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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

True Blood: "Spellbound"

Illustration for article titled True Blood: "Spellbound"

Props to Carrie for picking up last week's episode. I'm with her: It was probably the best of the season so far, exemplifying how the show has taken all of the weird, disparate shit it started out with this year and pulled it together. There's still a lot of choppy stuff on the sidelines, and Sookie and Eric's romance is now a full-on lame goo-fest, but the vampires vs. witches arc has taken hold much better than the werewolves did last year, I would argue.

One of the things I liked most about last week was that it gave Tara something to do. After her umpteenth traumatic experience (being threatened with death by Pam), I was getting annoyed because I just didn't feel sorry for her when I totally should. But Tara has become such a problem character that you can't even summon up sympathy when Rutina Wesley is doing a perfectly good job emoting onscreen.

So I was happy to see that from all the misery, she at least gets some agency: She's aiding Antonia in her vendetta against vampires. It made sense, it's connected to the main storyline, and it even evolved a little in this episode where Tara realizes the extent of what they're doing and goes along with it (although I definitely detected some ambiguity that might play a role later on). She's not just a henchman, essentially.

"Spellbound" at first seemed like a "breather" episode after last week's breakneck pace, where everyone recovers from Antonia's spell and all the silvering. But quickly, it evolved into a badass showdown between the vampires (plus Sookie) and witches (plus Tara) that was, if nothing else, nice and gory and exciting. The only problem is that it turned out the same way every confrontation with Marnie/Antonia has turned out so far: No vamp can take Antonia down. In the cliffhanger, she brings Eric under her thrall, but the show has shown its hand too many times this season, and we know Antonia isn't going to kill off any major characters, even though she obviously could. That's too bad, because it sucks a lot of the suspense out of the proceedings. It's also too bad that Sookie didn't get to use her fairy powers on Antonia, instead blasting away some nobody, but I guess that's being saved for the finale.

Basically, it feels like nothing's going to come out of that big battle, as fun as it may have been; it was really just a tasty little diversion for us as the show regroups for its final episodes. The side storylines are beginning to gel a little better, too, although the ballad of Alcide and Debbie remains terminally uninteresting, especially with the twin revelations that pack leader Marcus is Luna's old flame and that he turns into a angry absent-dad stereotype when he's around her. (Seriously, what a dissonance between that and his zen-like pack leader persona.)

For example, I was worried that Lafayette's discovery of the spirit haunting Arlene's baby was going to drag out for weeks on end with him spotting the singing lady and running away from her, all "hell no." But things jumped forward quickly, and we were treated to the whole backstory (the possessing spirit is a black woman who had an affair and a baby with a Bellefleur a long time ago, only to have the baby killed by the man, who was married), as well as several scenes of Lafayette swanning around, possessed by a turn-of-the-century lady with a penchant for singing. Nelsan Ellis, who's a pretty big dude, is a funny physical actor; we didn't even need to see the spirit dive down his throat, because right away, you got the point when he stood up so daintily.


Hoyt and Jessica's little domestic drama took a decent step forward as well, with Jessica moving out, first in her head (where she kills a bawling, pathetic Hoyt) and then in reality (where Hoyt's way more aggressive). Jason's hero act at the start of the episode seems like the catalyst for him and Jessica to leap right into bed, but happily, Jason has realized the repercussions of his man-whoredom, and instead, he kicks Jessica out of his place too and goes into some therapeutic push-ups. I forget if I mentioned this already, but Jason's become my favorite character on the show. Even with the heavier stuff, he just has that inherent levity that makes things go down easier. Anyway, maybe Jessica will decide to take shelter with Bill instead since they are a pretty decent pair, and Bill needs someone to bounce dialogue off of since Sookie's gone (bring back Nan!).

Sam's playtime with Luna and daughter Emma is on the cheesy side, and even with the twist of Marcus being Emma's dad (God knows what shifty powers that girl has), it just feels like that story is putting in time until it gets folded in with the main conflict somehow (I dunno why else we'd be treated to all of this). It is still not, however, as cheesy as Sookie and Eric, whose conversations are basically just like the gloop-fests she'd have with Bill all the time in earlier seasons. The blood-fueled sex scene at least had some nice trippy imagery, but the dialogue underneath hammered the last nails into the coffin of Eric's coolness (at least til he's back to normal, which I pray to God is soon). Pam has been picking up the slack in his absence ("This. Is. So. FUCKING. LAME!" was her highlight this week), but Sookie/Eric needs to evolve, and quickly.


So, I'm sure this is another cliffhanger that will be resolved in 10 seconds, and both sides will retreat to bide their time for the next couple episodes because we're not done with the season yet. Still, I can't fault the show for giving us some exciting action and letting Bill show some leadership qualities (I liked him bringing in the commandos, and Antonia's response of fog). I just hope True Blood keeps up the pace.

Stray observations:

  • Tommy's little interlude as Mrs. Fortenberry was hilarious (her foul mouth suited her rather well) and inevitable, but what the hell is next for his character?
  • Jessica has an Urkel-esque response to the dead security guard. "Did I do that?"
  • Hoyt watches a TV show featuring a 10th Century Viking skull. A friend of Eric's, perhaps?
  • Andy had some nice comic notes this week too, as he talked about the pressure of people's expectations and wanting to "hit them in the head with a bat."
  • Sookie and Eric's love scene included a tastefully placed bit of fur over his crotch.
  • I guess Hoyt owns the place he lives in with Jessica, and she ain't on the lease, because he kicked her out pretty easily.
  • Sorry this was up late; we're havin' some technical difficulties.