Welcome to Sucker Punch, the only blog post that ranks the most potent moments from this week's episode of True Blood.
People have been losing control of their bodies and their identities all season, but in "Burning Down the House," almost all of those issues are resolved. A few characters even face permanent consequences, without getting help from vampire blood or glamouring! Woo!
In the very first scene, we say goodbye to Forgetful Eric. Just as he's about to kill Bill at the Tolerance Rally -- which was thrown into chaos when Martonia sent her vampire zombies on a murderous rampage -- Sookie blasts him with 1,000 volts of FaerieLight. She not only gets him away from Bill, but also returns his memories in a (literal) flash.
This leads to a tense scene back at Bill's house: Eric reveals that he hasn't forgotten what he felt for Sookie during his amnesiac period, and what's more, he insists that he really has changed into a gentler, kinder dude who loves Sookie. That would be awesome... except Sookie still has feelings for Bill. She even thinks her love for him is what gave her the strength to blast Eric with so much light. She loves both her undead honeys, and she doesn't know what to do.
And you know what? This is the point where I would expect to get nauseated or bored, much like I did last week during Sookie's dream sequence in which she commanded Eric and Bill to love her simultaneously. Now, however, Sookie's divided heart is met with consequences: Neither Eric nor Bill is going to forget that they love her or that she loves someone else. In retrospect, that lays an ache on top of Sookie's kinky dream, because in reality, it will never be that simple for her. She's going to have to grow up and make a choice. (At least, I hope the writers make her do that.) There's no easy fix for this dilemma, no magic light or vampire blood that can undo the hurt, and even though Sookie's love affairs are never going to be my favorite part of this series, I am glad to see them carry the weight of real consequences. I'm glad, too, that at least one dream sequence this season feels useful to our larger understanding of a story.
This story clarifies the complications of being "saved" by vampire blood. I've been giving the show grief about the easy fix of v-resurrection, but obviously drinking her way to safety has wreaked havoc on Sookie's life. Because she's been saved so many times, there are now two lovers rattling inside her heart. This consequence has always been part of the equation -- we've always known that drinking a vampire's blood lets them possess you -- but this episode underscores that vamp blood is not a free pass.
That's also the subtext of the Jessica/Jason affair, which is beautifully handled. They both feel bad about betraying Hoyt, but Jason's guilt is blended with a need to forget, to avoid seeing himself as a man-whore, and that desire to escape his own actions hurts Jessica. First, Jason suggests that it was only her blood that made him want her (rejection), and then he begs her to erase their night together (double rejection.) Jessica's reminder that she can't forget what happened, that no one can glamour her, points out yet another consequence of being immortal. Her anger and hurt lead her to embrace her violent side. Forget the human stuff, now she just wants to feed. That dramatic change feels utterly supported by what happened in the back of Jason's truck.
How interesting, too, that Jason bounced back so quickly from getting raped in Hotshot, but he's being eaten alive by the guilt of what happened with Jessica. I don't love that Hotshot has been forgotten -- I've made that clear -- but I do appreciate seeing Jason have to deal with something. As with Sookie, consequences make the stories matter.
Speaking of consequences, let's go back to the Tolerance Rally. Nan sends out glamouring squads to make people forget what happened -- which means that little girl weeping over her dead mother is probably a confused orphan now -- and she also stakes a zombie vampire with a pencil. She's a badass, but will she survive the season? She's clinging so fiercely to a dishonest life of spin and manipulation that she could be a prime candidate for death as the other characters take control of their own destinies again.
Meanwhile, the Tolerance bloodshed reveals something that we've been speculating about for a while: Marnie is the one who loves the violence and power, while Antonia is starting to feel guilt. Who's on top and who's on bottom now?!?! That schism gets clarified a few scenes later when Antonia leaves Marnie's body and they have a little chat. I love that Antonia is the one who wants to be a healer and Marnie's the one who insists that neither people nor vampires deserve pity. It reminds me of Marnie's line from a few weeks ago, when she asked to be left alone with the dead in MoonGoddess. She's been broken by life, and that can make someone dangerous.
Yet I feel sympathy for her, you know? That's partly because of Fiona Shaw's performance and partly because of the scene Marnie has with Jesus later in the episode, where she explains that Antonia's spirit is making her feel powerful for the first time. If you've been rejected and abused for your entire life, then of course that would feel good. It doesn't mean you have to start killing folks, but it does mean you're easier to understand when you do. Top marks to this entire storyline for giving Marnie, Antonia and Jesus so many new dimensions in so little time. (I was struck that Jesus turned into a demon as he forced his way through Martonia's MoonGoddess force field. He has the potential to be just as evil as Marnie, but he's choosing another path. For now.)
I'm also giving a blue ribbon to the Terry/Andy scenes at Fort Bellefleur. As Terry confronts Andy about his v addiction, the writing and performances explode with generosity toward both characters. In just a few scenes, we get a fuller sense of their long-term resentments for each other and for the ways they've helped each other out. They may have been jealous of each other, but they always had Fort Bellefleur, a little treehouse where they could offer each other protection. Their final scenes in this episode, when Andy finally admits what he's become and Terry loves him anyway, makes me care about Andy for the first time and renew my insistence that Terry is the greatest person ever.
Before I get to the shifters, I need to slap this episode on the wrist for its final scene. Yes, I'm excited to see the vamps face off against the witches, and yes, it's cool when Martonia suddenly realizes that Jesus has sold her out to Sookie and the gang. I gasped when she made them all disappear. Where will they turn up? And will Jesus pay a price for breaking Marnie's trust? However, there was no need for that ludicrous final image of the vampires walking in slo-mo toward MoonGoddess, shoulder to shoulder in black leather, weighed down with weapons like some undead version of The Matrix. Corny, y'all. Corny. Rather than ripping off a million movies -- Reservoir Dogs also used this tableau -- maybe do your own thing? (I'll let it slide, though, because the rest of this episode was solid.)
This brings me to shifter country, where Debbie and Marcus begin the inevitable Mating of the Skanks, where Alcide chooses Sam over his own murderous wolfpack, and Sam vows revenge for the death of his brother. At this point, these characters are living in their own series, and Alcide's flexible loyalty is only a shade less artificial than Tara's, but I'm still digging it. I know a lot of you disagree with me, but dammit, I really like Sam and Tommy, and I'm tickled by the possibility of a Marcus-Debbie union. That's going to be trashy, y'all, but it'll also be defined by loyalty and passion. Bring it! While the witches and vamps are fighting, I'm ready to make room for the spin-off series starring the wolves and shifters.
It'll happen without Tommy, of course, who finally pays the ultimate price for turning into other people. The script clarifies that he dies because of skinwalking, not the beating from the wolfpack, and that becomes a testament to Tommy's sad life: Everyone wanted to turn him into something -- a dogfighter, an ideal brother, a surrogate son -- and he dies trying not to be himself. He repairs things with Sam, but he doesn't exactly die in peace. His final moments are filled with grief and regret. They are messy and painful.
The series lets Tommy die like a clenched fist, and he hits me right in the gut. He's the Sucker Punch of the Week.
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