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True Blood Recap: The Fanged and the Restless

This week, the writers tugged at our character’s story lines, getting everything just taut enough to snap in a few more episodes. In between the series’ most bizarro sex scenes (ouch, Lorena’s neck!), a working-class werewolf, and a double entendre we’re still marveling over, Bon Temp was abuzz with bad tidings. Hoyt finds a body. Jason fails a test. Pam gets a playmate. Sookie takes an escort. Lafayette contemplates a business perk. Eric tries being a gentleman. Bill does not. And someone besides Yvetta finally sleeps with a vampire. Although maybe not the one you think.

Will Gran’s House Ever Get Clean?
In a bit of genre play left over from last week, the show gives Sookie’s bullet (heading toward the werewolf in her living room) the slow-mo Matrix treatment. Eric wants to keep the beast alive for questioning, but when he dives in to take the bullet, the wolf figures out he’s no mortal and goes in for the V.

During the fracas, Sookie does her best damsel in distress — lips parted, chest heaving. She bats her doe eyes and gulps just so. When the wolf refuses to reveal who its master is, Eric makes quick work of his jugular. A pool of blood seeps out onto Gran’s faded Oriental carpet. Eric looks up at Sookie and says, "Got your rug all wet." Um, could someone pass us the smelling salts?

At the cemetery, Eric gives Sookie tips on disposing of werewolves — fresh graves are ideal — then offers to walk her back home. Sookie wonders if Jackson, the word she overheard the werewolf thinking, could be his name. “Jackson’s where he lives,” says Eric, “He had a Mississippi accent. Can't you people tell the difference?” Yes! Our second meta lulz (the first was Sookie’s imitation of Bill saying “Sook-hay”) this season, and a “you people” to boot! We like a show that can make fun of itself.

Back at her doorstep, Sookie and her side ponytail continue to toy with Eric’s emotions, but she refuses to admit he has any.

To the Manner Born
Someone makes Lorena stop, drop, and roll into a Celtic tapestry. For a few minutes she looks like a hot dog left too long on the grill, but ends up no worse for the wear.

The king is unexpectedly even-keeled about the whole thing considering Bill tried to burn his guest alive. Edgington gently chastises Bill about his fangs, calmly motions for him to sit, and commiserates with him about Lorena's immaturity. “Do you know she wanted me to make you watch while she killed your human?” Finally, a worthy caliber of villain. Bill forces out a half-smile, suddenly realizing what game they’re really playing.

Talbot, still miffed about his tapestry, gets in some good digs at Cooter’s incompetence and low-brow tastes (“Zima, correct?”). Sookie’s still missing and the werewolf sent to fetch her is nowhere to be found. Recognizing that he’s trapped in Castle Crazytown with a bunch of power-hungry megalomaniacs, Bill agrees to renounce the queen. In return, the king calls off his dogs.
Body count: With a political coup on the horizon, we imagine they’ll start piling up any day.

Filling the Void
Did Tara learn nothing from Lafayette’s Ghosts of Christmas Future field trip? High on a cocktail of abandonment and desperation, she lets Franklin ravage her in his hotel room. At first, it’s hard to tell what exactly is going on. Franklin opens his mouth like the Mummy summoning a tidal wave of sand and Tara’s pupils disappear into the back of her head.

The next morning, she asks him what the hell happened. “You lost yourself to the void.” Sounds about right. Franklin, who alternates between toying with her hair and staring creepily into the distance, tries to get to know his new conquest, but Tara just wants to feel less.

No sooner has she stepped back from the precipice and moved back into Gran’s than Franklin comes a-callin’. Tara refuses him: “I have a terrible track record of letting people into this house.” Amen to that. But Franklin glamours his way in anyhow.
Bite count: None. Tara asked, but Franklin was hoping for a little more of a tussle.
Booty count: Tara and Franklin, sitting in a dysfunctional tree.

“Lie Back, Sweetheart, and Think of Estonia.”
Jessica calls Pam up for advice about what to do about the missing body, but Pam (sporting video-vixen hair and Über-femme leather ensemble) is in the middle of something. Yvetta’s thighs to be exact. We’re guessing by the flawless makeup that she wasn’t down there for the femoral artery. Pam tries to rush Jessica through the story: “Did you call the hypothetical hardware store to buy the theoretical chainsaw?” But she hurries back for seconds.

We get confirmation on our theory from last week soon enough when Franklin stops by Casa Compton with the trucker’s head in a shopping bag, hoping for a little quid pro quo. Now that he’s gotten rid of Jessica’s fetid little problem, she should tell him everything she knows about Bill.
Booty count: This is pretty much Yvetta’s job description.

