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"True Blood" — "Burning Down the House": Betting On the Wrong Horse

By Sarah Carlson | TV | August 29, 2011 |

By Sarah Carlson | TV | August 29, 2011 |

If only Marnie “would have let her goddamn parakeet rest in peace,” as Lafayette put it, none of this witch war mess would happening. Of course, then there wouldn’t be the best connecting thread for “True Blood’s” Season Four, either, and it desperately needs it. We’ve arrived at the climax, the final showdown to play out in the remaining two episodes, but it hasn’t been a smooth ride. “True Blood” has seen its share of ups and downs this season, with one stellar episode followed by a mediocre one, and on and on again. The writers were back on their game for Sunday’s 10th episode, “Burning Down the House,” though, and from here it’s clear that much of the remotely happy storylines are on hold until next season. We even lost a character, and in this cutthroat imaginary world, there’s no telling who else will die — either for the first or second time — before the season ends.

Picking up where Episode Nine ended, Eric is following orders to kill Bill at the Festival of Tolerance while the rest of the vampires under Antonia’s spells attack the humans present. Sookie’s protests are no good, but her fairy powers are able to stop Eric from winning his fight with Bill as well as to restore his memory. At that, Antonia and her minions bolt and it’s a matter of cleaning up — or spinning, as Nan wants to do — the mess. Back at Bill’s mansion, however, Sookie has had a change of heart. Thank goodness Eric is back in his right mind, but for now, he remembers his brief affair with Sookie and doesn’t want it to end, even if he tried to defeat Bill. But the ordeal reminded her that she still loves her first love. (Mind you, even though she was gone for a year out of everyone’s lives, it has only been a few days since she discovered Bill’s secrets after she rescued him from the King of Mississippi in Season Three. “True Blood” time is weird. So of course she still loves him. Idiot.) “When you were about to kill him,” she tells Eric, “I just couldn’t bear the thought of a world without him in it. … I love you, I don’t want to lie to you. But I can’t help it. I love him, too.” “You gave yourself to me, completely,” Eric says. “You are mine.” “I never promised that,” Sookie replies, “and you gave yourself to me, completely.” Then, the kicker: “Yes, I did,” he says. “I love you.” That’s quite an admission for 1,000-year-old vampire to make, and one that almost is swept under the rug as Pam arrives to greet him. She’s hurt he didn’t immediately summon her and annoyed at how much sway Sookie has over him. Soon, though, she, Eric and Bill begin to strategize their payback attack on Antonia. If fire killed her 400 years ago, they figure, then why not now? The vampires are out to burn the witch, holed up in the Moon Goddess Emporium, human casualties — including Holly and Tara — be damned. Sookie is told to stay out of it. “And if innocent people die?” she asks. “It’s war,” Bill says. “It happens.”

Terry and Arlene wake Andy that morning and confront him on his V addiction. Terry then takes his cousin out to Fort Bellefleur, a tree house where Terry stayed after he returned from Iraq, for a little can shooting and intervention-style discussion. The men have it out about their jealousies for each other growing up, but eventually, Andy swears he’ll get clean. If any actor has been criminally underused in this series, especially this season, it’s Chris Bauer as Andy. There hasn’t been much to this addiction plotline at all, and while it gives him and Terry screen time and some funny lines, it doesn’t seem to be adding to the bigger story arc.

Jessica is smarting from Jason’s wishy-washy behavior after their hook-up. He’s torn with guilt because of his lifelong friendship with Hoyt, and he even suggests she wipe his memory so he can live with himself. She’s not amused. The next morning, Hoyt shows up on Jason’s doorstep looking for comfort and a place to crash where he won’t be reminded of Jessica. In turn, Jason heads to Sookie’s looking for a place to stay to avoid Hoyt. She fills him in on the vampires’ plans to burn Antonia’s shop and together, they recruit Lafayette and Jesus to help them rescue the humans Antonia has as prisoners. Jesus wants to confront Marnie, thinking he can draw Antonia out of her as he did with Mavis and Lafayette, and he’s able to get past Antonia’s protective wall outside the shop by summoning the dark magic — Antonia calls it a demon — he has. But when Antonia lets Marnie come forth to talk with her friend, Jesus learns it is no longer a case of possession. Marnie wants to attack the vampires and is happy to be joined with Antonia. It’s a union now, she says, and earlier, she convinced Antonia of that. The spirit wanted to quit, not happy with the human casualties they had caused, but Marnie convinced her to continue the fight and in the process revealed a bit about her own life. She’s a loner and not only is thriving on this powerful union with Antonia, but feels she needs it. “Fate brought us together to fight evil,” she tells her. “Did you really think no one was going to get hurt?”

