Episode Title: "Me and the Devil"
Writer: Mark Hudis
Director: Daniel Minahan
Previously on "True Blood":
The amnesiac Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) attacked and killed Claudine (Lara Pulver), the fairy godmother of Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) before running off into the woods drunk off of Claudine's blood. Sookie recruited the werewolf, Alcide (Joe Manganiello) to help her find Eric during the day time and bring him back home. She even hid Eric from Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), her former lover and the current Vampire King of Louisiana. Bill had his own problems in love, as his current girlfriend, Portia Bellefleur (Courtney Ford) turned out to be his great-great-great-great-granddaughter.
Elsewhere, Tommy Mickens (Marshall Allman) went to visit his mother, but his estranged father was there to lay a trap for him and force Tommy to return to dog fighting. Back in Bon Temps, Pam (Kristin Bauer) gave Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) and Tara (Rutina Wesley) an ultimatum to fix Eric or die horribly. They were able to convince Marnie (Fiona Shaw) to attempt to reverse the spell, but when Pam seemed to threaten them again, a vengeful spirit entered Marnie's body and cast a new spell that caused Pam's flesh to begin to rot. As Pam fled, the spirit in Marnie's body cackled with an evil glee before collapsing.
Getting back to Tommy and his criminally mischievous parents, the world's most annoying shapeshifter manages to fight back and fatally injure his abusive father. Tommy accidentally kills his mother as she tries to save her husband, leaving Tommy in tears. Out in the woods, Lafayette, Tara and Jesus berate Marnie for screwing them over again by angering a second vampire. Despite Marnie's assurances that the spirit is protecting them, they abandon her in the woods. Meanwhile, Arlene (Carrie Preston) and Terry (Todd Lowe) decide to bring in an exorcist to get the evil out of their house. But all they get is the local reverend and Tara's mom singing bible songs and spreading incense.
Moving right along from incense to incest, Bill is amorously confronted by Portia; who wants to continue their romantic relationship despite their… relation. Bill glamours the romantic feelings out of her and then induces Portia to scream in horror uncontrollably when she sees him. Wow… dick move, Bill. Around the same time, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Hoyt (Jim Parrack) bring the badly injured Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) back to his house instead of say… to a hospital. Jessica and Hoyt seem incredibly distant with each other; which Hoyt complains about to Jason just after he confesses that he was raped by dozens of women at Hot Shot.
In Sookie's house, Eric rises and comes across her sleeping in bed. Eric's maker, Godric (Allan Hyde) appears to him and tells him to drink from her and walk in the sun. After some initial hesitation, Eric goes through with it before waking up from his nightmare. He then enters Sookie's room in reality and seems ready to bite her before she wakes up. Eric tells her that he had a bad dream and asks her if he was evil before. She comforts him and she even lets him stay in her bed if he keeps it platonic. Back in town, Lafayette and Jesus decide to skip town and head to Mexico for help from Jesus' brujo grandfather. Meanwhile, Tommy brings the bodies of his parents to Sam (Sam Trammell), who like every good brother helps him hide the bodies from the law.
Sookie decides to investigate Marnie's group on her own and she soon discovers who Marnie is and where she can find her. Sookie poses as a customer looking for a reading and Marnie reluctantly accepts her business. It turns out that Marnie really does have a talent for this, as she makes contact with Sookie's grandmother. But through her telepathy, Sookie's grandmother warns Sookie of the danger that Marnie represents and tells her to run. Later, Bill's security forces take Marnie into custody and he glamours her into revealing that she has no way of reversing the spells on Eric or Pam.
Sam and Tommy briefly run into trouble with Detective Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) before dumping the bodies of their parents. And the estranged brothers bond over the fact that they have both killed people who wronged them. Back in Bon Temps, Terry and Arlene finally believe that their house is evil free, until a matchbook spontaneously lights while they sleep together. Across town, Jason begins having sex dreams about Jessica… and Hoyt. And in Sookie's home, Tara pours out her heart about her new relationship with a woman… and then she freaks out when she learns that Sookie has been letting Eric stay with her.
Eric seems stunned when Tara lists the number of sins he's visited upon Sookie and asks if it's true. Sookie admits that it is, but she says that Eric's new incarnation is kind and gentle, everything the old Eric wasn't. He attempts to leave before accidentally hurting her, but she stops him and pulls him into a kiss. Back at Bill's home, one of the local vampire sheriff's gives us some background on the spirit who possessed Marnie: she was a witch during the Spanish Inquisition… which was partially run by vampires in the church! Pam prescribes death and lots of it for Marnie and she accidentally blurts out what she did to Eric.
Incensed, Bill confronts Pam and gets her to admit that Eric is hiding at Sookie's house. Bill then speeds off to confront his helpless rival.
After last week's hiccup, "True Blood" seems to be getting back on track. The two main plotlines of Sookie and Eric's courtship and the threat of the coven have both been consistently compelling. And this week's intersection of the two stories was easily the highlight of the hour. Letting Sookie read Marnie's mind during the seance was one of the best uses of Sookie's power in a long time. The most surprising thing about that was that Marnie wasn't conning her… she really does have the ability to reach the dead and she seemed genuinely surprised when the spirit of Sookie's grandmother insisted that she was dangerous.
II sometimes wonder if the writers of this show are trying to win more support for the Eric and Sookie romance by making Bill into a colossal a**hole. It's one thing to manipulate Portia so that she won't pursue him romantically, but to make her feel constant terror in his presence?! That was taking it way too far for someone that he professed to care about. The only fitting followup would be if Portia (who up to this point has been one of Bill's strongest human supporters) now becomes one of the biggest threats to the vampire agenda by pulling her support and organizing people against them.
Bill was also pretty flippant about Pam's predicament. Sure it was funny, but Bill was still being a jerk about it. That said, Bill's confrontation with Marnie was very interesting and it moved the coven storyline forward by revealing the reason that the spirit inside Marnie hates vampires. "True Blood" hasn't even hit the halfway mark of the season and this plot already feels like it's gaining momentum.
Terry and Arlene's story went from having some legitimately creepy moments last week to some unbearable attempts at humor in their scenes this week. The reverend's antics were amusing at first, but that sequence wore out its welcome pretty quickly and seemed to drag on. That story may be connected to the witch's coven somehow, but it seems like an unnecessary element for the show… much like Terry and Arlene themselves. The writers of "True Blood" sometimes have trouble figuring out that not all of its characters are equally interesting. Sending Lafayette and Jesus out of town (and thus out of the main plot) immediately lessens my interest in their roles. As reluctant members of the coven, they were a lot more entertaining.
It's clear that the writers are heading towards a Jessica and Jason romance, but the setup scenes of tension between Hoyt and Jessica just don't ring true. Her reticence to be intimate with Hoyt is obviously her guilt from cheating on him, but it's just not working onscreen. Jason's reaction to his multiple rapes last week was also disappointing, as he seems to be regressing to his King of the Idiots persona from the earlier seasons as opposed to the more confident Jason from earlier this season.
Sookie and Eric are still basically the glue that holds this show together. It was refreshing when Tara finally called out Sookie about her past with Eric not meshing with her current actions towards him. But they're so entertaining together that it's hard to care that it doesn't make a lot of sense. Although I suspect next week's episode might begin with Bill bursting in on Sookie and Eric in bed, it's been fun to watch their relationship develop.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.