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True Blood Recap: Sunny-Side Up

Anna Paquin and True Blood were shafted by the Emmy Awards once again (but who cares, they suck). We appreciated her choice of designer, Alexander McQueen — even if she did look like a bullfighter — and wondered why she couldn’t persuade new husband and co-star Stephen Moyer to shave for the show. Ah well, perhaps she can only push him around as Sookie Stackhouse.

In any case, True Blood had its own small revenge: a mock-off of the Emmys’s “In Memoriam” segment. Before airing the penultimate episode, True Blood took a moment “to remember those who met the true death over the last three seasons.” Backed by a cheesy soundtrack of swelling strings — punctuated by the occasional snippet of dialogue (“Somebody killed my Cooter!”) — the cavalcade of death was a reminder of why we love this show, and why it’s the closest we’ve come to the dearly departed Buffy the Vampire Slayer: For all the romance and horror and sex, True Blood is often hilarious. (If you didn’t laugh as the arm of Royce the Redneck made it’s slo-mo arc across the screen, then you are dead inside.) And hilarity reached its zenith this season, thanks in large part to Denis O’Hare (as Russell Edgington), with a special shout-out to James Frain (as Franklin Mott, dispatched, regrettably, without much ado in the last episode).

Sadly, that was the highlight of this week's episode. Penultimate episodes can often be more powerful than season finales. Not the case here. In fact, the season, which got off to such an excellent start, appears to be going out with a sizzle rather than a bang. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

My Bloody Valentine
After Jessica saved Hoyt's life, by allowing him to feed on her blood, Hoyt is feeling euphoric, like he has “muscles where he never had them before.” She tells him it’s from drinking her blood, but he insists it’s love and that’s all he cares about. Jessica tells him they have important things to clear up before they go any further. She finally confesses to killing the trucker, and, more importantly, liking it. True Blood doesn’t do it for her: “I drink human blood and I’m not gonna stop.” Rather than disgusting Hoyt, the revelation turns him on even more. “Drink me,” he tells her, and, boy, does she… but not, you know, fatally.

Meanwhile, the rejected Summer — she of the antique dolls, hot muffins, and heaving breasts — visits Hoyt’s mumu-wearing, vamp-hating mother, Maxine. Yes, Mama Fortenberry was behind the virginal Summer’s failed seduction of Hoyt — which isn’t all that surprising. Maxine assures the young woman that she will get her Bear back: “This is not the end, not by a long shot.” And based on the previews, she’s speaking literally.

Booty count: Dare we say it? Hoyt and Jessica’s reunion was almost as hot (hotter?) than Sookie and Eric’s makeout session last week.

Was That a Demon In Your Pocket or Are You Happy to See Me?
Lala and Jesus are trying to make sense of their V-induced magical mystery tour. First-timer Jesus wants to do it again (“Just like a virgin,” says Lafayette), to find out what their ancestors were trying to tell them. Lala thinks they should hold back. V is unpredictable, you can’t control the destination: “We could end up in hell, or fucking South Dakota.” At which point, for a split second, Jesus turns into a multicolored, horned demon, freaking Lala the hell out. When Jesus is back to himself, he can see how upset Lafayette is. Lala won’t tell him what he saw, chalking it up to a V aftershock. But, clearly spooked, he convinces Jesus that rather than more V or sex, he needs a good night’s sleep. He sends Jesus home. Later, Lafayette wakes up to voices in his living room. He goes in to find animated toys (like refugees from Shrek) calling his name.

It’s doubtful the Jesus/Lala scenario will be resolved by the season finale, but we’re hoping it doesn’t add up to Jesus, the dark side. Or that Jesus became Lafayette’s mother’s nurse to get to her magical son. Are we pathetically naïve? Yes, and in the case of Lafayette, willfully so.

No booty or body counts — though maybe a body slam to Lala’s heart.


Taking Out the Trash
As Lafayette so drolly described Crystal and her father last week: “Them fuckers is a whole new dimension of white trash.” White trash Werepanthers, as it turns out. (Which begs the question: Can anything be Were, like monkeys or hippos?) Jason is understandably shocked by this announcement. Crystal reminds him that she told him she had a secret; he was expecting something “along the lines of shop-lifting.” He starts to complain about all the stuff he’s dealing with, and she barks back: “At least you don’t have to marry your half-brother and let him breed me until I’m old or dead.” Yeah, okay, she wins. Not knowing quite how to handle this particular situation, Jason grabs his gun and goes off in search of Sookie.

