Now we're getting somewhere. This episode is head and shoulders above the previous two. In fact, it may be one of the most tightly written and paced episodes of the show in awhile. Whether the credit goes to Writer Mark Hudis, Director Howard Deutch, or a combination of both, I would be quite happy if the rest of the season followed this episode's lead.
Eric has been in danger of being a latter day good guy for quite some time now, thankfully this episode sharpens his fangs a bit. His seduction scene with the Governor's daughter, Willa, is just the right amount of charisma, and predatory creepiness. Later, Eric continues to show he just doesn't have the time or patience for questions or sentimentality, and has no problem using the impressionable Ginger as he sees fit. Under normal circumstances, I'm sure there are legions of women who dream of hearing Eric say he's taking them to bed, but I'm sure poor Willa didn't exactly have a coffin in mind. Even still, Willa remains a curious girl, and the scene she and Eric share in the ground is a good one. It feels like she may actually be the one seducing him, wiping the blood from his ear, but Eric's lightning quick reflexes show he's the one in control, and he is one cool customer. So cool he seemingly doesn't even shed a bloody tear for his beloved Fangtasia, the closest thing we get to a farewell is the admission that "The world is changing" and one last look at his dance floor throne.
Eric's kidnapping of Willa leads to the idea that Governor Burrell has been conducting some sort of experiments, ones that have lead to the creation of the UV bullets and glamour-proof contact lenses seen in the last episode. We get to see the secret facility first hand this week thanks to our old friend Steve Newlin, now a prisoner bound for experimentation. It's good to see Steve again, he's always good fun, but the surprise is who shows up to check in on him- his wayward wife, the lipstick and hairspray-laden, Saran Newlin. This is a nice little twist, not just due to their excellent chemistry now becoming antagonistic, but also because they are folding in the grand schemes from the Brotherhood of the Sun (season 2) into the current plot. Sarah Newlin states this facility and its research is the fruition of their plans all those season ago. Very cool.
Niall may seem like a bumbling Van Helsing, but he shows off some rather nifty powers this week. First his is "blood memory" trick. He scans the splashes of blood all over the Faerie Moulin Rouge with light emanating from his hand, like an exciter lamp shining on an optical soundtrack, Niall pieces together what caused the faerie massacre- Warlow. He also finds a surviving faerie, and gives him the fey version of absolution, committing him to dust, which is an interesting choice given that's a traditional vampire's death. There are times when True Blood bites off more than it can chew in terms of supernatural powers and their special effects, but credit to the editors and post production folks- Niall's teleporting is pretty darn cool. The effects is simple, like short distance light bursts, or windows, and the actual teleporting adds chaos to the tension of the scene. Niall senses Warlow approaching the house, and decides to meet him head on. By the time all the teleporting is done, Jason has collapsed, and Niall finds Nora stalking through the trees, who is also supposedly on the trail of Warlow as well. It's a well-staged bit of confusion, which normally would be more ridiculous than thrilling.
Even the wolfpack gets a bit more depth in this episode. They are typically the aggressors, which was getting old real quick, but suddenly they are outlaws harboring a fugitive. Despite all of Alcide's posturing when the cops show up looking for Emma, we quickly see that's all it really is, and the police flaunt their new level of authority, thanks to Governor Burrell's new laws. We also see the shabby digs the wolfpack call home- being packmaster sounds good, but it's nothing more than ruling a trailer park, apparently.
There is a coda from a wonderful television show that warns "The owls are not what they seem", and True Blood, whether knowingly or not, takes that cue for our favorite good-hearted shifter, Sam. He's been dogged by this group of concerned cause-heads who want him to be the poster boy for shifter's rights, but all Sam wants is to get Emma back. In a nice moment, Lafayette pledges his support to help Sam rescue Emma, unfortunately we don't get any of that payoff in the ensuing jailbreak. The cause-heads become useful by literally getting slaughtered by the wolves, and Sam uses the distraction to shift from wise-old owl to naked hero. Sam's possible love interest, Nicole, limps away from the fray with a werewolf bite, which means she'll be wearing the fur in no time.
There's a line from a wonderful movie featuring a red, stone-handed demon that goes something like "I'm fireproof, you're not." Bill Compton would do well to heed that snarky bit of dialogue before waltzing out into the daylight, but does he? No, he doesn't. He's convinced that since his fever dream with Lillith took place on a sunny hillside, that must be a sign he's able to soak up some rays. So, against Jessica's protests, he waltzes outside to meet the sunrise, so confident, so suave, so... Flammable. It's a bit of a comedown for Mr. Compton, he's not a god, and there are some things he just can't do. However, one thing he can do is enter Sookie's house uninvited. He wants to synthesis her blood, but Sookie puts her foot down. Bill tells her she's dead to him, and thus sets forth a long, winding road until fans can get their storybook ending.
The episode ends with a nice convergence- taking what has been the show's comic relief, and tying it to the main plot. Bill is on a moonlight stroll, returning home from his confrontation with Sookie, when he's stopped by our favorite faerie daddy, Andy Bellefleur. Andy is begrudgingly upholding the new vampire curfew law, and Bill understands. There's even a nice little reminder that they are related. It's all very innocently pleasant until Bill gets a whiff of the faerie blood from Andy's girls. It'll be fun to see how this plays out, lets not forget- Bon Temp's finest are now outfitted with UV bullets and anti-glamour contacts. Game on.
The good: Jason's self-aware line about his recent behavior: "Haven't you noticed I've been acting all crazy and more racist than usual?"
The good part deux: Andy’s line about his children: “I haven’t given them names yet, still just using numbers.”
Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him onTwitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.