before?

“You fucking traitor!” Sophie-Anne growls.

“Fire!” Bill and a few of the snipers in front are splattered as the queen explodes like a water balloon into a puddle of stage blood and bullet-tattered clothes.

“Thank you, team. And thank you.” Nan Flanagan, of course, was behind the whole thing, because she is the BOWSS. She has her suspicions about Bill’s motives being more personal than political, and confronts him– anything that threatens his loyalty to the American Vampire League is not to be trusted. Bill assures Nan that he is only moved by passion for the AVL, and she gives him a skeptical look. However, Nan will wait and see. She has the time, after all.

“By the power vested in me by the One True Vampire Authority, whose wisdom and justice we hold sacred, I hereby pronounce you King William Compton of Louisiana.”

“I pledge my fealty to the Authority for as long as I walk this earth, and I swear it upon the Blood.”

“Hear, hear.” Nan gives Bill a once-over. “Now go clean yourself up. You’re covered in queen.” Aw, Bill has vampire in his cleavage! She leaves, and Bill is back in the present.

At Fangtasia, the protestors have gathered for another night, and Sookie is pleading with Pam to talk to Eric for her. Pam is in a one-shoulder red sparkle minidress and it is sparkly and awesome.

“Did I miss something?” she interrupts Sookie. “Are we girls now? Did we join a book club, and read some queer chick-lit memoirs, and now we’re bonded together by estrogen or sisterhood or some other feminist drivel?”

“I don’t do book clubs,” Sookie says, indignantly.

“Neither do I.” Pam finishes putting on her earrings, and continues. “Eric is my maker, Sookie. Did you really think I’d side with you on this?” Still, Sookie can wait in his office until he shows up to check receipts (I guess Eric didn’t tell Pam about the witches?), but she should reconsider Eric’s offer.

“With what you are, Fairy Princess, you need to be somebody’s, or you won’t be at all. Eric is handsome, he’s rich, and in his own way, he cares about you. He really does,” Pam says, quirking an eyebrow at the end of her flatly delivered speech for emphasis.

“Thanks for the advice, but I will never be Eric Northman’s puppet.”

“Shame for you, then. He pulls good string.” Pam turns on her heel and is off into the clurb.

Outside, Jessica gets out of Hoyt’s truck. She tosses her overshirt in through the window, now only wearing a cami tank, and at first I think these are her fight clothes. Instead, she just speeds up and slips past the protestors super-fast (they slow down) and enters Fangtasia. Unless everything is slow because she’s in the zone. Jessica tosses her hair loose, sees the fangbanger from episode 4×01, and draws his attention to her, taking his hand to dance.

At the Moon Goddess Emporium, Holly tells everybody how awesome they are and how grateful Marnie is to everyone. Looking over the top of a Good Housekeeping magazine, Tara says, “If Marnie’s so appreciative, how come Marnie don’t talk?

“Quiet, bitch, you a guest,” Lafayette whispers.

“All right, well, enough of the back-slappin’, what we gon’ bring back next?” a witch with thick bangs asks Holly and Marnie. She seems really eager for someone just dabbling in constructing zombies.

“A person.”

“Excuse me?” Jesús must have drank a little bit too much brujo sizzurp this morning, because he could have sworn you want to reanimate the dead. Could you repeat that, Marnie?

“A person.”

Lafayette and Tara’s faces say, “I’m sorry, what the fuck?”

Jesús says, “I’m sorry, what the fuck?

“‘M gonna raise a human body.” Marnie is a low-talking mumbler, but Tara can hear her from across the room and suspects some shit is about to pop off.

“This is where ya lose me,” says Lafayette.

“Holy shit, Marnie.” Holly looks disgusted.

The girl with the bangs just seems nervous. “Well, why not a pigeon, or–”

“I don’t see with the big deal is, I’m game,” a guy with pulled-back blonde hair says. NOBODY ASKED YOU, CREEPY.

“Are you serious?” a blonde woman asks, looking horrified.

Yesssh,” Marnie says out of the side of her mouth.

Yeah, I’ll be waiting out front,” Tara tells Lafayette.

