Beginning with a bang and ending in a whimper, this week’s True Blood turned out to be one of the more delicate, nuanced episodes of the season, and if that’s not your official SPOILER ALERT, I don’t know what is.

Taking up where we left off last week, a be-bombed Luke blew up himself and the vampire’s lair. There were a number of deaths, both human and vampire, and as Nan Flanagan, the TV talking-head for the American Vampire League said privately to her vampires, this public explosion is “a P.R. mess.”

But this “mess” was not without its deep Blood pleasures. Eric shielded Sookie from flying debris, probably saving her life. In return, he lay wounded, and Sookie felt obliged to help him in his request for her to remove shards of silver shrapnel stuck in his body. “It’s too gross; it’s too… you!” protested Sookie, disgusted. But she did it anyway, chomping and sucking until Bill came upon them and told Sookie she’d been suckered by Eric, that the silver bullets would have pushed themselves out, and that “this means you’re connected; he’ll be able to sense your emotions.”

For his part, Eric just lay back and smiled, saying, “She was superb.” The metaphor for receiving a sexual favor from Sookie was all too clear. “You big, lying a-hole!” squawked Sookie. It was funny, but also ominous. “Don’t be surprised if you feel some attraction to him,” said Bill, adding, “sexual.” As if we didn’t know that. (Sometimes Bill is so inactive and so stating-the-obvious, he becomes less appealing as the series’ key vampire. But this also requires a more subtle range of acting, and adds to the complexity of vampire-human relations.)

There were, of course, other subplots. The Jessica-Hoyt affair continues to be comic relief, complete with an awkward dinner between the couple and Hoyt’s hoity-toity mother.

But the bigger subplot was Maryann’s increasing power over Tara and Eggs, her striding into the jail and demanding to see Sam, and setting free the rest of the pleasure-addled citizen-prisoners. Sam escaped – he was a fly on the wall (er, table) when Maryann went to Tara’s house. Maryann has pretty much given up trying to hide her pleasure-principle powers, her let’s-party mood replaced by impatience and cruelty, as when she tried to lure Tara’s sober mom to relapse with a nice, chilled bottle of vodka.

Ultimately, the episode moved True Blood’s narrative ahead most forcefully in revealing to us just how much hitherto unknown influence Nan Flanagan holds in the vampire world. She was able to relieve no less than Godric of his status and power within these ranks. In the midst of this dead-serious stuff, Blood still had time for an excellent joke. Eric tells Nan, “You don’t have that kind of power.” Sneers Nan, “Hey, I’m on TV – try me.”

Yes, TV exerts a great and terrible power, doesn’t it, making us helplessly in thrall to True Blood. There was a beautiful moment when Eric cries as Godric explains he must die to atone for his sins. The love between the two men was palpable: “There are centuries of faith and love between us,” said Godric, trying to comfort an agonized Eric.

In the closing moments, a now-chastened, eager-to-atone Godric went up on a roof to see the killing sunrise. Sookie, ever the forgiving Christian, tried to comfort him, but Godric’s different faith surpassed even hers in welcoming either final death or a soul brought to ultimate justice: “I’m full of joy… I want to burn!” Godric cried in final ecstasy.

The mixture of Christian and pagan faith; same-sex and hetero-sex love; and Sookie in a red gingham dress looking like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz… it was another genre-bending, mind-expanding edition of True Blood.

Am I right? Wrong?