NOTE: This post contains spoilers.
Welcome to Sucker Punch, the only blog post that ranks the gaudiest moments on this week's episode of True Blood.
To introduce this week's installment, "Scratches," let me quote my favorite line:
Sarah doesn't whip out her pudding for just anybody.
Yes, that's what Reverend Steve Newlin says after his wife gives Jason Stackhouse a dish of sweetness.
There's so much to unpack there. For one thing, the quote comes right after Sarah and Steve kiss in front of Jason for a really long time. Like... long enough that somebody should light a cigarette. And then there's the fact that earlier in the day, Jason and Sarah share a kneeling prayer over their mutual past as vampire sympathizers. It's very tender, and it wins Jason a dinner invitation. He's clearly the golden boy.
But when Steve praises Sarah's "pudding," he's not just talking dessert. Like... what does it mean to be chosen by the Fellowship? Does it mean Jason's been "chosen" to hold the camera or "chosen" to wear the costume?
The sexy shenanigans would be gauche enough if the Newlins were tax collectors, but since they're religious leaders, their come-ons are delicious. And I think the Newlins know how sexual they sound. In True Blood, power always comes with devious wisdom.
I can't declare Pudding Time this week's Sucker Punch, however, because it's clear the Newlins have something crazier in store.
Meanwhile, their dynamic with Jason parallels Maryann's relationship with Tara: In both cases, powerful figures are reaching out to guilty souls, and their succor has strings. Both Tara and Jason are so hungry to belong somewhere that they overlook warning signs.
Except that Tara's waking up. It's a relief to see her notice what a Bacchanal Maryann's party has become, and Sucker Punch Honorable Mention goes to the return of the witch's pig, relaxing in its own little playhouse. My quibble with this episode, however, is that Maryann's arc is repetitive. Yes, Tara gets suspicious and the carousing intensifies, but we saw the black-eyed boogie last week in Merlotte's. We need more information about what the revelry means.
For all the ways Maryann stands still, however, Jessica zooms forward. She's currently my favorite character on the show because her stories expertly balance Gothic excess and relatable emotion. Those romantic scenes with Hoyt are just so sweetly, truthfully awkward, and they remind us that no matter what the Fellowship says, certain vampires are more vulnerable than menacing. Ten points to Deborah Ann Woll for conveying Jessica's swirl of deadly bloodlust and teenage jitters. Equal points to Jim Parrack, since he has to invent Hoyt's tender side in two scenes. We have no reason to expect that Hoyt can be romantic, but the writing and the performance make it seem plausible right away.
Romance doesn't equal a Sucker Punch, of course, but I'll tell you what does: Minotaur scratches. Not the ones that Daphne (Sam's new waitress) has on her back, but the ones Sookie gets from the man-bull who attacks her in the woods.
The Sucker Punch comes when Sookie gets healed. While she's naked. In the back of Fangtasia. Being ministered by a little person with a remarkable knowledge of supernatural poisons. Watching Baby Doc shove her finger into Sookie's back wounds is totally gross, but it's awesome because the doctor is so casual that she might as well be fishing an earring out of her couch. And then we see Eric lurking in the background, popping a fang-on and looking so turned on he could pounce.
Any scene that blends horniness, an odd doctor, and Sookie's foaming mouth deserves to be our Sucker Punch of the Week.
On that note: I just made a video arguing that True Blood deserves to be nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. (Nominations are announced next month.) Whether you agree with me or think I'm crazy, you should totally watch me plead my case.