Along the way, he passes the high school football field, site of his former glory, and sees Kitch practicing with a few of his fellow Hawks. Kitch is throwing the ball with seemingly superhuman power; Jason quickly figures out it’s V-powered (he’s not so dumb after all). Jason confronts him, and Kitch cockily tells him his coach gave him the V, his parents pay for it, and the school’s principal uses it to enhance his sex life. Furthermore, an LSU scout is coming to see the next game, and Kitch is going to get out of Bon Temps… unlike Jason. It’s all a bit who cares, and blah, blah steroids metaphor blah.

When Jason gets back to his house, he tells Crystal he loves her. “Nobody in this town is who they’re supposed to be. So you’re a panther — so what?” She tells Jason she’s going back to the Werepanther compound, with or without him, to warn her father about the raid; he'll torch the place, Waco-style, rather than surrender to the DEA, killing all the children, including her double cousins — the meaning of which is too revolting to contemplate. (Between this show and Big Love, HBO is cornering the market on incest — a dubious distinction). For the love of god, please end this storyline.

Booty count: The kind we’d rather not imagine.


Eggs Over Easy
After Jason’s revelation that he, rather than Andy, killed Eggs, Tara goes to visit his grave. She’s all mopey and chin-quivery, and we can’t help but miss Franklin; he might have been dead and a psychopath, but at least he was funny. Tara heads over to Merlotte’s, spots Andy, and confronts him. “Got your picture in the paper and a big promotion,” she says. “Jason killed him, and you covered it up. You’re a dirty, dirty cop.” Andy starts crying. He’s so sorry--it was Maryann’s fault; Eggs was “bound and determined to die. He wouldn’t put the knife down.” Tara realizes if Jason hadn’t killed Eggs, he would have killed himself. She ends up drinking with Sam, who, shit-faced and furious, has managed to insult Terry (“You shell-shocked motherfucker!"), piss off Arlene and Holly, fire Tommy, and throw out all the customers (“Jesus Christ, you’re ugly,” he yells at an one obese woman). Once the place is cleared, Sam and Tara bond over being mean and having no friends, ending up back at his “nasty-ass” trailer, doing very nasty things. Tommy, meanwhile, is ripping off the safe in Sam's office. Hey, he's a shape-shifting thief and so is Sam! Blah blah karmic payback blah.

Booty count: Two — Sam’s and Tara’s.


Pregnant Pause
Arlene tells Holly that she wants to end the life of her serial killer spawn tonight. After Sam ticks them off, they head to the woods, where Holly makes a big circle out of salt, points her knife at the sky, intones a blessing to the Great Mother, and boils up a potion. Arlene prays to her dead, disapproving mother: “I don’t believe in abortion, but I’m doing what needs to be done.” Holly tells Arlene she has to drink the potion four times a day for the next five days — it will get rid of the baby, unless, she adds ominously, ”the spirit needs to be born. Then there’s nothing we can do about it.”

The next day, a few days later, or who the hell knows when, Arlene wakes up in bed, covered in blood, after a boring dream about fishing. Arlene tells Terry she thinks she’s lost the baby; he’s devastated, and she tries to hide her elation. Somehow we knew she hasn’t really lost the baby, and, sure enough, that’s confirmed when she gets to the hospital.

We wish we cared more (especially now that we know the actress who plays Arlene, Carrie Preston, is married to Lost’s Michael Emerson in real life, which makes her instantly more interesting). But we suspect that the stuff Holly gave Arlene was probably intended to nurture the baby, Rosemary’s Baby-style, rather than destroy it. And that somehow this all goes back to icky Maryann.


Where’s the Sunscreen When You Need It?
And so to the main event. The episode begins with Bill barging Bill-ishly into Fangtasia, in search of Sookie. He finds Pam, who tells him that Eric did not abduct Sookie, she came on her own. Maybe, Pam suggests, Sookie is afraid of Bill. Furthermore, perhaps he should think about something besides his relationship with Sookie, “You infatuated tween.” There’s a bigger picture.

