True Blood, Anna Paquin, ... | In the season 3 finale, vampire Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) made Bill confess to Sookie — who can't read vampire minds — that he let her…

Blam! The shot Sookie fired at the end of last week’s True Blood, at the werewolf? Eric dove for it at the start of this week’s episode and intercepted it… and then killed the werewolf himself. (Eric to Sookie, mouth dripping: “I got your rug all wet.”) Other

tidied-up plot danglers from last week: The set-aflame Lorena was rolled up in one of Russell’s valuable rugs, smothering the fire but not, unfortunately, Lorena. Russell resumed his verbal seduction of Bill, more “working together” stuff, plus a heartfelt, “Why not turn her?” in regard to Sookie. Russell compared his happy, centuries-long relationship with Talbot to Bill’s comparatively recent one with Sookie. But Bill doesn’t want to turn Sookie into an undead — it carries too many bad memories, of which we saw plenty this week.

Oh, yes, this was one of those Bill revisits his past when he was married-with-children hours, with plenty of moments of wife Caroline’s anguish over Bill’s long absence from her, lo those many years ago. We saw Bill’s little son in a coffin, dead from “the pox,” and our hero pleading with Caroline to understand that “My human life was taken from me… I’ve come here to bury my son.” Instead, Caroline, so undone by Bill’s return, pleads for him to kill her. Or, at least, these were Bill’s visions as we saw them while he slept in Russell’s house. I should think Russell’s gaudy digs would give anyone nightmares.

My favorite new character, the grizzled-yet-sexy Franklin, engaged in sex with Tara, then sought to extract info from her about Bill and Sookie. And in one of those how-did-the-writers-do-that? twists that True Blood can pull off so well, Franklin helped out poor, desperate Jessica, still saddled with her dead-trucker-corpse problem. Except that now her problem was that the corpse had disappeared. But — phew! — Franklin showed up with the victim’s head from this guy in a bag, a little gift for Jessica. “That’s my job; I find things,” he said. I could watch a show separate spin-off show starring James Frain — Franklin: Vampire Detective — couldn’t you?

The other newbie for the series was the full-fledged introduction of Alcide (Joe Manganiello), who tells Sookie he was sent by Eric to protect her. Sookie takes him up on his offer and they go to a werewolf bar for clues as to Bill’s whereabouts, with Sookie reading the minds of licking-their-chops-at-her werewolves. Alcide gets beaten up by these creature-guys; he’s earning Sookie’s (and our) trust here. Thus far, Alcide seems a little too tidy and unwarrantedly soulful, but that’s just a first impression; what do you think of him?

Biggest news on the Bill front? He’s decided to play along with Russell — to save Sookie, among other things. He renounced his loyalty to the Queen and pledged his fealty to Russell. In the end, however, the hour came back to Lorena, source of so much of Bill’s ongoing agony. Saying he’ll never love her, he bites her, they have vicious sex, and in a final twist, he twists her head 180 degrees while continuing to copulate, a neat, gruesome trick. Fade out with her cry to “William” that she still loves him.

Some other non-silver-bulleted details:

• What was up with Jason’s one-episode infatuation with becoming a deputy? I understand where the motivation came from — he was on a natural high from last week’s meth-lab bust — but the whole studying for the exam only to burn his application to the force; that can’t be the end of it. I think this is an itch he’ll come back to scratch again, don’t you?

• Yes, Arlene is pregnant; nine weeks’ worth. No, Terry is not the father.

• Talbot’s Zima joke marked him as a boy-toy with a limited sense of humor; frankly, I don’t see what Russell sees in him.

• Eric gave Lafayette his cool car for a buck, as a threat/incentive to sell more V. Head for the hills, dear Lafayette!

• Sam’s family remains something out of a Hee Haw sketch but with a nasty edge, as was proven when the clan came to Merlotte’s and Daddy Mickens let Sam’s underage brother Tommy guzzle liquor, much to Sam’s embarrassment and irritation. However, Sam’s mom seems like the nicest person she can be under the circumstances, those circumstances including being married to a man who looks absolutely frightening in a pair of filthy white underpants.

• It’s nice that Sookie paid for Eggs’ sparsely-attended funeral, but when she showed up to comfort Tara, my first thought was, “Wait, you’ve spent the previous two hours of True Blood frantic to go find Bill, and now you’re pausing to attend a funeral, after yelping at everyone you’ve encountered that ‘every minute counts’?” Friendship with Tara is a powerful thing, I guess. Admirable, but fluky in that ditzy way Sookie can be sometimes.

All in all, another jam-packed hour. But I definitely felt it wasn’t an excessively overloaded episode (well, except for Sheriff Bud’s hissy-fit “I quit,” which I hope will at least lead to some outlaw law enforcement by Jason). Instead, the season is taking shape as a nicely complex study in clashing loyalties and the tragedy of deaths that haunt many of the central characters.

What did you think?

Follow: @kentucker

Episode Recaps

True Blood, Anna Paquin, ... | In the season 3 finale, vampire Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) made Bill confess to Sookie — who can't read vampire minds — that he let her…
True Blood

Sookie, Bill, Eric, Lafayette, Sam and the other residents Bon Temps deal with vampires, werewolves, fairies, and shape-shifters—not to mention romance and drama

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