Sunday, July 31, 2011

Searching For Signal: “True Blood” - Season 4, Episode 5

We start out at that trashy trailer park place, where Tommy is being dragged around on a chain by Nasty Joe Lee while Nasty Momma screams and clutches at her bad perm. Joe Lee has some serious issues, which he’s apparently trying to work out by using Tommy as a human tether ball. Then again, Tommy has his own issues, and so does Momma, so nobody’s really happy at the moment and there will be no awards handed out for Positive Family Relationships.

Joe Lee finally half-strangles Tommy so he’ll take a nice nap instead of being so rude and trying to get un-chained and all. Then Joe Lee and Momma stupidly turn away from supposedly-sleeping Tommy, chatting about their plan to use Tommy in yet another one of those dogfights people around here are always having, so it’s no surprise when Tommy leaps up and the hootin and hollerin starts all over again, with everyone using everything they can find to pound away on one another in an example of what happens when you don’t force people to get a proper education.

We end up with Tommy purposely killing Joe Lee (hurray!), accidentally killing Momma (oh?), and then dropping to the ground in a fetal position and questioning his choices in life. Which all sounds very sad, but really, we don’t like any of these people anyway, and their deaths mean more screen time for the prettier people on the show, so it’s all good.

Roll opening credits. Spanish moss, fetid swamps and tacky choices when it comes to house-paint colors.

We check in with Marnie and the gang over in that field or cemetery or whatever it is, where Marnie is swooning on the ground after having caused Pam some serious cosmetic complications before Pam hightailed it into the woods, unpleased. (Perhaps she’s headed to the hardware store for some spackling mud and a good sander.)

Laff and Tara are graphically expressing their discontent with Marnie, and Jesus is trying to calm everybody down, because the episode has just started and we need to pace ourselves. But when Marnie basically fesses up to being possessed from time to time, coming out of her trances to find vampires jacked up and people staring at her, even Jesus gets wigged out and they leave Marnie all alone in the field.

Poor Marnie. She seems like a really nice woman who just happens to spend too much time in the wrong section of the library.

Cut to Arlene and Terry’s house, where they are studying the “Baby Not Yours!” scribbling on the wall, with Arlene being typically frantic and Terry being typically unwashed. Arlene thinks the spirit of Renee is behind this and Terry thinks they should turn to Jesus. (And I’m thinking maybe they should just find that damn spooky doll thing and run over it with a tractor that somebody around there has got to have.) In the end, they decide maybe they should have them a nice full-on exorcism, despite Arlene not wanting to “look like one of them Christians that only turn to God when they need him”.

Gotta hand it to this show, they slip in digs at all the right people even while vampires are running about and people are constantly finding excuses to rip off their clothes all the time.

Zip over to Sookie’s house, late at night, with Eric, still in his Little Boy phase, opening Sookie’s bedroom door and spying on her as she slumbers seductively, tawny thigh exposed and all. Then, lo and behold, Godric shows up, the super-old vamp that chose to walk into the sun at the end of one of the seasons, despite the fact that the series had clearly been renewed for another year by that point. Of course, since he did walk into the sun, there’s no real explanation for how he can be here years later, but let’s just ride with it.

Godric babbles for a bit in that other language he and Eric shared back in the day, Eric has no clue who he really is, and Sookie manages to remain asleep despite so many dead people making a racket above her head. Godric wants him some Sookie snack, but Eric isn’t really keen on that at the moment. Until Godric reminds Eric that he is a damned creature who will never find happiness or a comedy series that doesn’t feature a flamboyant gay best friend. Then Godric and Eric bite into the apparently delicious-smelling Sookie.

She promptly wakes up screaming, which causes Eric to wake up screaming, back in his cubby that looks like an Ikea-designed prison cell. All in his head. Or was it? Eric wanders back to Sookie’s room and opens the door, only this time she is tucked chastely away beneath a crocheted blanket while he is unchastely wearing some low-rider trunks that are apparently only being held up by two strategic pubic hairs. Sookie wakes, and is understandably concerned when she finds Eric, fangs-a-ready, at the foot of her bed. He explains himself. “I had a bad dream.”

Over to Jason’s house, where Jessica and Hoyt are hoisting Jason into his own bed without bothering to wipe any of the blood off of him. (You’d think vampires would understand that you can’t get that kind of a stain out of white sheets unless you pre-treat them immediately.) They make sure he’s comfortable (despite being unconscious), then they chat a bit. Hoyt: “You saved my best friend’s life!” It’s very sweet, and we hope they can resolve their issues because they really work together well. But this is True Blood, so something is going to happen to jack things up again shortly.

