"True Blood" recap: Good Eric, bad Bill

The show's two main vampires shift power dynamics and personalities, while Sookie continues to suck

By Drew Grant
Published July 11, 2011 5:01AM (EDT)

I can't tell you how long I have waited for this moment. Not even a minute into the show, and "Dazed and Confused" Vampire Eric refers to Sookie as "Snooki." It's amazing. Don't tell me you've never thought about how these two annoying pop culture caricatures have incredibly similar-sounding names! Finally, one of the writers on the show has recognized this, which also means that "True Blood" is now in-universe with "Jersey Shore." (Fingers crossed on Bon Temps being the surprise location for the sixth season of MTV's reality show.)

Hopefully this joke, tossed as a casual aside after Sookie punches Eric in the nose (like a shark!) for trying to eat her, is a harbinger of the return to "True Blood's" better writing days. King Bill's whole scene where he lays out that any vampire caught feeding on YouTube will meet "the true death" is pretty baller, if only because it reminds us (and not in a bonk-you-on-the-head kind of way) that these characters live in a world where viral videos, along with "Jersey Shore," exist. The concept of the Internet having a place in the world of "True Blood" is 20 times more interesting than ghost were-panthers. Let's 2.0 this bitch up! Give Eric back his cellphone for texting!

Speaking of the shirtless Nordic vampire, Eric still has no memory of who he is after Marnie invoked the spirit of a generically hot brunette to cast a spell on him. Well, he knows what he is, which is a vampire. And he knows that he loves Snooki/Sookie... or at least he figures it out after he tries to eat her. He also knows, as we've determined, what a Snooki is. But not much else. He's lost his mojo, and Sookie agrees to help him out, because this new Eric persona is less sexually threatening. We'll just conveniently forget the fact that last week Sookie was pleading with her ex to essentially take a hit out on him; now she's going to invite him into her house. Though it's technically his house. (Sookie doesn't tell him that part.)

And as Bon Temps turns… Jason is still tied up, probably dying from were-panther wounds. If this season ends with Sookie's brother kicking the bucket in some farmhouse due to the lack of penicillin, I might be OK with that. Crystal, Jason's ex who is trying to make him into a panther (don't ask) makes him take Viagra so he can mate with her and all her sisters/cousins/whatever. It's a testament to how sick I am of Ryan Kwanten's bewildered, doofy face that I start to zone out during any scene that he's in -- even when it involves male rape, incest and references to a "ghost daddy" during intercourse.

Lafayette and Tara are still all shook up about Eric Northman trying to eat them, but Marnie is excited! She's a real witch now, she knows it! Later on, crazy lady tries to invoke the spirit again and ends up slicing her wrist open instead. But then the brunette spirit is actually there, so I guess cutting yourselves is really the way to commune with the dead, just like that documentary "The Craft" said. This can only end well.

Lafayette has a different idea when it comes to dealing with Eric: He's going to go over to Fangtasia and beg for forgiveness for being in a coven, with the hope that the vampire won't torture him in his dungeon below the bar again. As Lafayette is one of the smarter characters on the show, this was a surprisingly stupid move: Tara and Jesus figure out his plan just in time to save him from Pam, who is unsurprisingly torturing Lafayette in the dungeon to find out what happened to her master. In "True Blood," all roads lead back to Eric's BDSM basement.

This ostensibly life-threatening confrontation ends with everyone deciding to work together to find Eric, because when you stop and think about it, all the major characters on the show grudgingly have each other's back. Maybe that's why they have to keep introducing new, evil residents to the town: At this point, it's not conceivable that even Pam would hurt Lafayette… not really. Nor would Eric harm Sookie's best friend, as he looked like he was going to do last episode.

And again, this is where "True Blood" seems to be getting back on the right track, because despite what I said last episode about it being impossible for Bill's character not to be as morally uptight as Ned Stark, he is developing some interesting traits. He's unapologetic about having his bodyguards kill off the YouTube vamp (he almost seems a little smirky), and after a quick lecture to his sire Jessica about why she needs to tell Hoyt that she drank some other guy's blood (OK, dad), it's posited that maybe Bill did send Eric into the coven in order to get killed. Hey, it's not like he hasn't tried it before.

Now that he's king, Bill is dangerous precisely because he's so self-righteous: All that doubt and guilt that plagued him from the show's beginning (and made him basically a surrogate Angel character from "Buffy") has been replaced with an arrogant confidence in his ability to dole out justice. The thought that those years of Bill's nagging and exasperated "Soookehs!" might have just been lead up to his becoming a power-crazed ruler makes me very excited. Let's hope it's not just a red herring.

Oh yeah, back to Jessica and Hoyt: she bit another guy, which is supposed to be a metaphor for cheating, since everything is a VAMPIRE ANALOGY on this show. Then she glamours him to make him forget it ever happened, which is a metaphor for drunk makeup sex, I guess.

Hoyt's mom is sitting on a natural gas goldmine, and Sam's brother plans to exploit it for the dollars. Sam is busy being in love with a shape-shifter who can turn into her mom. (Kinky.) Arlene still kind of wants to kill her baby. And at the very end of the show, we see the return of Claudine, Sookie's fairy godmother, who demands that she come back to their glowing kingdom. Before Sookie can get in her full 10 minutes of lecturing on how she is a grown-up and will do what she likes, Eric whizzes by and eats Sookie's fairy godmother. To be fair, afterward he seems very apologetic about it. New Eric is great!

Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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