As Eric and Pam search for Sarah Newlin in Dallas, Sookie reluctantly hosts a celebration of life party where people get (un)lucky.
Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO
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…

This episode has a little bit of everything you want in an hour of True Blood: humor, gore, grief, sex, and a lot of Lafayette. (Update: Read what Nelsan Ellis has to say about those developments.) Of course, there are also things you don’t want, like any Lettie Mae and flashbacks to human Bill. But you probably feel guilty for wanting to fast-forward through the latter now that Bill is (surprise) Hep-V positive. Sookie’s gonna have to sleep in layers if a cure isn’t found. But maybe by having to face the possibility of losing both Bill and Eric next, she’ll have the clarity of which one she loves more… And when she inevitably chooses Bill, Eric can have rebound sex with Ginger.

Ginger’s goodbye… for now: In the aftermath of the bloodbath at Fangtasia, Willa trades information on the whereabouts of Sarah Newlin’s vampire sister, Amber Mills, in exchange for her admittedly neglectful maker Eric releasing her. “Like being kicked in the cooch by a wallaby, in’t it?” Pam says, after free Willa gasps. Just the first of many new classic Pam lines in this episode. It’s fun to imagine that that area of the anatomy is where Eric Northman’s pull resides.

Ginger throws a hysterical fit when Eric tells her they’ll just be needing two traveling coffins to Dallas now. She knows this may be the last time she sees Eric, so she wants to go in Willa’s, but he says no. The time away from Eric has allowed Ginger’s mind to sharpen enough that she’s strong and articulate when she expresses her desperation: “I have been your sex slave for 15 years, Eric Northman, and we ain’t never had sex, bl– job, ha– job, nothin’. Do you know what a sex slave is without the sex?” she asks. (“A slave,” Pam answers.) Shaking her hands in frustration, it’s like Ginger never even invested in a battery-operated device over the years. “Now you are takin’ me with you to Dallas,” she tells Eric, “and if you can’t f—in’ take me, then you had better f—in’ f— me before you go.” Eric’s calm response—”Ginger, I’m diseased”—may mean that he actually agrees that he owes her something for the idea of Fangtasia and years of devotion, but now is not the time to cash in. Ginger’s giddy response—”So the f— am I!”—kills the mood regardless. Presumably she just means she’s a Hep-V carrier from her days in Vamp Camp, which means Eric can’t even drink from her before he leaves. It’s a cruel world, Ginger, but totally worth it to see her throw her body on Eric’s coffin, kicking and screaming, and slide off. This can’t be the last time she sees Eric, though. Actress Tara Buck is billed as a series regular this year, so she’s sticking around.

Sookie’s forced celebration of life: Sookie returns home from Fangtasia to an empty house, save for Lafayette and James. It’s nice to be reminded that basic human kindness, like tucking someone who’s just lost her lover into bed and assuring her that you’ll be there when she wakes up, still exists. When Sookie finally gets out of bed the next evening, we learn the real reason the show’s writers brought Jackson and Jenny to town—Jenny had to help Lafayette cook for the party he’s throwing to fill Sookie’s home with people and booze. Sookie’s not in the mood, but Lafayette gives a motivational speech worthy of a locker room at halftime in a sports movie, and that, combined with Bill showing up first with flowers, convinces her to go upstairs and put her brave face on.

Apparently the people of Bon Temps really stocked up on alcohol for the Hep-V apocalypse (as one should) because they bring enough to Sookie’s house to get that party rockin’. Everybody’s dancing. Arlene, Holly, and Jane toast to surviving and getting their lives together—starting tomorrow. Poor pregnant Nicole can’t drink with them, which is another form of torture, really.

Sookie comes downstairs wearing another yellow and white dress. Yellow is often her color of choice—she wore it the night she and Bill had graveyard sex, and the night she and amnesiac Eric tried to get it on before King Bill burst in. Violet’s attempt at empathy is as awkward as Jason thinking Sookie’s complimenting him, not Violet, on looking good: Violet tells Sookie she remembers how difficult it was to lose the first of the hundreds of boyfriends she’s had over the years. Luckily, Bill is there to interrupt again and gracefully escorts Sookie away.

Next time we see Sookie, she and the others are in the kitchen—which is magically partially soundproof—listening to Jackson deliver a toast to Alcide that should help give fans who thought his death was too unceremonious some closure. Alcide was a man who’d fight only when he had a worthy cause, and Sookie was one. Lettie Mae, who’d drugged the Reverend so she could attend the party, arrived in time to share a few words about Tara, who’d also died a hero saving her. Again, better late than never for fans.