A Blessing and a Curse
Arlene finally goes to the doc, but the news isn’t good. Sure, her “critter” is healthy, but it’s also 9 weeks old, which means Renee (season one’s fauxCajun serial killer) is the daddy. She wants to tell Terry, but it’s hard to disabuse someone when they tell you you’ve given their life meaning. A little PSA to the ladies of Bon Temps: Between Terry, Sam, and Hoyt, you’re really doing your part to propagate the notion that nice guys finish last, or, you know, end up unknowingly raising a sociopath’s kid.

Lafayette also gets a mixed bag. Eric shows up with the keys to a convertible as a gift for his best salesman. On the one hand, selling it could help Lafayette keep his family members in padded rooms and Klonopin. On the other, he’d be accepting a ride from a sadist and drawing attention to his extracurricular activities.

Destiny and Disappointment
Sam scampers back to Merlotte’s as quick as his hind legs can carry him, but the Mickens clan follows, a little too eager to take part his good fortune. He wakes in the middle of the night to find his study (and possibly his safe) broken with a pair of jeans on the ground and a shifter bird flying out the window.

We’re betting Mama Bear is the actual criminal mastermind in this lot. Underneath Tommy’s bitterness and Joe Lee’s love affair with underwear the color of newspaper left too long in the sun, they’re probably harmless. Mrs. M. seems a little too cloying to be sincere.

Jason might be 0 for 22 on the practice test, but he’s still confident about his abilities. After all, his girlfriends have gotten successively hotter, why shouldn’t his prospects? We’re guessing he forgot about Party Down’s Lizzy Kaplan as the V-snorting free spirit from season one. Because, c’mon (NSFW). At the test, Jason can’t decipher the multiple-choice hieroglyph and starts seeing holes in people’s heads again.

But there may yet be an opening on the force yet. When Hoyt finds the trucker's body in a drain, sheriff Dearborne, sick of murders that pop up like so much crabgrass, quits. We like that the show’s dispensing with the murder mystery this season. Vampire politics are so much more compelling.

Sookie’s Dance Card
You might think werewolves only come in two varieties: Biker and Nazi. Not so! Eric’s choice of bodyguard for Sookie gives us our first glimpse of the Lumberjack model. (Now with tighter delts!) Alcide Herveaux has Sam's bootstrapped work ethic, Eric's sex appeal, and Bill’s manners. Of course, he hasn’t said much so far, so we’re basing all of this on the slope of his shoulders. But they spoke to us.

At Lou Pine’s, the oldest were bar, in Mississippi, Sookie plays dumb again, but this time with a little more canniness. Dressed “like dinner” in a virginal white top, she works the weres into a tizzy, crowing about the superior strength of vampires until one of them reveals (telepathically) that he fed on a vamp last night.

Sookie narrowly avoids getting raped (for the umpteenth time). On the way out, the bouncer lets it slip that Alcide’s ex, Debbie, got engaged to Cooter and the party’s tomorrow night. Guess we’re headed to a biker engagement. Wonder what the gift protocol is for one of those things.

A Pox on Your Flashback
This week’s flashback answered the age-old question: What makes one vampire want to set fire to another vampire? After turning him against his will, Lorena warned him never to return to his human family. But after an epidemic of the pox, Bill ignores her advice and shows up at the Compton house to help his wife bury their son.

Caroline’s response to finding out Bill’s a vampire (think Vivian Leigh) confirms his worst fears: There’s no place for him in the human world. Then Lorena shows up to make things more miserable.

Back in the present, Lorena barges into Bill’s room to gloat about Sookie. He concedes, “You’ve deprived me of my freedom, my home, my humanity, but I will never love you.” Now, what might be the best way to drive that point home? How about hate sex on his four-poster bed? Bill plunges his fangs into her neck, but he still can’t stand looking at her, so he takes her neck and twists it around until her face is turned away. Does this means Sookie gets to cheat too?
Bite count: Bill biting Lorena.
Body count: We wish.
Booty count: The neck-turnin’, hateful kind.

More Recaps:
Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker thought Sam's family was straight out of Hee Haw, Talbot's Zima joke bombed, and Franklin should get a spin-off.
RTT News struggled to find a family-friendly way to talk about the episode's "sheer weirdness and over-the-top vampire sexuality." No shit.
The Star Ledger saw a touch of The Exorcist in Bill and Lorena's neck play.

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO