True Blood: “Soul Of Fire”
C+

True Blood: “Soul Of Fire”

Well, I won’t deny it; that was pretty watchable. There was a lot of action and suspense and whatnot, a big thrilling cliffhanger, and a pretty good resolution to the Marcus subplot. But when you think about it, the penultimate episode of True Blood’s fourth season was kind of a big waste of our time.

All of that suspense was just utterly meaningless. Are the vamps gonna blow up the place? No, we already know there’s a forcefield around it. Are Bill and Eric gonna commit suicide? Please. Not 10 minutes later, they’re almost dead again as they’re slowly dragged into the forcefield (for some reason, Marnie couldn’t make them move quickly this time). Pretty much the same exact thing, and once again, they were fine. Finally, most ridiculously of all, Sookie gets trapped in a circle of flame, and we’re supposed to entertain the thought that she might perish. Hell, even if she gets burned, she can just drink a little more blood! All of these scenes were tense, but the stakes were never really there.

That was mitigated somewhat by the cliffhanger, in which the dead Marnie inhabits poor Lafayette. The show is doing a better job than usual in tying its disparate plots together for the grand finale, and Marnie’s revenge from beyond the grave makes Lafayette’s earlier sojourn with possession feel like more than just a distracting side-story.

But it doesn’t totally make up for a generally unfulfilling episode. It’s kind of surprising that it took this long to get everyone out of the damn magic shop, where it feels like the witches have been trapped for half the season. That may be a matter of scale, but I think it was more to do with the general problem of vampires vs. Marnie. She can totally control them, so it’s not really a fair (or interesting) fight. I liked that Jesus had an active role, and his bruja thing was cool to watch, but otherwise, I was kinda tapping my toes, waiting for Marnie to get hers.

Also, let’s not forget her bearded acolyte, who Tara hilariously called an Uncle Tom. His death at Eric’s hands was nicely nasty and gory enough to give Sookie pause so she can run into Alcide’s arms. Marnie’s own death was foreshadowed for us, but evidently she’s not really gone; that’s for next week. Antonia, I think, got a final goodbye here as she ascended to heaven or something. She seemed very angelic, to say the least.

I was kind of hoping that this episode would put a capper on the witch subplot and the next episode could be used to set up next season and maybe bring some resolution on the whole fairy thing. Sookie’s been using her powers more and more without learning anything about them (a trick that’s getting old) and we even got to see a fairy character have sex with Andy this week, so the show at least remembers that those dudes are still out there. Even with Marnie’s presumably last hurrah in the finale, one hopes we’ll get a little more exposition on the fairy front, because I didn’t sit through that big action sequence at the start of the season for nothing.

For all its flaws, “Soul of Fire” benefited from its focus on the vamps vs. witches plot, with almost nothing else in the episode to gum things up. Stuff that’s usually a boring side dish, like Jessica and Jason’s courtship, got melded into the main plot to hurry things along. The only big B-plot was Sam’s vengeance on Marcus, which went about as well as I could have hoped: Sam had a nice bad-ass edge to him that we never really get to see, and Marcus happily died.

I was 50-50 on that until that first scene where he tried to convince Debbie of their connection and went on about making babies or something or other. Daniel Buran was perfectly convincing as Marcus-in-leader-mode, but the transition to him as crazy dude just made no sense and was jarring when it shouldn’t have been. Plus, he and Debbie had absolutely NO sexual chemistry. Their getting together was a plot twist that made sense on paper but definitely not on screen. Sadly, I can’t imagine we’re rid of Debbie Pelt, possibly True Blood’s most irritating character ever, even after Alcide’s wonderful breakup speech (“I ABJURE YOU!”). She’s too crazy to go out that easy.

Aside from the werewolves and Andy’s little escapade (I must say, by the way, how much I enjoyed he and Terry fooling around last week) that’s pretty much all she wrote. This episode had something going for it, but by the end I just felt a little cheated. Let’s see if the finale delivers on that cliffhanger’s promise.

Stray observations:

  • "Marnie just puked a bitch out."
  • Pam and Eric’s fight was kind of a long time coming. I definitely sympathized with her frustrations, though. Eric and Bill are not at their most impressive when they’re looking at Sookie all gooey-eyed.
  • Marcus really is dad of the year. “Why don’t you go… color?”
  • Andy realizes he’s talking to himself. “Don't go all ‘lost in nature’ retarded,” he warns.
  • He’s not much better at the pillow talk. "Why are you on top of me?" "Because you're handsome and muscular."
  • Apparently when Terry went off his meds, “He was telling everyone he was King Zignats.”
Filed Under: TV, True Blood

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