It was inevitable: After last week’s action overdose, the True Blood writers decided to dial back on the plot for this week’s episode and instead return to character vignettes. Only trouble with that is “Me and the Devil” (is it me, or are they constantly changing the episode titles on us?) was all over the place as a result. Very little was resolved this week – and all of the juicy plot development was crammed into the last five minutes of the episode.
Pros: The heat between Eric and Sookie got turned up to 11. The Inquisition-era sorceress finally has a name (Antonia!). Adele Stackhouse is back (sort of!). No Norris family appearances.
Cons: Not enough Pam. Not enough Hoyt and Jessica. Not enough Eric and Sookie. Only one short Alcide scene. No Luna and her cutie-pie daughter Emma. And basically nothing that was revealed in the Season Four teaser trailer unveiled at Comic-Con.
MICKENS FAMILY: The episode opens up with Tommy still ensnared in Joe Lee’s chains, and a sheepish Melinda half-heartedly pleading with her husband to spare their son’s life. Once Joe Lee is convinced that Tommy has been rendered unconscious, that’s when the shape-shifter strikes back. Tommy smacks Joe Lee in the head repeatedly (accidentally hitting Melinda in the process) with a wooden plank until his father collapses on the ground. The Mickens patriarch appears to be dead – but unfortunately for Tommy, so does Melinda. Immediately remorseful, Tommy cradles his mother in his arms. Tommy immediately enlists Sam to help him dispose of their parents’ bodies, and manages to fend off a suspicious Andy Bellefleur by shifting into an alligator in the process. Crafty. The Mickens brothers eventually throw the corpses into a bayou, with Sam tossing marshmallows into the water along with Joe Lee and Melinda (“Gators love marshmallows,” he tells Tommy. Hmm, have you tossed bodies into the bayou before, Sam?), ensuring a speedy alligator arrival. Despite Tommy’s remorse for committing parenticide, Sam assures his brother that he is not going to hell and even goes so far as to justify Tommy’s actions: “Killing’s alright, if you’re at war.” Sam reveals to Tommy that he’s killed two people, and asserts that he turned out okay. Yeah, this all worked out way too easy for these two. I’m relieved that Tommy isn’t going to spend the rest of the season living in captivity dog fighting for Joe Lee, but this story is long from being over. And for someone who’s supposedly such a good guy, Sam seemed a little too calm throughout this whole body-discarding endeavor. Major creep factor here.
LAFAYETTE AND JESUS: These two are taking matters into their own hands, and it’s about bloody time. After Lafayette debriefs Marnie on the whole Pam’s-face-melting incident (“Hookah, you pissed off another G-d damn vampire and then you took a nap”), because, of course, Marnie can’t remember what happened, he and Jesus and Tara bail on Marnie. They ain’t buying her story that she was “taken over” by a “benevolent spirit” who is their “protector.” Jesus persuades Lafayette (who is sporting some fine-looking dreads this episode) to head down Mexico way with him to visit his grandfather, a powerful brujo. Lafayette is all, “bitch, please,” when Jesus recounts a story of when he was nine, and his abuelo had him kill a goat then “take the spirit inside him” (read: lick the blood off of the knife that killed said goat). Well, lil’ Jesus drank the blood and he liked it. A lot. He wants to feel that same power again – because maybe that’s what they need to defeat the vampires’ wrath. After a quickie road trip, Jesus and Lafayette arrive at Abuelo’s house – and the elder brujo just happens to be expecting them. Does this mean we get to see Lafayette drink goat’s blood next week?
ARLENE AND TERRY: It’s exorcist time in the Bellefleur household. Tired of being scared of their own baby, Arlene and Terry turn to G-d in their time of need (“You hear that, Rene? G-d’s comin’ for you!” Arlene says to the walls), who arrives in the form of Reverend Daniels and Lettie Mae (a.k.a. Tara’s alcoholic born-again mom), who is now the minister’s wife. Their exorcism consists of singing gospel songs (with Lettie Mae shaking a tambourine with gusto) and “smoking out the evil” with incense. It’s so ridiculous that it’s not exactly surprising when simple-minded Arlene and Terry are convinced that Reverend and Mrs. Daniels succeeded driving out the wicked spirits from their home. They make passionate love on satin sheets as Mikey sleeps soundly (with the creepy doll by his side) and share in such sweet pillow talk that they are oblivious to the matchbook that is mysteriously set aflame on a nearby dresser. If Arlene and Terry are still alive at the end of this season it will be a miracle. This story line started out as comic relief, but Arlene’s and Terry’s naivete toward the pure malevolence that is in their home almost makes me want the baby to keep terrorizing them.