Jessica meanwhile is being a party pooper, standing guard alone outside. There was a lovely scene between her and Andy, who told her that seeing her torturing herself for killing his girls keeps the pain alive for him, too. She’s kept Adilyn safe and helped rescue Holly—life is too short to keep looking backward. He’s moving forward, and he needs her to help him. Since there’s been no time to ring shop, he wants to borrow one of hers to propose to Holly, but Jessica has a better idea: Gran’s ring, which she’d left for Jason to give to the woman he’d marry. Violet says she doesn’t need a ring to tell her that Jason is hers (especially not one with such a tiny diamond), and Jason isn’t the only one cringing at her assumption.

Proving Jason does have a cop’s eye for some things, he warns Adilyn and Wade that they’ll need to stop f—ing, if they are, and kills the music so a terrified Andy can kneel in front of Holly and deliver a pitch-perfect marriage proposal. He’s done letting the idea that he doesn’t deserve someone as beautiful and as kind as her hold him back. He knows she has healing to do, and he wants to be there every step of the way. She says yes before he even pops the question. Everyone’s thrilled, except Nicole, who looks strangely uncomfortable, and Adilyn and Wade, of course.

Arlene can tell Sookie’s about to cry and takes her upstairs to her soundproof bedroom for a heartfelt talk between two women who’ve lost their loves. Arlene admits she would put Terry’s jacket on at night, just to feel his arms around her. You never get over it, she says, you just learn to live with it—with the help of time and tequila. It’s good Jackson was eavesdropping—now if Sookie does end up with someone else, he’ll at least believe she did care for Alcide.

NEXT: The party’s just getting started

Hello, Keith: Arlene and Sookie continue their tequila bender downstairs, and we learn that Keith, the vampire who saved Arlene with his blood, has been making eyes at her all night. Carrie Preston is so good, the way she paces close behind Sookie like a flirty cat as Sookie explains to Keith that Arlene has been through a lot and needs him to dial down his sexy. Keith says he can wait, but he wants Arlene to know she’s the most beautiful woman he’s seen in more than 300 years and that (gulp) he’ll be seeing her in her dreams. Drunk Arlene holds it together, sort of: “I have to go make tinkle because, you know, I am a human,” she says. How many takes did Preston have to do of that before no one laughed? Can we get that on a T-shirt? That’s the kind of character moment we need more of as the series enters the second half (already!) of its final season.

Sookie and Bill are friends, and oh yeah, Bill’s dying: Toward the end of the party, Sookie walks through the house hearing everyone’s thoughts, and they no longer hate her. She ends up outside with Bill, who’s standing watch and having flashbacks. If you did fast-forward through them, which I would have if I wasn’t recapping, here’s what you missed: Bill didn’t actually want to fight in the Civil War. He knew it was a lost cause (episode title alert), which would only destroy the town’s land and people’s livelihoods. He tried to walk his family north with a group of slaves being led by one who was shot dead by Bill’s enlisted friend Charles. Deserters of any color would be executed.

Sookie tries to get Bill to come inside, but first, he turns her around to look at her house filled with vampires and humans celebrating together. He says she’s achieved more than he ever has—true mainstreaming. He escorts tipsy Sookie back up the stairs to her front door and thanks her for a lovely evening. Then she thanks him for seeing her the way she can’t see herself sometimes and hugs him. He doesn’t try to kiss her, they just tell each other good night. The message: They’re moving forward, too. Men and women can be friends.

If the point of all this is to remind us that Bill is a good man, it works. When Bill goes home to take a bath (because why wouldn’t he?), he thinks about how he promised his wife that he’d make it through the war and return to her and the children because they’re each other’s true and only loves. Looking into the mirror (after he wraps himself in a towel far too quickly), Bill sees a Hep-V vein on his chest. It’s a legitimate hand-to-mouth-gasp of a twist—a kick to the cooch by a wallaby, if you will. So was there another purpose to these flashbacks: Were they Bill’s life starting to flash before his eyes because he’s dying? His subconscious preparing him to see fighting against Hep-V as a lost cause? A reminder that promising you’ll survive doesn’t make it so and true love can’t stop death?

