While still far from the glory days of the first season, “True Blood” has managed to pull itself out of the third season tailspin and find some direction. Most of the plot threads have become at least mildly intriguing, with the majority of the interest once again centering on Eric’s situation and Bill’s role as King of Louisiana.
Eric has always been fun, even if familiarity has blunted his overall badass mystique, so it’s great to see him in this unusual circumstance. His constant “innocent” comments were simply hilarious, and it’s obvious that there is some chemistry with Sookie. Thankfully, they are not having Sookie fall right into his arms, as she still has lingering issues from the whole Bill debacle and Eric’s threats to her friends and acquaintances. (Though I question the logic of asking Alcide for help, even as a messy way of pulling him back into the story.)
Pam’s reaction to the threat against Eric is as awesome as one would hope, and it’s great to see her getting a bit more to do. Her interactions with Sookie keep things from getting too cozy, and she puts a bit more pressure on Lafayette, Jesus, and Tara to get control over the coven. That should prove to keep the season from stagnating for a while!
I thought Lafayette’s reaction to Eric’s attack on the coven was perfect, and it’s good to see his instincts running true. He was reluctant to join the coven, and Marnie’s rather substantial pile of crazy is not going to end well. I must admit that I was worried when the witch subplot first came up in the third season, but Marnie’s made things a lot more focused and intriguing. I actually think this threat is more unnerving than anything since the second season.
I actually really liked the subplot with Jessica in this episode. Never mind that this might be the best she’s looked in a while (perhaps flush with fresh blood?), but her conversation with Bill (along with the Eric/Pam scenes) put a lot of focus on vampire parent/progeny relationships. Bill is not particularly sympathetic these days, especially for Bill/Sookie fans, but I find him more amenable this way.
I’m a bit perplexed by this subplot with the doll, though. That baby chomping on the doll’s head was creepy as it gets, but there’s a subtext here that I’m missing, I’m sure of it. Could it be Jessica’s constant push-pull with her humanity? I get the odd feeling that her apparent domesticity is glossing over some of those issues we saw just after her transition in the first season, and that things could get messy.
Even Jason’s subplot has managed to take on some interesting aspects. We’ve all joked about the in-bred nature of the werepanther clan, but that actually becomes a disturbing plot point in this episode. Jason is the new blood that needs to be brought into the fold, and he is essentially used against his will to impregnate the females of the clan. Considering how much of a womanizer Jason has been over the years, this is a twisted comeuppance!
While it’s still not as strong as it could be, the darker overtones of this episode definitely helped to bring some much-needed energy to the drama. Even the end of this episode, as silly as it was, underscored the intentions of the writers. If this is the direction they continue to take, I think this could be a solid season.
Final Rating: 8/10