If you thought True Blood took last week off to take stock and start pulling back from this season's turn for the bizarrely kinky, you thought wrong. While last night featured some familiar human drama — Sookie’s first breakup, Jason coming to terms with his obsolescence, Tommy’s raw deal with life — for the most part, things got even weirder than we anticipated. (In our defense, there’s really no way to predict a werewolf communion delivered in German.) One woman after the other got bitten, tortured, and branded in separate story lines. There’s usually a difference between the highly sexualized, twisted gore of True Blood and, say, the Saw franchise. But last night, the Nazi references, Eucharist, racism, theme of despair (apparently if you glamour a girl, she’s bound to tell you love is doomed and people only disappoint), collective screams, and seared female flesh didn’t seem to be building toward a point other than shock. There was one pleasant surprise: Sookie was suddenly charming and abloom with one-liners and we actually wanted to see what Bill did next. Putting some distance between those two was genius.
La Femme Sookita
In the middle of tending to Alcide’s naked shoulder (you have to be pretty inarticulate to have a torso like that and still be the least compelling thing in the room), Sookie gets a breakup call from Bill. Sook, you had us at “shut the fuck up” in response to Bill's flat delivery that he was (a) leaving her, and (b) had just fucked Lorena “like only two vampires can.” Our girl was on a tear of impeccable comic timing and actual, you know, acting. Alcide waxes poetic, “No matter how well you think you know somebody, they can just turn around and kick you right in the nutsack.” Sookie responds, “I don’t have a nutsack! And Bill, he’s risked everything for me,” with a chin crumple that would do Angela Chase proud.
Rather than wallow in her misery, she decides Bill probably said those things under duress. She calls up Alcide’s sister Janice to press on some fake tattoos and loan her the black wig, leather pants, and halter top that every Mississippi hairdresser on a house call no doubt carries in her purse so Sookie can sneak into Lou Pine’s unrecognized. She gets resourceful and manages to read Janice’s mind without giving away her powers, and discovers that Debbie Pelt, Alcide’s ex, is now hooked on V.
Franklin Mott: Kidnapper, Psychopath, Lover of Good Fruit
On the staircase at Gran’s house, Franklin glamours Tara into telling him Sookie’s whereabouts. He has her call Sookie to get an address in Jackson, and he and Tara do a creepy mirror-mime routine where she’s forced to parrot what he wants her to say. Tara tries to escape, and Franklin unleashes his sizable fangs and plunges them into her neck. For once, getting bitten looks more painful than sexy. Next thing you know, she’s tied up on the toilet of his motel. Franklin buys his new love daisies and then tapes them to her hand. He takes her, still hogtied, on a one-sided joyride up to Jackson to try to introduce her to his employer: Edgington. We love Franklin, although turning him into a lonely, kidnapping coot is less fun than just cool, collected, and dastardly. But what does Tara have to do to catch a break?
Bite count: Tara, and it sounded like it hurt.
Sookie and Eric’s Nordic Dream Sequence
Dang, thwarted again. No big surprise, but the Sookie and Eric sex scene from this season’s previews was just a dream. Still, it’s unexpectedly whimsical. Eric shows up hovering outside Sookie’s window, in what has to be a nod to David Arquette in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sookie asks if all vampires can fly, and Eric counters with “can all humans sing?” “Are you kidding? I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket with a lid on it,” she sasses back. Before throwing him on the bed, Sookie tells Eric he “smells like the ocean and winter,” probably from his childhood playing by the North Sea. This time, the fantasy was Eric’s (daydreaming while Yvetta gyrated), which means in his wildest fantasies, Sookie spouts folksy aphorisms and “smells [his] memories.” Wow.
Booty count: Only in our dreams.
If That Torture Wheel Could Talk
The Magister raids Fangtasia — on a tip from Russell Edgington — and finds a cooler full of V. He corners Pam in the basement, whose outfit this week is circa J.Lo's Diddy years, and clamps her into the same torture device that previously held Lafayette and Yvetta. Eric flies to her rescue, but the dour bureaucrat has been itching for an inquisition and doesn’t buy his excuse that he was framed. The Magister runs the silver tip of his old-fashioned torture stick (the other end is a stake) against Pam’s sternum until she cries out that the real culprit is Bill. Eric goes along with it, and pretends he’s in the middle of an investigation. The Magister gives him two days and a Crucible reference, or Pam dies.
