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There are two Sookie Stackhouses. One who still clings to the idea that she’s merely human, and the other who’s coming to grips with the fact that you are better than that.

The second episode of season 4 instantly ramps up the actual “storytelling” and dials back the “nausea inducing quick scene cuts,” which is an improvement all around. Plus it’s a pretty Eric-heavy episode, and if there’s one thing I know from reading the comments on these recaps, Persephone skews Eric-heavy.

We left, of course, on Eric’s ominous “you are mine” declaration. The tension is dialed back almost immediately. Eric’s purchase of the house was, of course, because he felt it gave him leverage (and access) to Sookie, though it’s pretty obvious that he didn’t think she’d fall gratefully into his arms like some romance novel cover girl. He knows how special she is and he knows that other vampires are going to start sniffing around after her. Now that she’s out from under Bill’s protection, Sookie is one vulnerable blood bag who “smells like freedom.” If she becomes Eric’s (which in this case covers a bit more than just being his girlfriend inside of vampire society), no one else will harm her. She’s not an ordinary girl any more. She can’t pretend to be much longer, as Eric points out in his quote at the beginning of the recap. I’ll let her answer stand on its own:

And what do you think’s gonna happen when I do come to grips with it? Do you think my legs are just gonna magically open for you?

If nothing else, it seems like Eric is going to be an attentive landlord, since this is a way for him to care for Sookie that she can’t do much about. He has her squeaky back door fixed and painted and gives her a shiny new microwave. Of course, he also stocks her fridge with a decanter of blood and builds himself an impressively fancy hideyhole in her spare room. But that’s the trade-off one has to make when one’s landlord is an undead Viking prince.

In the meantime, Tara shows up from New Orleans, looking just fu-hine. She seems happy and centered, completely the opposite of how she left Bon Temps. After Sookie takes off post-finding Eric’s surprises, Tara checks in on her cousin. Lala seems to have known more about what Tara has been up to than he let on to other people, since he references Tara’s girlfriend, and then drags her along to his Wicca power circle. Tara should just head back to New Orleans. Bon Temps is always bad news for her.

 

We see more of Sam’s new anger management shifter group. He’s sweet on one of the ladies, smooth in his game, and still annoyed with his brother. Tommy tracks him down to one of the meetings, whines about how he wants to be a real family, and introduces what will inevitably be some insufferable plot line.

 

Arlene introduces her baby to Sookie, who claims he’s an “old soul,” which just sets Arlene off into full blown hysterics. No one other than Terry seems to know that Mikey is really Rene’s baby ““ which Arlene is going to totally give away if she keeps acting like this. Also, the baby may or may not have exploded a blood vessel in Arlene’s eyeball. I will go with “actually exploded the vessel” since it’s Bon Temps.

 

The show has also decided to accelerate the Jason-as-werepanther plotline from the later books. Crystal and her meth-head boyfriend have returned to Hotshot ““ they’re the ones who arranged for Jason’s nap in the freezer. Crystal needs to produce new little panthers for the Hotshot community and Felton is shooting blanks, so clearly the obvious answer to this problem is to kidnap Jason and turn him into a werepanther to father a new, less inbred generation of kittens. Clearly. If you’re a methhead.

Bill gets plenty of screen time in this episode as well, except that most of it is managed through flashbacks. I can only hope that this is the last flashback-heavy episode. Its feeling pretty Forever Knight up in here. And you know what? These flashbacks don’t do anything to improve my opinion of Bill. What are we supposed to be doing with these nuggets of information? Let’s review:

  • Bill was hanging out in 1982 punk-era London. I can only assume this is the show’s sly little nod to everyone’s favorite punk vampire, Spike, because I flat-out refuse to believe anyone working in the modern vampire genre is ignorant of the Buffy franchise. It’s here that Nan Flanagan (who looks fabulous in her early ’80s power suit) recruits Bill to her cause of mainstreaming the vampire population. He’s recruited because he doesn’t kill his prey ““ he leaves them alive, because they don’t deserve to be tortured and killed just because they’re food. Except that we literally just saw him torturing his bartender meal ““ Bill is capable of glamouring the guy into acquiescence, but instead lets the guy struggle, terrified, while Bill feeds, and then wipes the memory of the event. This doesn’t make him a good guy, y’all. It just makes him slightly less of an asshole than, say, the vampire trio from the first season.

  • We find out that Bill didn’t kill or marry Sophie Anne to become King of Louisiana. Nan Flanagan and the Authority hired a human hit squad to take her out, but let Bill be the lure to get Sophie to a secure location. So Bill isn’t strong enough to be King of Louisiana by force, but he’s also not clever enough to have set up Sophie Anne on his own. He’s a big old straw puppet, sitting in his nicely appointed house.

  • And while this isn’t a flashback, this is a good enough time to discuss this scene as any other: Bill is fully dressed when Sookie walks into his bedroom to see whatshername putting her clothes back on. Bill has superhuman speed and knew Sookie was coming upstairs ““ he obviously let her find him with another woman to put the pokers to Sook, which is, you know, a total jerk move.

I’m gonna put this right out there, y’all. This is not going to be Bill’s season.

But at least he’s good for some plot. Bill summons Eric to the palace, tries to get him to give up the rights to Sookie’s house, and then sends him off to deal with the bird-raising coven. Someone in the group ““ probably Marnie ““ is a necromancer. They’re bad news for vampires, being dead and all, and no one wants a replay of the Inquisition. Eric deigns to go deal with the situation himself. He probably should have sent Pam, considering how it all goes down.

Eric deals with the coven in typical Eric fashion ““ he shows up, he makes fun of his lesser, and he offers them a deal. Not a negotiation, a deal. They break up, he doesn’t kill them. Lala suggests that the witches just do what he says. Marnie tries to pull a little witch fire power and the situation quickly escalates ““ Eric starts draining Marnie, Tara tries to stake him, and the coven closes their circle. Much like last time, once Lafayette joins in, the power level skyrockets. Marnie starts speaking in tongues and her face flickers ““ she’s either channeling someone else, or has a bit of glamour going on herself ““ and Eric’s face melts. He flees.

 Later, as Sookie is driving home from Fangtasia, she comes across Eric walking by the side of the road. He doesn’t seem to recognize her or much of anything, though he has the presence of mind to strip off his shirt. I assume that’s pure instinct. I mean, how can a man forget he’s contractually obligated to be mostly naked for most of the season? I can’t help but think of that episode of the Simpsons where Jimbo starts taking off his clothes — Eric hasn’t yet gotten to the ‘Man, now my pants are chafing me’ line.

He doesn’t know Sookie, but he does know that she smells awfully good.

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