The hardest part of assessing True Blood's quality from week to week is the sheer effort it takes to overlook all the bum subplots. Because make no mistake: Bum subplots have been in the very DNA of this show since its pilot. You know how jelly-bean-makers always mix "cherry," "green apple," and "watermelon" with flavors like "garbage," "seagull," and "black licorice"? Wouldn't it be amazing if ALL the flavors tasted good across the board? Guys, that may have happened on True Blood this week. "Don't You Feel Me?" turned even the show's bum subplots into good television! Sure, the werewolf plotline came closest to garbage flavor, but even it was infused with just enough pathos to qualify as not-a-waste-of-time. That feat alone made this the best episode of the season so far, but when its many highlights are factored in, this may have also been one of the strongest episodes of the past few years.
Obviously neither Sookie nor Pam nor Eric died in this episode, but this season had seen enough unexpected twists that for a minute there I really thought someone was going to bite the dust. (Two people did, but we'll get to those in a second.) "Don't You Feel Me?" resolved last week's cliffhangers right away: First, Bill sensed that Sookie was drowning, so he dispatched Warlow (who can walk in daylight) to intervene. One tree slam and magic fireball later and Mr. Stackhouse's ghost had been banished from Lafayette's body for good. The whole thing was enough for Sookie to realize that she'd misjudged Warlow, so when Bill tried to summon him back to his home office, Sookie whisked Warlow away to that weird faerie limbo with the tombstones and the outdoor chandeliers. That's when Warlow finally addressed the fact that he'd murdered lots of people, vampires, and even faeries over the years because it turned out he had a bit of a split-personality issue depending on how hungry he got at night. (We've all been there.) But after Sookie tied him up to keep his hunger under control she remembered that ill-advised romance was basically her No. 1 hobby (hence her self-appointed Danger Whore nickname) and pretty soon she was removing her unmentionables and exchanging fluids with a 5,500-year-old monster. That's right, it was your typical faerie-vampire graveyard f*ckdown, and according to the cheesy light effect that emanated from their crotch areas, they had a blast. Destiny fulfilled! It's astounding how well the Warlow plotline has unfolded thus far. He is such a good character that he'll HAVE to become a series regular, right? RIGHT? Right.
The second cliffhanger to receive immediate resolution was the Eric-Pam showdown at the vampire research facility. For a hot second it looked like they actually were going to fight as both began to fearsomely levitate (I'd forgotten Pam could fly!), but instead they each in perfect synchronicity murdered the snipers surrounding the room. In a word, it was amazing, and especially so when Eric peered through a bloody hole in the two-way mirror and saw Reverend Newlin grimacing in guilt-stricken terror. Unfortunately, Eric and Pam were still captives, so pretty soon Eric found himself locked in a tiny cage being taunted by the Governor and then forced to witness Nora receive an injection of a newly developed Vampire AIDS. Because OH YEAH, that's what the governor wanted with that TruBlood facility: The mass infection and eradication of vampires via Vampire AIDS. Yikes! But also: Well-played, Governor. By episode's end, a very ill Nora seemed to be in bad shape, but we still haven't seen the full effects of the virus. She and Eric were able to escape their shackles via an emboldened Willa snatching contact lenses out of a guard's eyes and compelling him to help, a plan as implausible as it was rewarding to watch. (Also, it was nice seeing Willa and Nora side-by-side, as I'd become convinced they were the same person. Guess not! Unless we're being Orphan Black-ed. Uh-oh, now I'm uncertain again.)
Bill didn't have much to do this episode except provide its No. 1 most awesome moment. After realizing that Jessica had been captured by the Governor (thus confirming that his visions were coming true), he entered a coma and had a quick convo with an especially testy Lilith, who basically told him to start taking care of business and stop bothering her. So he did! Bill awoke, gulped down a sample of Warlow's blood, and then walked IN DAYLIGHT all the way to the Governor's backyard, where he used ESP to force the guards to murder each other in a Mexican standoff before ripping off the Governor's head. Yes, that happened. It was a moment that single-handedly redeemed every annoying second Bill spent in the Authority. It was a moment that landed Bill firmly back on the romantic-hero side of things. It was a moment that made us root for Bill again. And rooting for Bill again, as improbable as it once seemed, is now a major reason why this season is so good.
