26 July 2011

True Blood S4 E4 "I'm Alive and on Fire"

Spoilers Ahead

Well, this episode was a strange one. Besides the usual (sex, blood, violence...) we're treated to rotting flesh, witch burning, frolicking vampires, incest, rape, and creepy messages from beyond. There's also some very fine eye candy courtesy of Alcide and Eric. Buckle up, kids--it's going to get bumpy.

"I'm Alive and on Fire" begins post fairy-draining (see last episode). That fairy blood must be good shit because Eric is acting all kinds of goofy. After briefly passing out he decides he wants more and goes for the nearest available source: Sookie. But when she tells him to stop or he'll kill her he immediately backs away and claims he'd never harm her. Then he smacks her butt and starts playing silly games, finally running off despite the coming dawn. You can't leave a bewitched, drunk vampire alone for a second.

While Sookie's off trying to find Eric in the woods, Bill is trying to find him everywhere else--starting with Fangtasia. He gives Pam a dressing down for not following procedure, snapping that it's not her job to think, but she doesn't give anything away regarding Eric's whereabouts. If Bill was a condescending jerk with Pam, it's nothing compared with how Nan Flanagan later treats him when he tells her about Eric's disappearance. Dismissive of the idea of necromancers (they haven't been an issue since the Spanish Inquisition) she's more concerned about getting vampires good PR after Russell's public rampage. She tells Bill to take care of the situation but not to spill a single drop of mortal blood. Yes, that'll go well.

Nan perhaps should have taken the witches more seriously. Marnie (incidentally played by Fiona Shaw, better known as Aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter movies) has a vision of the Spanish Inquisition. She watches as her spirit guide, still alive and a necromancer, is burned at the stake. As she burns she chants a spell, which Marnie manages to pick up. Well that's going to be trouble.

Meanwhile, even though the sun has since risen, Sookie is still searching for Eric and she's enlisted the help of Alcide. He shifts and manages to track Eric to a pond where our favourite Viking is still acting goofy. He's high on fairy blood and sunshine and is grinning like a loon. But when Alcide shift back to naked human form Eric suddenly gets jealous and possessive of Sookie. There was one hell of an interesting fight in the making before Sookie stepped in and calmed the were and the vampire down. Alas. But it's probably for the best since a moment later Eric starts burning in the sun. Sookie covers him in a blanket and leads him away, but all traces of his previous joyousness are gone and he says he doesn't want to go back to the dark.

After refusing to let himself rest Eric asks Sookie to stay with him in his underground room. I don't know how she can say no to him--he's so sad (maybe I'm way too softhearted) but she tells him she has "human stuff" to do. The human stuff consists of having an argument with Alcide about the situation (which Eric can hear) and then making up with a flirty hug and promises that they're on each other's sides no matter what. Later, when Alcide returns home, he tells Debbie what happened. She claims to be fine with it but this is True Blood, so we know this is leading somewhere unpleasant.

Lafayette, Jesus and Tara go to see Marnie and try to convince her to undo the spell. At first she's less than interested but eventually they manage to impress upon her the severity of the situation (that is, Pam and/or Eric will fuck them all up for what Marnie's done). She finally tries to contact the spirit and goddesses to get the spell so she can undo it. Unfortunately they're not in a helping mood. Just when the witches are about to give up, defeated, a book falls off the shelf and happens to open to the counter-spell. Spirit witch has come through!

Once night has fallen again, Portia takes Bill to meet her grandmother. Is it just me or does it seem a bit much to make a person meet your family when the relationship consists entirely of work and sex? It seems like a very clumsy ploy on the writer's part to have Bill discover he and Portia are related (it turns out he's her great-great-great-great grandfather). I never liked this storyline in the book, either (come on--you're a vampire going back to your tiny hometown--wouldn't you make an effort to ensure you don't end up dating one of your descendants?) But the book did a better job with it than the show by far. I also like how when Bill tries to walk away Portia threatens to use her lawyerly skills to make his life hell. Wow--talk about not taking a breakup well. Honestly, who does that? The one part of this whole scene that I did enjoy was that Katherine Helmond is playing Caroline Bellefleur. Every so often I wonder what she's up to and now I know.

Anyway, after Bill leaves the Bellefleurs he goes to see Sookie. He seems to be happy to see her but the conversation turns immediately to Eric and his whereabouts. Sookie lies but Bill insists on searching her house. She's also just as insistent that he doesn't. She blocks his way and snaps that she's never lied to him and after a moment's hesitation he backs off. So what's going to happen when he finds out she did lie to him?

