By Sarah Carlson | TV | July 5, 2011 |
By Sarah Carlson | TV | July 5, 2011 |
Well, at least they took a break from “that fairy shit.” That’s the best way my friends and I could describe the bizarre opening sequence to “True Blood’s” fourth season, a trip to a land that was no Lothlórien and that took Sookie Stackhouse out of commission for a year. If a show’s diehard fans — the ones who know the source material by Charlaine Harris — are weirded out by plot developments, you’re in trouble. Sookie has enough on her plate than to be dealing with Fairyland, and it comes in the form of our favorite viking vampire who has conveniently installed a light-tight cubby hole in her house, which he now owns. By the end of the second episode, “You Smell Like Dinner,” however, Eric isn’t himself, and the potential drama awaiting our heroine is reason enough to watch and what the show’s writers should take note of: Keep it personal.
Both the series and the residents of Bon Temps were back to normal in Episode Two, which picked up the pace from a premiere that could only be bogged down by trying to catch viewers up after its jump in time. Arlene is convinced that her baby, Mikey, actually is a little Damien; Andy is becoming reckless in his V addiction; Tommy just wants to be brothers with Sam, who has taken a shine to shifter Luna, who has the ability to shift into humans; and Jason is being gnawed upon by Crystal and Felton to become a were-panther against his will. The spots of humor were there, thanks to the always dependable Nelsan Ellis as Lafayette, and Sookie went about her routine with only a flash (was it her imagination?) of Fairyland.
Although it has been a year since Russell Edgington, the vampire king of Mississippi, pulled out the spine of a TV news anchor on air, the officially terrified humans are in protest-mode outside Fangtasia each night. Hoyt and Jessica’s visit there only furthers her desire to feed off others, which she accomplishes in a return visit and bathroom-stall encounter that Sookie happens to overhear. She’s there waiting to yell at Eric for his temerity, but Pam has better advice: “With what you are, fairy princess, you need to be somebody’s or you won’t be, at all.” Sookie is on her own now that Bill is king of Louisiana, and the flashbacks detailing his turn as a vampire spy — Nan Flanagan recruited him back in the ’80s — were interesting developments for his character. Having the former queen, Sophie-Anne Leclerq, so easily killed was implausible, and it’s a waste to get rid of Evan Rachel Wood. But building Bill’s years of deception and putting him in an even more conflicted position is smart. Running from Bill, Sookie is headed straight for Eric, whether she realizes it or not. With Marnie (Fiona Shaw) the witch’s help, though, Eric will be the one clinging to Sookie.
Alerted about their necromancing ways by his spy, Katerina, Bill sends Eric to shut down the coven meeting at the Moon Goddess Emporium. There, Eric both scares and pisses off the assembled Wiccans as well as the visiting Tara, who tries to stake him as he bites into Marnie. His response attack on Tara is stopped by Marnie, who has more power than even she realizes. She goes into a sort of Professor Trelawney-type trance and puts a spell on Eric, wiping his memory and sending him on his confused way and soon not remembering what she had done. Sookie finds him, wandering shirtless and aimless, on her drive home from Fangtasia, and while he has no idea who she is, he is struck by her smell. It’s the fairy he’s sensing, the blood he earlier told Sookie “tastes like freedom” but wouldn’t take advantage of. But with his memory loss — and Lafayette, Jesus and Tara all upset along with the Wiccans from his attack — all bets are now off. She’ll end up protecting him, and this time, it could be from her friends.
The notion of a vulnerable Eric is what sends tingles down viewers’ spines — and heats up our comments section — but it also will bring in much-needed personal touches to a show that can get distracted by its own fantasy. It’s also about time for the werewolf Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello) to show up to add to Sookie’s conflict, and there’s no telling how Bill will react to a weakened Eric now that he’s in command. There’s plenty of promise here, a welcome momentum built from a so-so beginning this season. I’ll just pretend the fairy sequence didn’t happen.
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.