Down in the dungeon, Yvette — Eric’s disgruntled human whore (“Big blond stupid,” is how she refers to him) — frees Sookie. They grab some silver chains and charge up the stairs. Somehow, Yvette immobilizes Pam with the chain (vampires are super fast and strong…except when they’re not), and Sookie gets Pam to reveal that Sookie was going to be a gift for Russell Edgington.

Meanwhile, Eric has tracked Russell down to a museum, where the latter, still holding Talbot’s goopy remains in a tacky crystal candy jar, is standing in front of one of his beloved’s favorite paintings. Eric reveals why he killed Talbot. “Apparently, you wanted my father’s crown for your vast collection of meaningless shit.” Russell: “My, my. To lose the one I love because you miss your mommy and daddy. Well, that is a kick in the pants.” Long story short, Eric convinces Russell not to kill him by offering him the ultimate vampire dream — day walking — only to be interrupted by his cell phone, with the incongruous ring tone of “Ain’t We Got Fun.” It’s Pam, telling Eric that Sookie and Bill have escaped.

As Bill and Sookie drive away from or towards something, Bill asks Sookie if she has feelings for Eric. She points out that she drank Eric’s blood, so she can’t help having some feelings, and, also, she saw another side of Eric, a good side, when he was with Godric. But she loves Bill, and of course she’d like to “begin again” once this latest crisis is over, even if she's dubious that can happen. They fantasize about what a normal life might look like: she’d be a real estate agent making lots of money; he’d be a third grade teacher and grow vegetables — a dull reverie cut laughably short by Russell and Eric, who materialize in front of the car. Russell drives his fist into the hood, which causes the car to stand straight up, then fall back down, which looks really cool and somehow doesn’t leave a scratch on Sookie, even though she isn’t wearing a seat belt.

The four drive back to Fangtasia. When they get out of the car, Eric takes Bill aside and tells him to hit him. This distracts Russell, who has his arm around Sookie. “Soon there will be anarchy, and then there will be me,” he says as he leads her into the club. Alone, Eric tells Bill he has a plan; Bill’s only concern: Will it save Sookie?

Inside, Pam asks Eric if he thinks the plan will work, and starts to cry. Eric, holding her face with uncharacteristic tenderness (for reasons that will soon be clear), tells her, “You know I love you more when you’re cold and bitter.”

Eric tells Russell about Sookie: She’s a fairy and her blood will allow him to walk in the sun. Sookie denies this and Bill, chained to a chair, jumps in to say it’s true. She looks at him with horror. “If this is you helping me, thanks for nothing.” Betrayed — once again — by her salt and pepper vampires: “I hate you all!” she screams. Russell suggests that Eric feed first, and, before beginning, Eric lovingly caresses Sookie’s face (causing us to wonder, yet again, what all these men see in her). Russell grows impatient, grabs her arm and digs in. Eric is then forced to feed, and Sookie, pinned to the table, screams as Bill watches.

Once finished, Eric leaves the club and walks into the sun. Bill is desperate to get free so he can feed Sookie, now unconscious. But he can't get anyone's attention. Russell is transfixed by what he’s seeing on the video monitor: Eric, standing in the sun, arms outstretched. Russell cries bloody tears of joy. “My hands are shaking. I feel like a little child. Thousands of years of night,” he says to Pam, “You can’t know.” Pam, also crying, but for Eric, says, “What are you waiting for?”

What Russell can't see is that steam is beginning to rise from Eric, who has his back to the camera. When Russell gets outside, he is at first euphoric. As he walks next to Eric, he finally sees the Viking’s face: It's burning. His shock gives Eric enough time to handcuff Russell to his arm. “Be brave,” Eric says. “We’ll die together.”

We find it hard to believe that Russell would be so easily duped. And we hate to think that he will be joining Royce the Redneck in a future “In Memoriam.” Surely he will get a protracted death scene next week? The end of Eric, True Blood’s true hero, we cannot begin to contemplate. So we won’t.

Body count: Pam has Fangtasia’s bar maid bar for breakfast.

Photo: HBO