Episode Title: "I'm Alive and On Fire"
Writer: Nancy Oliver
Director: Michael Lehmann
Previously on "True Blood":
Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) ordered Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) to disband a coven of witches led by Marnie (Fiona Shaw) and Eric attempted to do so in his own patented way. However, Marnie was possessed by a vengeful spirit that wiped Eric's mind of all of his memories. Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) later found Eric dazed and disoriented and she was strong armed into taking care of him by Pam (Kristin Bauer); who was convinced that Bill set Eric up to be killed. Meanwhile, Sookie's brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten) was kidnapped by his ex-girlfriend, Crystal (Lindsay Pulsipher) and her brother/lover, Felton (James Harvey Ward).
After attempting to transform Jason into a were-panther, Crystal then drugged Jason and raped him in front of all of the girls at Hot Shot. Elsewhere, Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) grew desperate to escape Eric's eventual wraith for siding with Marnie and he attempted to get mercy from Pam. Lafayette was barely saved from Pam's "mercy" when Tara (Rutina Wesley) and Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) arrived to back him up. Pam then gave them 24 hours to restore Eric or she'd kill them horribly. Back with Sookie, her fairy godmother, Claudine (Lara Pulver) attempted to take Sookie back to the Fae Realm. But Eric attacked Claudine and drained her dry before Sookie's eyes, killing her in the process.
In the aftermath of Claudine's murder, Eric acts as if he's drunk and he playfully acts as if he's going to bite Sookie as well. Incredibly, Sookie seems alright with the idea that Eric just murdered her fairy godmother. She's actually more upset when Eric pinches her butt and then superspeeds off. At Fangtasia, Bill interrogates Pam about Eric's whereabouts; which she denies any knowledge of. But she does openly accuse Bill of setting Eric up to be killed. Back at Hot Shot, another young woman rapes Jason and then calls for another girl to come in for her turn. And the girl in question looks like she's 13 at the oldest.
Jason actually manages to talk the girl out of raping him and also convinces her to release him. He then overpowers his guard and escapes Hot Shot. Back with Bill, Nan Flanagan (Jessica Took) yells at him for sending Eric after the witches and she warns him that if any humans die, it's Bill's life that's on the line next. Elsewhere, Marnie has a vivid dream in which the young witch who possessed her is burned at the stake centuries ago. When she wakes up, Marnie seems even more connected with the spirit of the young witch. Later that day, Alcide meets up with Sookie and transforms into a wolf to help her find Eric.
They end up finding Eric swimming in a pond naked. Eric even ends up challenging Alcide to a fight before Claudine's fairyblood wears off and the sun begins to burn his skin. Meanwhile, Felton learns that Jason is missing and he transforms into a panther to hunt him down with the rest of his inbred siblings. In other subplots, Tommy (Marshall Allman) visits his real mother and he ends up getting recaptured by his vicious dad for more dog fights. Tommy's brother Sam (Sam Trammell) has an easier time wooing Luna (Janina Gavankar) when he meets and bonds with her daughter. And then Bill discovers that Portia Bellefleur (Courtney Ford) — aka the woman that he's dating — is actually his great-great-great-granddaughter. Awkward…
In the woods, Jason actually manages to kill Felton, but he rejects Crystal's calls to be with her as the new patriarch of Hot Shot. Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Hoyt (Jim Parrack) soon find Jason passed out on the side of the road. Later, Sookie comforts Eric when he's distraught about not being able to see or feel the sun again. She even seems ready to kiss him when Bill shows up on her doorstep to search for Eric. He almost overpowers Sookie and enters without her permission, but Bill relents when she says that she has never lied to him before.
Meanwhile, Tara, Jesus and Lafayette attempt to convince Marnie to reverse the spell on Eric. She initially refuses and states that the power came from the spirit, not her. But she agrees to try when they impress upon her just how much danger they are all in. When they finally find the spell (after some spirit intervention), Pam sits in as they attempt to make it work. But when Pam threatens Marnie one too many times, the spirit enters Marnie again and casts a spell on Pam that causes the flesh to fall from her face. Pam then flees in horror as Tara, Jesus and Lafayette watch in disbelief. And Marnie laughs in her best evil cackle until the spirit leaves her body and she collapses.
I haven't read Charlaine Harris' "Southern Vampire Mysteries" novels, upon which "True Blood" is loosely based. But I have to ask, are the books this twisted?
I mean, did Bill really sleep with his great-great-great-granddaughter? And was Jason really raped by a pack of inbred were-panthers? Or are the writers of "True Blood" just dealing with their own fantasies by throwing them up on screen?
The Jason scenes were particularly hard to sit through. Weirdly enough, Jason had some of his most lucid and competent moments when he talked the young girl out of following through with it and he made his escape. Now that's a version of Jason that could be a legitimate main character instead of the King of the Idiots that he was through the first three seasons. But that's a pretty ugly road to get him into that position.
The Sookie and Eric scenes have been fun, but seriously, what does Eric have to do to really freak her out? Kill her fairy godmother in front of her? Pinch her ass? Nope, Sookie was cool with all of that! The main problem is that Sookie's protective behavior towards Eric seems to ignore even the fairly recent things that he did to her, like buying her home to "own" her and endangering her life by handing her over to Russell Edgington. Compared to some of those actions, Bill doesn't look so bad.
For the most part, the witches subplot was a little unsatisfying this week until the closing scene. It's oddly refreshing to see the vampire characters suddenly so powerless in the face of dark magic. Pam losing her beauty is actually an excellent way to strike at her without being a repeat of what happened to Eric. This has also been an entertaining way to keep Tara, Jesus and Lafayette involved in the main storyline.
This show doesn't seem to know how to keep its outside subplots going with the same energy as the main stories. Sam's romance with Luna is starting to get dull and who really cares if Tommy gets thrown back into the dog fights? If anything, that speaks to a lack of imagination from Tommy's father. If your wife and your son could both shapeshift into other animals, wouldn't there be an easier way to make money?
"True Blood" seems to be falling back into the same trap from the previous season, in which the main storylines were compelling but everything else held the episodes back from being truly great. The Sookie & Eric saga and the rise of the witches still have my attention, but the rest of the episode could have been left out entirely and it would have been better for it.
Crave Online Rating: 6.5 out of 10.