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 dared to go even more over-the-top than usual this week, with amusing, clever, ultimately exhilarating results. The locus for this Sunday’s best moments was Russell’s big house. That’s where Franklin brought Tara, tied her to a bed, and showed her how quickly a vampire can speed-text-message. (“Franklin, you’re a huge freak,” said Russell with delight.) It’s also where Bill had an excellent, violent freak-out when Cooter told him Sookie was consorting with Alcide.

It was at Russell’s, as well, that Eric came to try and lie his way out of trouble, but ended up admitting he was selling V for the Queen. And it was in Russell’s abode that Eric had a flashback to his Viking past-life. I know I’ve said before that I don’t much care for True Blood‘s flashbacks, which in the past have tended to resemble high-school-play dress-ups. But this one was nicely emotional, as we witnessed Eric’s parents and their death-by-werewolf, with Eric’s dad pledging him to vengeance.

In each of these plot strands, the scenes tended to start out with humor but ended by amping up the drama. Both of the big Tara-Franklin moments were superb, peaking with Franklin’s promise to take the starving, frightened, but cagey young woman to “a Shoney’s in Vicksburg” and then proposing… to turn her: “Will you be my vampire bride?” This may be a horror to Tara, but it’s a great development for her character, and for us.

The overarching theme of this season’s True Blood, it seems at this point, is that families always cause you trouble (the title, not coincidentally, of this night’s episode). This week, that notion played out in various ways, most obviously (and mysteriously) with Sam and the Mickens clan. I’m as baffled as Sam is as to what the deal is between Joe Lee and Tommy (“I own him!”), but I’m thoroughly intrigued. (Am I correct in guessing that this is made clear in Charlaine Harris’ novels?)

The closing scene, in which Bill and Sookie were reunited only to have Bill tell her she had to go, was summed up by Russell: “Fantastic!” The way Sookie repelled her attackers with that flashing power from her hand — Sookie is officially no longer a squawking, running-around whiner this season.

A few final silver-bulleted thoughts:

• The flirtation between Lafayette and Jesus was very sweet.

• Loved Jessica hypnotizing Merlotte’s patrons with the command, “Do not tip your waitress” (i.e., Arlene).

• Less cute: Terry and Arlene moving in together. Stretching out the pregnancy subplot is getting old, fast. We know nothing good is going to come of this; I just wish they’d get to it faster, or make their characters less cornball.

• Even less cute: Jason goofing around in police headquarters, sight-gags with the paperclip chain and the fingerprint kit. (And what’s up with that Deputy Ellis, doing a Jim Nabors/Gomer Pyle impersonation?)

• Thank goodness Jason finally caught up with Crystal, his mystery girl — she looks promising, doesn’t she?

What did you think?

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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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