Well, I was wrong as usual. That was totally awesome.
Pam ditches Sookie and Lafayette for some futile Eric-searching and a little flashback action: Turns out she was turned during a rash of vampire attacks on her whorehouse in 1905 San Francisco. Not a lot of plot, but it seems like it's going somewhere. Meanwhile in real life, Tara's feral creepiness sends Sookie to an anti-vampire supply shop and Lafayette into a close call with taking his cousin out once and for all. But just when Sookie's got them consigned to a lifetime of taking care of Tara in her new, subhuman state, Tara gets somewhat back to normal, announces she'll never forgive them, and sprints off into the night.
Steve Newlin takes to the airwaves bringing a message of vampire peace, but -- somewhat to Jason's hilarious dismay -- still in the closet on the gay thing. An Indecent Proposal situation develops between Steve and Jessica that eventually devolves into hair-pulling and pissiness all around, but it's nice to know there's at least one other factor going on, regardless of how pathetic Steve continues to be. Some excellent moments with Jason and Andy otherwise, but nothing much like a plotpoint to report.
Oh, they found Debbie's abandoned car, which -- combined with her parents' appearance next week -- would seem to suggest more Alcide in our future. Sam and Luna have a bad fight about Emma's future once they're visited by Marcus's mother Martha, who -- cannibalism aside -- appears to be a class act on the (book version) Calvin Norris model. What seemed like campy stuntcasting last week, to me at least, is now one of the most promising aspects of the season's story.
Just as excellent as Jess's return to form, though, is Arlene's abrupt transition to serious greatness. A feint towards "supernatural PTSD metaphor" in the Terry storyline, while worrying, may just be a detour on the way to wherever we're going, but that destination seems increasingly to involve just the kind of human rights violations you probably already imagined. Arlene makes an impressive effort to get to the bottom of things, and eventually inspires Patrick and Terry to go looking for their missing squadmate.
But of course, the majority of the episode is given over to the scenery-chewing onslaught of Chris Meloni, as the Guardian (head of the Authority) and the rogue's gallery of character actors that serve as his council. We get a little background on the assimilation movement (as well as the -- this is fucking cringeworthy -- "Sanguinista" opposition) and vampire religion that's at least as multivalent and surprising, politically, as anything from S1.
Seems Nora might be a member of this fundamentalist terrorist sect, which like any fundamentalist group believes in the literal and concrete truth of its scripture: In this case the vampire Bible, in which Adam and Eve were created by God, a vampire, as food. A thorny and intelligent set of metaphors that will most likely fly right over a decent set of heads, but whatever. It's fun, and it means Bill and Eric (as assimilationists themselves) are automatically allied with the Authority despite having killed Nan.
But it's not political or philosophical agreements that save our boys from the True Death: Just some brilliant Pascal's Wager work while being tortured, and then the news that Russell Edgington is still at large. Offering himself and his Sherriff as bait, Bill does what's necessary to make sure Sookie -- and her secret -- are safe. Of course.
A brilliant first half, edging into sci-fi territory in a pretty neat way on the one hand and Tara's development on the other (she spends her first night of existence rocketing around the house, screaming, crashing into walls, headbutting everybody and injuring herself, so pretty much ... just like when she was alive), some duller plot moments, and then a strong finish: I gotta say, I haven't been this excited about the show in years. I hoped I was wrong, but I didn't think I'd be this wrong. Thank goodness!
Next Week: Barry's back, Tara's on the hunt, Hoyt's a fangbanger, Debbie's parents come looking for her, and Russell is coming.
The Reverend Steven Newlin maybe had an agenda or maybe just went crazy after he came out as a gay vampire; Jason loves Jessica and she might be in love with him, but much like Hoyt she is still very unsettled by the whole thing. Bill and Eric have been kidnapped by the Authority several times at this point; they've been joined in custody by Eric's sister/lover Nora, who is a real piece of work. Terry's house may have burned down because of something magical having to do with Scott Foley and/or Iraq. Sam did his best to get murdered by Alcide's Pack, but in the end he was saved from his own stupidity by Luna, and they all watched the Pack eat Marcus's body and it was gross. Russell Edgington is at large and coming after Sookie, who dumped every one of her boyfriends before being attacked by her formerly living BFF Tara, who's been turned into a vampire by Pam in return for future favors, at Lafayette's firm request.
Tara: "Nom! Nom!"
Sookie: "Oh no, a vampire!"
Lafayette, verbatim: "Tara! That is Sookie, you is killing her!"
Pam finally swings into action after a few minutes of laughter at this whole goat rodeo, and chokes Tara out for awhile before ordering her, Makerwise, to stop eating her friends and relatives. She shoves Tara into the house, tells her to stay there, and takes off. Presumably to find Eric so she can laugh some more.
Frankly, though, she shoulda stuck around: Nothing funnier than watching Tara's vamp-zooming, careening, headbutting free-for-all inside the house. Lafayette and Sookie stare, the humor lost on them for now. And, of course, the irony: Watching Tara crashing into walls at top speed no matter how much it hurts her is pretty much a supercut of her entire pre-death storyline over the past four years.
Vampire and presumably Biblical Salome, who seems to be the new Darth Vader of things, welcomes Nora -- who's under arrest, remember, along with the boys -- back home. Maybe they are lovers? That would be so Nora.
Nora: "Sorry about kidnapping the King and Sherriff during their kidnapping! But don't think of it as treason!"
Salome: "I do think of it as treason. Also, Eric is really tall."
Eric: "Not to mention snotty."
Nora: "Back to me!"
All three prisoners are hustled through the building, which is I guess in New Orleans, to wherever bad vampires are taken.