Vampires, as we all know (or at least within the world of the Sookie Stackhouse novels and True Blood), are denied the warmth of the sun and forced to spend their existence in the cold darkness of night. Sookie Stackhouse's faerie blood allows the user to daywalk, granting limited exposure to the sunlight for the vampire in question. But this is just a taste of the sun's light; it's far from permanent and it often leaves the user even more vulnerably cast back into the shadows. Sunlight, then, is deadly: the rays of the sun bring the one true death, a crispy, sizzling, burning one as a vampire is consumed from within, their blood boiling and their skin smoldering in the heat.
It is not a pleasant demise by any stretch, which must be why vengeful spirit Antonia finds it so deliciously simpatico with her needs: bring the vampires into the one thing they all crave but cannot survive.
Quite a lot happens in this week's episode of True Blood ("Cold Grey Light of Dawn"), written by Alexander Woo and directed by Michael Ruscio, but the moment that had me completely riveted was the final sequence of the installment, in which Jessica throws off her silver and attempts to walk into the sunlight, under Antonia's enchantment.
Does she succeed? Is she burned to a crisp? Well, you'll have to wait until next week's episode to find out the fate of our favorite baby vamp, last seen attempting to hurl herself through the open doors of King Bill's home into the harsh white light. It's a staggering and heartbreaking image of imminent destruction, as Jessica is forced to escape the prison of silver and bars that Bill has constructed for them. The irony isn't lost that they're the ones trapped while their former prisoner has become the jailer in this scenario: but rather than keep them chained in the basement like vermin, she seeks to drag them out into the light... and seal their fates in the process.
Is there a death wish inside each vampire? Do they long for the one true death even as they rip open the skin of their victims, bringing death with each step? As Jessica manages to free herself from her silvery imprisonment, the expression on Bill's face is a mixture of fear and jealousy, it seems. He knows what will happen to them should they breach the perimeter and enter the light of the sun, but at the same time he too craves self-destruction, another victim of Antonia's thirst for revenge.
The sequence itself is filmed exquisitely: the swaying chandelier, rocking in the force of the witches' whirlwind; the POV of the room from Jessica's dark-adapted eyes; the intense white light that spills onto her when she rips open the door, conjuring both the celestial kingdom and her doom in one shot. But it's worth noting that Jessica is not in control of her emotions, or of her actions: she wants to meet the sun more than anything in those moments, to walk out into its embrace like Beulah Carter does, bursting into flames.
I loved the fact that Jason Stackhouse attempts to come to Jessica's rescue, rushing the guards at Bill's compound in an effort to keep Jessica inside the house. While his fate is also left unclear at the end of the episode (there's that gunshot that rings out after he's tackled by one of the human guards), I don't think for a second that he's going to be killed off in such a fashion. (Hell no.) But clearly he has some sort of feelings for Jessica that go beyond the blood bond they share; he's willing to risk his own life to save her undead one.
It's the witch Antonia who drives Jessica's desire for combustion, aided by her circle of Wiccans, who are as yet fully unaware of what spell they cast. Antonia is canny, to say the least (bye, bye, Katerina!); she's not foolish enough to inform her coven of what she's attempting here. (I don't for a second think Holly would wish the one true death upon coworker Jessica, had she known that they were attempting to destroy every last vampire within twenty miles.)
She's also clever enough to bring Tara to her side as well, sensing with her a hatred of the vampires as well. Marnie says that it's written all over Tara: her rape by Franklin, countless attacks that have propelled her fear and her rage to their breaking point. She needs willing souls, and Tara has lost everything in those moments before their chance encounter on the side of the road: she believes that she's lost Sookie (who has chosen Eric and the vampires over her) and she's lost Naomi as well, remaining unwilling to allow Naomi to endanger her life by staying. She chooses Tara over Toni, casting off her false identity to reclaim her life. But with that life comes bitterness, loss, and grief; those are threaded over Tara's soul, they make up the features on her face, and it's that which Antonia sees and which she uses to draw Tara to her side.
