Sookie returns from the fairy realm and learns life has moved on without her
Credit: John P. Johnson
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…

The wait is over, and after all the footage HBO showed us in promos, including the first eight minutes of the season 4 premiere, we still got a few surprises: The biggest and best being that Sookie had been in the fairy realm — a façade of silk, chiffon, and lace (like pastel week on Dancing With the Stars when every couple is doing the rumba) — for a year and two weeks. Much has changed.

Like America in every global disaster movie, Sookie was apparently the only one smart enough to figure out that the near-orgasmic “light fruit” being served in the fairy plane was a trap. She tried to warn Barry the Bellboy from season 2, another recent arrival, but he bit into the forbidden fruit before she could stop him. I hope he will be very happy with his fairy godmother Lloyd. I know I would be.

Once Sookie talked with her grandfather Earl (guest star Gary Cole), who thought he saw her just last week instead of 20 years ago, Sookie realized time stood still there and they needed to leave. Because all fairies are telepathic and not just the Stackhouses, everyone heard Sookie tell Earl as much. That’s when we met Mab, the fairy royalty who’d sent for Sookie. Because Bill had tasted Sookie and breached the plane that fairies had fled to long ago when vampires nearly drank them extinct, she’s harvesting the humans with fae blood and plans on sealing off their world so no one can travel between. Some of the fairies are for this — presumably Sookie’s fairy godmother Claudine, who brought her there. (“I have a fairy godmother? Okay, if your job is to look after me, can I just say you suck,” Sookie told her. I look forward to the montage of all the times Claudine did help her.) Others, like Claudine’s brother, want the right to visit the human realm, and must know that Mab won’t close it off with Sookie in it, which is why they helped Sookie find the portal to return home amidst a fairy fight. (How did Sookie have enough power to put Mab on her ass?)

The fairies are so much more interesting than I thought they’d be now that we know they’re truly ugly and vicious when they don’t get their way. Though Earl was warned he couldn’t leave if he’d eaten the fruit, he went with Sookie when he forced her to jump into the portal. Bill and Eric sensed the moment Sookie touched down in the cemetery, but it was daylight, which meant we had time to get through some other business before they came calling. Sookie helped Earl hobble over to the family plots, where he died and vanished after giving her his pocket watch to give to Jason. At least this time, Sookie didn’t need to scrub anything.

When Sookie arrived at her house, she found it being renovated. The workmen threatened to call the cops, and who finally walked through the door, filling out the uniform nicely — Jason. Personally, I would have wanted to discuss his facial hair. But Sookie wanted to know how long she’d been gone, 12.5 months, which is why he assumed she was dead and had sold her house to an anonymous real estate company willing to pay too much for it. I guessed it was Eric even before he arrived to tell her that unlike Bill, who also showed up, he never gave up hope that she was alive. You? Jason had told Sookie she’d be locked up if she told people she time-traveled to a fairy realm, but she hadn’t had time to think of a cover story when Sheriff Andy, now a V addict, arrived to yell at her for making him waste man hours and money on the search for her. Luckily, Bill told Andy that she had been out-of-town on vampire business for him. If Bill had told the truth during her absence, human lives would have been in danger, he said. Bill promised to cover the cost of the search after Andy cleared his name. Everyone assumed Bill had killed her.

Even though more than a year had passed, to Sookie, it felt like just an hour ago that Bill had broken her heart (when Eric made him confess that he’d let Sookie get beaten to near death when they met so he could feed her his blood and force the attraction). Sookie wasn’t ready to forgive Bill, but she seemed sad that he was so willing to give her space. He said he’d felt “so empty” without her, but he filled his days (or rather, nights) with business. I should’ve guessed by the way Eric left Sookie’s front yard when Bill asked him to that Bill was now the King of Louisiana.

NEXT: Tara found peace, and Lafayette found the place where air fresheners go to die.

Before we got to that crucial reveal, we took a trip to the Moon Goddess Emporium with Jesus and Lafayette, who’s sporting a new mohawk and the same sass. They could stay for five minutes, Lafayette told Jesus, “10 if they got dranks.” Lafayette had gone 10 months without a vision, so he didn’t really want to join Jesus’ coven. I assume most True Blood fans share Lafayette’s eye-rolling reaction to Marnie sitting on a bean bag (and his sarcastic claps for the beaded curtain), but you know, also similar to Lafayette, we’re just denying that a part of us likes the idea of magic existing. Lafayette assumed Jesus must have told Marnie about Eddie (the vampire Jason and his hippie girlfriend drained in season 1 for a few good sex scenes), and that’s why she pretended to channel him, but Jesus didn’t.

Lafayette hadn’t planned on returning to the “witch cult,” but after Jesus visited him at Merlotte’s and told Lafayette he didn’t want him to deny that which made him special — magic — he did go back. He refused to hold hands in the circle as Marnie sobbed over her dead bird Minerva (a Harry Potter fan?), until she commanded him to. What had started out as a spell to ease Minerva’s passage became a resurrection chant — with Lafayette clearly supplying the jolt of power necessary. The bird flew for a few seconds, then dropped dead again. Suddenly Marnie was very happy. We lingered on Katerina, a member of the coven, whom we later saw visit Bill’s newly restored and heavily guarded mansion and refer to him as “your majesty.”

