‘True Blood’ 4.01 Recap: This Sucks

For as good as ‘True Blood’ is when the series is on its game, I have to acknowledge that the show’s season premieres and finales are usually its weakest episodes for some reason. Such is very much the case with the fourth season premiere that aired this past Sunday. I really hope that some day I’ll be able to look back and point to this as the show’s single worst episode ever. I hope that. Because if the series somehow manages to have even worse episodes than this in store, I won’t be able to continuing watching.

I’m not kidding. Dear lord, this episode is fucking godawful from beginning to end.

Oh, right… Profanity warning. Whatever.

You remember all that lame-ass fairy bullshit that was by far the worst part of last season? The first ten minutes of ‘She’s Not There’ jump straight back into that, magnified by a thousand times in awfulness. The last we saw Sookie, she had vanished in a flash of light and was whisked away by her fairy godmother. We pick up here as she arrives in fairyland, where all the fairies frolic and eat magical fruit and do stupid fairy things like giggle a lot. Sookie spots her grandfather (Gary Cole), who hasn’t aged a day in the 20 years he’s been missing. Grandpa doesn’t recognize her at first, and swears that he’s only been gone a few hours.

Sookie senses that something is wrong in the fairy garden. In short order, we discover that the fairies are really evil gargoyle-looking things that want to eat humans. Sookie and Grandpa try to escape, and wind up caught in the middle of a cheesy fairy war between the evil fairies and some rebel fairies who throw lightning bolts and magical hand grenades at each other. I swear to god, this looks like a deleted scene that wasn’t good enough to make it into the worst episode of ‘Charmed’.

Eventually, Sookie and Grandpa jump into a magical wormhole that deposits them back in the Bon Temps cemetery. Unfortunately, Grandpa made the mistake of eating the glowing fairy fruit when he was in fairyland, so he gets really bad stomach cramps and dies in a poof. I guess that’s the end of Gary Cole’s guest spot on the show.

In what might have been a marginally interesting plot twist (but doesn’t especially turn out to be), Sookie discovers that she’s been gone for over a year. Everyone assumed that Bill had killed her. He house has been sold to the mysterious AIK Corporation and is being painted and renovated.

The next 50 minutes of the episode are spent on giving status updates on what happened while Sookie was away. Next to nothing actually happens for the rest of the episode. We just check in with each of the major characters and find out where they are, like ticking them off a list.

Jason is now a full-fledged cop. Ironically, he may be the most responsible cop in the parish, because Sheriff Andy has a bad V addiction.

Lafayette is rocking a stupid Mohawk. He’s still with Jesus, who’s been trying to initiate him into a witch cult. Lafayette is resistant, and it doesn’t help matters when the head witch channels the spirit of Eddie (Stephen Root’s gay vampire from Season 1), who is a weirdly unimportant character to call back so much later.

Arlene had her baby boy, named Mikey. She’s convinced that the kid is evil, but Terry thinks he’s fine.

Tara moved out of town. She grew her hair back (what was the point of cutting it at all, then?) and is suddenly a lesbian ultimate fighting champion who calls herself “Toni.”

Hoyt and Jessica are a bickering couple. Jessica feels the pull of her vampire ways, but tries to fight the urges.

Sam did not kill his brother Tommy, but apparently shot him in the leg. Tommy has cleaned himself up and seems to be the new boy-toy for Hoyt’s mother, which is weird. Sam says that he’s attending an anger management course, but really he’s meeting with a group of other Shifters who all turn into horses and go running together.

And that pretty much catches us up. The only scene in the whole episode that’s actually the least bit entertaining finds Pam and Eric recording a PSA for Nan Flanigan as part of a PR effort to rehabilitate the image of vampirism. As Nan explains, “It’s a post-Russell Edgington world, everyone, and we win back the human public one smile at a time.” Pam is terrible at pretending to care, but Eric is a wonderfully cheesy ham. The scene is cross-cut with Bill doing much the same at the dedication to a new retirement home. This lasts all of about two minutes in an hour-long episode.

The episode ends with three mini-cliffhangers. Jason brings some food and supplies to the inbred were-panther children at Hotshot, and is rewarded by them tricking him and locking him in an old freezer.

One of the members of Jesus’ witch circle sneaks off, and we find that she’s really a spy working for Bill, who we learn is now Vampire King of Louisiana. I guess he won that fight with Sophie-Anne.

Finally, Eric walks right into Sookie’s house, even though she had previously expelled him. He explains that she’s no longer owner of the house, and cannot cast him out. In fact, he’s behind the AIK corporation and owns the house. “You are mine,” he says and bares his fangs.

I suppose these are meant to be cliffhangers, anyway. All three are rather tepid.

The part about Bill being the vampire king is kind of a neat twist that could lead to something interesting. I’ll be fair and say that the scenes from upcoming episodes all look promising enough. I’m hoping that this one was just an anomaly, and that things will pick back up to speed soon. Unfortunately, it’s hard to build up much enthusiasm after such a boring, lame and cheesy-as-hell episode as this.


  1. Josh, you’re right about the first 10 minutes, but totally off about the rest. This was my favorite “first” episode since Season One, and Episode 2 is just as good (I’m guessing you won’t like that one, either!).

    • Josh Zyber

      Honestly, what’s good in it that’s worth liking? Maybe my opinion of the episode was clouded by the awfulness of those first 10 minutes, but does anything at all happen in the rest of the episode? It was all a lot of: “Here’s Jason. Here’s Tara. Here’s Jessica and Hoyt. You remember these characters? Yup, they’re still on the show. OK, we’re done. Tune in next week.”

      • Well, I thought the time jump was not only valid with “fairy lore” but gave the show an injection of life…we now have a whole year’s worth of character history that we don’t know about…so there are all kinds of hidden things and motivations that we don’t know about yet (Bill is a good example, more of which is revealed in Episode 2). To each his own, I thought it was well-written (again, except for that first 10 minutes) and well-acted (as always).

        • TJ Kats

          Not to get off topic but this is another issue I have is the whole catch it a week early. I have no problem with people who want to watch on the go but I don’t even have a great system but I can’t see they day that I am watching stuff on something smaller than my TV with surround.

          I understand HBO needs to pimp his products but breaking the viewing cycle into two different groups for a couple of weeks doesn’t make any sense to me.

          • Josh Zyber

            Yeah, that’s not for me either. I’ll wait ’til Sunday to watch the episode in HD.

            I don’t have a problem watching movies or TV episodes that I’ve already seen before on my phone, but I don’t want that to be my first experience with it.

          • Actually, as part of the HBOGO deal, cable companies are allowed to offer Episode 2 early as well – so I was able to watch it on Comcast’s OnDemand in HD on my TV. The online version is available in HD as well, for those streaming it.

  2. TJ Kats

    Gotta agree with Josh on this one. This was easily the worst episode I remember and if it weren’t for Eric Northman nothing good would have come from it.

    The show has never jumped ahead in time before so this just seems off. We only get what 12 episodes so to waste one, or more, on recap for changing story sake seems dumb to me. I know they wouldn’t do this since she is the main character but I would rather the season just be the year that we missed instead of trying to explain an entire year in two minute blurbs.

  3. You are so correct that this episode was annoying, and had nothing entertaining going on (except the couple of reveals).

    Honestly, I felt the a bunch of the characters did not seem themselves, but I guess that was the point. Seeing Andy as a V addict, kind of made me sad, as the fun of his character was that he always seemed crazy, but actually wasn’t as crazy as he seemed.

    This show really doesn’t understand how to do an entertaining opener or finale, I can’t wait until eps 5-11, which will likely be excellent.

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