TRUE BLOOD 4.4 - "I'm Alive and On Fire"

This blanket? ... Louis Vuitton! And yes, red IS my colour.
Not the most action-packed episode yet, as reflected in its shorter running-time (fifty minutes as opposed to the 57 or 58 minutes of the previous three episodes) – but there are some interesting themes developing and plenty of eye-candy to keep the audience’s juices flowing.

So, Alexander Skarsgård’s Eric’s just killed Snookie’s Fairy God Mother. The blood makes him giddy, bouncing around like a ten-year-old on a cola high and pinching Sookie’s butt in his fetching hoodie and baggy shorts. She protests, but she clearly enjoys this. After all, there wasn’t a lot of spontaneous tomfoolery when she was with Bill.  I like this Eric!

He runs off to play in the woods and she feels she has to go rescue him, like she’s his mother. She finds him skinny-dipping in the sunlight and loving the sensations he hasn’t enjoyed for millennia … But, as with Sookie’s blood last year, The Fairy Blood only works for a short time and Eric is soon smoking. She covers him up in a towel and sends him off home and, like an overly-excited ten-year-old, he protests, but there is real pathos in his “I don’t want to go back to the dark” Aw, bless.

Bill played the wounded little vampire boy for two seasons – and it worked a treat on Sookie.  Eric is, inadvertently, having the same effect on her by, essentially, being the same as Bill was, all vulnerable and full of pathos.  I’m pretty sure that Eric’s tenure as the doe-eyed victim will be far shorter than Bill’s though and, when he does slick his hair back again and return to his (very) old self – he and Marnie the hippy witch are going to have some serious unfinished business to resolve!

Fiona Shaw praying to the Gods of Melodrama that she can be even more over the top!
Of course, Bill (Stephen Moyer) has changed. He and Eric have, in essence, swapped roles – at least temporarily. When Pam confronts her King, she observes “All of your subjects are learning how ruthless you are.” Her contempt for Bill has grown in proportion to his status.

However, we do get a brief glimpse of the old Bill – the Bill we met in the first few episodes of series one – as he goes home with Portia (Courtney Ford) to meet her grandmother, the matriarch of the family. Bill gets to be his old self – charming the ladies – and discussing their history which, of course, he’s witnessed firsthand. We learn that Portia is Sheriff Andy’s sister. Bill learns that Portia is actually distantly related to him. Suddenly he realises that he’s been having incestuous sex and so immediately ends the relationship. But I’m thinking the damage is done.

Not least because this also means that Andy is also related to him … And having a V addict in the family is not going to look good on King Bill’s resumé.

As Nan (Jessica Tuck) ominously points out, Kings don’t get to retire! Of course, Bill’s major distraction is the witch’s coven. He conveniently mentions - “The Spanish Massacre” and the witch they burned 400 years ago. There is also a suggestion that the Salem Witch Trials were vampire work. So there is real history between witches and vampires and it hasn’t been pleasant. 

Cue flashback – via Marnie’s dream - to The Spanish Witch being burned at the stake whilst reciting an incantation. Marnie (Fiona Shaw) is a strange character! She is looking increasingly ineffectual, being unable to cast any useful spells until she is possessed by the spirit of (presumably) The Spanish Witch, at which point she becomes almost overwhelmingly powerful and dangerous to vamps – but only for a few seconds. It seems likely that her visitations are going to last longer in upcoming episodes!

Sam seems to be back to his old self, his ‘anger management’ is clearly working.  Indeed, he goes for another ‘session’ with Luna, meets her delightful daughter and is told that Luna’s ex (the little girl’s father) is a werewolf – well, in the soap-opera that is now Sam’s life, you just know that’ll come back and bite him!

And, whilst we’re on the subject of werewolves … Alcide (Joe Manganiello) turns up just to strip off. It seems that Sook is getting used to having young naked men around her. It happens a lot. The woods are full of fit naked people running around, mostly in the forms of animals. 

The show is becoming more and more polymorphous perverse – with naked people turning into beasts left, right and centre. Indeed, the only half naked man in Sookie’s life who doesn’t transform into something deadly is Jason (Ryan Kwanten ) and it looks like that might all be about to change!  His deeply distressing story arc has, I fear, further depths of depravity to explore.

Breathe ... She's not interested, mate ... Hasn't even noticed.
Similarly, along with the naked flesh on display throughout, we also get another hint of incest, with The Hot Shot Clampett’s use of terms like “My brother-husband” and “Tell uncle-daddy”; all of which sound quite funny … Until you think about them.

As Alcide points out, Sookie has danger on the doorstep every five minutes and, just when she’s in serious danger of giving in to Eric’s floppy-haired, doe-eyed charms – which is, again, kinda incestuous since she’s spent the whole episode mothering him -  Bill turns-up at her door. Initially it’s like old times, they forget where their relationship is now, but then they gradually remember that they no longer trust each other and Sookie stands up to him and flat-out lies to him for the first time. That feels like a point-of-no-return. I can see that their enmity is going to grow, possibly with the same ferocity that their love grew before it.

Lafayette, Tara and Jesus (Nelsan Ellis, Rutina Wesley and Kevin Alejandro) are pretty-much passengers this week, but that’s okay, with so many other major plot-threads proceeding, it would be annoying and distracting if some were not given the werepanther’s share of the screen-time. 

Leaving just time for one little scene of Terry and Arlene (Todd Lowe and Carrie Preston) – but it’s a scene that’ll remind you straight away of The Shining! That baby really is the cutest reincarnated serial-killer ever!

All-in-all, this is a fairly lightweight episode, but one that is full of light and shade and some interesting potential-filled developments.

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