PORTIA: Drat. I thought we had gotten rid of this one for good last week when Bill found out she was his great-great-great-great granddaughter. But at least it made for a funny scene. Apparently a little thing like incest doesn’t stop a horny Bellefleur: “Forty-two states have repealed anti-incest laws,” she proudly announces to her former lover. Sorry, Portia. Bill’s kind of an old-fashioned guy. He proceeds to glamour the Bon Temps attorney into not only ceasing her romantic feelings for the vampire king – but to be permanently frightened at the sight of him. Slick. Any chance humans can hire vamps to glamour all obsessive exes? Now that would be a lucrative business…
ALCIDE: We were spoiled last week with tons of Alcide screen time, most of which he spent shirtless. That means only one Alcide scene this time around, and it basically served as a preface to a future plotline. Our favorite werewolf is visted by Marcus Bozeman, who happens to be the Shreveport packmaster and who dresses like a rejected Hells Angel. Ol’ Marcus is peeved that Alcide hasn’t registered with the local pack. What’s worse, Alcide isn’t intimidated by this were-elder and prefers to remain a “free agent” (yep, those were his words). The question is, can werewolves be free agents? For Alcide’s sake, I hope so. This Marcus dude looks like he could snap at any moment. Throw in a propensity to shift into a dangerous four-legged creature and we’ve got another supernatural villain on our hands.
HOYT AND JESSICA: These two remained on the periphery again this episode, but the tension can be felt all the way to Shreveport. Hoyt is enamored with his baby vamp girlfriend for saving his best friend’s life (“It’s all in the wrists,” Jess quips), but this relationship is hanging by a thread. The glamouring may have worked on Hoyt’s memory (to a point), but Jessica remembers her infidelity all too clearly, and she is now resistant to his advances. And glamouring can only go so far – Hoyt knows that something is up, but even a much-needed man-to-man chat with Jason doesn’t produce any answers.
JASON: After escaping the Norris clan and being rescued by Jessica and Hoyt, Jason appears to be on the road to recovery – until he realizes the full moon is fast approaching. The soon-to-be werepanther also has a new role: Unwitting third member of a Hoyt-Jessica-Jason love triangle. Since Jason had Jessica’s blood, she is now the subject of his steamy, hardcore sex dreams. Except there’s nothing fun about these dreams. Jessica calls out Hoyt’s name and Hoyt himself shows up, angry and jealous. Meh, I’m not sure throwing Jason in the middle of Jessica and Hoyt’s unraveling relationship is really a smart move here. They have enough problems of their own without bringing a new baby supernatural into the mix.
SOOKIE AND ERIC: The Sookie-Eric story line is a bit more subdued this week, but the electricity between them continues to charge. Eric is forced to come to terms with his vicious past, and depends on Sookie even more to understand the hurt he’s caused others. Bad dreams are abound this episode, as Eric comes face to face with his maker, Godric, who orders his progeny to drink from a sleeping Sookie. Not knowing who Godric is, and caring for Sookie, Eric resists. “You are incapable of love. Stop fighting your nature,” Godric hisses at the Nordic prince. Eric gives in and the two vampires drink hungrily from Sookie, only for Eric to wake up in fear, fangs out. He tiptoes into Sookie’s room, waking her with a start, telling her, “I had a bad dream.”
In the sweetest scene between Sookie and Eric yet, Sookie comforts her vampire charge in her bed as he experiences the after-effects of his nightmare. As Eric cries tears of blood and lays his head in her lap, Sookie explains who Godric was: “Godric was the most human of vampires I’ve ever met,” she says while stroking Eric’s golden hair. Despite what Godric told him in the dream, Eric reassures Sookie of his devotion to her: “I will never hurt anyone as beautiful as you,” he says as he draws Sookie’s arm around him. Awww…
In an effort to get any sort of clue as to who is behind Eric’s personality change, Sookie breaks out the mind-reading ability for the first time in several episodes. First she gets some Wiccan basics from fellow waitress Holly, then she goes in for the kill and pays Marnie a visit at the Moon Goddess Emporium. Playing the coquette, Sookie tells the Wiccan leader that her favorite TV shows as a child were Charmed and Sabrina. Cute. While Marnie is apprehensive at first when Sookie requests a reading, she eventually relents, supposedly tapping into the spirit of Adele Stackhouse, Sookie’s “Gran.” Marnie’s thoughts provide no help whatsoever, because to Sookie, Marnie’s brainwaves are all distortion and cacophony.
But then a familiar voice makes its way through the fray. It’s Adele! Oh, how lovely to hear Lois Smith again! Adele speaks directly to her granddaughter, imploring her to get out of the Moon Goddess immediately because Marnie poses great danger. Marnie (who can hear Adele) vehemently protests, insisting she’s not evil, but Sookie has heard all she needs. I knew Adele would eventually come back to watch over Sookie!