“I hear you, bitch,” he says over his shoulder, then goes back to looking at Marnie like he can’t believe what he’s hearing. GO WITH YOUR COUSIN WHILE YOU STILL HAVE THE CHANCE! No one listens to Gena.

At the Babyshifter’s Club meeting in Claudia’s bedroom (she has her own phone line!), everybody’s trading stories of the most fucked-up things they ever shifted into. Susanne was once a hen at an egg farm, and Emory teases her for trying to make a political statement about inhumane treatment of chickens, because not everybody can afford free-range eggs like some people. Susanne says something about hooray for Emery being so disenfranchised and eating the eggs of the common people or some shit. Poultry for the proletariat!! Beyond that, I have decided not to touch this argument, because I suspect Susanne and Emory are both dicks.

Luna says quietly, “I shifted into my mother.” Wait, can she do that? They all look at her.

“Now that’s fucked-up,” Emory agrees.

“My mother died giving birth to me.” …Oh, god-fucking-dammit! Is that what I think it is? It is. There are Native Fucking Flutes playing. I hate Native Fucking Flutes. It means a Very Native Storyline is about to pop up. “So, I was raised by my father and my grandparents on Navajo Nation.”

“Wait, you’re an Indian?” Emory asks.

“I thought you were a Mexican,” adds Susanne.

Like I said: dicks.

“I am, on my mother’s side, but my father’s side is Navajo. Like, old-school Navajo.” Yes, because it’s not like the political label of Hispanic isn’t meant to be a catchall for indigenous and mestizo peoples south of a fluctuating national border to mark them as Other, or like nationality isn’t just a label for country-of-origin regardless of racial, ethnic, or cultural background. Don’t mind me.

Luna laughs to herself, not minding me at all. “My bedtime stories were not written by Dr. Seuss. I had to fall asleep listening to the Legend of the Skinwalkers.”

Long Very Native Story short, Luna may be a Skinwalker, a kind of shapeshifter witch who can also take the form of other people if they kill another shifter in their own family (like she did as an infant by killing her mother via UTERUS, the most insidious form of murder), because “regular” shifters can only take the form of non-human animals. Actual Navajo Skinwalkers, yee naaldlooshii, are, of course, sort of different, because this is an HBO series. Though, HEY, guess what, I’m not an actual Native mythologies expert, and this isn’t my job. I just give a shit and have access to libraries, Google, and Wikipedia. Guess which of those is the most important element? So y’all can check it for yourselves.

I… will have to see how this plays out this season. I like the acknowledgement of different kinds of magic, particularly Native magics, as existing in a world where Eurocentric fantastic beings are considered more normative. In theory, that should be a given in a modern SF/F series set in a multicultural 21st century nation in one of its states with the longest acknowledged history of multicultural identity, but sadly, it’s still rare enough that this is worth commenting on. On the other hand, it’s messed up that this could be a token minority situation, or that Luna’s deep and tragic supernatural-related flaws (that every character in True Blood has) both have to be tied in with her race/ethnicity and may be coded as malevolent or villainous because they aren’t “normal” (aka aren’t White).

And while Luna’s personal story of drama (beyond her Very Native Powers) not being a stock “Indian story” of alcoholism, life on the res, etc. etc., is… reassuring? (if it had been, I probably would have had to stop watching this season, despite some of the greatness already shown), I also don’t know if she’ll even survive to season 5. I admit I’d love if Luna’s been lying, and she is a full-blown hardcore yee naaldlooshii, though, again, Otherized magic being coded as “bad” (see also: Jesús and Lafayette’s flashback/drug trip last season, the conflation of necromantic witchcraft and Wicca)– or, hell, that “ethnic” magic is Otherized at all in a supernatural global community– is highly problematic. I really want to give Alan Ball the benefit of the doubt here, but I’ve been burned before. All I can do is be hopeful for the following weeks, but I’ll also be keeping an eye on Luna in particular. :/

Anyway, the other three shifters think this is profoundly fucked up, and Luna totally wins the contest, but what was it like being another person? No, that’s not rude to ask at all. “It was– crazy,” Luna says, “and scary, at first. But then it was like, ‘I get to be my mom!‘” She gets a little weepy remembering her own excitement and her family history. “I mean, I never got to meet her, and then, I was her.” There are several horrible, horrible directions this could go, but suddenly, they all smell another shifter. Sam jumps up to handle it.