Can Lettie Mae die already, please: Determined to get Willa’s blood to see Tara again, Lettie Mae finds Willa asking drunk Arlene for a job at Bellefleur’s and stabs her arm from behind. Before she can lick the blood from the knife, Sam grabs it and stops the other vampires from turning on Lettie Mae. Lafayette escorts Lettie Mae out, while Nicole demands Sam take her home because she can’t believe people are throwing a party and acting as if things like her kidnapping happen in other towns. Well, technically, isn’t it happening in other towns now, Nicole? Bon Temps is just used to it.

NEXT: Let’s back it up, and get it on

Lafayette makes his stand: If you’ve been rooting for James and Lafayette to hook up, you got your wish. And Nelsan Ellis, who plays Lafayette, got arguably his best scene in the entire series in the aftermath. Andy’s pep talk had cheered Jessica up, but not enough to make her want to leave the party early and go home and have sex with James. James ends up on Sookie’s candlelit front porch telling Lafayette how that many candles around drunk people have got to be a fire hazard how Jessica gives him just enough love and affection to keep him hooked. Is he that simple? No, Lafayette says, playing with a piece of James’ hair. And then Lafayette asks the follow-up question we all had after hearing the story the first night they’d met of how James was turned into a vampire after his dead best friend Danny’s father beat him in the street with a bat. Were James and Danny [insert sex hand motion that turns to hand holding]? Yes, James confirms. Lafayette drops his cup, and it’s on—tenderly at first, kissing on the porch.

Eventually, Jessica is ready to show James some affection and comes looking for him. She finds him having sex with Lafayette in their SUV. James wants to talk about it, but Jessica runs inside, tells Jason what just happened, and has Jason rescind James’ invitation. James tells Lafayette he wants to be alone, but Violet gives Jason the okay to go upstairs and talk to Jessica. That was uncharacteristically thoughtful for Violet, who also later volunteers to make sure Sam and Nicole get home okay. She must feel so secure in her relationship with Jason, now that she’s letting him have sex with her. Uh-oh.

Lafayette bravely goes up to talk to Jessica, and at first, it’s a short “f— you,” “f— you” chat. But Lafayette comes back and has more lines than he’s probably had all season combined. Lafayette may not know Jessica, as she said, but she doesn’t know James. He rattles off questions asking her if she knows when, and how, and by whom James was turned. She doesn’t. Finding a lover cheating is embarrassing, but if Jessica’s honest with herself, she knows James isn’t the man for her. When Jessica scoffs at the idea of James being the man for Lafayette, Lafayette explodes: Why would that be so unimaginable? “Everybody else in this f—ing town is falling in love, and getting engaged, and having babies. Has it ever f—-ing occurred to you that Lafayette, that queen that make all you white heterosexuals laugh and feel good about yourselves, has it ever f—ing ever occurred to you that maybe I want a piece of happiness, too?” This is True Blood rising above being a sudsy summer guilty pleasure and saying something that needs to be said. Instantly, we’re all even more invested in Lafayette getting his happy ending with James. James is a good man, Lafayette says, and if she doesn’t love him, she should let him go and he’ll take over from here. It’s the best scene in the episode and, it has to be said again, probably the best scene Nelsan Ellis has ever received on the show.

Jessica and Jason get THE best sex scenes: Jason knows he’s supposed to be talking to Jessica about her relationship with James, and he does, but he’s dying to talk to someone about Violet. It’s time for him to say something surprisingly profound (even doing an impersonation of Violet in the process): The reason he’s okay giving Andy his grandmother’s ring, which meant a lot to him, is because he doesn’t want it to end up on Violet. Hearing him talk about how he does want to marry someone someday, Jessica says he might be the sweetest man in the world (or, at least the sweetest version of himself that he can only be around her). She kisses him, then catches herself. He smiles, and sweetly kisses her back. She laughs, and then they’re really kissing. In that moment, there’s no guilt, just happiness. It’s like they’re both teenagers falling in love for the first time. It’s that humanity Jessica longs to be close to.

Remember how the camera panned across the yard at Bill’s house and up into the bed of Jason’s truck, where Jason and Jessica first had sex in season 4? Well, this time, the camera pans up from the yard at Sookie’s and into the bedroom, where Jessica, with her blue flowered dress dropped to her waist, is straddling Jason, with his jeans down at his ankles, in Sookie’s vanity chair. Jason and Jessica’s Halloween night romp tops our list of True Blood‘s 15 sexiest hookups, and we may need to update the list again. It’s super hot. It could just be all the moaning (which Violet overhears as she returns—instead of confronting them, she walks away, which is scary). But it’s probably also the fact that you believe they care about each other, and that Jason wants to make it good for her. Deborah Ann Woll seems to have it in her contract that she won’t show her breasts onscreen, and that helps, too actually: They have to get closer and be in a more intimate position so their bodies can do some natural blocking.

