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True Blood Recap: A Bad Country Song

The human population of Bon Temps is so accustomed to being terrorized, it's easy to forget that it's taking its toll. After the past few weeks of mayhem and gore, our characters spent the first half-hour regrouping — comforting each other as they coped with their losses. Sookie lets go of a vision of her future; Tommy says good-bye to the only people who knew him; Jessica moves further away from her humanity; and Tara washes away her death wish. It felt like the same scene refracted slightly each time with one person crying, and a sympathetic figure on hand to try a little tenderness.

Of course, it's hard to stay curled up on the couch for long with an angry were-bitch and some strange breed of backwater meth dealers on the prowl. This episode, the best since "Trouble," felt like a kick start toward the end of the season. The plots are finally progressing on both sides of the coming war, with a little more humor to cut the blood and porn. Plus: two and a half sex scenes, Eric gets a costume change (sadface), and some creative new swear words!

Lifeline
For someone who awoke with a blood-curdling scream, it doesn’t take Sookie long to regain her composure. She orders everyone out of the room so she and Bill can talk. We’ve never been huge Sookie fans, but she’s impressive here. The accent has mellowed and the bratty moralizing has given way to candid clearheadedness, which is why she tells Bill she can’t be with him. “From the day we met, it's been one long bloody fight and I keep waiting for it to be over, for us to be happy, to start our lives together, like a normal couple, but it's never going to happen for us, is it?” she says, her glassy eyes spilling over into tears. “I want you to have all that, I want you to lie in the sun ... And I cannot give it to you,” Bill says before walking out, also tear-streaked.

The camera pans down to the end of the IV tube, Sookie’s lifeline, to find nothing at the other end. It’s kind of shocking to see their relationship discussed in more real-world terms than everlasting immortal love. He did something terrible to her, she can’t keep pretending it will work out.

Castle Crazytown
Talbot is beyond miffed that the queen’s moving in with all her furs in tow. “Franklin's brains won't wash off the guest linens, I had to bury werewolves under the gazebo.” Oh, no! How could they let Franklin go like that, without even a one-liner to tide us over? The king tries to placate Talbot, but he has better things to worry about, like what the AVL and the authority will think of him offing the magister. His brashness will be his downfall.

Debbie’s waiting for the king in the study to ask to go after Sookie. “They killed my Cooter!” she cries. (True Blood’s writers must’ve had that up their sleeve the whole time.) When Eric transparently tries to beg the king off hunting down Sookie, the king doubts Eric’s fealty. Eric counters with a discomforting speech about how he’s finally found a leader, and the king buys it.

A Bad Country Song
Everyone and their mama tells Sookie that Bill’s no good for her. Jason wants her to press charges or he’ll take matters into his own hands, Alcide sorta wishes he’s next in line, if he could only get over that crazy were-bitch. But trust Tara to say it plainly.

Sookie takes Bill’s words literally and tries tanning on the front lawn. Turns out, Bill’s cold skin feels better than the sun. She seems like she’s backtracking on her breakup. “What we had was real, and I can't just flip a switch and turn my heart off.” Ugh, sounds like Sookie 1.0. Tara interjects, “You know what you sound like, one of those sad country songs about dumb bitches that let their man cheat and beat on them all for the sake of true love,” drawing out the idea that what Bill did was akin to domestic violence. “Did you just call me a dumb bitch?” Sookie shoots back.

Poor Tara, once again she’s shell-shocked by the abject horror she’s had to endure. Only this time, it’s more complicated. She takes the requisite television post-trauma shower, but Franklin shows up and they make out. It’s just a bad dream, the result of drinking his blood, but it puts her even more on edge. Hadley stops by Sookie’s with Eric’s message. “Russel is coming for you. Don't trust Bill.” Sookie hears Hadley’s thoughts, apologizing that it’s all her fault because Hadley’s the one who told “them” about Sookie. So did Bill procure Hadley while she was in rehab, and then Hadley spilled the beans about her cousin? Tell us soon, please!

I Will Be Your Father Figure
Jessica’s been living alone in Bill’s dilapidated mansion with just her shame for company and is overjoyed at his homecoming. But Bill just wants to self-flagellate in private. Jessica refuses to move out, confessing to draining the trucker: “I was hungry and I was sad, it was an accident, but I didn’t know how to control myself.” Like maker, like child.

