With only four episodes left of the first season of True Blood (Sundays, 9 pm/ET, HBO; a marathon of Episodes 1 through 8 will air Halloween night), we still aren't even close to solving the show's central mystery: Who's killing all of Bon Temps' ladies? True, Alan Ball's vampire drama (HBO has already green-lit a second season, by the way) is more elaborate romantic fantasy than hard-boiled detective show, but we thought there'd be more clues at this point.
All three victims — Maude Pickens, Dawn and Gran — had vampire sympathies, sexual or otherwise. But we can't necessarily assume that the killer has fangs — or an anti-vampire prejudice, for that matter. (Also: We know a bunch of you have read the books, and thus might already have the answer, but please don't suck the life out of it for the rest of us. THIS IS A SPOILER-FREE ZONE.) So let's look at the likely suspects:
FOR HIM Like most men in town, Sam has a crush on Sookie, who is currently dating Bill, a vampire. He has been spotted streaking naked across a meadow, and then lied about it. He very conveniently showed up at Sookie's house just moments after she discovered Gran's body. Plus, there was that creepy scene of him writhing around in Dawn's death bed. What was that all about?
AGAINST HIM His green-eyed-monster routine aside, Sam genuinely seems protective of Sookie, perhaps with the help of his canine companion, with whom he has "conversations." Sam definitely has a secret, but is it really homicide?
FOR HIM Lafayette is a bit of a shady entrepreneur who makes porn and might be a prostitute. He also has ties with vampires through his drug-dealing operation. He supplied Jason with his first taste of V (vampire blood).
AGAINST HIM His character often reminds us of the parallels between the gay and vampire experiences. Bringing him down for murder would totally ruin that metaphor.
FOR HIM Not a whole lot, but wouldn't it be shocking if it turned out to be him?
AGAINST HIM Even when Sookie reads his thoughts, Hoyt is still all aw-shucks sweetness and light.
FOR HIM Well, Bill is a 173-year-old vampire, and they like to suck people's blood and stuff.
AGAINST HIM None of the bodies indicated death by fang. He's Sookie's boyfriend. He had recently spoken at Gran's church to educate humans about vampires; him being the killer would play into all the stereotypes he has been trying so hard to erase.
FOR HER The voodoo priestess told Tara she had a demon inside her. And she can definitely be a real crankypants, right?
AGAINST HER Though she isn't a fan of Sookie and Bill dating, she's mostly indifferent to vampires — and mostly everyone else too.
FOR HIM Morality isn't exactly Jason's strong suit. He likes to drink, get high on V and bed as many women as possible, including two of the three victims.
AGAINST HIM Mostly, it's just that he's as dumb as a box of hair.
FOR HIM The PTSD-afflicted vet and Merlotte's cook hasn't been the same since he returned from Iraq, often complaining of "seeing things."
AGAINST HIM He is mostly portrayed as a simpleton: He shyly complimented Arlene on her "really nice clavicles" and made a necklace out of a two-pronged possum penis, for example.
FOR HER She did orchestrate that sneak attack and abduction of poor Eddie the shy, suburban vampire, scary silver net and all.
AGAINST HER Despite having a violent streak when she's jonesing for V, Amy is basically too much of a peacenik to be a serial killer. She's all about "energy exchange" and Gaia, man.
FOR HIM Anyone else get a really ominous vibe out of his "I just put fresh bat'ries in it" marriage proposal to Arlene?
AGAINST HIM He has defended Sookie against the taunts of unruly customers, and has been generally pretty nice to Bill, even in the face of his girlfriend's barely concealed bigotry. Plus, he's the only cast member with a passable Bayou accent; they can't ship him off to jail!
FOR HIM Eric, a 1,000-year-old Viking and vampire "sheriff" of the parish, is super-creepy. Thus far, he hasn't exactly been straightforward about his motives, often playing mind games with non-humans for sport.
AGAINST HIM While he does exhibit a sense of menace perched on his throne at Fangtasia, he also takes his position of power very seriously, and killing a bunch of humans isn't exactly going to help his cause, is it?
OFFICER ANDY BELLEFLEUR
FOR HIM Dude has some serious rage issues, especially if you forget to call him Officer Bellefleur.
AGAINST HIM He's one of two men charged with finding the killer. Would he really be working so hard if he knew he was the one responsible?
So we're stumped. Who do you think the killer is?