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True Blood Recap: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

We’re racing toward the end, and each of our beloved characters is facing tests of the spirit. Sookie, finally forced to choose between the dead and the living, aligns herself with family and friends. Tara, downtrodden and angry, finally turns her pent-up rage into a tangible force to be reckoned with. Andy, forced to face his V addiction head-on, takes solace in the strength of family. And finally, Tommy meets his demise, ending his story line in a resolution that was more cop-out than anything else. Most important of all: Eric’s memory is back and no one had sex tonight. True Blood returned to its gory glory and shelved the sappy love story in favor of actual plot development. I have never been happier to see Eric remain dressed for an entire episode. Let’s see how the end will play out.

Two of Hearts
The Shreveport Festival of Tolerance has devolved into a bloodbath. Marnie's going through some changes in the wings as she surveys the scene; Antonia peeks her head out. Meanwhile, Eric and Bill are about to have it out. Sookie, whose meddlesome nature persists even in the face of emergency, steps between her two loves, but Eric growls at her to leave. Just as Eric's poised to kill the king with a tiki torch, Sookie freaks out and throws a walloping pair of fairy balls from her hands that cause Eric to remember everything that's ever happened to him. Boom — memory restored.

Sookie’s fairy-ball prowess will certainly command screen time in the final showdown, and Sookie’s clearly a force to be reckoned with: She can reverse powerful spells and she can command the attention of two virile vampires by just standing there, gawping like a fool. Something tells me that this won’t be enough, but the needle-toothed Fae will likely have her back.

Back at the King’s manse, NanFlan is covered in blood and she is pissed as hell. Sookie's fairy-ball light show proved her suspicion that Bill's been covering up Sookie's true powers, but the King has no time to discuss — he wants Marnie gone, and now.

If you were hoping for the return of snarky, brooding Eric, sorry to disappoint. His memory is back, but he hasn’t changed, it's just like someone filled in the blanks. Here’s hoping that the squishy, puppy-eyed Pillsbury Doughboy version of Eric has left for good. Sookie, tiresome in her efforts to have her cake and eat it too, states that she loves both Eric and Bill. "How is that possible?" asks Eric, and, word. Life is hard, Sooks, but your waffling inspires only rage. Before this sapfest continues further, Pam is joyfully reunited with her maker. Her excitement is tempered by Eric’s thousand-yard stare and his brotherly kiss on the forehead. This does not go unnoticed, and she casts a look in Sookie’s direction. Watch it, Stackhouse — Pam’s bad side is not where you want to be.

The best way to kill the witches, Bill decrees, is fire. Bill ignores Sookie’s squawks of protest — for once, this isn’t about her. It’s about preventing genocide. If innocent people die, including Tara, so be it. Sookie’s reaction to this news is that of a spoiled teenager. War means dead bodies, and Bill, craggy of face and serious of heart, wants Sookie out of harm’s way — if she knows what’s good for her (she doesn’t), she’ll stay away from the Moon Goddess emporium.

With the plan in place, the vamps go to ground in silver, with a kicking and screaming NanFlan serving up threats of the True Death for everyone like it's going out of style.

I Am Changing
Tommy's most recent transformation into his brother seems to be his last act. Alcide's rushing him away, while Tommy gushes blood, spews black bile from his mouth, and endures a series of bone-cracking seizures. Something went sideways in this final transformation, and Tommy is not long for this world. Sam and Alcide watch over his dying moments, sharing platitudes about the afterlife. As the light goes out in his eyes, Sam swears vengeance. Tommy’s demise feels a little untimely, mostly because his ability to skin walk was the one thing that made him interesting. (And what are the logistics and physical requirements of skin walking? Is there a certain number of times one can skin walk before dying? Does skin walking drain your life force?)

Where’s Debbie in all of this? Why, shooting the breeze with Marcus. Debbie's acting more and more like her old self, proving my theory that the intensity of her eyeliner correlates directly to her descent towards her old ways. She's getting loose with Marcus, smoking a joint and talking shop. She wants a baby, but Alcide's never wanted to raise another shifter. Guess Debbie’s looking for a new mate, and I think Mr. Bozeman is just the guy.

While Alcide's woman falls prey to the charm of a long-haired sleaze, Alcide's trying to make it right for Sam, which just goes to show what a good heart he has, and how he really doesn't deserve Debbie or Sookie. Upshot: Alcide's gone rogue! He even holds down the werewolf tending the motorcycle shop so Sam can pistol-whip him. How thoughtful!