I missed something in the last episode. I thought a bunch of the Hotshot kids were watching as Crystal had her way with Jason. I somehow didn't notice they were all female and some of them not so young. I realized my error this episode when the women took turns trying to get impregnated by Jason (apparently they're really desperate for fresh DNA in their gene pool). It gets beyond creepy when Becky--who looks to be about 12--steps up to take her turn (Felton, aka "Uncle-daddy," told her she was old enough and that it was her duty to produce a cub). Jason convinces her that she deserves something better for her first time and since neither of them want Jason to die (he's still pretty sick) she cuts him loose and he makes his escape. When Felton realizes that Jason is gone he's furious, shifting into panther mode and beginning the chase (with intent to rip Jason apart).

As Jason runs from the pursuing panthers, he's struggling. His breathing is ragged and he looks like he's about to pass out at any moment. He tries to put them off his scent but that doesn't slow them down for long. He finally shakily climbs a tree and carves a branch into a spear. When Felton shows up Jason drops on him and shoves the spear into his neck. Jason gets clawed in the process but at least Felton is dead. A second later Crystal shows up and is thrilled that Felton is dead (she's the alpha now). Crystal is completely delusional and insists that Jason will come back to Hotshot when he realizes no one else will want him. Right. Eventually Jason ends up collapsing on the road. Fortunately Jessica and Hoyt are driving by and see him. Jessica gives Jason blood and there's a strange moment there where he's gazing up at her. Looks like he might end up with a little blood-induced crush on Jess. Interesting.

In happier news Sam is becoming his sweet self again, even in the face of a belligerent Maxine who blames him because Tommy didn't come home the night before. Sam assures her that Tommy can take care of himself. I guess we can thank Luna for Sam's return to the character we know and love. He seems pretty smitten with her and when he accidentally discovers she has a young daughter, the rapport between him and little Emma is the stuff of any single mom's dreams. Of course there's always a hitch and in this case Luna admits to Sam that her ex (Emma's dad) is a werewolf and something of a stalker.

As for Tommy, he's gone to see his mom. Belinda claims she's left Joe Lee but is vague enough about the circumstances that you wonder how oblivious Tommy has to be not to notice that something is off. Instead they have a nice visit until Belinda starts defending Joe Lee. As Tommy gets agitated, guess who shows up behind him and throws a chain around his neck? Of course Belinda couldn't leave Joe Lee. She stands by uselessly as Joe Lee chokes Tommy, promising to teach him obedience and loyalty and claiming that Tommy's enjoyed his last free breath. Maybe Tommy won't be such a brat the next time (if) Sam saves him from those two.

And last (as well as least), Terry holds the demon baby as the rest of the family sleeps on the sofa. He tells the baby who everyone is, ending with himself (saying he's daddy). Terry leaves the room for a second and someone picks up a red marker and scrawls "baby not yours" on the wall. Terry comes back and freaks, which wakes everyone else up so they can freak too. The baby just smiles and plays with the marker. If it actually turns out that the baby is possessed/inherently evil I will not be impressed. At all. This is such a lame storyline.

The episode finishes off with Marnie, Tara, Lafayette, Jesus and Pam gathered together to perform the counter-spell. Pam is impatient and angry; really, she should know better. In the middle of the spell Pam snaps and aggressively approaches the circle. Suddenly the spirit takes over Marnie and she begins chanting a spell as Pam stands frozen and horrified. I expected a repeat of the memory-erasing spell, but I think this one is much worse. The spell is for a vampire to see their true self, that is, as an animated corpse. Pam's flesh starts rotting off her face as she screams. Then she runs. Can't blame her.

This was another relatively solid episode with several future storylines being set in motion. The creep factor was also high, if you're into that sort of thing. I love that in season 4 each episode leaves me excited to see the next one. And I can't wait until the vampires once again have the upper hand.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale humans with red-rimmed eyes and fangs that descend or retract at will (and also involuntarily when the vampire is excited or aggressive).

Strengths: Super speed. Enhanced senses. Vampire blood heals humans.

Weaknesses: Fairy blood. Sunlight. Staying awake during the day (results in "the bleeds"). Magic. Shortsightedness and arrogance.

Mythology: Vampire society is strictly hierarchical with regular vampires at the lowest levels, followed by Sheriffs, Kings and Queens, the AVL (and Nan Flanagan), and the mysterious Authority running the show. Vampire blood (V) is a potent and illegal drug for humans.

Sound Bites

Pam: You like the feel of it, don't you, Bill? That crown.

Nan Flanagan: [to Bill] Don't fuck this up. How many retired Kings do you know?

Sookie: [to Eric] There's big gators in there, you crazy Viking, so get on out and let's go home before one of them chomps off your you-know-what!"

Eric: [to Sookie] I'll never swim in the sun again. Never feel the heat on my skin. Never see the daylight in your hair.

Marnie: How am I expected to repair the vampire if he isn't here?
Pam: That's your problem. Reverse the spell or I'll bite your fucking head off.

True Blood, Season 4 Episode 4 "I'm Alive and on Fire." Written by Nancy Oliver. Directed by Michael Lehmann. From HBO.

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