While we see the truer side of vampires via Bill, Eric, and Jessica, I don't blame Tara for her actions. Vampires have completely destroyed her life (one could broaden this category to include supernaturals of all kinds) and I can see why she would be gently pushed into line behind Antonia. Just earlier that evening, Pam came after her and Naomi and surely would have killed one or both of them had video camera-wielding humans surrounded them. I'm actually glad that Alan Ball and the writers chose not to kill off Naomi, because Tara's had way too much death in her life already. She could lose Naomi from her life, but it had to be by choice here, rather than having the decision made for her by a hungry vampire biting down.
(Meanwhile, I loved the return of Doctor Ludwig, who performed a full-body peel on poor Pam and instructed her that she can fight off the exterior rot by injecting herself with six shots every for, well, forever. And I loved Ginger's efforts to keep Pam in her coffin.)
Elsewhere, Eric and Sookie continued their romance, moving from the woods (where they're spied on by Alcide and Debbie, once again questioning her boyfriend's fidelity) and into Sookie's house, where they explore the hallway floor and her bed. And, later, I loved the scene where she had to silver Eric to keep him in his subterranean cubby, laying down next to him as his skin sizzled under the silver. It's a contrast to the animal passions they expressed earlier, harkening back to the sweet innocence of their chaste encounters this season. Could it be that Sookie not only has passion for Eric but also love?
Sam found out about Tommy being a skinwalker (and pretending to be him) and kicked him out after confronting Luna about her sudden chilliness, which seemed to come out of nowhere. I'm trying to feel some sort of sympathy for Tommy, but it's not exactly easy to feel bad for him, despite the awful things that have happened to him. Perhaps it's because he chooses to continue doing bad, in spite of the many kindnesses shown to him. Rather than hide away, he chose to become Sam and pretend to be him, sleeping with Luna and firing Sookie. I can only hope that there's some potential redemption for Tommy down the line, because Sam was the best thing that ever happened to him (except for, say, that gunshot) and his actions have further deteriorated their already tenuous relationship. I think Sam is more than justified in throwing Tommy to the curb.
And then there was the latest twist in the Mikey storyline as Lafayette, following the events in Mexico with Don Bartolo and Tio Luca, is able to see the spirit hovering around Mikey and singing to him. Now that he's accepted his abilities as a medium, I dare say that Lafayette will become a pivotal character in the ghostly plot around Mikey, which clearly involves this woman. (I also can't help but wonder if it doesn't mean that Rene's own disembodied spirit will be turning up before the season is over.)
Finally, Andy and Holly attempted to have a date, but it went horribly awry, thanks to Andy's addiction to V. While I was intrigued by a V-addicted Andy Bellefleur, I have to say that I'm growing extremely tired of this particular storyline, as Andy continues to act continually erratic and bizarre, exhibiting super-strength and super-rudeness with equal measure. It's all a little too on the nose for me and while I was curious to see just whether Andy and Holly could make a go of things, the V storyline intruded once more. Meh.
Still, that's a minor quibble for an episode that was pretty damn strong overall. I had the luxury of watching next week's episode immediately following "Cold Grey Light of Dawn," which I needed as I think I would have combusted from anticipation and anxiety after seeing Jessica throw open those doors. (All I'll say is that next week's sensational episode--which contains a variation on the infamous "shower scene" of Charlaine Harris' novel--is not to be missed.)
I'm curious to know: what did you think of this week's episode? Head to the comments section to discuss and debate.
Next week on True Blood ("Spellbound"), as Bill and Marnie brace for a dangerous midnight faceoff, Sookie and Eric pledge their allegiance to the King; Jason is torn between friendship and passion, and Jessica is spurned from two homes; Lafayette becomes the pawn of a tormented spirit; Tommy takes a walk in someone elseʼs shoes; Sam contends with yet another adversary in Marcus, Lunaʼs ex and the leader of Alcideʼs new pack.