This takes place roughly two seconds later, so they aren’t wasting any time with the jacking. Hoyt tries to get frisky, Jess gently rebuffs him, several times, until Hoyt gets fed up. “Is there something you’re not telling me?” (Hoo boy, is there ever!) Jess: I’m just tired, what with feeding my blood to your buddy and all. Hoyt doesn’t completely buy it, and decides to stay with Jason for the night, keep an eye on him, while Jessica heads for home. (Sure hope she doesn’t pass any public restrooms along the way. She gets in trouble with those things.)

Now we’re at Bill’s house, where he’s receiving that Portia Bellefleur woman, at her apparent request. As soon as he closes the office door, Portia tries to shove her tongue where it doesn’t belong. I guess she didn’t get the message about no more bang-bang. Bill tries to school her. She doesn’t care, apparently having great needs that can only be satisfied by Bill. Bill: “We are of the same blood line!” Portia: Vampires and humans can’t make babies! And incest is best! (Just like they sang about in that Rocky Horror Picture Show!)

Bill is on a schedule, probably late for a meeting where he has to sign more proclamations about vamps not killing so many people all the time, so he decides to glamour Portia, instilling in her mind that she must start screaming and running every time she sees him. She snaps out of his spell, and then does just that, high-heels clicking as she flees. Good. Didn’t really care for her character anyway.

Back to Sookie’s sleepover, where she’s comforting Eric, who is crying blood tears and really sad. (“Godric said I was evil!”) Sookie gently explains that, well, he has done some really terrible things and all, lots of death and pain, but ever since Marnie did that rewiring business with his head, Sookie thinks Eric is now just an extremely tall but cute kitten. Then they cuddle innocently while a melancholy violin plays on the soundtrack and thousands of fans wonder how long this is going to last.

Return to Bill’s office, where Reconfigured Pam marches in, demanding that something be done about the fact that she’s rotting in an unpleasant manner. Bill: “You went to see the witch and you were told not to.” (I have heard that so many times in my life.) Pam requests permission to bring about the death of Marnie. (Much stronger words are used, as you can imagine. It’s Pam we’re talking about.) Bill: Sorry, no killing right now, or you will get the True Death. Just hang tight. And try to keep up with all the pieces falling off your body.

Cut to Jesus and Laff packing up for a trip, while Tara smokes a cigarette on the sidelines. It seem the men are headed off to Mexico, to see Jesus’ grandfather, an apparently bad-ass witch with a penchant for really strong powers as well as child abuse involving livestock. Laff doesn’t really want to go, partly because he knows there are fewer fashion choices in rural, foreign lands with lots of blowing dirt, but also because Jesus hates his grandfather, not having even seen him since the livestock business.

Jesus: Well, even though he made me kill a goat and get blood all over my cute little outfit, when he forced me to taste the blood of that goat, I felt a power stronger than anything I’ve ever felt in this world. Seems we could use some of that power right now, what with two very unsatisfied vampires intent on making us into grease spots on the linoleum.

Fine. They get into the car and drive off, leaving Tara/Toni to call her girlfriend Naomi in Nawlins. Tara/Toni is all excited about heading home, flirting with Naomi, until Girlfriend demands to know who “Tara Thornton” is, clutching some found mail at “Toni’s” apartment while her facial expression indicates somebody‘s gonna get their ass kicked. Whoopsie. (Side note, Miss Naomi, don’t go snoopin’ if you don’t wanna learn things.)

Next up is Tommy barreling up to Sam’s place, driving a van with some very special cargo, namely the bodies of his parents. He rouses Sam from bed for a review session, then Tommy desperately asks “What are we gonna do?” (My response? I’m going back to bed. Bye.) But Sam and his pecs just stand there in their underwear while flies buzz over Ma and Pa Nasty.

Merlotte’s, where Sookie is trying to get some information out of Holly, one of the coven members, by pretending to be interested in becoming a Wiccan. But Sookie sooks it a little too strong, and Holly gets suspicious, politely ending the conversation. So Sookie just reads Holly’s mind instead, which she should have just done to begin with (why waste time with small talk, seriously) and manages to snag Marnie’s name.

Hoyt and Jason are at a table, eating and commiserating over the troubles in their lives. Jason: “Maybe God’s punishing me for having too much sex,” making me end up in a shack where I get raped repeatedly by unclean women who want to make panther babies. Hoyt: It’s bad with me, too! Jessica has been distant lately! Jason: Dude, I think I win this one.

Pivot camera to Holly snapping at Sookie over a misunderstanding about eggs, then Holly apologizes, blaming the full-moon that’s coming tomorrow night. Jason hears the moon reference and semi-flips out, racing from the restaurant, leaving behind a confused Sookie and a saddened Hoyt, who realizes that his problems just aren’t as exciting as everyone else’s this episode.

