After last week’s frenetic pace, it was good to have a return to form with a more focused episode that was well-paced and funny. Anna Paquin continues to be ridiculously bad even as her co-stars hone their chops (though I must give tiny props for a chuckle over her Bill imitation). I don’t know what those Golden Globe voters were thinking, but I hope they lay off the cheap champagne this year and award someone who can genuinely act. Hell, Kristen Bauer conveys more emotion just putting on lipstick in the ladies’ room. Stephen Moyer’s well-played amusement at Cooter’s name had me giggling at the outset, Deborah Ann Woll is a joy to watch as she parades Jessica’s rumbling emotions and Nelsan Ellis’ Lafayette delivers the serious and deadpan both with natural ease. Is it just me who listens to Skarsgård’s every syllable for a hint of his delicious accent? Yes? So maybe I have a problem. Eh, I don’t think so.
Bill has ripped off the ear of a werewolf who has changed back to human form and is crying and yelling about it. Several weres (as they are called) lie on the ground, some with missing legs or other parts, and Bill stands panting and ready to attack the last wolf who is growling. They’re interrupted by the sound of an approaching horse and a male voice commanding “Heel!” Bill immediately recognizes the vampire king of Mississippi, Russell Edington (Denis O’Hare) and addresses him as “Majesty”. After a short conversation it becomes clear that the King has orchestrated Bill’s kidnapping using the gang of werewolves. Bill gets his jollies mocking the name of the lead wolf (“Cooter? Seriously?”) and tattling about his poor treatment. The King kills one of Cooter’s buddies, then orders Bill to mount his horse and come back to his palace. Over cheesy orchestral music that made me feel I was watching the Lifetime version of a period romance, Bill and the King gallop to the palace where Bill is greeted by Russell’s lover, Talbot, (Theo Alexander) who seems to be modeled after a slightly more seductive Albert in The Birdcage. Over an amusing several course meal that includes warm and cold blood dishes and calling for a Thai boy, King Russell unveils his plan. He wants to marry Queen Sophie-Anne and widen his territory, and in exchange for Bill’s help uncovering the Queen’s secrets, he offers Bill a position as Sheriff of Area 2. Bill informs the King that he hasn’t got a relationship with the Queen, doesn’t know her secrets and has no interest in sheriff-ing. Of course, the King starts threatening Sookie to gain Bill’s compliance; fangs are bared and retracted accordingly. Just as the vampires are served the final course of blood sorbet, Bill’s maker, Lorena shows up spewing her sass. But before she can get in more than a couple of zings, Bill grabs a lantern and flings it at Lorena, setting the nasty bitch on fire and one has to wonder if this is part of Russell’s plan to gain Bill’s cooperation.
Lafayette helps Tara regurgitate all the pills she swallowed and tells Lettie Mae she’s through getting chances with her daughter, he’s taking Tara to the hospital. But instead of going to the hospital, he drives Tara to a psychiatric facility where his own mother Ruby Jean (Alfre Woodard) has been a resident for six months. A nice aide named Jesus (Kevin Alejandro - don’t call my name) takes kind care of Ruby Jean, even as she hurls racist insults and expresses relief that the Mexican hasn’t yet raped her. Tara gets the message loud and clear that Lafayette doesn’t want to see her in the same dark place as both their mothers and promises to get herself together.
The end of a rifle and a voice wake up Sam who’s fallen asleep outside his found family’s home. Tommy is at the other end of the gun and orders Sam inside the house where Tommy calls for his parents, who come into the room in various stages of undress. After a few moments of back and forth, Sam’s mother, Melinda (J. Smith-Cameron) and father, Joe Lee (Cooper Huckabee) realize who Sam is and pretend to be happy to see him. Sam jumps right in, guilting his parents for leaving him to deal with “the change” on his own, causing comments from Tommy about how Sam was the lucky one. The newly found brothers seemingly bond outside, and Tommy invites Sam on a run to vent their common frustrations. As Sam drops trou and takes off as Lassie’s cousin, Tommy scoffs a little and changes into a bulldog. What starts off as a friendly jaunt ends with Sam nearly getting killed as doggy Tommy leads doggy Sam right into the path of an oncoming truck; Tommy changes into a bird and flies out of the way as Sam narrowly escapes getting hit and returns to human form. Lookout Sam, sibling rivalry has reared its twisted,white trash head.
Sookie takes Jessica to report their findings to Eric, who pretends he knows nothing about werewolves for a few moments. Sookie pushes him and Eric tells Pam to get Jessica out of the room. The two vamps head to the bathroom where Jessica asks for tips on how not to kill humans when feeding and a not-so-hypothetical question about what to do with the body if one did happen to die. Pam explains that Jessica should be able to feel a heartbeat and tells her to think of crying babies with wet diapers or maggots to stop feeding when the heartbeat slows down. In the other room, Eric tells Sookie about his first run in with the Nazi werewolves in Augsburg, 1945. He and Godric were posing as SS officers when a soldier was attacked by a female were who, after some mild torture and a bit of Eric’s blood divulged that her master was “one of them” - meaning a vampire. We don’t yet know who that leader is, but Eric intimates that this group of weres is somehow different, very powerful and dangerous.