“You need help?”

No,” he says, running straight for Tommy, of course, who has been spying, of course. Tommy turns into a crow (SIGNIFICANTLY NATIVE?), and Sam turns into an owl (SIGNIFICANTLY NATIVE??) in pursuit. At least there weren’t any Native Fucking Drums or Native Fucking Chanting, because I swear, guys. This is my “done” face.

Naomi’s cordless phone rings. It’s Toni! “Hey, baby! How’s it going?”

Everyone here is completely insane.

Well. You already knew that. Just… say goodbye to your grandmother, and come on home, okay? I miss you.” Oh! I think Naomi truly does not suspect that Toni is Tara, and that makes me sad for her, because Naomi and Toni share a home. That’s pretty serious stuff.

“I miss you, too, baby,” Tara says, smiling, and as she and Naomi hang up, sssssswoooosh! Vampire Eric with the speed of the Flash is running up ons, straight into the Moon Goddess Emporium TRAP TRAP TRAP. Did Bill plan on Eric succeeding, or on him getting kidnapped by magical vessels with delusions of grandeur? Ruh-roh.

“Where the fuck y’all gonna get a dead body?” Lafayette is asking, just as Eric, who is a GIANT HAM, throws open the double doors into the room with a dramatic bang. Everyone stiffly turns to look, because whenever such ironic moments actually happen in real life, people tend to wonder if, in fact, it is actually happening.

“Excuse me.” Eric strides toward the center of the room, as Lafayette’s face is just like, “Oh, shit, fuck, my old boss, fuck me.” “Y’all looking for a dead body?” He snaps his fangs out, and all the witches except Lafayette flinch.

LaLa jumps up and backpedals, clutching Jesús’s shoulder. “Oh, shit.” Jesús looks back at him, but doesn’t get out of his seat, which makes me wonder how much he actually knows about Lafayette’s PTSD.

“Oh, Lafayette! I didn’t know you were a witch,” Eric smiles at him, still pointy-mouthed, like this is small-talk time, and Lafayette tries to maintain composure.

Sookie is in Fangtasia still, trying to go to the bathroom and ignore the people having sex in the stall next to her, until she recognizes Jessica’s voice. This club needs better bouncers. Pam can’t babysit all the vamps and fangbangers, GOSH.

Jessica?

Jess pulls her face out of the guy’s neck. “…Sookie?” She tries to cover up what’s been going on in typical teenage style, covering the guy’s mouth to shush him and flushing the toilet for no reason, wiping her mouth ineffectively as she exits the stall, leaving the fangbanger behind (probably standing on the toilet so his feet don’t show).

“What are you doing here?” Sookie asks her.

“What are you doing here?” Oh, teenagers. You make both Pam and me ell-oh-ell eye-are-ell.

“Waitin’ to talk to Eric, I had to pee, but–”

“I’m bleeding in here?” The dancing guy tries to leave the stall and Jessica shoves him back in with a look on her face like that was the moment she was caught. It’s pretty funny, actually, until Sookie tries to act morally superior and holier-than-thou.

“I don’t want your help!” Jessica snaps. “‘Sides, you ain’t got no leg to stand on, preaching at me how to be a good girlfriend. Not after the way you treated Bill.” She’s talking fast, trying to emotionally intimidate Sookie into not telling anyone what she’s seen, because she’s immature. Apparently, it’s going to work.

“You don’t know everything there is to know about–”

“You have any idea how broken-hearted he was? And still is? …Stop acting like my stepmom. I hated it before and I like it even less now.” Jessica turns to re-enter the stall. “Just go away. This ain’t got nothin’ to do with you. I can eat who I want.”

Aggravated, Sookie leaves Fangtasia entirely, passing through the protestors and lashing out at them, “Oh, shut up and make a new chant, already!” Somebody needed to say it.

Out in the woods somewhere, Owl!Sam bird-tackles Crow!Tommy, and they fall to the ground in a pile of naked man parts, which is good, because now their bones are solid and won’t shatter from the plummet. Both of them are kind of disoriented, because they had to roll when they crashed, and a body-check in midair is probably also not the best for your inner ear’s ability to balance you out. “What happened t’yer limp?

