iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Mark Blankenship

GET UPDATES FROM Mark Blankenship

True Blood Sucker Punch: Season 4, Ep. 8

Posted: 08/17/11 10:52 AM ET

Welcome to Sucker Punch, the only blog post that ranks the gaudiest moments on this week's episode of True Blood.

SPOILERS AHEAD

---

You may remember that last week, Marnie allowed her body to become a vessel for Antonia, so Martonia was born. This week, Lafayette's body is invaded by the spirit of Mavis, the ghost-woman who's been haunting Baby Mikey. Therefore, it's time to welcome... LaMavis. Politely avert your eyes as she breaks into your house and steals your baby.

For me, LaMavis is the most interesting element of "Spellbound," the first weak episode of this otherwise strong season. As a reader mentioned in an email, Nelsan Ellis deserves a prize for physically suggesting Mavis by straightening his shirt just so and adjusting his walk to an elegant glide. He plays Lafayette as a powerful character who is equal parts masculine and feminine, so when he heightens the femininity in LaMavis, we feel it right away. Once again, Emmy voters, I ask you where the love is.

Regarding the story, LaMavis is an important counterweight to Martonia: Marnie willingly gave her body to Antonia, but Lafayette's body is taken, just like Jason's body was "taken" in Hotshot and just like Tommy has "taken" (or shifted into) the bodies of Sam and Maxine. Will Lafayette resist? Is there a struggle for spiritual control raging inside his body? Remember that scene in Ghost where Oda Mae forces the ghost out of her body? Will Lafayette kick Mavis out that way? That would be awesome.

Until that day comes, LaMavis has agreeably confusing motives. The flashback to Mavis, when the white father of her baby not only kills their kid but refuses to let her see his body, presents her as a sympathetic character, yet it's pretty damn creepy that a few weeks ago, she scrawled "baby not yours" on Arlene and Terry's wall. Is she good or evil? Angry or lonely? Both, I hope.

Compared to this story, the Tommy-becomes-Maxine arc has no stakes. He turns into his adoptive mama and finds out that, um, she won't be getting much money for her land. And then, as expected, he has a painful transition back into his body. It's funny seeing Marshall Allman in full Maxine make-up, but otherwise, this story doesn't give us much to chew on. Neither does the Sam-Luna-Marcus triangle. At least not yet. This episode sets up their relationships -- Marcus is Luna's jealous ex and the father of her child -- but it doesn't activate them.

At least this development directly involves a werewolf with a central character. Otherwise, they're hanging on the fringes of the show, just like always. When Marcus explicitly tells his wolf pack not to get involved in the witch-vampire war, he's basically telling them not to be essential this season.

And sure, sure... Alcide is obsessed with Sookie, and he somehow knows that she's fighting with the vamps and witches in the cemetery (though it's not clear how he got that information). But still: It's not his fight. He lives in a different town. He and Debbie have their own issues and their own community. Sookie is the ex-girlriend (sorta), but she's as peripheral in their lives as they are in hers. That's why I'm always tempted to get a snack whenever the wolves turn up, despite the Greek God qualities of the ever-shirtless Alcide.

You know another thing that makes me want to leave the room? Dream sequences. I hate them so much. Novels, plays, television shows, whatever... I hate them. They're almost always excuses for self-indulgence, allowing writers to heavily underline the metaphors in their stories. They rarely reveal anything we don't already know or couldn't have discovered in the "real world" of the narrative. They're a waste of time... a journey into special effects and mood lighting. And before you remind me of all the great dream sequences in the world... yes. I know. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they're awesome. But typically? They suck. Especially they when make us think something terrible is happening, but it isn't really happening, so hahaha! Gotcha!

As in: Jessica kills Hoyt and makes love to Jason! Psych! It's just her dream! But at least the dream sequence reveals that Jessica wants to break up with Hoyt and get with Jason. Wait... what? We already knew that? We've been told a hundred times? Good point.

And then there's another dream sequence in this episode, featuring Sookie and Eric after they've fed off each other and become spiritually united. It's reminiscent of the V-trip that Jason and Amy took in season one, except it doesn't end with either character lying dead on the bed. That made the Amy-Jason dream really powerful, because it proved there were consequences to reverie. This time, we just re-learn what we know about Sookie and Eric: They're in loooooove. And yes, we get to see them naked, which is never a problem, but... damn. Move it along.

Writing this, I'm reminded that I liked the early dream sequences on the series, when we were still learning that a human who drinks vamp blood can feel that vamp inside them. Remember when Sam drank Bill's blood, and then he had that dream where he almost hooked up with Bill? It was sexy and dangerous. But the point has been made.

And just think: Without those dream sequences, we could've spent more time exploring Andy's descent into addiction -- he almost sucked vampire guts off the road! -- or had a few more moments in the scene where Hoyt and Jessica actually break up in the waking world. It's a powerful confrontation, and it allows Hoyt to reveal the ache in his heart and the surprising depth of his fortitude as he kicks her out.

Now, let's circle 'round to the graveyard showdown. I can intellectually appreciate how important it is, but the pacing makes it hard to connect. There are so many big things happening at once that they all sort of cancel each other out, you know? It's hard to get worked up about Sookie getting shot when Bill's commanding Pam to stop harassing Tara and Eric's feasting on anonymous witches and Debbie is watching Alcide carry Sookie away. (Again... how did the wolves know about this? Did I miss something? And how did Alcide not smell his girlfriend trotting just a few feet behind him?)

In the midst of all this chaos, though, I do connect with Martonia's assault on Eric. She took his memory, and now she's taking control. Will everyone else realize what has happened, or will Martonia make Eric seem normal while secretly using him to infiltrate the vampire ranks? Juicy!

This week's Sucker Punch, though, comes much earlier in the episode, when we learn that Mavis' white boyfriend killed their baby. It's a horrible thing to contemplate, and it powerfully justifies everything that Mavis has been up to this season.

For more, join me at The Critical Condition.

 

Follow Mark Blankenship on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CritCondition