Later that evening, Sookie and Tara are having a much-needed girls’-bonding moment (Tara reveals that she’s dating a woman, who’s found out that her name isn’t really “Toni”) when Sookie realizes that Eric is about to emerge from his cubby. Unable to get Tara to leave before sundown, Sookie is witness to her best friend’s fury over her harboring a vampire who has caused Bon Temps nothing but pain and suffering. As Tara spits out every horrible act Eric has inflicted on Sookie and her loved ones, before bolting, the amnesiac vampire is crushed to learn of his many offenses.
Sookie attempts to assuage Eric’s fears that he’s committed unforgivable acts. She tells him that she likes what he’s become, and what’s happened is in the past. Still mortified over how many people he’s hurt, Eric walks out the front door. But Sookie runs after him and begs him to stay. In the most touching gesture yet, she holds her arms out to him and they embrace in a loving, gentle manner that would never have happened between Sookie and Bill – and that is almost as passionate as the kiss that follows.
BILL, PAM AND THE LOUISIANA VAMPIRE CLAN: (Please tell me that was a band these two fronted in the Seventies) Poor Pam. Her face is decomposing with every passing scene. Wearing an oversize veiled hat that she borrowed from Samantha Jones, Pam implores Bill to let her kill the witches who destroyed her complexion: “When you fuck with my face it’s time to die.” Bill refuses her request (there’s no sign of the AVL or Nan Flanagan this week, but the king is still far from going rogue on the Authority), but Pam’s face-melting incident serves as the catalyst Bill needs to forge his own plan of attack against the witches. “Katie” (a.k.a Katarina, a human member of Bill’s security and sometimes fuck buddy), a onetime member of Marnie’s coven, reappears at the Moon Goddess Emporium and confides in her leader that she’s worried about the vampires. Without warning, a swarm of black-clothed snipers swoop in and arrest Marnie. The frightened Wiccan is imprisoned in a high-security cell within Bill’s mansion (with Katarina keeping close watch) – where she is treated to yet another flashback starring her favorite Inquisition-era witch. This time Marnie finds herself in a dungeon along with the witch she witnessed being burned at the stake, and several other stringy-haired, unkempt women who are chanting in unison. She watches in horror as a couple of priests enter the cell, and instead of offering up a prayer, they sprout fangs and proceed to drink the blood of the imprisoned witches. Well, now we know why these witches are so anti-vampire! No wonder they’re pissed at the entire bloodsucking community… But, seriously, vampire priests? I really didn’t think Alan Ball could come up with anything more twisted, but should I really be surprised here?
Once Marnie awakens from her reverie, she is interrogated by Bill via a security monitor. With Pam standing behind him in his office, Bill questions Marnie as to Eric Northman’s whereabouts. The Wiccan leader insists that Eric attacked her coven and that all they want is the freedom to practice their religion. When Bill pushes her to reverse the spells she’s already cast, Marnie asserts that she doesn’t know how. Tired of her repeititious answers, Bill descends upon Marnie’s cell (against Pam’s caveats) with the intention of glamouring the answers out of her. The vampire king works his mind-control, only to come up dry, because the truth is, Marnie wasn’t the one who cast those spells on Eric and Pam – it was the witch of her visions.
Out of options, Bill calls a secret meeting of the four remaining Louisiana sheriffs to Compton Manor, with a veiled-hatted Pam in attendance as well. The vamp sheriffs initially scoff at the mention of witches (not unlike Eric a few short episodes ago), but one tells the story of a particular witch, Antonia, who was burned at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition. Yep, that’s the one possessing Marnie. Bill elaborates on witch-vamp history by stating that vampires have always tried to keep one foot in humanity by infiltrating the most powerful human institutions (“Google, Fox News.” I have to say, this is the first episode of True Blood in which I laught the most at Bill’s lines) In the 1600s (when Antonia was alive), that meant the Catholic Church – which explains the presence of vampire priests in Marnie’s most recent vision.
Plot exposition completed, Pam wraps up the episode by accidentally letting Eric’s little memory affliction slip to Bill. Devastated over her betrayal to her maker, Pam crumbles as she is forced to reveal Eric’s whereabouts to her king.
Wrap-Up: If all I saw were the last five to 10 minutes of this episode, then I’d be perfectly content. All that mattered this week was the Sookie-Eric smooch and the final scene at Bill’s lair. In those last few minutes, we learned why there were vampire priests, what the witch’s name was, how Bill was going to combat Antonia – and how Pam’s faux pas could have a devastating effect on her maker. No other scenes were fleshed out enough to feel worthwhile. Let’s hope for a better episode next week.