On this week's True Blood, Sookie has a run-in with a mysterious monster, which brings her to Fangtasia, where she discovers Lafayette locked up in the basement. Jason's doubts about Jesus camp are quelled by Sarah's fervent ministrations. Maryann has a party, the nature of which causes a rift between Tara and Eggs. A sullen Jessica enjoys a night out at Merlotte's. And Sam and Daphne have common interests. At first blush, "Scratches" appears to tie up some loose ends, but in fact, it's setting the scene for a very different True Blood, which starts in two weeks. Let's see what we have in store:
BILL AND SOOKIE
Bill says he's glamored the Hamby family to fix Sookie's mess, so I think it's safe to assume they aren't dead or anything. Nevertheless, he's still fuming. "She is a loaded gun, not a doll for you to dress up and play with," Bill says of Jessica, which does not sit well with the headstrong Sookie at all. She bolts from the car, and off into the forest. Jessica helpfully informs Bill that Sookie wants him to go after her and kiss her, but Bill is a stubborn old Confederate so he sits in the car and harrumphs.
Since this is True Blood, darting off into the woods at night is not an activity that is often a good idea. Sure enough, we hear rustling in the bushes and some heavy breathing that belongs to — what exactly? Off in the distance, we see a backlit creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man, with the exception of giant, gnarled hands that end in pointed talons. The beast catches up to Sookie and takes a violent swipe across her back. She collapses.
Bill does the vampire 50-yard dash and locates Sookie, but it's too late: She's paralyzed, and drinking Bill's blood only worsens the situation, and she starts foaming at the mouth.
He brings her to Fangtasia, where Eric has contracted the services of the surly, diminutive Dr. Ludwig (guest star Marcia de Rousse), whose matter-of-fact (OK, rude) bedside manner is the perfect tonic for such a tense scene. The deep, jagged cuts in Sookie's back look really painful, and the doctor is fingering them like she's playing Operation. The doctor explains that Sookie has been poisoned, and the toxins are similar to those of a Komodo dragon, whose mouth is teeming with bacteria; its bite slowly paralyzes and kills its victim.
Bill and Eric are stumped about the creature, so Eric dispatches Pam and Chow to search the woods. "He can do it; I'm wearing my favorite pumps," Pam sniffs. But Eric commands her, and her cute exit pout endears her to me.
The doctor pours a liquid over Sookie's wounds, which she continues to prod as they sizzle and smoke like the grill at Merlotte's. It's really gross. But it does the trick; she's now able to accept vampire blood to strengthen her. Eric is all: No sweat, I'll do it, but Bill is like: As if, Blondie; Sookie is totes mine, so she feeds from his wrist yet again.
Pam and Chow return with the news that the beast's tracks were human, but its smell was distinctly animal. You don't say! Plus: Pam's pumps are ruined, and she is none too happy about it.
Bill thanks Eric for his hospitality and for saving Sookie's life. "I'm sure there is a way you can repay me," he says, and it's kind of awesome how he turns everything into something owed him.
Sookie wakes up at Fangtasia and it's daylight. Her scratches are totally gone, and Ginger has made her a peanut butter-and-chocolate syrup sandwich, which: blech. She says one of the benefits of working for vampires is that she always forgets to eat. "I've lost 37 pounds since I got this job," she reports. Sookie reads her thoughts and finds out Lafayette is in the basement and that there's a gun under the cash register. Sookie grabs the gun, prompting one of those hilarious, awesome screams from Ginger. It's like music.
In the dungeon, an incoherent Lafayette mumbles something about being a vampire as Sookie promises that she's going to get him out of there. Sookie tattles to Bill, slaps Eric and threatens to go to police. "I do not respond well to threats, but perhaps we can come to some arrangement," Eric says. Always the negotiator! Eric wants Sookie and Bill to go to Texas to search for the missing vampire in exchange for Lafayette's freedom. They barter on a fee: all expenses paid and $10,000. In exchange, Eric frees Lafayette. On his way out the door, Eric and Lafayette have an eye-contact moment. "Perhaps I'll see you around," Eric says, and Lafayette's thought bubble is all: Bitch, please!