NEXT: Texas forever

Pam and Eric do Dallas: Back to where we began. When Eric and Pam find Sarah’s vampire sister, Hep-V-infected Amber, it’s believable that Eric would patiently sit and listen to her tell her story both because he’s a bit weak and also because the sibling bond is one that he respects (RIP, Nora). Amber explains how she was a fangbanger right out of high school, and her boyfriend, Jeremy, who turned her, helped her get her s— together. Sarah was married to Steve Newlin and the Fellowship of the Sun and paid off broke Amber to stay in the coffin and let Sarah say she’d been taken by vampires and never seen again. Amber and Jeremy’s House Hunters-marathon-filled romance came to an end when he died in her arms—just like Eric watched Nora die. Amber agreeing to help them because she wants them to kill Sarah receives the raised eyebrow of approval from Eric and Pam’s highest praise, “I like you.” (Pause to admire Kristin Bauer van Straten’s impeccable comedic timing.)

Amber tells them Sarah will run to their parents, who will be attending a Ted Cruz fundraiser being hosted at the Bush Library that night. Brilliant. Amber doubts Pam and Eric will be able to get past security—only a–holes were invited. “You don’t know us, sweetheart,” Eric says. “We can be a–holes.” Costume change!

Later, we’d see that Pam and Eric had gone shopping for each other’s formal attire, just to make it more fun. Eric zips Pam up in a purple sequin gown with a silver sequin belt and halter straps that makes her look like a pageant contestant. “Oh… my… god. I’m a republic–t,” Pam quips. (There’s another T-shirt we need.) Eric smiles proudly, and Pam can’t wait to show him what she and her Neiman’s salesperson selected for him. “Strip,” she says, poking his nose like two friends who can get naked in front of each other and not have it be sexual. When Eric takes off his shirt, it’s another gasp-worthy moment: Like Pam, we see the Hep-V veins are now covering his torso, arms, and back. He’s stage 2. Immediately, the mood changes, and now he looks like he’s going to cry but stops himself. Pam does tear up as she uses makeup to cover up the veins that will be visible. Eric tells her she has to accept that he’s going to die. Nope. No one’s doing that, Eric.

The gala is the most disturbing thing Pam has seen in 100 years, and fingers crossed, George W. Bush receives tons of congratulatory emails about his likeness being used in a giant photo on the show. Eric jokes that they’ll have fun because they’re together, but the truth is, he’s always enjoyed pretending to be human. He’s in a brown Western-themed suit with a bolo tie and a large dress cowboy hat. It’s everything you never knew you wanted. (Read what costume designer Audrey Fisher has to say about their looks, and their ’80s and ’90s flashbacks from last episode.)

Sarah finds her Laura Bush-esque mother (played by Bess Armstrong) in the ladies room alone. Her mother is equally curious about what Sarah wants and what Sarah has done with her hair. The answer: Sarah wants her mother to get her help from someone powerful. “Is Laura Bush out there?” Sarah asks. “Well, can you call her?” So great. But Laura no longer takes calls from the family because Sarah is the monster who created the Hep-V monsters.

Long story short, the Yakuza show up looking for Sarah and start killing all the security guards. They shoot the father when he doesn’t know where Sarah is. Sarah’s mother can’t keep up with her daughter as they try to make a run for it, and she’s gunned down in a hallway.

Sarah runs right into Eric, who lifts her off the ground in a chokehold. He tosses her away when three Yakuza appear—one with a gun and two with swords. Eric vamp-speeds to them, grabs the swords, and slices them all. Eric also rips out the mouth of the leader—the man who made him choose between Pam and Sylvie back in France in 1986. That is a new one for Eric, who usually goes for the heart. Gross but effective.

So where do we go from here? Will Eric’s strength hold out if more Yakuza follow? How soon can we get him back to Bon Temps? Will Jason be able to break up with Violet without her getting violent? Can Lafayette find happiness with James? How soon will we get that Arlene-Keith sex dream? What the hell is Willa gonna do now on the show? Wait, could she get with Hoyt, when he finally returns to town? And how will Sookie react when she learns Bill is Hep-V positive? So many questions, only five more episodes.

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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