First the bad news: as often happens at this point in a TV season, this episode of True Blood consists primarily of what we in the recapping business call “filler.” There isn’t much action beyond some careful maneuvering to get all the pawns in place for the final story arc.
But the good news is that those final two episodes are looking to be especially thrilling. Mantonia has proven to be quite the formidable adversary, and I can’t think of a season where so many characters’ fates, even the all-powerful vampires, seemed seriously endangered.
Also encouraging, this episode kicks off with a pre-credits sequence that packs in more action than many series do in an entire season. Let’s check it out …
THE TWO FACES OF MARNIE
We pick up right where we left off, at the cesspool of misery and terror that is the Festival of Tolerance (and that’s before the vampires attack, given what we saw last week of the speaking line-up).
BTW, in case you’re wondering, the Festival is apparently sponsored by 1-800-DENTIST, as the camera lingers on an enormous banner-ad for them. As far as shameless product placement goes, this is actually clever; if there’s one thing that vampires and humans can obviously agree on, it’s the need for good dental work at affordable prices.
We see Eric and the other Mantonia-controlled sheriffs trying to earn extra brownie points with their new boss by being first in line to kill Bill. Sookie runs against the tide of terrified humans trying to get to him, while the vampires pummel a variety of innocent human bystander, including the squeaky clean Vampire-Human Alliance class president we met last week.
Meanwhile, there’s this interesting moment where Mantonia, on the balcony Don’t Cry for Me Argentina-style, surveys what her actions have wrought. For a second, she morphs into Antonia, and Antonia does not like what she sees, all, “What have I done?”
Elsewhere, to Sookie’s horror, Eric gets to Bill and, despite her entreaties, seems determined to tear him to shreds. But Bill has a surprise – a handy gun, and he shoots Eric. Then the two them get into a full-blown skirmish involving stakes and all, until Sookie – like an irritated mother having to separate her two squabbling kids on a long car trip – snaps, “I have had it! You’re both grounded.”
Then she morphs into wonder-twin super-powers mode and shoots out glowy goodness at them. Above them, Mantonia realizes something’s up, muttering “Broken.” And sure enough, her hold over Eric dissipates. Oh, and he also gets his memory back. Holy Crap!
Post-credits, we join Eric and Sookie on a bench outside Bill’s office, like a couple of naughty kids being summoned to the principal’s office.
Eric says that he’s still the same Eric, only more so. He’s Eric Plus! And he says, I think for the first time, that he loves Sookie, which is very sweet.
But Sookie’s like, “Um I love you too. In fact, my heart is just filled with love. I love you, I love kittens, and Oreos, and The Good Wife, and Bill, and rainbows and ice cream. Did I mention how much I love kittens?” Eric is all, “What now? You love both Bill and me? How is that possible?” Sookie says she’s not sure if it’s because she had both their blood or if it’s just basic birds and bees biology, but the fact is she loves them both.
Sadly the scene is cut short before she can raise the dream-suggested possibility of a threeway, as Pam rushes in, all giddy that the curse has been lifted and her bad old boss is back. She can tell something hinky’s going on with Eric and Sookie, but before she can say anything, Bill and Nan come in.
Bill says that the battle with the witches is going to end that night. Since burning Antonia worked in the past, he figures they can burn down the Moon Goddess Emporium with her inside and that should be that.
Sookie raises the minor glitch in this plan – that there are innocent humans in there, including Tara. He responds that if a few people have to die so that his entire species isn’t exterminated, so be it. This is war, and war always has innocent casualties.
And then he announces that the vampires in his house are now going to excuse themselves to chain themselves up in the basement until that evening, like he didn’t just reveal his entire plan to Sookie and she’s not going to do everything in her power to help Tara while he and his friends are steaming up the basement. For a guy who was shtupping her for two years, he really doesn’t know her at all.
Inside Bill’s basement the vamps lie around chained up and quietly smoking, and I really feel for Eric, Pam and Jessica here. Because it’s not bad enough they have to writhe around in agony, but they’ve also got to listen to Bill and Nan bicker, which is the real torture here.