Tommy shrugs. “Musta been the adrenaline of the moment and shit.”

“You been lyin’ to me! Your leg’s fine!

“Yeah, well… fuck you!” Nice, Tommy. That’ll show him. “‘Cause you been lyin’ to me, too!”

“How’ve I been lyin’ to you?

“Your new girlfriend, and all them people you been hanging out with! They’re all shifters, it ain’t no anger management!”

“Well that’s what it is for me, anyhow! Chance to get shit off my chest before I do crazy things like shoot people!” The music shifts to be more of an emotional backdrop than a fight backdrop. Seriously? Okay, I guess. “Did you have any idea how much I wish I’d never done that?”

Probably not as much as me.” Tommy can’t really believe it either, but that was a good comeback. Sam laughs.

“Oh, you gotta be kiddin’ me. This worked out great for you! You’re the one that got shot!” For… given definition of “great?”

Yeah, I’m the one that got shot!” Tommy yells back, because Sam isn’t making a whole lot of sense yet.

“All your sins are washed away! Livin’ high on the hog at Maxine’s house! And I’m just the stupid sumbitch that shot his own brother!” Oh, Sam. The world weeps for you. We bleed for you Sam, to see how you suffer. NO! THERE ARE REPERCUSSIONS TO YOUR ACTIONS, JACKASS!

“Yeah, well, it still don’t change the fact that you lied to me,” Tommy throws back at Sam, turning to walk away.

“You lied to me. Big surprise. The Mickens brothers’re a bunch of liars.” When Tommy turns to face him again, Sam asks, “What’d you follow me out here for, Tommy?”

I don’t know! I guess I just…” There’s a strained pause, while the both of them make faces to express the struggle of expressing emotion honestly. “Want us to be brothers. I’m serious, Sam! Don’t laugh at me,” Tommy snaps, as Sam laughs at him. Ha-ha, you love me! Neener, neener, boo-boo!

“Well, that’s gon’ be a problem,” Sam chortles. “‘Cause you don’t trust me, and I sure as hell don’t trust you.” No, no, he wants to be emotionally healthy siblings, Sam. You work on that.

“So then… where do we start?” Tommy is vulnerable, and Sam sees that, and it complicates things, because he actually does care! Aww.

Sam shakes his head uncomfortably, trying to shake away the FEELINGS. “Chip away at it. Try to not-trust each other a little less every day.”

“Sounds… good.” Sam’s shifter buddies are catching up to him, just like his unspoken desires for a family support network, and Tommy sees he can either leave, or stay and get weird. “Guess I should take off before they find you.” Sam appreciates that, and the two part as awkwardly as it is possible to do so.

Back at the coven’s circle, Eric puts out a candle by putting his shoe over the glass holding it and smothering the flame. That… will mess up his leather soles. “I’m told your leader’s name is Marnie,” Eric says, ignoring the indignant postures and expressions on the faces of the witches who have moved to surround him. And let’s just say… a little birdie told him. Eric, so droll.

He grins as Marnie turns to face him, volunteering herself, and Lafayette and Jesús strike defensive poses, arms folded in front of them, shoulders raised, but looking down. “Excellent. Thank you for coming forward.” Marnie nods, and this is the most upright she’s stood and the most clearly she’s spoken since her character introduction.

“Now here’s the deal, Marnie. This is the last time your coven convenes.” All the witches’ expressions darken. “And before you even think about agreeing and then meeting behind my back, know this: there is no behind my back. I am everywhere.

“W-what’s in it for me?” Marnie looks alarmed, and you can see the gears in her head working furiously to try and salvage the situation. Holly and Pigeon glare at Eric, but say nothing.

“I said it was a deal, not a negotiation,” Eric hisses. Marnie purses her lips. “Lafayette! Do I negotiate.

LaLa jumps. Tensely, he says, “I’d listen to him, Marnie, he tends to get his way.” Tara walks in with much less theatricality than Eric did, so no one turns to see her until she’s already in the room.

“The fuck now?” Tara knows she and her cousin should probably avoid vampire sheriffs if at all possible.

