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The Agony and the Ecstasy: Hell to Pay on "True Blood"

"Bacchus drowns within the bowl/Troubles that corrode the soul." - Horace

On this week's episode of True Blood ("New World in My View"), written by Kate Barnow and Elisabeth R. Finch and directed by Adam Davidson, homecoming proved to be an eye-opening experience for Sookie, Bill, and Jason, Jessica and Hoyt's relationship was tested by Maxine's mercilessness, and Andy and Sam attempted to evade the entire blood-thirsty population of Bon Temps.

The inhabitants of Bon Temps have worked themselves into a frenzy, pushed into an ecstatic state by the malevolent Maryann; their every inhibition is stripped bare, resulting in a wave of chaos overtaking the sleepy backwoods town, a darkness that cascades over the souls of every man, woman, and child and threatens to consume them from the inside out.

A vengeful god demands his sacrifice, after all, and that sacrifice just happens to be our favorite shifter Sam Merlotte. So just how did Sam manage to evade being ripped apart by maenad Maryann's frenzied followers? Lock yourself in the walk-in, turn on your chainsaw, pop open a Tru Blood, and let's discuss "New World in My View."

After the Dallas-set adventures of the Stackhouse clan, this week's episode of True Blood found Sookie (still having some Eric-oriented dreams) and Jason, and Vampire Bill returning to a Bon Temps that was barely recognizable from how they left it. And no sooner do they arrive then they're caught up in the new world order that Maryann has carved out in the town: a lawless chaos where every desire is catered to. Is it Heaven on Earth? Or are these poor people enslaved to a id-hungry madwoman who toys with them as a child might a set of dolls?

This week's episode masterfully brought about a stunning payoff to Jason Stackhouse's story this season, using the fighting skills he gained during his time with the Fellowship of the Sun to full advantage, transforming the once selfish lothario into something akin to Jason the (Non-Vampire) Slayer. I'd wondered just where his character would be taken in the last three episodes and I'm glad that the writers have chosen to follow through on this character's potential to take his story to its logical conclusion for the season. After all, he's now a lean, mean killing machine, so who better to enlist in the forces of good in Bon Temps?

Kudos to Sam to pull off a rather ingenuous disappearing act (hello, fly!), after willingly offering himself as a sacrifice in order to save Jason and Andy. Sam's modus operandi his entire life has always been to run, so to see him take a stand and accept his fate--even if it means certain death--is a major turning point for the character. Once again, Sam Trammel effortlessly pulled off a gripping portrayal of abject terror but also sublimated his fear in order to become a consummate survivor who stops running and makes a selfless gesture of friendship.

I loved Ryan Kwanten's hysterical flare-assisted impromptu appearance as the Horned God before the frenzied mob (aided ably by Andy Bellefleur with twigs), delivering a rather dim-witted (if hilarious) appearance as the god-who-comes. Definitely a highlight of the episode for me and mixed humor with terror quite effectively. Not quite sure how Andy and Jason believe that Sam escaped after being "smote," but they appear to not be asking too many questions right now.

Just why was Terry Bellefleur affected by Jason's threat that he'd shoot Arlene in the head with the nail gun? Could it be that the townspeople's consciousnesses still lurk somewhere behind those pitch-black eyes? Or was it a ruse to get Sam to come out of the walk-in?

Meanwhile, Hoyt and Jessica's relationship was severely tested by the frenzied state of bigoted Maxine Fortenberry, who is even more callously evil and overbearing under Maryann's influence. Her taunting of poor Hoyt was gutting, especially as he found himself unable to stop her verbal onslaught or quell the rising rage in Jessica, who appeared to throw Hoyt aside and sink her teeth into Maxine's neck. Jessica and Hoyt have proven themselves able to get over quite a few bumps in their romance so far but I'm terrified that this might be one encounter that neither can sweep under the rug. It's hard to give into love when your vampire girlfriend may have bitten your mother.

The look of horror on Jim Parrack's face when he sees Jessica bite Maxine underscored just how different their worlds truly are. Deborah Ann Woll's righteous indignation at how Maxine was talking to Hoyt underscores her character's innate love for Hoyt and need to protect him but we're also seeing those darker impulses within her coming to the fore. Fingers crossed that these two stick together instead of falling apart...

Loved that Bill and Sookie had to use their powers in tandem in order to save Tara from Maryann's influence and that Sookie had to dive in deeper into Tara's mind than she ever had in order to bring her friend's personality back to the surface. I thought that the "intervention" scenes were handled exceptionally well, with some real pathos and darkness here. It's a nice counterbalance to Lettie Mae's own struggles with her "demon" in Season One and a rather ironic twist that it's Lettie Mae who so quickly accepts that the thing doing and saying those horrible things wasn't Tara but something else entirely.