As they talk, Tara and Holly try their hand at a spell to break the forcefield around the shop, and when it works, they bolt. They and Jesus don’t get far, however, as the waiting Sookie and Lafayette run toward them and Antonia works a spell to make them all disappear and, presumably, reappear back inside the Moon Goddess. Jason alone is left standing in the street. That night, Bill, Eric, Pam and Jessica — after having spent the day chained to silver and listening to a pissed off Nan threaten to have them all killed — show up, sporting all-black outfits, ready to start some fires and oblivious to the fact even more humans are now trapped inside.

None of that proved to be the ultimate drama of the episode. That went to Tommy. And the tale of Tommy Mickens, who isn’t in Charlaine Harris’ books, may be the most confounding of the series. Young and foolish, Tommy wanted little more than to please older brother Sam and earn his admiration and love. He likely thought he was doing Sam a favor by shifting into him and confronting werewolf Marcus Bozeman and members of his pack on his behalf. But after they beat him to a bloody pulp and Alcide headed with him to the hospital, Tommy simply begged to be taken to Sam instead. His shifting combined with his injuries proved too much, and stretched across Merlotte’s pool table, Tommy began to say his goodbyes to an upset Sam. He and Alcide try to comfort Tommy by saying a pleasant afterlife is in store. “There ain’t no heaven,” Tommy says. “And hell’s a dogfight. I’m gonna disappear like I never was. That’s what I want.” “Well, won’t you be surprised when angels come and lift you up,” Sam says. “Sucker,” Tommy replies, before telling Sam he was the best part of his life and asking that he not forget him. And then he died.

I didn’t expect this turn of events. Why has Tommy been around for two seasons only to be taken out of the equation before he ever was able to turn his life around and amount to something? He and Sam parted in peace, admitting their love for each other, but it’s too little, too late. It’s just an all-around shame, but “True Blood” characters never get to stay happy for long. Sam is out for blood now, and Alcide is on his side. They go looking for Marcus but instead find a pack member who helped beat Tommy the night before. Alcide holds him while Sam starts punching. Marcus, meanwhile, is looking for Alcide but finds Debbie, who makes it known she’s about ready to leave Alcide for the packmaster. With Alcide picking fights against his own pack members, however, he’s got bigger trouble to worry about than a cheating girlfriend. And it doesn’t help the anguished Sam that he wants to kill his girlfriend Luna’s ex. Sookie’s brief honeymoon with Eric is over, and now she’s got to deal with loving two vampires and trying to keep her human friends, not to mention herself, from getting killed in various battles.

I guess I understand the point of Terry and Andy’s Fort Bellefleur adventure after all. Viewers need something to smile at.

Favorite moments:

  • “Fuckin’ humans. … I’m gonna go find somebody to eat.”

  • “What’s the deal with your little dairy maid and her lightning trick?”

  • “Can’t you see it in my eyes?”

  • “Marcus Bozeman’s a dead fucking wolf.”

  • “He drank 11 of my beers, passed out and started farting — continuously.”

  • “No drugs for me … except the anti-psychotics.”

  • “I don’t care what happens as long as I get to kill shit!”

  • “You were too old for booties!” “I wasn’t too old for socks! She could have knitted me socks or a sweater or somethin’!”

    Sarah Carlson has a front-row seat to the decline of the newspaper industry and lives in Alabama with her overly excitable Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

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