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July 28, 2014 at 12:16 PM EDT

All season we’ve been promised that True Blood would put the focus back on the people of Bon Temps, and this felt like the first hour to do it in a satisfying way with Jason and Sookie having time for a brother-sister heart-to-heart and Arlene being able to counsel Holly and Andy through catching their kids in bed together. Sam still feels underserved this season, but perhaps his time is coming (only four episodes left). Let’s break down the new developments.

Sarah Newlin is the antidote for Hep-V: Who saw that coming? What’s great about it is it justifies having Sarah Newlin take up screen time from someone like Sam—there is a purpose to her beside comic relief. Though of course, she provided plenty of that breaking and entering into her sister’s home wearing a gray hoodie and Chanel No. 5.

Amber is about to kill Sarah, but instead, she starts vomiting blood on her tackled sister’s back. (And still, it’s not as gross as Anna Camp’s Pitch Perfect puke scenes.) Amber passes out in a campy near-death way, and when she comes to and hears that their parents are dead, she’s happy. They all turned their backs on her. It’s a little tough to pity her when she’s standing in such a large kitchen, but go with it. Sarah pleads the case for the new her (hence the name change to Newme). Amber is the best new character introduced this season, and the actress, Natalie Hall, plays her eye-rolling disbelief/disinterest so well as Sarah recounts her conversion to Buddhism. “You can’t just dye your hair and blow a guru and absolve yourself of all the horrific s— that you have done in your life,” she finally says. But Sarah Newlin, being the ultimate narcissist, can: If she hadn’t created Hep-V, then Amber wouldn’t be sick, and Sarah wouldn’t have the power to heal her. So all of this death and destruction has been to bring two sisters back together? To make Sarah the center of the universe? Sarah tells Amber that scientists had created an antidote to Hep-V, and she drank it all down as the vamps revolted at Vamp Camp because she is evil and wanted them all to die.

Eric and Pam have their first sunrise together: Did everyone notice the slit in Pam’s purple sequin dress last episode, or was she off making it while Eric had his epic hand-to-hand fight with the Yakuza at the Ted Cruz fundraiser? That’s a great start to an episode, and makes me wish we’d get to see more of Eric in that mode. He’s like a super-powered Jason Bourne, only still dressed in his Texas businessman attire and carrying around that jaw he ripped out earlier (nice touch). The “Really?” when sickly, exhausted Eric saw another rush of men coming after him was Alexander Skarsgard’s idea, according to writer/director Angela Robinson, and it was hilarious. (Read our full postmortem with her.) Harkening back to France in the 1980s, Eric has to give up the fight because the Yakuza have Pam silvered. It felt nice and Matrix-y to place them in front of a window at the Yakonomo Corporation headquarters, but necessary: They have until dawn to give up what they know about Sarah Newlin. “Our first sunrise together,” Eric cracks. Those looks they exchange—they really do have the best chemistry on the show.

Pam can’t imagine dying in a room with wall-to-wall carpet, but she almost does because Eric and Gus Jr., the Yakonomo Corporation North American President of True S—, are too proud to compromise. They both want to kill Sarah, but finally, Eric suggests he’ll kill her and Gus Jr. can have the body. That, of course, is a problem one would think, if Sarah is the cure and can’t be killed.

In the end, Eric, Pam, and Gus Jr. come strolling up to Amber’s door, and it’s the coolest shot of the episode. Amber answers the door looking flawless—even her hair is better—and Eric grabs her by the throat and asks her why she’s healed. (Because you and Bill can’t go out like that, Eric?)

NEXT: Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!

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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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