An ominous soundtrack of frantic fiddlin' sets the tone for "Bad Blood," the premiere episode of True Blood's third season, in which most of our beloved main characters are in a state. Sookie is searching for Bill, who's been kidnapped by an unusual bunch of bad guys who we'll be seeing a lot this season. Tara, Andy and Jason have come up with their own strategies for dealing with Eggs' death. After a not-so-friendly visit from the Queen, Eric and Pam need Lafayette's help. Sam tracks down his family in Arkansas. Jessica still has a lot to learn about being a vampire. And Arlene has some big news!
Welcome back, fangbangers!
We pick up right where we left off, at the French restaurant where Bill was vamp-napped just after asking Sookie to marry him. The cops are there, but they're no help, since Kenya thinks Bill left because Sookie was wishy-washy about his proposal.
But our intrepid Sookie has a theory of her own, so she's off to Fangtasia to investigate. There she meets Pam, who purrs that lavender is her favorite color. "I'm in no mood for lesbian weirdness tonight, Pam," Sookie says.
She descends to the basement where she finds, um, well, Eric, hammering the holy hell out of Yvetta, the new dancer who we met in a pre-season webisode. They're fighting like two Spider-mans, but they aren't hurting each other, as 30 Rock's Nancy Donnelly might say.
"Holy S!" Sookie says, which is a nice character detail that reminds us that she's a wholesome Southern lady at her core. She's unimpressed by Eric's proud nudity, and heads right into her theory: Lorena kidnapped Bill. Eric is his usual laconic self, though he says that if he is missing, it's his duty as sheriff to find him. "You owe me $10,000," Sookie reminds him, as she sashays up the stairs.
Back at home, Sookie confesses to a distraught Tara that she helped Eggs remember what he did under Maryann's spell, which obviously led to his unraveling. Tara is livid and explodes in a fit of violence. Lafayette drags Tara out of the house.
Next stop: the police station, where a clearly beaten-down Bud tells Sookie that he can't devote the manpower to Bill's disappearance, since he "isn't even a real person." Needless to say, this vampire racism does not sit well with Sookie.
"Now why'd you have to go and kill that maenad; she's a terrific decorator," Pam says as she's invited into Chez Sookie. As she looks around, we see the remnants of Maryann's Dionysian takeover: Vines are still crawling all over the walls. Pam delivers a check from Eric — he gave her a bonus, which you have to think stems from their heartfelt chat on that Dallas rooftop where Godric watched his last sun rise. At that moment, Pam shivers and explains that Eric just "called" her, which is apparently something that a maker can do to his or her ward.
A lightbulb goes off and Sookie rushes over to Compton Manor, hoping that Bill can and has called Jessica in the same manner. It seems that he has, just the night before, but Jessica just didn't know what it was.
"What the hell is that smell?" Sookie asks. Jessica says a possum died under the house. She's lying, but we'll get to that.
Jessica uses her heretofore-unmentioned vampire tracking skills to find Bill's car, which is turned over on the side of the road (more on that later too). There's a dead guy inside with a strange marking on his neck, which Jessica's handy-dandy smartphone tells them is a symbol for "Operation Werewolf," something we'll be hearing a lot about this season.
Remember when Jessica decided that since her relationship with Hoyt wasn't going to work out, she'd go out and drain a redneck? Big mistake. Upon returning home, she drags the nearly dead guy up the front-porch steps, where she finds flowers from Hoyt. She pauses briefly, but it's clear that, for now at least, that love is lost.
A day late and a dollar short, Jessica realizes she can't just go around killing people. An added burden: She's just as confused about all these vampire rules as I am, so though she tries to feed him her blood to revive him, it doesn't work and now he's decomposing and it's starting to stink.
At the end of last season, Sam, True Blood's sad-eyed puppy, set off to find his birth family with only their names, Melinda and Joe Lee Mickens, and their last-known whereabouts, Magnolia, Arkansas, to guide him.
But what's this? A shirtless Bill is at Sam's motel room door. In the correct sequence of events (I've jumbled them a bit in the process of isolating story lines), when we last saw Bill he was indeed shirtless and in need of some assistance. Bill explains that since Sam has now had his blood, he was able to locate him.
"May I use your shower?" the grubby vamp asks. He also wants to borrow a shirt, but since Sam beat feet pretty quickly out of Bon Temps, he didn't pack an extra.
OK, this is where it gets a little weird. It doesn't make much sense, but just go with it for a second. Sam offers to give Bill the shirt off his back, which he accepts. "Nice," Bill says, as Sam peels off his plaid. (What's that?) Then Bill invites Sam to join him in the shower. "I hear the water in Arkansas is very hard," he says. (Come again?) Just as they're about to kiss, Sam wakes up. I know; it was pretty obvious.
The gossipy harridan from the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce tells Sam that the Mickenses were evicted from their last residence, but that their son, Tommy, still works at a tire store in town. Sam heads over there, but no tearful sibling reunion ensues. Instead, a guy named Tommy says his name is actually Tommy Harmon, and that Tommy Mickens quit six or seven months ago. Sam follows "Tommy Harmon" home, looks in the mailbox, and discovers that he's arrived at the Mickens residence.
In a quick aside, back at Merlotte's, Arlene smells something different about Lafayette's chili. He says he put a teaspoon of cinnamon in the pot, and how could she detect such a small amount? Because she's pregnant, that's how.
"I'm sorry you fell in love with a serial killer, but honestly, who here hasn't?" Arlene says to Tara in the immediate aftermath of Eggs' death. Heh.