Bill tries to distance himself, echoing his conversation with Sookie by saying he can’t help her. “Well, I’m no good either,” Jessica says, explaining why she had to let Hoyt go. Bill sees himself in her, and recants. It’s the writers’ way of letting the audience know that he’s still the same compassionate Vampire Bill who saved Sookie, but we’re not quite buying it. Still, Bill straps on a shiny leather jacket (Bon Temps version of Neo’s leather trench) and starts training Jessica to speed up her reflexes for the impending battle.

“You Mean All the Dead Waitresses?”
Merlotte’s has gotten itself a reputation, what with all the dead waitresses. But there’s a recession, and the new recruit Holly doesn’t seem to mind. During the interview, she can tell Arlene’s expecting. But after Arlene’s disturbing dream where season one’s serial killer Renee tells her their baby’s gonna “finish what he started,” she finds Holly’s clairvoyance unsettling.

As for Merlotte’s owner, well, he’s had about enough of Ma and Pa Mickens. His mom shows up at the door as droopy-faced dog, but he sends her packing with only a handful of cash. It’s not that easy to say good-bye to family. And Sam is sort of tone-deaf to where Tommy’s coming from, urging him not to fight when that’s been his whole life and offering to pay for college. “You really don't know me at all, do you,” says Tommy. For the third season in a row, Sam tries to do the right thing and gets nothing in return. He needs to get more game.

A Towel and Some Whiskey
Crystal shows up soaking wet at Jason’s doorstep with a black eye. She swam to his house so her family couldn’t track her scent. “Is that like drug-dealer code for something?” Jason asks, confused. Crystal explains that she got the black eye from her fiancé, whom she’d been promised to since she was 4, after leaving him. Another Jasonism: “Is that a church or a cult or something? Because I've done that and they washed my brain.”

While his new meth-cooking ladyfriend’s in the shower, Jason decides to drive over to her house with his gun cocked to announce that Crystal won’t be returning. In the back of the meth lab, he sees a naked boy eating the carcass of an animal, but still doesn’t put it together that they’re a pack of supernatural man-beasts. Crystal’s father and fiancé get back from Merlotte’s (where they call Sam and Tommy “fuckmouth” and “shitdirt”) just in time to hear Jason threaten them. Our notes from this scene: “Jason is an idiot.” His golden-boy, sex-machine sense of invincibility should already have been shattered. And we don’t believe the violent streak the show is trying to saddle him with. He killed Eggs in Andy’s defense, that doesn’t mean he’s in a rush to do it again.
Booty count: Boots knocked, but we only see the before and after.
Body count: Jason, if he doesn’t wise up.

A Powerful Man
Lafayette’s schizophrenic mama (played by Alfre Woodard), escapes from the loony bin to come warn Lala (Aw. Did we hear that right?) that there are evil forces after him. It’s an excuse to get Jesus and Lafayette back in the same room and it works. We’re not that into Jesus. Sure, his advice about quitting drug-dealing is sound. But who is he to come in here and tell Lafayette, who works three jobs to pay Jesus’ salary, anything. But it’s nice to hear people, even a crazy lady and a scold, tell Lafayette he’s worth something.
Booty count: Finally! But we don’t see more than a kiss.

Prelude to Two Screws
Oh, violence and death, you’re back so quickly. We thought we’d have an hour to ourselves to relax. Debbie, two wolves, and the king stop by swing by Sookie’s house raring for a fight. As Sookie predicted, Bill is there to protect her. He takes care of one wolf, while Jessica, after a friendly wave, takes care of the other. That leaves Debbie free to break down Sookie’s bedroom door. Sookie can’t bring herself to shoot the bitch, but she does slice her face open like the Joker. No explanation for why Debbie wouldn’t just wolf out and maul her. Bill finds himself on the business end of the king’s spurs when he goes outside to help Jessica.

Cut to Eric and Talbot’s sex scene. (Talbot got bored with chess after Eric beat him and demanded Eric disrobe. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done this.” “Men?” “No a vampire.”). Eric tells Talbot to turn over. “Yes, daddy.” Then gets his revenge. Just as Talbot erupts into a spray of blood, the king senses the true death of his companion and flies off after Eric.

The brush with death reminds Sookie and Bill why they loved each other so dang much in the first place: the mind-blowing sex, duh. The two go at it on the floor where Sookie almost met her maker — switching positions with their hands wrapped around each other’s throats. Yeah, pretty much glorified porn.
Body count: Two werewolves and one Talbot.
Booty count: Whoa.

Photo: HBO