'True Blood' Sucker Punch: Season 4, Ep. 7

Welcome to Sucker Punch, the only blog post that ranks the gaudiest moments on this week's episode of "True Blood."

You guys, the very beginning of "Cold Grey Light of Dawn" made me think I was going crazy. See, I've got a borderline addiction to the game "Plants vs. Zombies." Even though I've beaten it three times and have completed all but one of the achievement tasks (curse you, "Survival: Endless"!), I just keep playing. I keep pilfering my partner's iPad and developing new strategies for garlic and corn-pults. In fact, I had just finished a game when I fired up this week's "True Blood," and to make sure I didn't start playing during an Alcide scene, I put the iPad on the other side of the living room.

But then the episode started -- and I heard "Plants v. Zombies." I almost lost my mind. Was the iPad playing for me? Did my apartment have a ghost who really wanted to beat the fog levels? I was spooked.

Then, of course, I realized that Katerina, the spy that Bill placed in Marnie's coven, was playing "Plants vs. Zombies" on her iPad as she came down to check on Marnie/Antonia (let's call her "Martonia") in her cell. I sighed with actual relief.

But think about this: Katerina stumbles upon Luis, whose mind is under Martonia's control. She sees him "attacking" Martonia and threatens to shoot him, and Martonia sics him on her. Martonia wants to escape Bill's prison, but she also wants revenge on Katerina for being a spy -- or a plant. And since Luis is under her control, he's moving around like a zombie. It's "Plants v. Zombies: True Blood Edition." Too much!


This whole affair leads to the death of Luis, whom Martonia sends with a message to Bill Compton: "The bitch is back." Bill stakes Luis, then feels his moral pendulum swing back to nobility. He may have almost killed Eric because of a woman, and he may have assassinated a vampire for PR reasons, but when every vampire in the land is at risk of being scorched by Martonia's sunwalker curse, he knows how to do the right thing. He tells his sheriffs to evacuate as many vamps as they can, and he instructs those who stay behind to bind themselves in silver during the day. The sight of those powerful, vibrant characters bound by chains that make them burn is a real kick in the gut.

Consider how Bill and Jessica reconnect through bondage. When Bill lies there burning, distraught that he hasn't done enough good in the world, I can feel the weight of the moral crisis that's been stalking him all season. And when Jessica says he did good by making her, that he showed her more life than she ever would have seen as a human, well, that's why I love this show. It's remarkable for gratitude and kindness to rise up with the smoke and the pain in that cell.

Director Michael Ruscio and his team also do remarkable work as the sunwalking spell finally takes hold. Jessica rips free from her silver chains -- the terrible consequence of Bill pitying her pain and not fully binding her -- and she stumbles toward the door. The scene takes has a startling clarity: the light is crisper, somehow, and the sound is sharper. The shots are framed at odd angles, emphasizing the madness that's pulling Jessica forward. And there's still a piece of silver on her foot, so she has to drag herself toward doom. It's awful and fascinating, and because it's in the light, it's strangely beautiful. Jessica journeys up those stairs, and she's weighted by silver, by the emotion of what she's just said to Bill, and by Bill's own magic-addled plea to be set free. It's one of show's most affecting moments.

The weight is intensified by the cross-cutting to Martonia and her coven: we see the witch floating, surrounded by Holly, Tara and others, and we see actress Fiona Shaw's rapt expression. She's drunk with power, with the ecstasy of vengeance, and because we know what vampires have done to her, it's easy to root for her too, even if we don't want Jessica and the rest to be immolated.

And on top of that, there's Jason fighting some idiot guard in front of Bill's house, trying to get in and keep Jessica safe. His presence suggests that on some level, he's accepted his attraction to her, despite the fact that Hoyt just told him that he'd die without her. Jason's sudden apprehension of his love, coupled with his apprehension of Jessica's danger, could break your heart by itself, let alone in the midst of all this madness.

And speaking of love: "True Blood" expert Dallas has suggested that Eric may now be faking his memory loss so that he can stay nestled in his uncomplicated love affair with Sookie. Could be. But either way, I'm buying Anna Paquin and Alexander Skarsgard's performances, and this week, I enjoyed their hot-yet-tender affair. Something will have to change soon, though, because "we love each other lots and lots" is only interesting for so long.

Oh, and you know what else isn't interesting anymore? Tara the Victim. Good Lord. Again? Again with being terrorized and then joining a cult to escape the pain? It didn't work when her mama problems drove her to Maryann, and it isn't going to work now that her vampire problems have driven her to Martonia. Honestly, I would not be sorry to see Tara just move to New Orleans and be done with it. If she never gets to have any kind of agency, then why is she on the show? Just so we can keep seeing what a terrible friendship she and Sookie have? How they never, ever take care of each other? Got it. Check.

I am also leery of the broken-record syndrome that seems to afflict Sam and Tommy. Sure, the fallout from Tommy's skinwalking could be interesting, but if Sam doesn't learn to forgive, and if Tommy doesn't learn to trust, then I'm going to get fed up. I need them to emerge from this skinwalking brouhaha as better people. If I wanted to see families arguing for years and years about the same old stuff, I'd just go home for Thanksgiving. (Hey-ohhh! Just kidding, Mom.)

Let's take a break to savor the tragic glamor of Pam, the injections she has to endure forever in order to look normal again, and the horrifying make-up effects that show her skin slowly regenerating. It's so gross! Wheee! Plus, we get comic relief from Ginger, who has to administer the shots and hold the lid on Pam's coffin as the sunwalking spell kicks in. I love Ginger. I love how she just shows up every now and then, says something crazy, then swans out again. Oh, and I also love Pam's pink coffin and deluxe silver cover-up. A true diva always wants the finest things, even when her face is melting and a witch wants her dead.

Quick nods to Lafayette and Jesus, who are about to discover the depth of Fay-Fay's power as a medium. I cannot wait to see what happens now that Lafayette has observed the ghost Mavis haunting Baby Mikey. I'm less invested in what happens to Debbie and Alcide and their new wolf pack, but given that the pack's leader is apparently the father of Luna's baby, I may get invested soon. Stay tuned.

As for this week's Sucker Punch? No contest: Jessica's slow crawl to the light. I'll be thinking about it for days.

For me, join me at The Critical Condition.