Speaking of problems and possible resolutions, we cut to Arlene and Terry’s house, where Team Exorcism has just arrived in the form of Reverend Daniels and his new bride, which happens to be Tara’s mom, May. (Oh, yeah, remember that mess?) We then proceed with the funniest bit of the whole episode, seriously, with the Reverend and Lady May performing a rousing Exorcism Show Tune (complete with tambourine!), the waving around of smoldering something or other (gotta get the smoke up in the corners, that’s where they hide!) and Arlene being accused of inadvertent racism once again. Poor thing.

Cut to Sookie arriving at the Moon Goddess Emporium, looking cute in yet another summery frock and pouring on the charm, pretending to want a psychic reading but really searching for more intel on what happened to Eric. A reluctant Marnie finally agrees to do the reading, and of course things spin out of control, what with Sookie reading Marnie’s mind and getting all the details before Marnie even says them. First, Sookie must not fall in love with the new one (we’ll assume Eric). But more importantly, and Gran’s actual voice comes through for this bit, Sookie must stay away from Marnie. She’s dangerous!

Sookie skedaddles it out of there like she’s late for the hog-calling contest over to Mayberry. (“When my Gran tells me to run, I run!”) Marnie goes back to puttering around her shop and not really understanding anything.

Next up is Sam and Tommy rolling along in the death van (the pizza box on the dashboard is so believably Southern, nice touch), with Tommy over-emoting and not bothering to wipe the blood off his face. Wouldn’t you know it, here comes Sheriff Andy, pulling the van over and taking a hit of V before he saunters up to Sam in the vehicle. (Tommy hopes in the back to hide.) Their exchange heats up until Andy insists that Sam open the back of the van, where they find a ginormous alligator (Tommy) snapping his teeth and showing general displeasure. Andy cusses and wets himself while Sam drives away.

Back to the Moon Goddess, where Marnie is bumbling around and encounters Katie, the double agent witch/Bill minion. Marnie tells Katie not to worry about the vampires, that “someone is watching over us”. Cue Katie to smirk and signal about 400 security people to swoop in and snatch Marnie. (This is why you lock your doors, people.)

Cut to Tara and Sookie sitting on the couch while drinking beer and eating ice cream (another fine Southern tradition). Tara is telling her coming-out story, how she didn’t know she liked girls until Naomi came along, prompting Tara to broaden her horizons and tell lies about her past. Sookie is trying to listen and be supportive, but she’s a little skittish, smoothing her skirt too much and glancing around furtively. (Gee, is it the fact that Eric, a person that Tara does not particularly care for, is about to wake up right below their feet?)

Zip over to a rather extensive and expensive cellblock, where Katie has switched clothes and is now marching around like she never got over not getting that guest spot on “Oz”. The camera zooms up on Marnie in one of the cells, as she sits on a cot and mutters incantations. (Girl, hasn’t that kind of mess gotten you into enough trouble as it is?) But before she can listen to me, Marnie’s eyes roll back in her head and she is transported to another holding cell.

And this cell is from back in the day, the time period of Burning Witch Girl, the one who is taking possession of Marnie in modern times. BWG is sitting on the floor of the cell, trying to rally the spirits of other dirty little women in filthy clothes grouped around her. BWG is leading them in a spell (hopefully one that will produce a washing machine and some fresh panties), when BWG looks directly at Marnie, and they subtly smile at one another .

Suddenly, a trio of priests enters the cell, which should be a comforting entrance but instead makes all the dirty wrenches wail and run into a corner of the cell, a corner that is conveniently right near Marnie so we don’t have to jump-cut between two cameras. The priests select one of the women, drag her into the middle of the room, and then their fangs pop as they get down to some decidedly unholy sucking. Oh? Marnie time-warps back to her newer, torch-free cell, panting heavily and looking all distraught.

Back to Sookie and now-rainbow-waving Tara, with Sookie trying to convince Tara to run save her troubled relationship in Nawlins right now. (Translation: You really need to split before Eric wakes up, because if you’re still here when he does, it will be unpleasant and there will be screaming and you’ll probably lose that nice beer buzz you’ve got going, and that would be a terrible thing.)

Cue Eric to come strolling in right then, and naturally Tara completely loses her cool, snatching up fire-pokers and showing us her impressive vocabulary of profanity. When Sookie tries to explain that Eric’s different now, Tara urgently runs down the list of terrible and rude things that Eric has done in the past, including, you know, try to kill all of Sookie’s friends, meaning that Tara might never have gotten to experience lesbianism in the Big Easy. Tara vehemently suggests that they both violate themselves graphically, then she runs into the night.

Fancy holding cell again, with Marnie on that cot but at least not incanting for the moment. Bill comes over an intercom, asking questions of Marnie while Veiled Pam stands behind Bill and gets increasingly agitated. When it becomes clear that Marnie really may not know what is going on, Bill announces that “I will glamour her”.