Tara's reaction is not even close to amused; try apoplectic. Lafayette takes his cousin to his house (after that disastrous pit stop at Sookie's). Lettie Mae shows up to help. She's as hapless as usual, but "like a moth to a flame," as Laf says, Tara actually needs her mommy. Lettie Mae needs the Lord, so she brings in a reverend to help Tara. At first, she appears to legitimately care about her daughter's welfare, but then it's revealed then she's a little sweet on the good rev, and while her mind is wandering, Tara locks herself in the bathroom to swallow a few dozen pills to kill herself. Laf comes home just in time to save her. Phew.
Jason's at home freaking out about having shot Eggs, but Andy, who took the blame for the murder, shows up to reassure him. He tells him the best thing for him to do is to maintain the status quo. To help Jason's tiny brain remember what that is, Andy comes up with a concise, though inelegant mantra for him: "Conscience off; d--k on."
After Hoyt's mom told him the truth about his father's death, he decides to finally move out, so for now he's bunking with Jason.
"Where you been, Bubba?" Jason asks as Hoyt joins him and two lovely ladies he's trying to impress in a booth at Merlotte's. "I've been crying," he says. "Dude, shut up," Jason says with the goofiest little laugh. He doesn't want to blow things with Missy and Jen, recent "graduettes" of New York University driving to L.A. to start vet school in the fall, who he's invited back to his place for a little fourgy.
But, well, not so much. Jason's not performing up to his usual prowess, it seems. Why? "It's just... every time I look at you, I keep seeing these big old bullet holes in your heads," Jason tells the ladies. Needless to say, they don't understand and they are so out of there.
Interestingly, we find out that Eric was also trying to kidnap Bill; it was just that someone else got there first. Pam wants him to tell the Queen that Bill is missing, but Eric demurs.
But fret not, the Queen and the Magister show up at Fangtasia unannounced. (Fun fact! Evan Rachel Wood lost the part of the child vampire Claudia in Interview with the Vampire to Kirsten Dunst.) The Magister, the judge who sentenced Bill to "make" Jessica, as you recall, says that Louisiana is the V-dealing capital of the world, and he thinks that vampires are behind it. Little does he know...
After he leaves, the Queen tells Eric that, in addition to the heat they're getting from the Magister, she needs money because of a tax problem. "Hell hath no fury like a vampire queen broke," she hisses. She tells Eric to sell as much of the product as he can, within 24 hours. (Also: Eric tells her that Bill is missing, but she doesn't care.)
On Eric's instructions, Pam shows up at Merlotte's to tell Lafayette he should sell the V at half the price, all of it, before tomorrow night. Naturally, Laf balks at these orders, making the mistake of punctuating his anger by calling Pam, as is his wont, "hookah."
"I don't know what it is about me that makes people think I want to hear their problems," Pam says in a measured, sickly sweet tone. "Maybe I smile too much. Maybe I wear too much pink. But please remember, I can rip your throat out if I need to, and also know that I am not a hooker. That was a long, long time ago." Fair enough! I love that hint at the end that maybe we'll get some more backstory on how Eric "made" Pam. I've heard a bit about how it goes in the books, and it's interesting.
Bill is in the backseat of his own car, silvered, while a group of unsavory-looking V addicts are feeding off him. Is it possible that his kidnapping was just a coincidental V-related crime? (No, it isn't. Read on.)
The leader of this gang, Cooter (Grant Bowler, who you recognize from his guest-starring gigs on Lost and Ugly Betty), says they're called the "F--- You Crew." Their objective, other than a quick high, is unclear. The guy in the front seat wants a fix, but Cooter says they can't pull over. "Spit some in his mouth," Cooter instructs. "That's gay," he says. "And playing with your own ti--ies in a car full of dudes ain't?" Cooter asks. Yeah, it's like that.
It's interesting how V has changed over the course of the series. Initially, it was presented as some sort of super-Viagra. (Remember Jason's "draining" at the hospital?) Then, Jason and Amy seemed to derive an Ecstasy-like high from it. Now, and maybe I'm reaching here, it's become much more meth-like. Those guys in the car had rotting teeth, pallid complexions and the falsely heightened senses often associated with meth. In a way, it's smart. Now more than ever, the plot requires V to be dangerous, more than a punch line, in order for it to be the catalyst for so much vampire infighting.
Just as Bill is about to lose consciousness, he makes a quick move and runs the car off the road and escapes. He "calls" Jessica, and back at Compton Manor, she's all: What was that? Drafty in here, huh?
Bill buries himself for some reason, I guess to get out of the sunlight? Or regain his strength? Unclear, but he does that a lot, huh? At any rate, once he emerges from the dirt, he stumbles upon a ramshackle cabin, the home of Olivia, a lonely old lady whose family never visits. Bill needs to feed, so he does. Afterward, because he's a good vampire, he glamors her and gives her some money, telling her it's from her son, Stanley, who recently visited.
Bill makes a quick getaway into the forest, but is shortly thereafter cornered by four wolves. As the camera spins around this face-off, it becomes clear that these are the survivors of Bill's car crash, who are also obviously werewolves. "I should warn you," Bill says to them. "I fed." And with that, an unseen battle ensues, and the screen fades to black.
"Bad Blood" by Beck is the outro, an indication that True Blood is back, and it's going to get very messy again.
What did you think of "Bad Blood"? Will Tara and Jason get over Eggs' death? Is Terry the father of Arlene's baby? (There were orgies, after all.) Does Sam's meet-the-shifters story line interest you? Are you excited to meet the werewolves? Who do you think kidnapped Bill? (Hint: The wolves are just the errand boys.) Weigh in with your thoughts.
And to those of you who have read the books, a polite request: As was the rule last season, try to keep things spoiler-free in the comments section.
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