“Is this opportunity ringing? I think there are some balls you should be bringing.” Marnie’s resolute facial expression is channeling Vincent Price as a cartoon villain. “Join hands,” she says, her voice low.

Eric grabs Marnie and whisks her the other side of the room, one hand at her throat, bending her over, hunched and looming over her face. “Why couldn’t you just take the deal?” He whispers, pressing close against her ear. Eric is a SPACE INVADER, and Marnie knows what’s coming and sobs. Lafayette stands frozen to the spot with his eyes wide, as Jesús backs up, horrified, and Eric bites Marnie.

She screams, the witches gasp, and Tara mutters, “Goddamn, I hate this place,” seeing too-familiar episodes play out in front of her without even feeling shocked at the spectacle and knowing it means she’s damaged, Bon Temps is damaged, everyone there is damaged, and getting out was the right decision. Holly improvises.

“Elements of the night, elements of the dead, come this way, we call upon ye, we summon ye.” She moves to take her place in the witch’s circle, and as she takes the hands of two women to either side of her, the other witches repeat. Jesús attempts to bring Lafayette into the chain, but he pulls away, cringing back into himself, but unable to look away from Eric and Marnie.

Tara grabs a sharpened cross from a cornucopia that holds wooden ceremonial “swords” and wands. She runs to Eric from behind, in perfect silence, but he sees everything, and throws Marnie across the room to her coven, whipping around to grab Tara by the shoulder and arm, holding her off-balance so she can’t get free.

“What have we here?” Eric shows a lot of still-bloody fang and smiles down at Tara, who starts hyperventilating, but who was never a person who would beg a vampire for her life.

Oh, shit.” In the same moment Lafayette realized the change to the situation, and that Tara, his cousin, his family, was in danger, he’d grabbed Jesús’s hand and joined the chanting. “Elements of the night, elements of the dead…”

I love Lafayette and Tara. You might cuss each other out all the time, you might make fun of each other and aggravate each other, and be psychologically splintered beyond recognition as neurotypically functional, but you stick by your family. You’ll cross the line into dubious magic, incurring debts to unseen spirits and raising the dead to save one precious life. It’s not logical, it’s not responsible, but it’s loyal, and it’s real. Emotional decision-making often comes from a “damn-the-costs” kind of place, where you will burn the world to keep someone safe. Stand by your fam. :D

But Lafayette has something within him, power he tried to shut away from himself and pretended not to know, but this is his first time actively grasping for it, and something grabbed back. As Eric prepares to lunge into Tara’s throat, he falters, the room darkening around him and a wind from nowhere kicking up. Marnie has a dramatically sharp intake of breath, and is drawn upward from where she’s collapsed on the floor, as her body is possessed by the forces the coven has summoned.

Everybody, Eric included, looks around to see what happened to the electricity, and where the hissing, whistling, chittering demon wind machine has come from. He drops Tara, who cries out in a half-sob of fear, but catches herself on her hands before hitting the carpet. Marnie stands. The spirits enter her with an outcry from their myriad voices, and Marnie speaks for them, identifying herself and chanting in Latin.

Eric stares aghast, as fire enters Marnie’s eyes and she flickers in and out of existence, another female figure taking her place, occupying the same body but offering glimpses to its true nature. His fangs run back in, and with a bewildered and nervous glance around the room, Eric flees.

“Holy shit,” Lafayette breathes.

The spirit departs, and Marnie blinks and smacks her lips like she’s just woken up. “Well, what happened?” she mumbles. “Is he gone?”

Jason Stackhouse is still tied to a bed, one shoe off and one shoe on, but now night has fallen, and it’s doubly dark and pathetic. A gleeful Crystal and an agitated Felton both enter with a lantern, and Jason protests through his gag. “It’s your lucky night. You get us both,” Felton grunts.

Jason is still more full of machismo than fatigue or anxiety, so he tries to curse Felton out through the piece of his own (likely flannel) plaid shirt stuffed in his mouth. (Don’t get me wrong, I like plaid flannel, it just flashes me back to the prep/grunge-layering early Ninties fashion of my youth. Also lumberjacks.)

“Take that shit out his mouth, I cain’t make out a word he’s sayin’!” Crystal crouches next to Jason on the mattress and ungags him.

