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True Blood: Wanna Be Startin’ Something

The Stackhouses are forced to contemplate good and evil, but the philosophizing doesn’t stop this from being the funniest — and goriest — episode this season.

Thriller
One bit of suspense is quickly resolved: Bill used his magic vampires to peaceably end that confrontation with Jessica’s family. But all is not well as this alternative family drives home.

Sookie stomps off. She’s attacked by some horned, tailed biped that looks like a minotaur but has huge claws. She’s paralyzed and Bill’s blood only sends her into foaming-at-the-mouth convulsions. He has no choice but to take her to Fangtasia. Sensibly recognizing that he should not let Jessica hang out with those people, he sends her home with every parent’s favorite line, “As your maker, I command you.”

Fangtasia has a doctor on call. (“What kind of doctor?” “The healing kind.” Also the midget kind, and not the kind who’s a fan of the fang.) Doc Ludwig pours some sort of hydrogen peroxide — or whatever it was Eric was using with those foils — on the deep scratches on Sookie’s back. As her flesh bubbles and oozes, Ludwig runs her nail through the scratches, like she’s pulling worms from a slab of swordfish. It’s time to try Bill’s blood again, and a touching scene it is between the tender-eyed lovers: Sookie’s face smeared with blood, Bill’s fangs standing at attention.

Bite count: 2, but just the helpful kind.
Booty count: Sookie’s has filled out admirably since the first season.

Human Nature
Lafayette does not actually become a vampire, much to his disappointment (and ours). Luckily, Fangtasia’s Ginger offers Sookie a peanut-butter-and-chocolate tube-top sandwich, and accidentally lets the telepath know that Lafayette is in the basement.

Eric needs Sookie’s help in Dallas, so he agrees to let Lafayette go — and to give her $10,000 plus expenses. (It’s good to see her finally putting that telepathy to practical use.)

Lafayette doesn’t have health insurance at any of his three jobs, so he’ll have his veterinarian uncle stitch him up in the morning. And his official story is that he has spent the last two weeks at Club Med, getting his chest waxed. He’s retired from the sex-for-juice trade.

Sookie’s stunned by the Lafayette story and Eric’s nastiness. Bill reminds her that Eric saved her life, and that all of us have good and evil inside us. She’s afraid of the darkness within Bill but sees the light, too, blah blah blah.

The only thing to count here? 1 disappointing moral lesson.

It’s Your Thing
Maryann dispenses some advice to Tara — Sam’s a nice guy, but not very evolved, and he just wants to blame Maryann for his and Tara’s non-relationship. Then she dispenses a huge blunt, complete with filter — “a tip I picked up in Ibiza.” Maryann’s planning a little party and whipping up a  mysterious, juniper-infused Sunday gravy.

A few hours later Tara has forgotten about her shift at Merlotte’s and soaks in a hot tub with Eggs. He gets all sweet and they share the most awkward kiss ever. A party rages around them; Detective Andy shows up on a noise complaint, sees a giant pig, has a drink.

And then a topless massage therapist joins our happy new couple. When she grabs Eggs for a backrub, Tara suddenly recognizes the orgiasticV-fueled scene going on around them, and huffs, “I don’t give a crap what people do with their own body parts, but there’s no ‘us’ if this is your scene.”

Booty count: Most of Bon Temps’ booties are not something you want to find at a pool party.

Maybe Tomorrow
Wakened by a dream about the dead gay vampire, a confused Jason prays for another sign. He gets one: Luke throws a pillow at him. A group therapy session the next day (or his magic honesty ring) forces Jason to follow up a living, breathing snack machine’s revelations with his own: He doesn’t have anything against vampires. Mrs. Rev. Newland takes him aside to, ahem, show how much they have in common. And she ends up convincing him that if it weren’t for the vampires and their V, he could have saved his grandmother and girlfriend from that vampire-hating human.

Later the Reverend lectures Jason: “You cannot love evil, you have to hate it; hating evil is loving good. Hate is natural.” Jason never thought of it that way. “If I didn’t hate vampires, what kind of man would I be?” asks the Rev. (We were asking the same question, but because of that yellow sweater tied around his shoulders.) Rev and his wife banter and kiss, and the look on Jason’s face shows us he knows the temptation this subplot has in store for him. And so does the Reverend: “My wife must think you’re very special. She doesn’t whip out her pudding for just everybody.”

Booty count: Zilch — for now.

Wanna Be Startin’ Something
When a smitten Hoyt scopes out Jessica at Merlotte’s, he manages a certain awkward charm. She’s hungry only for that throbbing vein on his neck, but he offers her a chicken-fried steak. “It’s like a chicken and a steak got together and made a baby!” And then doused it in gravy! She settles for a bottle of True Blood and takes him back to her place.

He’s impressed by the crib, but she complains about having to sleep in a hole in the ground. “Yeah, my mama keeps her doll collection in my closet.”

He tries to teach her to use the Wii, but she only wants one thing. She dives in for a kiss, but is embarrassed when her fangs pop out. (If she had a math book, she’d be holding it in front of her mouth.) He insists that it’s natural. He likes her, a lot, and wants to wait. Jessica, never patient, attacks. That’s when Bill walks in.

Booty: Interruptus.

Beat It
Things aren’t going that well for Sam, either. Daphne’s take is short $64; he’s making her pay it out of her tips. Tara steps in to advise him with some hippie-therapy wisdom she learned from Maryann — but he’s worried about her.

He decides it’s time to get out of town for a while. He leaves a reluctant Terry in charge of the bar, and says goodbye to his dog pal with a run in the woods. The dog won’t follow him into the lake. Daphne shows up and joins him. Just when it starts to seem like there’s more to this dumb new waitress than we thought, she strips down and see she has the same scratches on her back that that monster gave Sookie ...

Photo: Courtesy of HBO