It won't be easy for Tara to forget about what happened and her role in this entire affair but it could be the thing that brings her and Lettie Mae something resembling a rapprochement. (It goes without saying that Rutina Wesley was sensational in this week's episode, offering up a performance that was as rough and coarse as broken glass and then shockingly damaged when she regains consciousness.)

Just what did Sookie do to Maryann? While I thought that Sookie might have had some innate weakness vis-a-vis Maryann due to her attack by the maenad earlier this season, the reverse seemed to be true, with Sookie manifesting a white glow around her hand when she forcefully touched Maryann's face. Was it an outgrowth of her telepathic abilities or a visual cue that Sookie can't be affected by Maryann's spell? Is it the key to taking down the seemingly immortal maenad? Hmmm...

As for Bill, he won't be biting Maryann again anytime soon. As soon as he grabbed her and went to sink his teeth in, I actually screamed at the television because I knew just what would happen: that Bill would be infected with her poison. The darkness that clouds the perceptions of Maryann's followers is just as black as the blood that flowed out of Daphne when she was stabbed by Eggs. It's going to take more than some glamouring and fangs to take down this juggernaut. (Loved the payoff of Bill reading that tome about Greek mythology in his flashback a few weeks back; I knew that little plant would come back in a major way!)

And help might just come from an unexpected place, namely the Vampire Queen of Louisiana, who accepts an audience with Bill Compton at her luxurious and well-guarded palace. While we're only teased with a shot of a blood-dripping pale ankle before the episode ended, this was a hell of an introduction to a shadowy and important new personage. I can't wait to see Evan Rachel Wood as Sophie-Anne next week and find out just what assistance she'll grant to Bill against Maryann. With only two episodes remaining before True Blood takes a break until next summer, something tells me that there's only more darkness ahead.

Best line of the evening: "This has to be the worst motherf---ing intervention in history." -Lafayette

What did you think of this week's episode? Just how will our motley crew band together to take down the evil Maryann? What will Sophie-Anne demand of Bill in order to help him defeat Maryann? And just what in the hell will happen next? Discuss.

Next week on True Blood ("Frenzy"), Bill turns for advice to Sophie-Anne, the Vampire Queen of Louisiana; Sookie and Lafayette find that protecting Tara from herself is more difficult than they anticipated; a desperate Sam turns to an unlikely source for assistance; Jessica tests Hoyt’s allegiance to Maxine.

Comments

ewench said…
Your reviews are so good, if am unsure about anything that happened you usually have answered them in your blog :)

The weeks episode ended early – no fair lol – they could have extended the Eric/Sookie dream for 10 minutes and made a lot of people really happy. There were a few cool moments though.

The “worst intervention” was the funniest line ever; closely followed by the “don’t shoot the top shelf liquor” one. Jason was hilarious as the “god”.

I too hope Jessica’s actions don’t ruin her relationship with Hoyt – I was more worried that she killed his mother, not just bit her!

Tara was sliding in and out of black eyes mode more and more frequently in recent days, it seems unbelievable that even if Sookie and Bill pulled her out she wouldn’t quickly slip back?

I still miss Godric :(

The three episodes before this one had me at a Defcon 1 level (not seen since Battlestar Gallactica) of fervently wishing the week would fly by, but I have definitely reduced back down to a 2 or 3.
Amie Schantz said…
I enjoy watching Hoyt and Jessica so much, I really would have liked to have seen how Maxine got to be at Vampire Bill's house and how they got her to play Wii.

Thanks for your reviews!
Amie
Bella Spruce said…
The scenes with Jason, Andy, and Sam were hilarious. They make a good--if unlikely--team.

And the "intervention" scenes with Tara were intense!

I can't believe there are only two episodes left!
OldDarth said…
Wow. Easily the worst episode of the season. It was hilarious but unintentionally so.

This must have been the Ed Wood episode.
Ridolph said…
Another great episode, but not in the same character as the last one. Lots of humor was appropriate for an action episode. I thought that Jason would chainsaw Sam and Andy out of the fridge.

But in the end, I'm rooting for MaryAnn. She has some good points about morality. Just find someone else to sacrifice, and who's gonna argue?

So is she bulletproof? I mean, most evils are, but surely its worth a shot?
Chrissi said…
I was so sad that the episode was so short! They better make the next two last a full hour or more.

I only have one big question. What is Carl? Is he trying to be what MaryAnn is?

Can't wait for Sunday of course.

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