“I said, if you gonna kill me, kill me now, fuckwad.

“Oh no,” Crystal says, all sweetness, “we ain’t gon’ kill you.” She unbuttons the rest of Jason’s shirt.

Felton starts to strip. “We gon’ make a baby.” UH.

“You and me?” Jason asks, genuinely wondering if that is what Felton thinks will work.

“No, silly. You and me.” Crystal starts on his jeans, beaming.

“Well, two questions. Why is he alright with this? And also, if he ain’t part of the babymakin’, what’s he gittin’ nekkid fer?” Jason’s voice drops to an outraged whisper on the last few words, like Crystal may not have noticed Felton over there in nudie corner.

“We been tryin’ on our own for a while now–” Felton jumps in.

“Felton’s shootin’ blanks,” Crystal giggles.

Shut the fuck up! We don’t know that for sure, all we know is it ain’t workin’. Jesus Christ.

“I got a duty,” Crystal continues. “Y’know, to our kinfolk. To propagate the bloodline.” She unbuttons the top of her dress. “But I also wanna be with you.

“Uh, may-maybe it’s just the stress of the situation, but, well, I don’t follow?”

“If we wanna be sure we’re gonna make us a panther, we gotta make you one of us first.” Crystal smiles, and it dawns on Jason that he might be in significantly more trouble than he would’ve been just being killed in a shack in Hotshot.

“Well, what if I don’t wanna be– one of you?” Crystal looks hurt.

“Well, that’s just too fuckin’ bad!” Felton drops trou and shifts, growling as he approaches the bed.

“Oh, fuck– Crystal– don’t, please, I’m begging you!”

“Don’t you want to be together? I mean, this is the only way.” Her voice is teary, and she adds, “I love you.” The black panther snarls, and Crystal snaps, “Oh, suck it, Felton!”

“Sweetheart, please!

Crystal drops her dress to the floor, ignoring Jason’s obvious distress in her eagerness. “Just try and relax, all right? It’ll only hurt in the beginnin’!” She shifts as well, and the cats circle, Crystal climbing onto the bed first as Jason tries to pull away from her terrifyingly huge feline face. She bites him in the abdomen, and Felton bites his ribs on the opposite side, as Jason screams and strains against the ropes holding him down.

Sookie is driving back home, Eric having been a no-show at Fangtasia and Jessica having soured her mood. Coasting past the graveyard, she sees a dazed shirtless man aimlessly walking the sidewalk. “Eric?”

He turns, looking at her blankly, and continues walking. “Eric. Eric!” He turns to look at Sookie again.

“Who’re you?”

“It’s me, Sookie.” She blinks at him in disbelief.

“Who?”

“You ‘know me’?” she says, rolling her eyes. He keeps staring.

“Oh. No I don’t.” Eric sounds not-quite-there, like he’s in shock, or isn’t fully awake. Sookie narrows her eyes at him, and he turns away and starts to walk again– but he stops, and sniffs the air in Sookie’s general direction.

She swallows nervously, and he approaches the car, still sniffing. “…Why do you smell so good?” (And then the ending theme was “You Smell Like Dinner,” and lulz were had.)

DUN. DUN. DUUUUUN!

So, I was really happy with a lot of things this episode. For one thing, I like Lindsay Pulsipher, who plays Crystal, a lot better so far this season than last season when she was playing the character sober. I’m actually a fan of all the women in-show so far except Arlene and Luna, whose plotlines I’m incredibly troubled by (moreso than Tara/Toni’s), but I don’t have any complaints about the acting this time. Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin, who I’m usually just lukewarm on as Bill and Sookie, really impressed me this episode! For the book readers: I, for one, much prefer this version of the witch’s coven and Eric’s brainwashing, but it also had Lafayette in it, and I am notoriously biased on the subject of the Reynolds family. And I did notice a lot more product placement in this week’s episode than in last week’s, but A.Ball got bills to pay, son. Holla, holla, make them dollahs.

Thoughts?

Comments

  1. M.C. says

    Love everything except for the “baby Mikey might be evil” story line. Because no human is ever born evil and I really hate it when people think that’s possible, even if it’s just a fantasy show.

