Tuesday, July 19, 2011

True Blood 4.04: "I'm Alive and on Fire"

“Sure, he’s a rascal and a troublemaker, and most of the time I’d like to slap the smile off his face, but he’s a happy vampire.”

“I’m Alive and on Fire” wasn’t a terrible episode of “True Blood,” but it wasn’t exactly a standout, either. I was happy to see the gang rape of Jason in Hotshot come to an end, although now it looks like Tommy is going to be imprisoned and tortured for a while. That’s not much better, really. The high point of the series continues to be Alexander Skarsgard’s performance as Eric with amnesia. Skarsgard plays the character with the perfect mix of innocence and danger. While Eric no longer has 1,000 years of emotional baggage, he still knows he’s a vampire, and sometimes his vampire nature overcomes his desire to be nice. Well, to be nice to Sookie, at least. He’s just a joy to watch. Watching Anna Paquin play off of him has been fun too. Especially in this episode, we can see Sookie gradually starting to warm up to this version of Eric. She’s fiercely protective of him, and if it wasn’t for one really unfortunately timed visit from Bill, they probably would have gotten closer. I’m still waiting for the shower scene, Alan Ball (along with the rest of the internet)!

The episode opens where they last one left off. Eric has just eaten Sookie’s fairy godmother (which is kind of hilarious, despite being violent and gross). All that faerie blood has made Eric a bit drunk, and he’s causing trouble for Sookie. He doesn’t really want to go back into the house, as much as Sookie says he needs to for his own safety. He ends up running off, and Sookie can’t catch up to him. The next morning, Sookie recruits Alcide to help her search for Eric. Alcide’s werewolf nose is up to the task, and they find Eric swimming in a lake. Eric really does not want to go back to his hidey hole, and since he had a major dose of faerie blood, he’s not burning up from the daylight yet. Eric wants to fight Alcide when he first sees him (and the feeling is pretty much mutual), but Sookie keeps her boys in check. Eric does eventually start to burn, which finally allows Sookie to convince him to go home. Sookie puts Eric to bed in his hidey hole, but he hears Sookie and Alcide fighting about the situation outside.

Meanwhile, Jason is still chained to a bed in Hotshot. Most of the women have already had sex with him, and the next one in line is a teenage girl. Jason very sweetly convinces her not to go ahead with it, and the girl lets Jason go free. Crystal’s husband is not at all happy about this, and he shifts into panther form to chase after Jason. This chase goes on for quite a while, and it’s more silly than scary. It’s basically Jason running through the woods with panther noises in the background. Jason ends up in a tree, where he sharpens a stick and uses it to kill the panther. Crystal shows up soon after, wanting to get back together with Jason, and Jason (rightfully) rejects her completely. Jason passes out on the side of the road while trying to make his way home, but Hoyt and Jessica see him while driving by and stop to help.

At Merlotte’s, Maxine Fortenberry (aka Momma Fortenberry), confronts Sam. Tommy is missing, and she’s not happy about it. It turns out Tommy has skipped town to go see his mom, who claims she has left his abusive dad. Tommy is so happy about this news that he wants to stick around for a while. Things can’t go to well for long, though. It turns out Mrs. Mickens was lying. She and Tommy are chatting about how she got beat up pretty badly trying to get back into dog fighting when Joe Lee shows up. He puts a chain around Tommy’s neck. It’s clear that the Mickenses still think they can use Tommy to provide their dog fighting income. We’ve been down this road once before last season, and I don’t really see why it’s necessary to go there again. I think it’s better to cut characters than rehash the same plot two seasons in a row. Tommy isn’t even in the books. The Mickenses served the purpose of giving us some Sam backstory. They can go now, thanks. Speaking of Sam, he finds out his new lady friend has a daughter, and he’s actually really good with her. Then he finds out that there is also a very jealous werewolf ex in the picture (um, Debbie Pelt rehash, anybody? In the same freaking season?). That can’t end well.

Nan Flannigan is extremely pissed at Bill over Eric going missing. But Bill isn’t going to worry about that at the moment. He’s going to go to a family get-together with Portia instead. Because that’s what you do when the vampire Authority is angry and a vampire who generally has your back (even if it is kind of in a love to hate way) is missing. Portia introduces Bill to her grandmother, who is conveniently named Caroline just like Bill’s late wife. Caroline spends most of the time droning on about family history, and Bill is just loving it because he’s a boring stick in the mud like that. She asks for the family bible to clarify one aspect of the family tree, and when she and Bill look at it, they find something that disturbs them. Portia wants to know what’s going on, but Bill won’t tell her until they leave the house. He can’t see her anymore because he’s her ancestor. They’re many generations removed, but I guess he still (understandably) found the prospect super creepy.

Bill then turns his attention to finally trying to make an effort to look for Eric. Eric and Sookie are down in the hidey hole talking, and they are about to kiss when Bill shows up at Sookie’s door (damnit, Bill!). Despite interrupting Sookie and Eric, I found this amusing because it sort of felt like the books in the sense that Sookie’s many suitors are all buzzing around her now, and hilarity is sure to ensue. Bill wants to search Sookie’s house for Eric. Sookie panics and tries to appeal to Bill’s sense of decency to make him change his mind. And eventually, it works.

There’s plenty of other supernatural stuff happening in this episode, too. Mikey the Devil baby writes something creepy on the wall and freaks out Arlene. More importantly, Marnie is still trying to channel whatever let her give Eric amnesia. She has a dream about watching a witch burning, specifically the burning of the woman who appeared at the end of the last episode. When Marnie wakes up, her eyes go all strange. Lafayette and Tara are trying to convince Marnie to figure out how to reverse what she did to Eric, but it seems like she’s only making a halfhearted attempt to go through her spell book. She does finally find what she thinks is the right spell, though. Pam tries to force Marnie to do the reversal spell, but it doesn’t go well. Pam goes too far in trying to intimidate Marnie, and Marnie fights back. As the episode ends, Pam is starting to look like a corpse.

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