Sunday's episode of "True Blood" was easily the best of the season, and possibly of the last few years of the show. It felt like the new showrunners finally got a feel for the characters and the tone of the show, and I saw flashes of the sleazy, campy show I used to love - and even a bit of the book source material it's based on. That's not to say it was perfect. There are still a lot of problems. But I found myself entertained and even a little, uh, excited by at least two scenes.
Since a bunch of stuff happened I'm going to keep it to the Top 5 best and worst moments of the episode.
WORST: The goddamned werewolves continued to be stupid and awful. After ripping almost all the human activists to pieces last episode, head bitch Ricki was eager to track down the last remaining survivor, the wounded, annoying Nicole. Alcide fluffed up his man titties and ordered her to scrub down the were camp instead while he and Martha tracked Nicole, her rescuer Sam, and constantly abducted were-puppy Emma. I've said it before, I'll say it again: this show has basically ruined Alcide. I don't care if he's on V or what, but he has become totally unlikable over the past two seasons. I demand a penance. It involves Joe Manganiello doing various athletic things in very, very little clothing.
WORST: Sam played Captain Save-a-Ho again and dragged a limping, bleeding, moaning Nicole away from the were feast, somehow losing the alleged master trackers in the process. OK. After a brief interlude with the increasingly pointless Lafayette, Sam turned into a majestic pony and gave a ride to both Nicole and Emma to some seedy motel. There he did what he does best: cry, drink, and have awkward, regrettable sex with a woman he barely knows (Nicole). In Nicole's defense, she had just seen Sam transform into a horse.
WORST: They referenced that goddamned Terry/Patrick/Ifrit plotline again. Show, please! I beg of you! Let it go! Give Terry and Arlene a few episodes off! It's really OK! If it wasn't for Arlene's glamorous cholitablanca wardrobe I'd be fine with them leaving altogether.
WORST: Tara and Pam continued to scream at one another some more. There's the great lesbian vampire story of our time, folks: two bored women snapping at each other episode after episode. Ultimately Tara flipped off Pam right before Pam got shot and taken to the governor's Vamp Camp.
WORST: Billith holding the Japanese blood scientist hostage in Casa Compton so he can crack the genetic code of fairy blood, in the hopes of reproducing enough of it to make the vampire race immune to the Sun. This plotline makes so little sense to me, because it's not like fairy blood makes vamps invulnerable, just able to walk in the sun. And Bill himself knows that fairy blood quickly wears off. Remember the Great Russell Edgington Bake-Off of Season 3?
BEST: Andy's Fairy Four magically aged from tweens to early 20somethings this episode, busted out of the house, and went on a joyride - where Billith and Jessica intercepted them while trying to buy hooch. This led to some great scenes with Jessica, culminating in her inadvertently going into a bloodlust and sucking all four fairy kids dry. It was both tragic and awesome, and Bill's face when he saw that his daughter had basically screwed his chance at "saving" the vampires - as well as committed multiple homicides - was pretty great. Most importantly, it got rid of the obvious plot device that was the Fairy Four. At least Jessica got to learn their names: Betty Crocker, Little Debbie, Sara Lee, and Capri Sun.
BEST: Magic Grandpa Lou Reed (TM Matt Austin) did something useful and fairy punched stupid Nora into the sky. When she landed she was quickly shot and imprisoned in Camp Vamp. Yay! I realize my hatred of Nora is largely irrational, but when I look at her I can't help but see everything I hated about S5 and the Authority/Lilith crap. Nora did give a cryptic message that Warlo is the only person who can defeat Lilith, but, well, we'll see. Things to remember: Nora is an idiot. Meanwhile, Fairy Colonel Sanders got sucked dry by Warlo (who interestingly did not drink his blood - he spat it out) and then hurled into the hell dimension that Warlo had been imprisoned in for 20-something years. So RutgerHauer gets this season's Chris Meloni Memorial Award for wasted guest star.
BEST: We finally, FINALLY got some great Eric scenes, including an incredibly erotic one in which he transformed fangbanging governor daughter Willa into a vampire. Watching that sequence, even with the goofy crucifix-neck-piercing, explains precisely why vampire fiction is so attractive to ladies (and some gentlemen) who aren't getting laid enough. His assignment to Willa - to go back to her father, and force him to accept his vampire daughter and, by extension, vampires in general - was a brilliant strategic move. Either way Eric wins. If the Governor kills Willa, Eric knows it will ultimately destroy him. But Eric isn't factoring in the wild card that is Sarah Newlin, who will play the Gov like a fiddle. Especially once she reveals that she's pregnant with his kid. (I'm guessing.)
BEST: I'm not sure I can accurately describe the hotness of the Jason/Ben shaving sequence. The set up: after Jason's collapse last episode, Ben brought him back into Sookie's Death Shack. Sookie ran to call for help, at which point Ben revealed to viewers that he's actually a vampire, surprising exactly no one. He fed Jason his blood, which instantly cured the ailing Mr. Stackhouse. The next morning Jason was doing shirtless pull ups in the doorway (bonus) and then having a very, very hot erotic dream in which he and Ben shaved one another's faces, climaxing with Jason accidentally nicking Ben with the razor, and Ben inviting Jason to lick his blood. Later in the episode we got Ben almost totally naked getting ready for a show. Let's all chip in for a THANK YOU bouquet to the "True Blood" producers for casting Rob Kazinsky, and for deploying his various states of nudity so effectively. And for giving us the most homoerotic Jason sequence ever. And that's saying something, given his past with LaFayette, Eddie, Steve, etc.
BEST: But the real, surprise star of the episode was actually Sookie herself, who actually demonstrated why we should be rooting for her in all of this insanity. Boggled by Jason's sudden improvement, Sook did a little investigating and found a bit of Ben blood in her living room. She did some magic woo-woo and noticed that it reacted in the same way Niall said the fairy blood did after Tent Show Massacre. She put 2+2 together, realized Ben is a fairy-vampire hybrid, did some sneaky cooking (including spiking the food with garlic oil and colloidal silver), and invited Ben over for dinner. When he ate the food without problem, Sook asked what he wanted of her, they got to screwing around, and the episode ended with Ben mounting Sookie on the couch, Sookie generating her Vampire Big Bang Ball, and saying the words, "Get the fuck off me, Warlo." Really fantastic ending, and the most book-Sookie-like Miss Stackhouse has been in ages. Two big thumbs up. Three, if we're counting shirtless Ben scenes.
Of course we know that Sook won't zap Ben/Warlo, since the teasers for next episode show them having a little chat. Plus, we're only going into Episode 5 of 10. But I give credit to the writers for realizing that a good chunk of these storylines were painfully obvious to the viewers (Ben/Warlo was clear since last episode at least), and clearing the decks of them to make room for something else in the second half of the season. On that tip, I am extremely nervous that Billith is going to turn his experimental eye on his daughter...