AT LAFAYETTE'S HOUSE
Lafayette tells Sookie and Bill that he's going to get stitched up by his uncle, who's a vet. He says he's going to tell people he spent the last few weeks "at Club Med drinking a margarita and getting my chest waxed," which Bill thinks would be wise. He's clearly not doing well, and a final shot shows him stumbling into his living room and under a blanket.
On the way home, Sookie has a conversation with herself in which it barely matters that Bill is there. After seeing "the barbarousness [vampires] call 'justice,'" she is reconsidering her open-mindedness about vampires. Bill is like: Hello? Eric just saved your life. Also: Hello? I'm a vampire. Sookie counters by saying that knows that there is both goodness and darkness in Bill, and it scares her. These two need a good couples' therapist, amirite?
AT JESUS CAMP
Eddie the really-dead gay vampire appears in Jason's bed and wants a cuddle, which is awkward on many levels. Just as Jason regains his orientation, Eddie leans in for some sugar, but instead lunges at him and bites him on the neck. Ouch! But... it was just a nightmare, an unconscious metaphor for his inner conflict about vampires. So... he prays, asks God for another sign. On cue, Luke throws a pillow at him. "There's your sign," he grumbles.
The next day, Sarah is running a support group at which a girl who has been ravaged by a vampire is telling her story. She thought he cared about her, but she was just his "living, breathing snack machine." Ha! Good writing. Sarah encourages Jason to share his story, but he's reluctant. But Sarah plays the honesty-ring card. He goes the brave route and tells the group that he likes Bill, tells them about Amy and Eddie, and confesses that, before Amy staked him, he thought he was a nice person. "He wasn't a person, Jason," Sarah says. Jason gets in a defensive huff, and tells her that Rene killed all these people he loved, and he was a person. He barges out of the meeting, and Sarah follows.
She tells him that she and her sister, Amber, once marched for vampire rights. That is, until Amber became addicted to V and disappeared. She's convinced she's dead. Think about it, Jason, she says, "if his kind never existed, then the people you love would still be alive." It's warped logic, but it doesn't take much to convince Humpty Jason. "Everything down to their very blood is seductive," she emphasizes, which is pretty ironic considering the degree to which she's so obviously sweating Mr. Stackhouse. Instead of making out, though, they do the more appropriate thing: They kneel together and pray. It might not be tonsil hockey, but it's still a very intimate moment.
The Newlins invite Jason for dinner, and clearly they have something up their sleeve. "Hating evil is really loving good," the good Rev. tells Jason. Ryan Kwanten does "perplexed" really well, and it's clear to see how their confusing rhetoric is, first of all, well-written and secondly, effective. "They're baby killers; that's what they're capable of," he continues. "It's a war, and we all have to choose sides." Does any of these talking points sound familiar? While True Blood prides itself on smart, silly satire, these Fellowship of the Sun scenes are really elevating the game, in my opinion. And who better to brainwash than Jason?
"Sarah's pudding is a little slice of heaven," says the Rev., without even a hint at how dirty that sounds — that is, to a dirty old man like me. "I'm going to get the whipped cream," she adds. (I just bet you will, you saucy minx.) "Sarah doesn't just whip out her pudding for anybody," the Rev. tells Jason. (Come on!)
"Perhaps a little more juniper," Maryann says to Karl of his bubbling, blood-red stew/punch/potion/who the hell knows? "Karl knows that if he wants to find fulfillment in life, he needs to be of service," Maryann tells Tara when she says she's not used to having someone wait on her. "So everything he does is really a selfish act." Including getting slapped around by Maryann every now and then?
Why does Sam hate you? Tara asks, as Maryann rolls a gigantic joint. "A little technique I picked up in Ibiza," she says with flawless Castillian pronunciation. Ibiza? Who the hell is this woman? Anyhow, Maryann lies and says she barely knows him, but guesses that he's just jealous because Tara has moved on with her life.