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
Jason and Jessica's hot pickup-truck sex has ended, and now it's time for the uncomfortable post-coital conversation. Jessica, newly empowered in her freedom, thinks that she's in the clear, but even Jason knows that he might have made a mistake — bro code clearly states that you do not have sex with your best friend's ex mere hours after the breakup. Jessica's point: Hoyt's been coddled his whole life, from Jason fighting his bullies to Maxine's iron grip. When Jason, overcome with guilt, suggests that Jessica glamour their loving away, she refuses and is off to find "someone to eat." It's refreshing to see a female character on this show who has complete ownership of her sexuality and actions. Between Sookie the Fickle and Tara "I'm a Hot Mess" Thornton, Jessica is a breath of fresh air, a walking impulse, driven by her own desires.

Hoyt shows up at Jason's door the next day, mopey and looking for company. Jason's so uneasy about the wild monkey sex he had with Hoyt's ex that he can barely look him in the eye, and he especially can't handle Hoyt's plaintive musings about how much he misses Jess. When Hoyt asks if he can stay there for a while, Jason can’t help but say yes — something that he’s soon to regret.

Over cereal at Sookie’s house, he’s less than sympathetic for his heartbroken friend. Hoyt’s really down in the dumps, plagued by typical post-breakup behaviors: constant crying, story repetition, and repeated, beer-induced flatulence. Lucky for Jason, Sookie’s got just the thing to distract him: Tara needs out of Moon Goddess before Bill blows it to bits, and so Jason's got a mission.

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab
For the record, Terry Bellefleur is a stand-up guy: fry cook, father to an ex-demon baby, and now Andy’s would-be interventionist. Andy wakes up to Terry shaking a vial in his face while Arlene shrieks in the background about the safety of her children. I am only surprised that it took this long for someone other than Jason to notice Andy’s crippling V addiction, but no matter: Let the detox begin!

Terry and Andy take care of business at Fort Bellefleur. Andy, twitchy and salty, takes no time in picking a fight with Terry, airing all their dirty laundry. Here’s what we learned: Andy’s childhood was rough, but he had money; Terry’s was rough, but he was broke. There’s unspoken hurt that Andy’s been carrying around, including the absence of hand-knit goods in his childhood. Let it be known: Andy Bellefleur, too old for booties, but not too old for socks.

When Terry is settled with Andy’s progress, he hops in the truck and peels off, leaving Andy with a final test — making it home for dinner.

Black Magic Woman
Marnie comes back to the Moon Goddess emporium, with her bewitched vampires and Roy in tow. Everyone’s ungrateful, but she’s got other things on her mind. Once sequestered in the storage room, Antonia’s spirit escapes for a breather. She’s not happy with the killing of innocents, but Marnie’s underdog narrative wins her over. Besides, people are cruel. No one helped Antonia while she burned at the stake. Marnie’s lost it completely: She’s bargaining with the spirit of a 400-year-old witch in the back room of a glorified head shop. Crazy recognizes crazy, however, and Antonia’s back onboard.

Meanwhile, Holly’s working out a spell that might save the day, but she needs Tara’s help. Tara fears that mispronounced Latin will lead to locusts, but seriously, locusts would be better than the shit they're in right now. It’s time for Tara to have some faith in magic and herself. Holly’s the ticket to self-empowerment. With Holly’s help and a dash of girl power, she can finally take her own life back in her hands.

Outside Moon Goddess, Operation Save Tara is in effect. The plan? Jesus will talk to Marnie, magic Antonia out of Marnie, and save the day. Sookie ESPs her way into the compound. Tara’s in there, loud and clear. Jesus goes in as magical emissary, but is stopped by a bug-zapper force field that jostles him around and spits him out. Marnie and her crazy Spanish/Southern/pirate accent come out to negotiate. Jesus proves his mettle by breaking through the force field, transforming into a scary Thundercat demon in the process. Once he’s in, he wheedles his way into Marnie’s good graces, convincing Antonia to let Marnie speak alone. The old Marnie is twangy, happy, and completely bonkers. “This is not possession — it’s union,” she wheezes.

While Marnie shows off her vampire pets in the ladies' room, Tara and Holly have their spell up and running. The wind picks up, a wind chime tinkles frantically, and Marnie turns around just in time to see the ladies making a break for it — the door handles are no longer burning hot, so they must’ve done something right. Jesus ESPs to Sookie that it’s time to go, but she takes this as her cue to barrel toward the force field just as Tara and Holly make a break for it. Marnie follows and magics them away, leaving Jason alone on the street. Don’t worry, Stackhouse, your time is coming. Everyone in Bon Temps has a purpose.

Later that night, the Vampire A-Team rolls up to Moon Goddess, ready for action. Everyone’s wearing leather! Jessica and her heaving cleavage are toting a flame thrower. Freeze frame: The battle lines have been drawn.

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO