"True Blood" 4x5: Vampire history lessons

Sookie remembers she's a psychic in this week's episode of our favorite vampire soap opera

Published July 25, 2011 11:20AM (EDT)

Last week's episode of "True Blood" ended with a spell which caused Pam's face to fall off. This week opens with Tommy killing his dad (on purpose) and his mom (accidentally). Since absolutely no one cares about the Merlotte family of trashy shape-shifters, this storyline unfolds on the sidelines without much fanfare or emotional resonance. Just so we won't have to revisit this later: Tommy goes to Sam with their parents' in the back of his truck. They decide to dump the evidence but get pulled over by Andy Bellefleur. Tommy turns into a crocodile to scare off the sheriff, and then the brothers bond as they throw their murdered folks into a swamp. Sam tells Tommy that he once killed two people. Also that gators love marshmallows.

Phew: Now the important stuff! Lafayette, Tara and Jesus freak out at Marnie for getting possessed and making Pam's face do that thing that happens when you open the Arc of the Covenant. If I were them, I would chill out; Marnie seems to have the vampire population pretty much in check these days. Tara wants to go back to her cage-fighting life in New Orleans, but she can't because her girlfriend opened her mail and is asking questions about this "Tara" person. (This is why I never change my name when moving to a new state.) Lafayette and Jesus go to see Jesus' grandfather in Mexico for answers, because one time pop-pop gave Jesus a pet goat and then made him kill it. Afterwards, he let baby Jesus lick the goat's blood off the knife. So... road trip!

The newly amnesic and totally nice Eric is still hanging out at Sookie's place, watching her sleep (totally normal), and hey... look who's back! It's Ghost-Vampire Godric. Has anyone noticed that Godric has had way more screen time since he vampire-died than when he was vampire-alive? Ghost Godric tells Eric to bite Sookie, because he (Eric) is a vampire and totally damned. (Except he says it all in Romanian.) Erik argues that Sookie can redeem him, but he gives in to temptation and bites her anyway. Then he wakes up from his bad dream. (Show's writers: "Gotcha!" Me: "Nope.")

Eric's dream makes him hungry though, so he goes to Sookie's room to actually try and eat her. Luckily, she wakes up in time to tell him to knock it off, which he does, so they have a nonsexual sleepover in her bed. Sookie loves this new Eric, and it's easy to see why: she can boss him around and he'll keep telling her how pretty she is while they platonically cuddle. It's like a vampire friends-with-benefits situation.

Sometimes I forget that part of the reason Sookie is so uptight is her telepathy. In the first season, it was physically impossible for her to tune out the voices of everyone in a room. Now, I can't remember the last time Sookie's psychic powers were used. But just to remind us that she still has her fairy skills, Sookie listens in to a new waitress' thoughts in order to find out where Marnie works. That seems sort of a waste of her power, seeing as there is only one store called Moon Goddess which has recently opened in town.

When she actually meets the witch, Sookie plays dumb until Marnie tells her that she's in contact with the spirit of Sookie's Gran. (Aw, Gran!) The ghost just wants Sook to be happy, and maybe also to steer clear of this "temporary" love interest. It seems like a con, but when Sookie listens into Marnie's thoughts, she does actually hear her grandma... though the voice tells her to run away from the evil woman. Marnie starts arguing with her possessed brain and Sookie's all, "I'll show myself out, thanks." No wonder Marnie is so nutty: she's like Sybil, except those voices in her head are real.

I'll be honest, I sort of feel bad for our hippie witch. Later on, Bill kidnaps and glamors Marnie into telling him what her true intentions are. "To assemble peacefully," she says. She also doesn't know how to undo any of those spells, since technically she was possessed by the spirit of a 16th-century Necromancer priestess when she cast them. From where I'm sitting, Marnie is getting a really bad rap here. Sure, she's a little too into the Wiccan stuff, but every time someone threatens her or her friends, she's taken over by a 500-year-old witch. She's just a vessel, y'all.

Pam, who doesn't quite see it like that, wants Marnie dead (she also wants her ear to stop falling off, but you know what they say about wishes and horses and corpse-rotting faces). Bill, however, is totally against killing humans. And any vampire that harms a human will be put to the "true death." That's a little harsh, Bill. Couldn't you have just stopped with your YouTube edict?

In the meantime, they will just continue to keep Marnie in his brightly-lit vampire prison, which looks almost exactly like Eric's brightly-lit vampire bedroom under Sookie's cabinet. Maybe they both shop at some minimalist vampire IKEA.

But just when you thought Godric and Gran were the best of the night's cameos, here comes Tara's mom, helping her husband get rid of the Renee ghost who is haunting Arlene's house and newborn. Even Terry knows something is wrong with her kid now, as it was able to write "Not Your Son" on the walls in non-washable crayon. They are going to have to redo that whole wall now! Tara's mom burns some sage and sings a couple songs with a tambourine about driving out spirits, just like in "Poltergeist." If there is one thing movies have taught us, it's that ghosts hate nothing more than tambourines.

Jason, sort of recovered from being violated for weeks by a bunch of werepanther women out in the boonies, decides that God is punishing him for having too much sex. His buddy Hoyt has got problems of his own, as his girlfriend, Vampire Jessica, has been acting all weird lately. Jason, understandably, doesn't quite see how these problems are comparable. Then he has a sex dream about Hoyt, which is probably God telling him something, too.

Luckily, not all the Stackhouses are so self-centered when it comes to their problems: Sookie has Tara over for a girl's night to discuss her best friend's lesbian dilemma. I mean, this woman just heard her dead grandmother's voice in the head of a crazy witch, but sure, now it's time to break out the Ben & Jerry's and listen to Tara whine about how hard life is. That is some good friendship right there… or at least it is until Eric comes home and Tara freaks the hell out. She does have a point, as Eric just tried to eat her a couple days ago. But he's different now (he put on a purple American Apparel hoodie he found somewhere, a true sign that he has moved from darkness to light), and we all know that there is nothing that Tara likes to do more than yell hypocritically about stuff, so it's hard to take her raging that seriously.

Before slamming the door in a self-righteous huff, Tara gives Eric a run-down of all the terrible things he did before he lost his memory, and he finally gets it into his clouded vampire brain to ask Sookie why she's letting him stay at her house if he was such a doucher. (Even though it is legally his house, but New Eric isn't that bright.) Sookie's answer boils down to "Because I like you, silly-billy!" But Eric is worried he will turn evil again and tries to leave. Sookie asks him to stay. He really can't. But she really wants him to! This debate ends with them making out on her porch. Finally! That only took... what, four seasons? (Still worth it.) The music during this scene really captures the mood of thousands of "True Blood" fans all over the world who are throwing little internal ticker-tape parades.

Yet their love is not to last: Bill has called a meeting of vampire sheriffs to deal with the witches and find Eric. Turns out that the 16th-century witch that has become BFF with Marnie's subconscious kind of ended the Inquisition when she burned at the stake. Her final spell forced all the priests and nuns to walk in the daylight and expose themselves as vampires before burning up and dying. Crazy, right? Last season the vampires were Nazis, now we find out they also lead the Inquisition? Good thing that the fangers no longer ingratiate themselves into religious sects or dictatorships. As Bill puts it, "Now we're into Google and Fox News."

Then he cupped his hands to make that sliding trombone noise: "Waaaah-waaaah." No, wait, that was just me.

I think the real point of this episode is to show that vampires are the worst, and have always been the worst, throughout all of fake history. I mean, at least the werewolves are shown to be a little more group-oriented, as evidenced by some greasy-haired Alpha coming to Alcide's house and demanding that he register for the neighborhood pack. Totally. How else is he supposed to get the monthly were-newsletters and sign up for shifts on the were-co-op board? TBD!

During the Vampire Sheriffs pow-wow, Pam lets slip that she knows that Eric has been hiding at Sookie's. Bill is so angry that he is going to Vampire speed-run over there! Wonder what he will find (Eric with Sookie) and if it will make him abuse his kingly powers to get rid of his frenemy for good (yes). Meanwhile, Pam's got to pull herself together. She's really falling apart this season. Totally going to pieces. And so on.

By Drew Grant

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

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