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There’s a woman lyin’ dead downstairs. She wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for you. Anything happens to Sookie, I promise… I’ll be sharpening a stake with your name on it.

When Sookie found Dawn’s body, she screamed hysterically. When she finds something so much worse, it overwhelms her. She doesn’t scream or cry out but sways and falls to her knees. Some things are too terrible to see.

This week’s episode forwards the vampire-murder plot that season 1 has been slowly spooling out, but the real meat lies in the glimpses we get of the relationships between the main characters.  Ball has a firm handle on how all these people play against each other. The choices he made in adapting the book start to pay off, particularly in the intertwining of Tara and her now-cousin Lafayette, and Sookie and her brother, Jason.

Its Bill who finds Sookie first, lured across the graveyard that separates their houses by the sound of the car dropping her at her front door. Sam isn’t far behind, showing up to apologize for acting like a pushy jagoff on their date. When he sees blood on Sookie’s legs, he immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion. Bill and Sam snarl and growl at each other, until they can manage to channel their desire for Sookie into an impulse to actually care for her.

The investigation is predictably awful. Bud Dearborn and Andy Bellefleur clumsily accuse Bill of murdering Adele, Dawn, and Maudette. The mortician makes inappropriately gleeful observations about Adele’s corpse. Sookie just wants them out of her house so she can clean up. She hasn’t cried yet.

By the next morning, Lafayette and Tara are presiding over the gathering  of well-wishers bringing casseroles and gossip to the Stackhouse house. They’re doing the best they can to run interference for Sookie, who sits in the kitchen, stunned and overwhelmed. Everyone’s thoughts are battering at her; she can’t shut them out. She manages to say, “Thank you for coming,” and, “thank you for your food” on autopilot. The first glimpse we get of how she’s melting down comes when Mama Fortenberry takes a half-eaten pecan pie out of the fridge to make room for all the food and Sookie nearly snaps her head off. “That’s Gran’s pie!” You’ll want to laugh when you see it in writing, because it’s a ridiculous thing to say, but Anna Paquin looks like she’s coming apart when she screams it.

Tara and Lafayette spirit her upstairs. We’ve mostly seen them together in the bar, or Tara and Sookie interacting in passing, but there’s a sense of intimacy between the trio. We find out over the course of the series that Adele had taken in Tara a number of times when she was a child and even called Child Protective Services on Tara’s alcoholic mess of a mother. It’s implied later on that she did the same for Lafayette’s mother. There’s a whole background between them that is palpable.  There’s a lot of fail across the course of the series, but this really is the show at its best.

Later, when Jason finally shows up, on heavy-duty withdrawal from the V bender he was on the night before, and slaps his sister across the face, screaming that she should have been the one to die, it’s Tara that roars up in front of him. Tara is not someone who loves easily. But she loved Adele Stackhouse and she loved Sookie, and she’s learning not to love Jason.

Sookie breaks down again at the funeral while trying to give the eulogy. The disapproval and judgment of the townsfolk breaks her concentration and she screams at them to shut the fuck up from the pulpit. Since they’re all outwardly silent, it’s just more evidence that Sookie is crazy.  Jason tries to comfort her, but she hasn’t forgiven what happened the night before. Or that Jason invited their estranged uncle Bartlet, to the funeral. Jason can’t see what the big deal about Bartlet is ““ one of the tragedies of this world is that I can’t think of a single woman who couldn’t figure out why Sookie wouldn’t want Bartlet at the funeral.

After the funeral, after sending Sam away and seeing off all the mourners, Sookie sits down at her kitchen table and finishes off her grandmother’s pie. This is where she weeps, great big ugly tears, sobbing and hitching. Paquin isn’t pretty-tv crying, she’s selling this, the grief of a woman who will never eat something made by her grandmother again, will never look at her kitchen the same way, can never see her brother with the same eyes. When she’s done, she sheds her funeral clothes, puts on a gauzy wedding gown/nightgown, and waits for the sun to set.

What happens next could be cheesy. Ok, it is cheesy. But Sookie is a 24-year-old virgin, a girl who has never had any real intimacy with anyone because of her telepathy, who has had her entire world upturned ““ I can buy that she puts on a wedding gown and runs across the cemetery to have sex with Bill. I can buy the drama and the music and everything about it. It’s true to the character, even if it’s the plot from a romance novel.

Bill is waiting for her, knowing she’s coming, and the two kiss passionately in the moonlight. When they end up in front of the fireplace, with candles all around and music playing, Bill suddenly seems embarrassed about his fangs, being a vampire, all of it ““ Sookie asks him to bite her.

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