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For weeks now bashing True Blood has been just about the easiest thing in the world, with its laundry list of problems the show has been nowhere near the level that it’s capable of, with some of it actually being laughably bad. After nine weeks, the fourth season was in a state beyond repair, or, so I thought. Ten weeks in however, “Burning Down the House” may just have given the season a chance to prove what this show is capable of again. Admittedly it wasn’t perfect, but now that an awful lot of the insanity that has come before has been sorted through, the show seems to have found something similar to a leg to stand on. What strikes me the most however is that the drop off and subsequent return to form of the show coincide with one thing: the state of mind of Mr. Eric Northman.
At the very beginning of the season, despite some fairly strange occurrences, True Blood was looking almost as good as ever. Sadly, it all went downhill very quickly, right around the time that Eric had his mind stolen from him by Marnie. After weeks of having a not quite version of the vampire Sheriff, things came to a head at the end of last week when Antonia instructed Eric to kill Bill - a plan that failed when Sookie faeried her and Bill out of trouble by moon-beaming Eric. The use of her faerie powers not only stopped Eric from killing his King, but also, thankfully, gave him back his memories. What then followed was the first good episode in over a month. Coincidence? maybe, but regardless, it feels awfully good to have the real Eric Northman back on TV.
With the vampire throw-down over, the episode spent the majority of its time following the two sides of a now fully fledged war. Having seen the destruction that Antonia is capable of, Bill finally decided to turn to plan B - throwing aside any respect for the AVL’s rules about vampire on human violence and taking the fight to the necromancers. The decision is less than welcomed by Nan, but the play is happily backed by Eric, Pam and Jessica. Similarly dismayed with Bill’s choice of action, Sookie ignores his plea to stay away from the Moon Goddess Emporium, instead, rounding up Jason, Lafayette and Jesus to try and save Tara and the other humans before the vampires wage their half of the war.
After the failure of the assassination attempt on Bill, things took an interesting turn at the Emporium, when Antonia decided to call it quits. Not wishing to bring violence down upon her own kind, the spirit breaks her union with Marnie, but only long enough to be convinced by the witch to stay and finish what they have started. Unaware that Marnie is now even more committed than Antonia to the violent eradication of all vampires, Jesus set about going to talk to her in an attempt to save the coven that is about to be attacked. Proving his strength to Antonia by breaking her protective spell on the Emporium, Jesus gets his audience with the real Marnie, but when he learns that she is now in control, things go downhill quickly.
Trying to make their own escape, Tara and Holly took to one of the many books sitting around the Emporium to find a spell that would get them out of their predicament. Just as Jesus finds out the truth, they enact the spell and when it works they try and make a break for it. The result - both Sookie and Lafayette get teleported away (presumably back inside the Emporium) along with the escapees, leaving Jason by himself. As the episode drew to a close possibly the cheesiest yet most badass thing that has ever happened on the show came to pass - intent on blowing up the Emporium, Bill, Eric, Pam and Jessica (who was holding a rocket launcher) roll up dressed in black and like the undead A-Team, prepare to fight.
Despite some good material coming from the vampire-witch war, the episode’s strength was actually solidified mostly by the various character moments pieced in throughout it. Following his beating at Marcus’ hands as well as once again shifting into Sam’s form, Tommy died. Instead of choosing to live with the help of vampire blood, the incredibly annoying younger Merlotte decided to go out on a high, having defended his brother and brought the two of them closer than ever. As the Merlottes’ pondered the afterlife alongside Alcide, it was difficult not to feel something for Tommy before he passed, and I came to like him even more once he was gone as his death has turned Sam into a gun toting revenge machine. Moreover, after the unnecessary violence that befell Tommy, Alcide broke his allegiances to the wolf pack and joined Sam’s cause.
From brothers to cousins, the Bellefleurs’ finally served a purpose this week when Andy’s V addiction was discovered by Terry. Being a former drug addict, Terry was less than pleased with his older cousins’ actions and set about getting him to quit by taking him to Fort Bellefleur - their boyhood treehouse. Still using it as a refuge from life, Terry had since updated it and he used his makeshift shooting range to set Andy straight. Showing his cousin that the drugs throw him off his game when he couldn’t hit a single target, Andy finally broke down and admitted he needed help, before being left to walk home by his cousin as a form of detox.
On the slightly more important end of the scale as far as the show goes, Jessica and Jason had their moments this week as well after finally having sex at the end of last week’s episode. Somewhat hating himself for what he had done, but still completely in lust with Jessica, Jason asked her to glamour him to remove his attraction to her once and for all so that he and Hoyt could remain friends. Offended, she refused and the situation wasn’t helped any by Hoyt continuing to whine about his break-up to Jason. I like Jessica and Jason as a couple and honestly think that the combination of her sweet yet unforgiving nature with his stupidity will make for excellent viewing, but with Hoyt still being in the picture, it really can’t happen. It would be quite a step for him to actually kill himself as he threatened to do, but as much as I used to like him, he may as well get it over with at this point for the sake of the show.
Saving the best for last, the return of the real Eric somewhat complicated things in Sookie’s life as the man that she has come to know and love of late was now gone. Insisting that he was still the same, just more, Eric professed his love for Sookie and whilst she reciprocated, she also made it clear that she is absolutely in love with Bill. Way back when the show was good at the start of the season, I pondered the possibility of a fight between the King and his Sheriff over love and whilst it isn’t likely to be high on the list of priorities given the current circumstances, the potential for that returning is never going to be a bad thing for the show. As I said before, “Burning Down the House” was definitely the best episode in a long time and perhaps the best of the season and now that things are actually happening, one can only hope that the remaining two episodes are just as strong and return True Blood to form.