Episode Title: "Spellbound"
Writer: Alan Ball
Director: Daniel Minahan
Previously on "True Blood":
Marnie (Fiona Shaw) allowed the spirit of the dead witch Antonia (Paola Turbay) to completely take over her body. And the newly embodied Antonia immediately asserted control over one of the vampire sheriffs and sent him to assassinate Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). Bill survived the attack and realized the threat that Antonia represented. Bill warned his subjects to bind themselves with silver during the day to resist Antonia's spell that would force them to step into the sunlight. Bill even warned his former rival, Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) and Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin).
Meanwhile, Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley) narrowly survived an attack by Pam (Kristin Bauer), but Tara broke up with her girlfriend to protect her from Pam's wraith. Later, Antonia approached Tara and offered her a place in her reformed coven to avenge themselves on the vampires. The next day, Antonia led the coven in a spell to draw out all of the vampires in Bon Temps. Local busybody Maxine Fortenberry (Dale Raoul) even witnessed a closeted vampire neighbor immolate herself. As Eric and Bill struggled in their silver bonds, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) broke free and threw open the mansion doors as sunlight flooded the room.
As Jessica's skin begins to burn and flake from her body, Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) tackles her back inside and shuts the doors. The entranced Jessica nearly kills him until Antonia and her group stop the spell, returning Jessica to her right mind. Then Jessica and Jason make out. Down in the basement, Bill weeps over the loss of his progeny when Jason carries Jessica back down there in his arms. Bill expresses his gratitude to Jason and makes a deal with him: Jason won't report the guard that Jessica killed while entranced and Bill won't report that Jason shot one of his guards to reach Jessica in time.
At Sookie's home, Eric is extremely weak from the silver and from not having fed since killing Sookie's fairy godmother. Sookie allows Eric to drink her blood and he controls the urge to drain her completely. Eric offers her some of his blood and they retreat to the shower. Then it starts snowing (what the f***?!) and they see a bed in an enchanted forest or something. Seriously, what the hell?! Elsewhere, Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) tries to win back Luna (Janina Gavankar) by telling her that he's cast his skinshifter brother, Tommy (Marshall Allman) out of his life. And it seems to work, as Luna's daughter invites him to play with her.
Around the same time, Tommy steals some of Maxine's clothes and masquerades as her at Merlotte's as he tries to sell Maxine's land out from under her. Unfortunately for Tommy, the land isn't as valuable as he thought. Across town, Bill speaks to the press about the lone vampire killed by Antonia's spell and he sells it as a vampire suicide due to society's intolerance. At the Moon Goddess Emporium, Antonia is outraged that her spell only eliminated one vamp and she offers to teach Tara how to use magic. Shortly thereafter, Bill calls Antonia and asks to meet with her alone to make peace between them.
Sookie and Eric eventually come down from their weird mutual hallucination and Sookie convinces Eric that they should fight alongside Bill against Antonia and the other witches. And now for our reluctant check in with Arlene's (Carrie Preston) possibly evil baby. Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis) witnesses the ghost girl, Mavis (Nondumiso Tembe) haunting the child with creole lullabies and he immediately leaves. Later, he dreams about Mavis' life in the distant past before she possesses him to kidnap the baby and bring the evil doll that was originally meant for her child.
Jessica takes a break from Bill's plans to imagine a breakup with Hoyt (Jim Parrack) and a hook up with Jason. But it doesn't play out the way she expected when both men reject her. At the gathering of the local werewolves, Marcus Bozeman (Dan Buran) orders his pact to stay out of the coming vampire and witches war. Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello) starts to respect his new pack master for his stance, but Debbie Pelt (Brit Morgan) insists that Alcide promise to stay away from Sookie. And unknown to them, Marcus is the father of Luna's daughter and he threatens Sam when he finds him playing house with his family.
In the graveyard at midnight, neither Bill nor Antonia come alone and they sure as hell don't trust each other. But for a few seconds, it seems like there may actually be peace… until Sookie warns Bill that Antonia is reciting a spell in her mind. Antonia calls down a deep fog that allows the battle to commence. Eric goes wild and kills multiple witches before Antonia makes him bow and seems to enslave him. Bill saves Tara from Pam for Sookie's sake, but Sookie herself catches a bullet in her stomach and she collapses. Alcide comes looking for Sookie and he takes her to safety… but he doesn't realize that Debbie followed him and saw him break his promise to her.
This season of "True Blood" has flown by so quickly that it's hard to believe that it's over half over and there are only four episodes left. But with Sookie and Eric finally back at the forefront of the main storyline and the escalation of the witches versus vampires war, there's definitely strong momentum at the moment.
Before we can deal with the good, let's deal with the bad. Wasn't the point of sending Lafayette and Jesus to Mexico so that they could find a way to protect themselves against vampires? Because ever since they got back to town they've been blissfully outside of Antonia's new coven or Pam's attention. That would be fine, except now Lafayette is mixed up with the most tedious storyline on the entire show: the potentially evil baby of Arlene and the creepy doll. Alan Ball is generally a talented writer, but there are times that he doesn't seem to realize which plots are working and which aren't. This one falls into the latter category.
Currently, Fiona Shaw is stealing the show as Antonia, an antagonist with an actual personality. There's something about her righteous anger that's very appealing and she actually seems to have the upper hand against the vampires at all times. The ending makes it look like Eric's about to become her latest slave (like the dead Sheriff from last week's episode).. But that makes me wonder whether Eric's current personality will be completely gone by the next time we see him. Aside from shooting Sookie in the gut, that would be the best way to strike at her.
The Sookie and Eric scenes remain fun to watch, even if the "WTF?!" factor was going through the roof during their blood induced fantasy. I kept expecting some creature or the other fairies to jump out at them; but it was just the way that the scene was shot that suggested some kind of stalker element. And while I liked Sookie's sudden interest in helping Bill and the other vampires against Antonia, it basically means that her injury and Eric's enslavement are partially her fault. If they stayed out of it, both of them would have been fine. BTW, did anyone notice how bloodthirsty that the supposedly sensitive Eric was before Antonia zapped him? That was a lot closer to the Eric Northman we've been watching for years than Sookie would probably care to admit.
Jessica's love triangle with Jason and Hoyt took a turn this week from a contrived romance into something more interesting. Jessica's fantasy certainly showed that while she loved Hoyt, she also had a lot of contempt for him. In her dream, Hoyt was so pathetic that she had to kill him to get him out of her life. But in reality he was more ready for their breakup than she was. He knew just what to say to hurt her and it's hard to argue with what Hoyt told her. Every word was true. Jason also deserves a lot of credit for remaining loyal to his friend and refusing Jessica's advances. Plus it was really funny watching both men revoke their invitations from her.
Speaking of Jason, his line to Andy about only listening to half of what he said was the first "stupid Jason" joke that I've laughed at in a long time. For the most part, Jason's been fairly competent this season and his speech to Andy right before that was remarkable well thought out… at least for Jason. This week's other hilarious sequence came during Tommy's impersonation of Maxine. Much like Sam Trammell two episodes ago, Dale Raoul does a pretty mean impersonation of Marshall Allman. As long as Tommy's disguising himself as the other characters, I get the impression that this is going to be a running gag throughout the season.
I was a little unclear about why Alcide came looking for Sookie, but I assumed that he thought that he was going to warn her about the latest vampire and witches battle. Marcus was right about at least one thing: Alcide does come off like an alpha wolf with leadership qualities. Unfortunately, Debbie Pelt seems destined to be the tragic character in this situation. At some point, I'm sure that Debbie will freak out about the perceived betrayal from Alcide and attack Sookie.
And that never ends well.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.