Werewolf Communion, Spooky, Scary
Alcide agrees to escort Sookie to Lou Pine’s to see Debbie’s initiation into the Fuck You Crew. Sookie’s disguise works, although that speaks poorly for the pack’s sense of smell. Debbie, who looks like she was transported from the front row of a Warrant concert, is kind of a bitch. She taunts Alcide and his “pussy pack” (even the bikers grimace at that one) and calls Sookie a skank. (You can put a femme fatale wig on a Sookie, but you can’t stop her speechifying on behalf of true love.) Based on a few grunts from Alcide, she discerns that he’s here to save Debbie. But Debbie’s not buying it; instead, she crowd surfs to the front of the stage to start the ritual and prove to Alcide that she’s with Cooter now.
The king has impeccable timing and walks onstage (in Bono’s wardrobe) just in time. The crowd of bikers all but hail at their master, who bites himself and then, essentially, gives them communion with shots of his blood. “Now you shall drink the dark wine of our ancestors,” he says in German (lest we forget the pack’s Nazi roots), with strains of choir music in the background. After they drink, Edgington sears Debbie with a branding iron. Then, Cooter turns into a wolf and licks her wounds. To the happy couple! Just when we were about to call bullshit about a bunch of juiced-up weres staying human, the crowd starts shifting, even Alcide. We hope Sookie can still run fast in leather pants.
Booty count: Crowd surfing across a biker bar full of weres? We think it’s safe to assume someone got handsy.
Bite count: Edgington biting himself.
Meanwhile, at Merlotte’s ...
Things move a little slower back in Bon Temps. Arlene’s still pregnant. Jessica, who’s the restaurant’s new hostess, is still having trouble reconciling her old life with her new one. (Hoyt catches her glamouring a Bible Study friend and thinks she’s moved on.) And Jason still wants to be a cop. His first act of policing is the underage quarterback who is about to break his football record. “Ten years from now, there's going to be a version of you, ten years younger doing the same to you — and then who you gonna be?” Amped up from getting out a fully formed thought, he decides to blackmail Andy Bellefleur, the town’s new sheriff, into speeding up his application process.
The real drama on the home front was from the Mickens clan. They got kicked out of their house and they’re sleeping in Merlotte’s parking lot. Sam feels bad for escaping his parents when Tommy couldn’t and wants to help, but Tommy explains it’s all or nothing. “You don't get it, my folks are fucked up, but they can't get by without me.” Sam agrees to house them temporarily as long as baby brother can stop stealing and daddy stops drinking. Good luck with that. As many of you predicted from last week’s comments, it looks like Joe Lee will soon be outted as a Tommy’s abuser.
“Let’s Go, RuPaul”
Lafayette’s got a new ride, a cooler full of V, and a fresh lease on life. He drives by the same house where Andy and Jason made a drug bust last week to try to convince one of the guys to buy some V from Eric’s stash off of him. (The girl Jason spied in the woods is his daughter.) Lafayette makes a hard sell, but he’s not buying. “Now you look, son,
black's polite's in short supply around here, it's time you get your ass home.” It’s the second reference to racial tension in Bon Temps (the first was Kenya saying killing a black man gets you a promotion). Just as a bunch of rednecks come out of the woodwork (that car is too shiny a toy for a small town), Eric swoops in and saves the day.
Bill Gets Badder
Well, whodathunkit, Bill Compton has a dark side. Disgusted with himself after breaking Sookie’s heart over the phone, he orders Lorena out of the room. When she squeals with delight about how she’ll spend the next 40 years making him love her again (Jesus, woman, get some self-respect!), he punches her face into the next room.
Russell threatens him and gets him to spill more details about the queen. Turns out he was a “procurer” for Sophie Anne for 35 years. (Presumably, he’s the one who brought Sookie’s cousin.) He met Sookie “on a break,” which might finally get us to the matter of that file now in Franklin’s possession. He gives up the goods on Eric and Sophie selling V, then negotiates his own terms: Lorena’s death. The king is so pleased that he wants to celebrate, which means driving a limo to a strip club and having Bill procure them an “ethnic” treat. You can make a bad boy out of Bill, but you can’t stop him from wondering about love either. The stripper, Anne or Destiny — depending on how many times you ask — and Bill are on the same wavelength. “I know the truth about
love life,” she says. “It's a hell I'll never get out of alive.”
Just as Bill walks the girl out to her doom, he senses Sookie’s fear at nearby Lou Pine’s, but ignores it. The king and Lorena start feasting, Anne screams, and Bill joins them. The episode closes with pools of blood dripping from the limo into the gutter to the dulcet vocal stylings of Damien Rice.
Bite count: We tried to lose track.
The L.A. Times’ Show Tracker called last night “an outstanding showcase” for Sookie and thinks an Emmy might be in order for Anna Paquin.
The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog agreed with us about the torture porn vibe and thinks Russell has emerged as this season’s Big Bad.
Entertainment Weekly’s hoping that “Franklin isn’t all bad, even though he’s trying to force Tara to be his bride because he’s lonely.”