Unfortunately, Terry's death wish came true. Uh, first of all, did any of you see that coming and so soon? Just last week Terry hired a friend to murder him, but the True Blood of old would have drawn that out for five episodes before figuring out how to save his life. But nope! Despite a last-minute effort by Arlene to use vampire magic to brainwash away Terry's suicidal tendencies (along with any memory of the Iraq war), Terry's self-hit was nonetheless carried out as planned. Just a very casual, inglorious gunshot out by the dumpsters and Arlene was suddenly cradling her dying husband. Devastating. Surprisingly so, considering Terry hadn't been given an entertaining story line in years. But he'd always felt like a good-hearted, compelling, tonally essential member of the True Blood family. I'm sure it's possible the show will figure out how to keep the character around, but this felt like Hoyt's good-bye: Strangely final. If this was it for Terry, I'll miss him. But I'll also respect True Blood even more for making death mean something again. Good-bye, Terry Bellefleur. Sorry that nobody around you wanted to drip vampire blood into your mouth, but it's probably for the best.
Jason Stackhouse had a few cute scenes in which he pretended to be, well, Jason Stackhouse of season five, in order to fly up the ranks of the LAVTF and rescue Jessica. He gleefully recounted to recruiters all the vampires he'd murdered and quickly made tons of fans inside the organization, right up until the head boss lady entered the equation: Sarah Newlin. He pretended not to know her and she returned the favor ostensibly because she feared he could somehow "out" her has a slut? I'm not sure I bought that, but fair enough: Jason was in! But then Sarah tried to frazzle him into admitting his pro-vampire bias by forcing him to watch Jessica participate in a vampire-sex experiment with a hunky long-haired vampire. What could have been a salacious, trashy scene testing Jason's jealousy instead turned into a strangely moving, shared trauma between two vampires struggling to retain their humanity. The young hunk didn't want to hurt Jessica and was tortured for it; Jessica wanted to go through with the experiment to end his pain. After it was all called off, a subtle twist set in: Sarah didn't want Jason to see his ex-girlfriend screw another guy; she wanted him to see his ex-girlfriend develop feelings for another guy. Just a sincerely excellent bit of writing right there. Also, uh, much like Jessica, I wouldn't mind seeing the vampire dude again in the future. So.
Still enjoying the Andy Bellefleur plotline, though not much happened on that front other than a charming scene in which Andy finally gave his last remaining daughter a proper name. Well, four names to be precise: Adeline Braelynn Charlaine [Harris] Danika Bellefleur. Again, I'm astounded by how much I enjoyed an Andy Bellefleur scene, and I'm sure the fact that it only took up a few minutes of screen time was a major part of that. As for Sam and the werewolves: Sam gave Emma back to Martha and Alcide decided not to murder Sam. Both scenes verged on compelling: Martha is a relatively underrated character who deserves to be set free from the wolf-pack narrative and Alcide's growing villainy marks the first time the wolves have been intimidating in the slightest. It still makes me laugh that they just turn into bitey dogs. Alcide in human form seems WAY more dangerous than in wolf form, but whatever. This show needs more villains and I hope Alcide slides ever further into darkness. Preferably after murdering Sam, fingers crossed!
There were no bad jelly beans in this bag. With two major deaths plus foreshadowing of carnage to come, this was a terrific example of how a midseason episode doesn't have to feel like one. No offense to Terry Bellefleur, but I'm loving this season's trend of dropping excess baggage and doubling down on emotional tension. Show's feelin' tight, am I right? Don't you feel me about "Don't You Feel Me?"? Because that's the title. Never mind, bye.