True Blood: “If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin’?”

The Leap That Love Requires

True Blood
“If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin’?”
Sundays, HBO, 10

Written by Alan Ball

Directed by Daniel Petrarca

“Everything I was, was taken from me.” – Eric

Ah, at last, the Eric-centric story we’ve been waiting for ever since the arrogant Sheriff of Shreveport first appeared. Alan Ball has teased us with a Sookie/Eric romance for so long, it almost seems as if we are remembering these scenes rather than seeing them for the first time. We pick up this episode of True Blood where we left off: Sookie is driving home and encounters Eric, wearing only his jeans, walking along the road. He clearly does not recognize her, but he is utterly fascinated by her. She takes him home, and is amused to see that he cannot cross the threshold into the house he believes is hers. If nothing else this season made me laugh, the sight of Eric the Snark tippy-toeing carefully around Sookie’s rug to avoid dirtying it would make me roll on the floor. There is nothing quite so fine as the haughty brought low. Sookie realizes that Eric has amnesia (soap opera bingo!) and calls Pam, who leaves so fast her dinner complains that he has been abandoned. Pam begs Sookie to take care of Eric, who in his present state is as humble, helpless and downright cuddly as a child. He clearly has un-childlike designs on Sookie, though he does back away when she asks him to. This is so not last week’s Eric. I like him.

“He’s a vampire. He doesn’t care about rights, religion, or the law.” – Tara

Meanwhile, the coven that hexed Eric has no idea what it has done, and is scrambling to avoid Eric’s wrath, whenever that should fall. Tara, having walked right back into the nightmare she left Bon Temps over, chooses to stay and support Lafayette and Jesus. I am glad to see Tara bouncing back from her terrifying last season; the sassy girl is back, and this time Tara is not ready to take BS from anyone, certainly not a vampire. La-la is ready to grovel for Eric’s mercy, and slips away from Jesus and Tara to do just that. Pam is not in a forgiving mood, and during a tense confrontation the four of them eventually figure out that they need to get Marnie the witch back on board to de-hexify Eric. Pam gives the quartet 24 hours to get Marnie to Fangtasia.

“Oh, great! Now I have to deal with witches?” — Sookie

Except that Marnie may no longer be so biddable – she is already begging a spirit to take her over and validate her delusions of supernatural ability. I must say that Fiona Shaw does a great job of convincing me that sad, inadequate Marnie really believes all her magic is her doing. (Ms. Shaw, a veteran of BBC, joins the increasing number of non-American actors playing Southerners on this show, an amusing statistic in its own right.) Apparently Marnie has no idea what she has done to Eric, but I have an idea someone (probably Lafayette) is going to clue her in pretty soon. The cute thing is that this situation so nearly mirrors Tara’s problem with her mother in Season Two; Lettie Mae got tangled up with a fake voodoo priestess and now Lafayette is tangled up with a real witch. History repeats itself; first as tragedy then as farce.

“You killed my fairy godmother!” – Sookie

Adding Marnie to the increasingly long list of dramatis personae, however, does balance out when Eric surprises Sookie’s fairy godmother, Claudine (Lara Pulver,Robin Hood). In a twist which will have readers of the books reeling, he drains her and kills her. Well, there went Book Nine. By now, Ball has killed off at least two characters who lived in the books, kept alive one who died, and has invented or extended several others. It’s getting very, very crowded in here. I am looking forward to some spectacular exits in the next few weeks; my money says Arlene’s devil son will fulfill all her worst fears.

“You’re being reborn as one of us.” – Crystal

Speaking of devil offspring, the hillbillies of Hotshot are watching as Jason writhes in the throes of a supernatural change. They are so sure that he will become their savior were-panther that they freely admit what they’re doing to Jason. Crystal feeds him Viagra, hoping to become pregnant, as the other females of Hotshot wait their turn. I thought it was more than ironic that the number one stud of Bon Temps, whose only talents lay in the sack, now is more or less raped by a dozen women who have completed objectified him.  He is only a means to an end for them, and despite Crystal’s assurances, I’m pretty sure Felton plans to kill him as soon as one of those young idiots gets pregnant. This is so blatantly a matter of being hoist on his own petard that it doesn’t even play out as funny; I feel sorry for Jason Stackhouse.

“One needs a young heart to take the leap that love requires.” – King Bill

If only Bill had waxed this poetical when talking to Sookie, rather than making a rather cold-blooded bargain for sex over a dinner table with Portia Bellefleur (Courtney Ford, The Vampire Diaries). As it is, he gets in a couple of good lines, such as when he tells the moping Jessica to “vamp up” and own up to her infidelity to Hoyt. I actually enjoyed watching Bill be all regal and snappish, as he judges, condemns and hands over for execution a smooth-talking vampire dumb enough to let his feeding be caught on tape. Bill, who barely escaped a death sentence himself for killing a vampire in Fangtasia, now casually hands out the death penalty to another vampire who, admittedly, “was only doing what we do.” He then counsels Jessica to tell Hoyt the truth – despite his many deceptions practiced on Sookie. I can’t make up my mind whether he really is this hypocritical, or has turned over a new leaf. We may never know, with Eric now in the picture.

“I promise I will not forget this.” – Sam

The July 3 episode of True Blood showed a drop of nearly one-half, which could be due to either the July 4 weekend or the fact that that episode was made available a week early. It clocked 2.9 million viewers for a 1.5 share among adults 18-49. HBO execs are absolutely not worried – at least not publicly – over the decline, and unless it repeats over the next few episodes, I won’t be either. This show is hitting some road bumps, due primarily to a growing cast and a shrinking correlation with its original text, but it will be around for awhile.