Aside from Bill’s new title, and Eric owning Sookie’s house (more on that later), I’d say the biggest twist was Tara now in a seemingly healthy relationship with a woman named Naomi, a fellow cagefighter in New Orleans who thinks Tara’s name is Toni and that her family lives in Atlanta. I’m curious what other people think of this. I believe some will be tempted to say, “It’s because of all Franklin, a man, put her through,” but let’s remember she was able to thoroughly enjoy sex with Sam after that horrific experience. Do you think she fell in love with Naomi, and would have regardless of what gender she was? Or, do you think Tara has always been attracted to women, and forcing herself to deny that is what gave her all those anger issues? Either way, I love that this relationship has brought her peace. The old Tara wouldn’t have felt sorry for the drunk man who wanted to pay her and Naomi to make out in front of him. She would have wounded him. Tara got a text message from Lafayette telling her that Sookie was back (during some foreplay), and she told Naomi that it was her father telling her that her grandmother had passed away. Tara doesn’t want to return to Bon Temps, but she will.

NEXT: Sookie isn’t the only Stackhouse in trouble.

As for what else is going on in town, let’s break it down:

— Arlene is convinced that her baby, Mikey, has a soul as dark as his eyes just because he tore off the heads of his older siblings’ Barbie dolls. Terry says that’s normal behavior for ordinary curious boys. Still, Arlene took it as an opportunity to remind him that killing is wrong. If the baby wasn’t emotionally scarred at birth, he will be soon.

— Jessica and Hoyt are playing house and dealing with your standard human-vampire couple problems: He wants some real food in the fridge when he comes home, Jessica doesn’t want to buy it for him because a visit to the supermarket is like a trip to the morgue for her. I think that’s a load of crap, Jess, and picking up pork chops isn’t any more off-putting than the idea of Hoyt bleeding into your mouth. But, I also think a grown man can do his own grocery shopping. After Jessica made Hoyt some extremely runny eggs, they laughed and broke the tension. Hoyt eventually suggested a date night at Fangtasia, and Jessica had to excuse herself from the dance floor when she found herself wanting to bite a good-looking fangbanger. Pam followed her into the bathroom (which is for humans only), and laughed at Jessica for trying to have a monogamous relationship (both sexually and culinarily) with a tree in a plaid shirt. Pam is the Sue Sylvester of this show — definitely the most fun to write for, right?

— As good as Jason looks in the cop uniform, he looks even better in that Bon Temps football T-shirt of his. He’s definitely been working on his biceps since Sookie left. He is known as “Mr. Jason” in Hot Shot, where he has been feeding Crystal’s kin. (Is that why he needed to sell Sookie’s home? For the money?) When Jason bent down to fix a broken freezer, he was hit over the head with a baseball bat and locked inside it. So much for karma.

— Sam did, apparently, shoot Tommy in the leg, and it was a bad enough wound that a year later, Sam is still paying for Tommy’s physical therapy. Tommy now lives with Hoyt’s mother (I guess she needed to replace Hoyt, and Tommy needed someone to care for him), and Sam has found a few shifter friends who do dinner and evening runs through the forest together as horses for anger management.

— The AVL (American Vampire League) is still on crisis control after Russell pulled the spine of a news anchor out on air and declared that vampires are superior to humans. Nan Flanagan is a smart woman, so I assume she just asked Pam to tape a PSA as a lighting test while they waited for Eric to return from his first visit with Sookie. Unlike Pam, Eric is willing to play the game and win back humans’ trust one smile (and low-cut semi-sheer tank top) at a time. Yes, he should be the face of the AVL. As he filmed his commercial, Bill was out delivering a ribbon-cutting speech at the opening of the Caroline Compton Senior Citizens Center. The juxtaposition gave Eric’s question — who would you rather trust, a vampire or a politician? — some extra bite. Bill gave a special shoutout to the beautiful Portia Bellefleur, who leads the Bon Temps Chamber of Commerce. She’s also a lawyer, who Sookie hired to help track down the buyer of her house so she could try to get it back. Sookie read Portia’s mind and heard her thinking that she hopes Sookie won’t try to get back with Bill because he hardly mentions her at all.

— Just like the episode, I’ve saved the best scene for last: how we found out that Eric bought Sookie’s house. After a shower, Sookie was ready to change into a nightgown and tossed her robe behind her. Eric was there to catch it. If James Lipton were ever to ask me what my favorite sound is, I would say it’s a tie between the wind blowing through trees on a breezy summer day on my late grandfather’s farm and the grunt/growl Alexander Skarsgard utters whenever Eric is turned on. “Such a strange sensation when the reality matches what you’ve pictured in your mind so precisely,” Eric said, looking Sookie up and down as she strategically positioned the nightgown she was holding. Sookie asked him if this was another sex dream — we wish! — but it wasn’t. So how did he get into the house if she rescinded the invite? Because he now owns it. He knew she was alive, he said, and so he thought if he owned her house, he owned her. “Sookie, you are mine,” he said, popping his fangs. And scene.

Your turn.

NOTE: The July 3 episode of True Blood is now available to HBO GO subscribers. If you’ve seen it, read Mandi Bierly’s True Blood season 4 episode 2 recap and share your comments.

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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