Bill seems really found of glamouring this season. Is this the hip thing that all the cool people are doing? Is Lady Gaga going to release a song about it?

Anyway, Bill goes to the cell, handing off his suit jacket to Charlie’s Angel Katie at the door. He enters and glamours, and it’s confirmed that Marnie is clueless. Pam, watching on the monitor, curses. And loses another part of an ear.

Cut to Jesus and Laff rolling up to Jesus’ grandfather’s farm in Mexico, even though they only left Bon Temps about 20 minutes ago. They climb out of the car and are nearly jumped by Grandpa from behind. “I’ve been expecting you.” Then the three of them go inside, while chickens cackle and pregnant woman hang laundry outside.

We head to Alcide’s house, probably just because we haven’t gotten to see him yet this episode, and this makes certain fans unsettled and grumpy. He answers the door to find some skanky dude wanting to know why Alcide hasn’t registered with him, since he’s the pack-master of Shreveport. (I went so many places with that phrase in my mind.) Alcide is not really interested in joining any clubs right now. They bicker and glare, then the pack-master finally leaves.

Next we have Tommy and Sam dragging the tarp-wrapped bodies of Ma and Pa Worthless to a boat landing on a swamp. They toss the two into the water, then Tommy has his version of a religious-guilt breakdown (“It’s in them Commandments. Don’t steal sh** and don’t eff with your parents!”) Mainly to shut him up, Sam fesses up to killing two people himself. Ain’t all bad. Then Sam throws some marshmallows into the swamp, because this will bring the alligators to chew up the bodies. It‘s a real sunshine moment.

Cut to Arlene and Terry making serious whoopee in their bed, despite the fact that Baby Damien is in his crib right there, the evil doll is around somewhere, and the room probably still smells like burnt sage and tambourines. (And they’re doing this on those super-slippery satin sheets that make you skitter around all over place.) But I guess it was good for them, because they finish up and dismount.

They have a tender moment where they fess up to feeling really special and happy about coming together as a couple, that things finally seem to be working out, and that the bad times are now behind them. Awww. Then the camera pulls back so we can see that a matchbook on the dresser has just lit itself. Well, hell.

Next we’re in bed with Jason (yay!) but, dang it, he’s not alone. Some floozy is under the sheet, tending to his manly section. Then out pops Jessica. Oh? Jason protests. (“Hoyt’s my best friend!”) Then he asks if this is just a dream. When Jess confirms such, he gives in and they go at it. Trouble is, Jessica keeps talking about Hoyt the whole time. Then Hoyt appears beside them, offering running commentary as Jess rides the ponies with Jason. Then we suddenly have Hoyt in Jessica’s place. Mmm hmmm. They went there.

Naturally, Jason wakes up right at that point.

Cut to Eric and Sookie, with Eric wanting to know if he really did all those bad things that Tara claimed he did before she ran out of the house and into the completely-safe woods of Bon Temps. (At night, no less.) When Sook confirms that Eric sucked as a decent person just a few days ago, Eric rambles on about how he can’t deal with having hurt her or her goodness, can’t understand why she even allows him to stay. “There’s a light in you. It’s beautiful. I couldn’t bear it if I snuffed it out.”

Then he gets up and walks out the front door.

Sookie, because she can’t ever leave well enough alone, rushes after him, calling him back. He looks surprised, but he and his starting-to-get-on-my nerves same pair of trunks return. They embrace tenderly, then kiss, then start with the tongue action as the soundtrack gets louder so we’ll realize this is a pivotal moment.

Bill is having a meeting with the remaining sheriffs in his vague vampire jurisdiction. When one of the sheriffs scoffs at Eric or them being in danger from mere witches, Bill half-chokes his insubordinate ass, then hands things over to another sheriff, Luis, who then fills us in. A long time ago in Spain, there was a sorceress named Antonia who was burned at the stake. During the cookout, she used the powers of necromancy to pull all vampires in a 20-mile radius into the sunlight, killing them and radically altering the census figures for that year.

Understand now, Scoffing Sheriff? Witch who knows necromancy = bad.

There ensues more discussion, mostly about how everyone is wanting to annihilate Marnie but Bill will not let them do so because of the edicts issued by the Vampire League of America. This makes people disgruntled, and a little sloppy, and Pam, in vehemently stating her case to fillet Marnie, lets slip that Marnie wiped Eric’s mind, leaving him a shell and-

Bill shoves Pam against the wall instantly. “How do you know this about Eric?”


Bill gets Pam to confess that Eric is at Sookie’s house. Bill does the nifty vampire flash exit. And the sheriffs all look tragic and stricken, probably because this is the only scene they will ever get to appear in.

Pam and her oozing face, the realization sinking in: “I’m sorry, Eric.”

Roll end credits.

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