    Oh, and was anybody else disapointed that Eric wasn’t completely naked like in the book? ;)

  2. minuteye says

    M.C.,

    I don’t think Eric was completely naked in the book, I recall some mention of jeans needing to be washed and a pair of red spandex briefs that I had trouble believing anyone would buy unironically.

  3. Robin says

    Some people will find this whole thing very sweet and very romantic and very, very sexy, possibly solely because there are vampires involved.

    Heads up: I am going to judge the shit out of these people.

    Please tell me that you’re aware of the Reasoning with Vampires blog that’s deconstructing the Twilight series. She judges the heck out of people who like such things, too. (Also, she’s a grammar nerd, which makes me happy.)

    Tara and Lafayette are definitely my favorite characters in this series because — much like Cordelia in the Buffyverse — they are the ones who look at the insane situations they and their friends get into and call bullshit. Although Terry is making a strong case for himself with the steadfastness he’s showing, so I’ll keep him in the running as a dark horse candidate.

    I do have a soft spot for Eric and Pam, though, just because they’re so hilariously aloof so much of the time and have no patience for people being stupid and irrational at them. Not that that excuses Eric’s creepy, creepy behavior so far this season, but it makes it a little more fun to roll my eyes and mutter “damn Vikings”.

  4. Casey says

    This is semi-off topic, but since the inception of these True Blood recaps/reactions, I’ve become aware of something crappy.

    I keep confusing Sookie Stackhouse for Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter (or at least I used to before reading these things…and now I know that True Blood is based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels like how Game of Thrones is based on A Song of Ice and Fire).

    I’m so slow-witted. >_>VVV

  5. says

    Casey,

    Really? I never had any trouble telling them apart: Sookie’s the one who waits too long before resorting to violence, and Anita’s the one who doesn’t wait long enough. :P Some people also notice differences in their sexuality and sexual violence but not I, because the Anita Blake series stopped at book 8. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. :D

  6. Casey says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    Well I got easily confused because I only had a passing knowledge of both series, all I knew was that they were both “FEMALE VAMPIRE HUNTERS WHO AREN’T BUFFY” so they kinda overlapped to me…also, Sookie Stackhouse isn’t authored by some insufferable jerk like Anita Blake is, right? :D

  7. says

    Casey,

    OIC.

    Charlaine Harris seems pretty likeable. From what little I’ve picked up in passing, it looks like her true passion is mystery novels and she’s getting bored with vampires. You’re dead on with LKH; not only is she a jerk to those who disagree with her, she also talks about her characters like they’re real people. (Then there’s all the dubious shit in the books themselves, like rape and pedophilia and murdering innocents.)

  8. Casey says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    Not to mention her victim-blaming “DON’T BE A VICTIM, CARRY A GUN WITH YOU EVERYWHERE” backwards-ass pseudo-feminism.

    She talks about her characters like they’re real people? Real people as in, she’s way too emotionally invested in them, like imaginary friends or real people like “ZOMG, I WANTED TO WRITE THE STORY DIFFERENTLY, BUT MY CHARACTERS JUST COMPELLED ME TO DO SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT” (the excuse Stephanie Meyer makes for poor storytelling)?

  9. says

    Casey,

    I am so glad I missed her nonsense about carrying a gun. Because going around macing everyone who trips my internal creeper alarms is such an effective way to get through life. *eyeroll*

    Real like her Dear Negative Reader rant (which has apparently been deleted! Google Cache to the rescue) went on about how she couldn’t kill her characters because they were her friends and all her fans who wanted her to kill some off were advocating murder.

    As for the people who keep suggesting that I simply start killing characters because Anita has too many men in her life . . . The characters aren’t real to you. They are real to me, and to a lot of other people. I, and a lot of readers, would feel an emotional loss if some of these guys died. Obviously, you, negative reader, do not feel anything for the people you would urge me to destroy. I am sorry you do not love them, or at least like them, as I do. I have failed as a writer that you could kill them, and feel nothing.

  10. Casey says

    Sylvia Sybil: I have failed as a writer that you could kill them, and feel nothing.

    Hey, I think they’d feel relief and/or happiness that you’ve killed off some annoying characters! ;)

  11. Patrick McGraw says

    I don’t understand why people keep making hypothetical references to Anita Blake books past the eighth. Is this some sort of running joke like the people who claim there are Highlander sequels?