Sookie stops by Merlotte’s and as she steps out of her car, she hears some wolfy thoughts, turns and catches a glimpse of someone near the wood-line. Terry comes outside and the two investigate, following a boot print that seems to change into a wolf print, then Sookie finds a pair of boots. Sookie confides in Terry, telling him about the werewolves and swearing him to secrecy. Terry gives her a gun and asks for advice on dealing with Arlene; Sookie advises him to tell her how he feels for her because one never knows what could happen. I’d have kept the gun, Terry. Sookie gets teary-eyed and spends a lot of time this episode acting more in love with Bill than she ever did when he was around.
A very pointy pair of boots indicate someone in Bill’s house, rifling through some papers in a folder he knew exactly where to find under a hidden panel in a drawer. The individual looks through childhood photos, a family tree and newspaper clippings and stops when he sees a picture of adult Sookie.
Andy Bellefleur answers questions at a news conference and is hailed by townspeople as a hero for having killed Eggs. Jason continues to suffer his conscience and can’t sleep, so he visits Sookie at the unholy hour of 5 am as she’s returning home, after having escorted Jessica back to Bill’s house. Sookie left Jessica at the Compton doorstep with Hoyt, (Jim Parrack) who had dropped by with a thoughtful six-pack of synthetic blood and more pleadings that Jessica belongs with him. Jessica frets and plots to get rid of her accidental kill, but by the time she figures out a plan, the body has disappeared (Pam?). Back at Grandmother’s house,Sookie and Jason clean up the disaster left behind by Maryann and her minions, cleaning away the physical mess and mentally helping the siblings forget their troubles for a short time. But Jason still ends up back at Merlotte’s later, drunk and standing on Andy’s table, professing his love for his best friend. Andy offers Jason a ride home, but gets diverted by a police radio call to a meth house bust. Jason is told to stay in the car while Andy takes care of business, but Jason sees a pretty girl at the scene and gets out to follow her. He ends up right in the path of a runaway criminal, tackles the guy and gleefully tells Andy he caught a drug dealer.
Lafayette drags Tara to work with him so he can keep an eye on her. Arlene still hasn’t told Terry that she’s pregnant, but he’s already trying to prove he’s capable of helping with her children by reading off a list of the ten reasons he can be trusted with them alone. Poor Arlene can barely hear as she’s running back and forth to the bathroom with morning sickness. Tara serves B positive cold to a dark, new vampire who seems interested in whether or not Tara is friends with Bill and wears the pointy boots that visited Sookie’s place earlier. Later, Tara sits outside Merlotte’s getting her drunk on with a bottle of Wild Turkey when she overhears a couple of yahoos, gleeful over Eggs’ death. Tara confronts the assholes and her new vampire friend, Franklin Mott, (James Frain) shows up to hold one of them so Tara can punch out his lights.
Sookie sits in her dark house with Terry’s gun at the ready. She hears a noise, goes to the door and finds Eric, asking to be invited in - but as usual the girl is completely and utterly blind to a Swedish vampire’s charms. FOOL! When Sookie admits a werewolf had come looking for her, Eric tells her that’s why he is there - to protect her… or to have passionate, primal sex with her. Um, I’ll take sex for a thousand, Alex and the question is: “What are you frakking crazy turning down sex with Alexander Skarsgård? Sookie goes on and on about Bill like a damned FOOL and suddenly Eric’s vampy-sense picks up on something in the house. He urgently commands Sookie to invite him in and as soon as she says the words he’s inside, facing down a wolf. The wolf bares its teeth, Eric bares his fangs and then a shot rings out; Sookie stands with a smoking gun.
I got a kick out of Tara’s comparison of happiness to being a zombie; heck, that’s what going on in half the world these days. We are the living dead, hopped up on pills, stuck on our electronic devices and computers and watching television. Tara may be screwed in the head, but she’s got a philosophical eye and she’s lucky to have Lafayette — he’s the cool dude’s Dr. Phil, spewing insightful one-liners every time he opens his mouth. Denis O’Hare’s King Russell is a sight better than Evan Rachel Wood’s completely put on Sophie-Ann; he’s got the confident regal thing down pat and left me wanting more. Now did Sookie shoot my pretty, pretty Swede or that pesky werewolf? Closing credits: Shelby Lynne’s “I’m Alive”
Cindy is no vampire (not that there’s anything wrong with them). You can reach Cindy here