Perhaps I’m just too jaded at this point. The current season of ‘True Blood’ has been such a damned mess that, even when a new episode turns out to be surprisingly good, I have a hard time mustering any enthusiasm for it. Such is the case this week.
I wasn’t a fan of the way that the previous episode ended on a lame cliffhanger just as the excitement was ramping up. It was too blatantly manipulative, and felt like the producers were just jerking us around. With that said, ‘Burning Down the House’ picks up the ball and runs with it. The chaos that ensues when Antonia’s mind-controlled vampires wreak havoc at the Festival of Tolerance is good, bloody fun. Perhaps the funniest moment here happens when one dipshit peacenik tries to remind a zombified vampire that, “We’re your friends.” Almost as good is when, after Antonia has retreated, Nan Flanigan tries to restore calm to the crowd by announcing that ambulances are on the way and she’s a certified first responder. The notion of an undead vampire who knows CPR is just too hilarious.
The big twist in this episode is that Antonia turns out to be not as evil as we were led to believe. After watching innocent human bystanders get ripped to pieces at the Festival, she has pangs of conscience and calls off the attack. Back at the magic shop, she ejects herself from Marnie’s body to tell her that she’s gone too far, and believes that what she’s done was all a big mistake. This is when we discover that Marnie is actually the bloodthirsty one. She begs Antonia not to weaken her resolve, and insists that some collateral damage is necessary in any war. She eventually manages to talk Antonia back into possessing her again and resuming the fight at all costs.
Marnie/Antonia (Marntonia?) puts up a magical force field around the magic shop which has the dual purpose of keeping vampires out and trapping Tara and the other Wiccans inside. By the end of the episode, Jesus gets trapped in there as well. Holly and Tara try to whip together a makeshift spell to disable the forcefield. As they run away, Marnie zaps them, along with Sookie and Lafayette (who were waiting outside), causing them all to vanish. (Scenes from next week give away that they’ve all been teleported back inside the shop.)
That night, Bill, Eric, Jessica and Pam, all clad in black and armed with machine guns and rocket launchers, prepare to burn the shop to the ground. They’re not afraid of a little collateral damage either. However, neither Bill nor Eric knows that Sookie is in there.
- To save Bill from being killed by zombie Eric, Sookie blasts Eric with her fairy magic. This severs Antonia’s control over him, and returns all of his memories. This also means that Sookie has revealed herself to Antonia and, perhaps more intriguingly, to Nan Flanigan.
- Sookie has very mixed feelings about Eric getting his memories back. I don’t. Amnesia Eric was fun for an episode or two, but it’s about time for a return from the old Eric. That’s not quite what we’re getting, though. At least, not yet. Eric insists that he remembers everything that happened recently and that he still loves Sookie. He says, “I haven’t changed. I’m just more.”
- To cover up what happened at the Festival, Nan sends out “glamour squads” to erase the memories of any witnesses. For some reason, when I hear “glamour squads,” I picture the cast of ‘Jerseylicious’ showing up armed with hairspray and fake nail kits. I blame Mrs. Z for this.
- Jason feels really guilty about sleeping with Jessica, and asks her to glamour the memory of it out of him so that he won’t give up the secret to Hoyt. She gets really offended by this and refuses.
- Tommy is really messed up, both from having the shit kicked out of him, and from what the shifting into Sam’s form has done. He knows he’s dying, and begs Alcide to bring him to Merlotte’s. Sam shows up and gets all weepy. Tommy finally dies. (Yay!) Sam vows revenge against Marcus. Alcide decides to help.
- Hoyt shows up at Jason’s door, asking to stay with him for a while because there are too many memories of Jessica at his house. This isn’t helping Jason’s guilt at all.
- Arlene and Terry find Andy’s stash of V. Terry brings him out to their old childhood tree house in the woods (called Fort Belfleur) for an intervention. They fight a bit, which is very funny, and Andy promises to kick the drug.
- Debbie confides in Marcus that she wants a baby but Alcide doesn’t. Marcus puts the moves on her big time. She’s clearly falling for him. Debbie is a very inconsistently written character, and I just can’t figure her out.
Honestly, this is a pretty good episode. If it had arrived in the middle of a better season, I’d be quite pleased with it. Unfortunately, in the middle of this rocky season, it feels like too little too late.