Episode Title: "You Smell Like Dinner"
Writer: Brian Buckner
Director: Scott Winant
Previously on "True Blood":
Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) discovered that the Fae Realm was a trap for her and she barely escaped with her grandfather, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole); who died shortly thereafter. Upon her return to Bon Temps, Sookie discovered that a year had passed and her brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten) sold her family home to an unknown party. Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) both sensed Sookie's reappearance and attempted to vie for her affections. Elsewhere, Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) convinced Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) to join a coven led by a witch named Marnie (Fiona Shaw).
With Lafayette's reluctant help, the coven briefly resurrected a small bird. One of the coven members soon approached Bill and deferred to him as the Vampire King of Louisiana. At Hot Shot, Jason arrived with a new carload of goods for the hapless people living there, only to fall for an obvious ruse before getting locked in a refrigerator. Far out of town, Tara (Rutina Wesley) apparently moved on from her life in Bon Temps with a new girlfriend and a new career as a fighter. But Tara rushed back to town when she heard Sookie was home. Later, Eric confronted Sookie as she came out of the shower and told her that he owned her house now. And as he bared his fangs, Eric said that he owned her as well.
At Hot Shot, Jason wakes up tied to a bed and finds Timbo (Dane DeHaan) licking the wound on his head. He convinces Timbo to untie him, but Felton (James Harvey Ward) enters and threatens to kill him. Shortly thereafter, Sheriff Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) arrives looking to score some V and Crystal (Lindsay Pulsipher) keeps Jason quiet until Andy leaves. Back in the Stackhouse family home, Sookie tries to get Eric to leave, but he's persistent. He practically congratulates himself for removing Sookie's only power over him. However, she reiterates that owning the house doesn't mean that he owns her. Eric than warns her that other vampires will be after her for her blood and only he can protect her.
Alarmed, Sookie rushes over to Bill's house only to find it well guarded, because Bill is now the King of Louisiana. Bill also seems to allow Sookie to see that he's been sleeping with and feeding off of Katerina (Alex Breckenridge), a member of his security team. Sookie asks for Bill's help in dealing with Eric and he agrees to try. In flashback, we see punk rock Bill in the '80s meet Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck) for the first time as she recruited him to the AVL. Back in the present day, Sookie attempts to get Pam to help her deal with Eric, but Pam refuses and urges Sookie to take Eric's offer. Later, Tara arrives in town and reunites with Lafayette and Sookie. Around the same time, Jesus convinces Lafayette to return to the coven.
Bill summons Eric and tries to get him to back off his claim to Sookie's house, but Eric gleefully refuses. Bill then orders Eric to breakup the new coven in Bon Temps and warns him that they're necromancers; which means that they may be able to control the vampires. In another flashback, we witness Bill's very short fight with Queen Sophie-Anne (Evan Rachel Wood) before AVL troops arrived and executed Sophie-Anne. Bill then lied to Nan Flanagan about Sookie's unique qualities before Nan officially made him the new King of Louisiana. Back at Fangtasia, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) arrives after a fight with Hoyt (Jim Parrack) and she soon feeds on another man. When Sookie catches her in the act, Jessica lashes out.
Back at Hot Shot, Crystal and Felton explain that they've been unable to conceive a child. Their new plan is to mate Jason with Crystal, but first they transform into panthers and bite Jason to make sure that he becomes a werepanther too. At the witch coven, Tara watches until Marnie announces her intent to raise a human body. Tara leaves immediately and Lafayette is about to join her when Eric bursts into the room. He singles out Marnie and tells the coven to disband immediately. When Marnie begins to stand up to him, Eric feeds on her and the coven starts chanting… everyone except for Lafayette.
Tara then tries to save Marnie, turning Eric's attention towards her. Finally convinced to join the chanting, Lafayette proves to be the difference as another entity moves into Marnie's body and casts a spell on Eric. Incredibly, it seems to work and Eric flees, much to the amazement of the coven. Some time later, Sookie comes across a shirtless Eric walking along the side of the road. When she calls out to him, he says that he doesn't know who she is. But he does ask her why she smells so good; which implies that he might attack her out of instinct.
That was definitely an improvement on the season premiere and it was a much needed kickstart for the season.
My main complaint about Tara and Lafayette's storylines is that they're usually on the periphery of the show and not that important to the overall plot. But here they're finally both in the thick of events for the first time since the second season. Putting Tara in jeopardy is kind of old at this point, but it was a good motivation for Lafayette to embrace the coven. As I suspected, the coven doesn't have any real power without him. But that might not be the case for whatever is possessing Marnie.
Of course, the biggest developments here center around Eric. For the first half of the show, the writer seems to go out of his way to make Eric unlikable. Sure, he's done some bad things before, but Eric has never seemed as manipulative as he was inside Sookie's home. Eric's greatest failing is that he equates power with love and he only wants to be with Sookie if he's holding all of the cards. The problem is that isn't real love and Sookie is at least smart enough to realize that.
On a side note, why exactly did the suddenly amnesiac Eric take off his shirt and jacket? Until we get a better explanation, I'm just going to call it "Teen Wolf" syndrome whenever a male cast member is half naked for no reason. The thing I find interesting about the end of the episode is that Eric might attack Sookie without any understanding about who or what he is, or even why he's attacking her. To him, she smells like food and on a primal level, that may be all that he knows.
As for King Bill, it's pretty telling that he didn't bother to hide his current affair from Sookie. He could have easily avoided that situation if he wanted to. It was interesting to see Bill's punk rock phase in the '80s, but why is Nan Flanagan being shoved down our throats every week? That character is tolerable at best. So who on this show's creative team said, "we've got like, 15 regular characters on 'True Blood'… But do you know what this show needs more of? Nan Flanagan!"?
It was also kind of a waste to kill off Queen Sophie-Anne so easily,. but I guess now Evan Rachel Wood can go back to not starring in "Spider-Man: Turn off The Dark."
Regarding the sideplots in this episode, that baby needs to either eat Arlene (Carrie Preston) or go "Omen" on her. But her weekly freakout about the baby has got to stop. The episode drags to a halt every time it focuses on Arlene. The lone redeeming factor for it this week was Terry's (Todd Lowe) touching devotion to his son and his crazy, crazy wife. I'm also not fond of the Sam and the shapeshifters storyline; which seems to be going nowhere fast. It's pretty sad when Sam is now even less important to the story than Jessica and Hoyt, but that's the way it's going for now.
Still, "True Blood" looks like its getting on track for the season. Hopefully the show won't derail itself again.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.