  12. says

    Patrick McGraw,

    Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter started out about her killing vampires and gradually realizing there were shades of grey in the supernatural world. At book 9 or 10, depending on who you ask, the series took a sharp left turn, the MC became infected with some succubus magic that made her addicted to sex, and she starts raping people and getting raped due to that magic. The actual plot suffers horribly too, with other characters making 180′s in their characters and motivations. The series is still going strong, it’s up to 17 or 18 now, but it’s little more than badly written and violent erotica. The unkind (including myself) call the second half Anita Blake: Vampire Humper. Pretending the series stopped at book 8 is the only way I can still enjoy it. (Although I think someone else on here commented on the problematic racial elements present all along.)

    So yeah, it’s a fandom thing, like the Highlander sequels, the Matrix sequels, the Star Wars prequels…

  13. Patrick McGraw says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    Oh durn, I fail at being facetious. I was attempting to join the chorus about holding the later Anita Blake books as fan discontinuity. (shameface)

    I actually like the Star Wars prequels though, which seems pretty uncommon in anyone who saw the original films as a child and the prequels as an adult, which I suspect is one of the main elements behind Star Wars fans not liking Star Wars.

  14. Casey says

    Patrick McGraw,

    This is kinda silly/possibly shallow, but the thing I liked most about the Star Wars prequels was Amidala’s Unlimited Wardrobe <333
    (then again I'm only a casual viewer of SW)

  15. says

    Patrick McGraw,

    *rereads your earlier comment* Ohhhhhhh, I see. I got the facetiousness about Highlander but not Anita Blake. Well, maybe my explanation will be useful for some lurkers. Especially if they came here for True Blood and are bewildered by the derail. :P

  16. Maria says

    Do you guys think Eric being naked, like some commentators are suggesting, would’ve helped or hindered the DV angle Gena is talking about? Because one of the points she mentions is that it’s not played for eroticism…. and I wonder how wanting Eric to be naked in a scene like this plays into DV fantasies and rape culture.

  17. M.C. says

    Sylvia Sybil:
    Casey,

    OIC.

    Charlaine Harris seems pretty likeable. From what little I’ve picked up in passing, it looks like her true passion is mystery novels and she’s getting bored with vampires.

    Charlaine Harris is an awesome mystery writer. I strongly reccomend reading her “Death in Shakespeare”. (trigger warning: the heroine is a rape survivour and there’s a very graphic description of that scene.)

    Maria:
    Do you guys think Eric being naked, like some commentators are suggesting, would’ve helped or hindered the DV angle Gena is talking about? Because one of the points she mentions is that it’s not played for eroticism…. and I wonder how wanting Eric to be naked in a scene like this plays into DV fantasies and rape culture.

    By “some commentators” you mean me, right? ;-)
    Well, I think if Eric was completely naked, then most viewers would view the scene as erotic, no matter if it’s actually played like that or not. Because we are socialised to think that attractive naked person = sex.

  18. says

    M.C.: Well, I think if Eric was completely naked, then most viewers would view the scene as erotic, no matter if it’s actually played like that or not. Because we are socialised to think that attractive naked person = sex.

    That’s true, but sometimes cognitive dissonance makes it even creepier. This is why little kids are a staple of the horror genre: children are expected to be sweet and innocent and need protecting and that’s why it so much scarier when they’re the ones other people need protecting from. A naked, smoking hot guy is supposed to be erotic, but I think seeing him as an abuser would just make it creepier. “I thought he was going to get smexy but then he got scary!” sort of thing.

    (“Most” people would probably still get it wrong, though, due to that socialization you pointed out.)

  19. Casey says

    Sylvia Sybil: A naked, smoking hot guy is supposed to be erotic, but I think seeing him as an abuser would just make it creepier.

    I guess that’s a part of why that scene in American Psycho where Patrick Bateman is chasing down two potential victims whilst naked and wielding a chainsaw is so disturbing (besides American Psycho just being disturbing as a whole).

  20. Leticia says

    I hope there’ll be more True Blood reviews from the rest of the season! I keep checking the Television page for them :)

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