Then we get to the party. We already know — courtesy last week's impromptu dance party at Merlotte's — that Maryann knows how to bring the fiesta, but to call this gathering off the hook is an understatement. As everyone partakes of Karl's mystery punch, spirited dancing very quickly devolves into an orgy.
Andy is there because there's been a noise complaint about the orgy. Walking around the grounds, he spies a giant pig residing in a playhouse in the backyard. He asks Maryann if she has a livestock permit for the pig. And she's all: What pig? Because it has totally disappeared. Anyone have a theory? (Methinks our subservient pal Karl might be a shape-shifter.)
Tara and Eggs are just getting comfortable in the hot tub when a lovely, though nekkid lady joins them and offers to give Eggs a massage, which he accepts. (Guys, a massage is never just a massage!) Rutina Wesley did some great reaction shots during this sequence as she slowly became aware of the evening's debauchery and decadence. It's then that we see that everyone's pupils have enlarged to the point where there isn't any white showing at all. It's a vivid image, with its obvious allusion to drug use.
Tara storms off, telling Eggs that maybe they're not right for each other if this is his "scene." It raises a question: Is Eggs in on Maryann's master plan... or is he, like Tara, just another pawn in her game? Discuss.
AT COMPTON MANOR
Jessica wakes up and nobody is home. She's bored and wants to go out, so she gets all dolled up (literally, her 'do is straight out of the American Girl playbook) and heads out to Merlotte's, where she finds aw-shucks Hoyt sitting alone in a booth. As the deliciously sticky "Sex and Candy" by Marcy Playground plays in the background, Jessica stares at Hoyt's meaty neck. He thinks she's flirting, so he joins her.
"I could stare at that all day long," he says, and offers to buy her dinner. Specifically, he recommends the chicken-friend steak, which he says is "like a chicken and a steak got together and had a baby — a crispy, delicious baby." Ha!
Instead, she asks for a TruBlood — B-positive, and there's a moment where his shock and her vulnerability at revealing that she's a vampire create this amazing moment of silence where you're really unsure about what happens next. "Awesome," says Hoyt. Jessica licks her lips. So it's back to Compton Manor for a little neckin' — no, not like that. They commiserate about their living situations. "My momma keeps her doll collection in my closet," Hoyt reports.
They decide to play Wii, but quickly it's another "wee" that gets some attention. They start making out, and Jessica's fangs involuntarily spring to action. "So embarrassing," she says, as she holds her hands over her mouth. "I'd die if I wasn't already dead." Heh. Since Hoyt is, like, the nicest guy ever, he doesn't care. He likes her, but he thinks they should wait before they do anything else. "I've waited too long already," Jessica replies, and jumps him. It's unclear what Jessica's plan was at this point, but we don't find out because Bill and Sookie come home and forceably break up the party. Jessica is so grounded!
Terry meets up with Sam, who's tells him that he's going to be taking a trip to "not sure yet" (beautiful this time of year!) and needs Terry to take care of the bar for him. He reluctantly agrees, but not before getting inappropriately angry and calling him a coward. I've said this before, but I think our friend Terry knows things, so I wonder if Sam heading for the hills means more danger is on the way.
Before Sam leaves, he calls Tara and leaves her a message telling her to "keep her eyes open." He looks at the pictures of the Merlotte's staff over the bar and has a moment, and then he's off.
In the parking lot, he sees his canine buddy, and agrees to one last run before he leaves.
They run all the way to the swimming hole, where Sam (as a collie) dives in, turning back into human form, but his friend doesn't follow. Instead, Daphne is there rather suddenly, and she's in the mood for a skinny-dip as well. As she disrobes, we see scars on her back identical to those we saw on Sookie earlier.
The brilliant outro is the chunky, funky "Scratches" by Debbie Davies, a bluesy riff perfectly suited for True Blood's Bayou shenanigans.
What did you think of "Scratches"? Who or what is attacking people? What do the Newlins have in store for Jason? What is Maryann's master plan? Which couple is cuter: Jessica and Hoyt or Sam and Daphne? And is Lafayette on his way to becoming a vampire?
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