Yeah, Act II has started. Everything flips over and turns into something new, and somehow this very excellent episode manages to make all 50,000 characters and storylines not only easy to follow, but delightful at every possible second. This one's the gold standard, babes.
Franklin brings Tara to Russell's, where Talbot is gay some more. Bill's still covered in blood from Goner Rita's last week, which freaks Tara out, but it's sort of sad because he only got to be a bad guy for like five minutes before he got found out. Franklin gives Russell Bill's dossier on Sookie, which ends up making Bill look pretty bad, but now Franklin's more interested in Sookie than Bill anyway -- especially once he sees Bill's research into her telepathic genealogy. Man, the only person more interested in Sookie Stackhouse than Sookie Stackhouse is, like, every single vampire.
Then Eric shows up and Russell decides, I think, they're going to kill the Magister together. Whatever happens, Eric now only has one day to get things figured out, or Pam is toast. Oh, also Eric and Talbot might be doing it shortly -- but not before another hilarious Viking flashback where Eric realizes Russell was behind his original parents getting killed by werewolves back in Viking times. So now Eric's running, like, a quadruple game on everybody, which is just about business as usual: Wants revenge on Russell, sold out Bill to the Magister, sold the Magister and Sophie-Anne out to Russell, tick-tock on Pam getting staked, and somehow still manages to act like it's no big thing.
Sookie drives Alcide nuts some more, and Debbie runs around screaming awesome things at her like, "I'll cut you!" Alcide still has not discovered shirt technology, which is absolutely fine. They visit Alcide's Packmaster, who admits to knowing all about King Russell and his particular bizarre werewolf religion -- and says there's nothing to be done, because even he is scared to death. Apparently when Russell's FUCrew comes to town, you just stay real quiet until they go away. (Which I'm still not sure I understand, because how long has he been the Mississippi King? Two years since the bad Weres showed up, right?)
Franklin finally shows his true colors, w/r/t Tara, and also that he is adorable. He's like if Spike and Drusilla had a baby. So he ties her up some more and plays with her phone and takes her to Shoney's and eventually decides that he's going to make her his vampire bride. Even Tara, whose middle name is Misery, is sort of impressed by how WTF her life has gotten, but she finally starts fighting back and trying to work his crazy to her advantage. In one episode they manage to go from the most depressing part of the show to the very greatest part of the show. It's phenomenal. (Also phenomenal: Cooter. As usual.)
Sam gives little brother Tommy a job and a place to stay, while their dad does more of that creepy violent sexual shit the dad always does with Tommy. It's getting super dark, like to the point where whatever is really going on cannot possibly be as bad as all the things the show wants you to think is going on. What is the mysterious secret? I just hope Sam gets through this one without going crazier than Tara.
Terry's moving in with Arlene, and delivers one of the most powerful speeches ever, all about how moving in with Arlene represents a positive step toward normalcy. He has no idea he actually is the most normal person in town, it's just the rest of them are so good at faking it. In other Bon Temps news, Jason does more cop stuff and generally spins his wheels, but finally gets a date with mysterious Crystal, that Hotshot girl he spotted in the woods. He courts her so sweetly and shirtlessly, and eventually they take a little walk in the forest at Merlotte's, where there is smooching. What is her mysterious secret?
Like Jessica (who may have found a way to get over poor, broken-hearted Hoyt), Lafayette enjoys his bonding time with Tommy Mickens, which goes a long way to making us like Tommy. But this little moment is T-boned by Hottest TV Person Jesus, who comes a-courtin' Lafayette, and ends up spending the whole day at Merlotte's, just being awesome. You haven't lived until you've seen Lafayette Fucking Reynolds blushing and tongue-tied over a cute boy. (What is his mysterious secret?)
In the end, Bill and Sookie reunite for about five seconds, but it's too late: Coot and Russell show up at Alcide's, where Sookie treats them to another show of her electric hand powers. Russell is, to say the least, delighted. Presumably, everybody will now be staying at the King's compound for a while: Bill and Eric with their games-within-games, Sookie being crazy as hell, Lorena starting shit, Coot getting homoerotic on Bill all the time, Tara and Franklin's huge bizarre mess, Talbot and Eric probably sleeping together, Bill possibly going secretly insane on his own, any amount of Alcide drama... Jeez. Once Sophie-Anne shows up, it's going to be literally the craziest place on earth.
Lorena, Bill and Russell come giggling through the front door of Chez Gay, still just covered in Goner Rita's blood from the towncar and looking pretty much demented. They are surprised to see Talbot sniffing around Tara, who is still wearing that sad white shift and has the bouquet strapped to her hands. I cannot imagine Tara smells wonderful at this point, but then I don't really know what the situation is w/r/t vampires and smells. Seems like they're asking a lot, being corpses and all.
Talbot is talking to Tara like she's a dog -- "Who's a pretty girl?" -- which I guess fits his take on humans, but it's still super-creepy. Also, he calls her a "dusky little bloodbeast," which is just six kinds of offensive at once. Franklin calls Talbot the "cleaning lady" and Talbot hisses like he's about to snatch him bald, then he says "matchy-matchy," because not only is imaginary gayness his entire personality, but also it's 2001. Wait 'til he starts calling things "fierce."
Bill and Tara pretend not to recognize each other, since that's the sensible thing to do. Just kidding, Tara totally blurts "BILL?" the second she sees him, so that everybody will have an additional reason to murder her without a second thought. (I mean, on the one hand Tara does have a serious amount of shit coming at her at all times, but on the other hand she has never made what you would call a good decision.) And of course Bill is stagey and hilarious about how he has no ahdea who Tara is or why she is there or whatever. Everybody wonders, Tara being Franklin's girlfriend, why then she is tied to a parlor chair with decorative items duct-taped to her body.
Franklin, as a lunatic of outrageous proportion, is not interested in explaining why being His involves using every possible knot from the Webelos Handbook, and spirits a very paternal/affectionate Russell away to the study so that he can tattle on Bill and we can see what Franklin is actually like when he's not being menacing. (The answer is: Amazing.) Talbot prisses about him bringing work home and Russell barks, "Darling? King," pointing at himself.
Tara, all alone in the parlor with only her dying ugly flowers for company, asks Bill for a little help, but he's crazed in the eyes and seemingly uninterested in her plight. Although you know if they were all alone and not in the middle of an Abercrombie & Fitch he'd do just like Sookie and totally ignore how tied up and beaten Tara is, and just start asking about Sookie and did she mention me and how's she doing and what did she have for breakfast.