Four episodes in, True Blood manages a strong episode with a nice mixture of gore, gallows humor, and and nostalgia. In the wake of Alcide’s death and Holly’s return, Sookie grieves but must also help find Arlene and Nicole. Eric and Pam arrive in Shreveport, both in flashbacks and in the present timeline, and we discover why Jessica’s shoulder will not heal. And the group faces down the Hep V infected vampires. “Death is Not the End” works as a lead-up to the mid-season arc, and it does so while looking back at the show’s past.
In the cold open, Alcide’s father is in his trailer in Jackson, MS, with a lover. Sookie calls and informs him of Alcide’s death. Across town, Jason makes a phone call as well—to Hoyt, who is in Alaska, to inform him of Maxine’s death. We’re immediately looking back, then, to the characters’ (and the show’s) past. And this was really nicely done. Jason, of course, remembers everything—their childhood friendship that morphed into an adulthood friendship, Hoyt’s relationship with Jessica, and their break-up over Jason. But Hoyt doesn’t even know Jason. It was an understated moment, and it was better for it. Jason, devastated by the call, turns to Sookie, who reminds him that he has to pull himself together because it’s the apocalypse. (Thanks for ruining my moment—this is the most inconsistent apocalypse I’ve ever seen: communication and transportation seem to be working.)
After the break, we cut to Eric and Pam on a plane, Eric feeding from a stewardess. She tells him they’re going to Baton Rouge, but he re-routes to Shreveport. Pam, of course, “hates Shreveport.” And then there’s the first in a series of flashbacks of Pam and Eric in Shreveport after the fiasco with the Yakamono Corporation. It’s 1986, presumably right after the incident. The Magister (Zeljko Ivanek) hands down the sentencing from the vampire authority–Pam and Eric are to stay in Shreveport and run the local video store, and Eric is to be the sheriff. Pam is, of course, horrified by every tacky thing about the place, especially the basement porn stash. Meanwhile, I’m laughing at the nostalgia of video stores in small Southern towns.
Back in the present day in Bon Temps, Holly is locked in her room, unable to remember where she has been or what happened to her. Sookie speaks with Arlene’s kids, Cody and Lisa, and she promises them that their mom will be ok. Oh, Sookie.
Sookie, Sam, and Jason go to speak to Holly, as Sookie can use her telepathic powers to recovery the lost memories. Andy reluctantly agrees to allow them to see her, and Sookie helps Holly remember what happened. In flashes, Sookie sees Holly’s captivity, and they figure out that the infected vampires are in Fangtasia. (And really–I’m still not sure why no one thought to look there.) Andy comforts Holly as the group leaves. In the car on the way to tell Kevin’s wife about his death, Jason must convince Sam not to go charging into Fangtasia unarmed in the day time. They decide to wait until nightfall and go to Kevin’s home instead.
Jessica, meanwhile, is still not healing. Now we know why, though. She’s talking to James, and he’s chiding her about not eating. Ten weeks does seem a long time to go without food, even for a vampire. James fetches Bill with the expectation that Bill will make Jessica eat, and Bill is alarmed by her condition. She claims that, especially in the wake of her reconciliation with Adilyn, she no longer feels guilt over the deaths of the fairies that she killed, and that that is not causing her hunger strike.
Sookie arrives, looking for Bill’s help, and she barges into the room. Ordering the men out, she talks to Jessica alone. And finally, I hear the sort of Sookie that I wish I could hear more often. Jessica is sure she’s come to tell her what to do, why to do it, etc., but the truth is that Sookie doesn’t care anymore. She just needs Bill’s help. It’s what Jessica needs to hear. She agrees to feed, but not on Sookie. James is sent to call Lafayette.
And we cut to another flashback, this time in 1996. Pam is laying out a display for “laser discs,” and I’m snickering again. A young girl comes in the door asking about vampire films–The Fearless Vampire Warriors, Cronos, and Rabid. This is Ginger, and she’s quite a different Ginger than the vacant, spacey Ginger that we know. This Ginger is a student taking a seminar course in monster literature, the ways we configure monsters to represent things. “The plight of others in our society and how others are treated vis a vis vampire lore”–othering. And then Eric walks through the door. I get that he’s hot, but the she either Just Knew he was a vampire or has an Absurd Reaction to Attractive Men, because Ginger gets starstruck and tongue-tied. Seeing a “help wanted” sign (and Eric trying to fix a broken VHS), she asks for an application.
Back in Bon Temps, Bill is worried about being outnumbered at Fangtasia. He’s not sure how many vampires will be willing to help. Somehow, this all leads to Sookie asking if he’s eaten, and of course he hasn’t, and of course she feeds him. Lafayette has also arrived. Jessica maintains that she wants to eat but that she doesn’t feel ok about needing to feed off of innocents to survive. Lafayette talks to her a bit about his own life, admitting that he killed someone–alluding to Jesus. James listens from across the room, and Jessica finally agrees to eat.
And then we’re in another flashback, this time in 2006. Ginger pulls up at the video store and unloads the huge chair that Eric used to sit in at the front of Fangtasia (cue fan nostalgia). She brings it into the store, and Pam is decidedly unimpressed….Until Ginger unravels a plan to turn the video store into a club with Eric sitting on the stage, in the chair, some untouchable but desirable person, elevated slightly over a dance floor and bar. It’s a brilliant idea, which is exactly why Pam glamours it right out of Ginger’s head. And now we understand, perhaps, why Ginger is space-y.
As Sookie and Bill gather a very small group to attack the infected vampires at Fangtasia, Pam and Eric show up at the door. Bill is taken aback by Eric’s sickness. Sookie is as well, and the two speak momentarily about Alcide’s death. The quiet safety of that moment after she tells Eric he died that morning was a nice touch to the reunion, and he tells her a bit about his travels. We now have a general trajectory of his journey, but still no explanation for how he was healed from the burns of last season’s finale or how he contracted the virus.
It’s clear that Eric is going to help Sookie. Willa arrives, and she’s of course furious with Eric, who abandoned her when she was still a very new vampire. As his maker, though, he commands her to go with them and help, promising an explanation later. Pam, too, decides to join the group—she’s going wherever Eric is going. And it’s only fitting that Eric and Pam make their way back to Fangtasia to kick out the infected vampires. He tells the group about a tunnel that the magistrate showed them, another way into the store.
Once the group arrives, Sam transforms into a rat and goes into the basement to tell the girls that vampires are coming for them, not to be alarmed or scream. Nicole is almost frantic when he has to leave again, and Arlene is admittedly confused by his transformation, but the girls keep it together–until the Hep V vampires come downstairs and take away Arlene before the rescuers get there. Bill volunteers to stay behind.
But in just a moment, there’s a knock at the door. It’s Eric, predictably escorting Sookie. I’m not sure which of them’s plan it is, but at least it works. They let him inside, but just then a small mob, led by Kevin’s wife, shows up at Fangtasia with Molotov cocktails and wooden bullets. The Hep-V vampires fight Victoria the rescuing vampires. But Bill and Eric are inside with Sookie and a dying Arlene.
Bill saves Eric from being staked and prepares to give Arlene his blood, but he has to go and save Jessica, who has been caught by Vince and the mob. Bill stabs Vince and moves to rescue Jessica. Arlene, meanwhile, is hallucinating, seeing Terry and hearing his voice. Sookie is still desperately trying to keep her alive, and for one of the first times in a long time, I feel a little lump in my throat while watching this show. And then a vampire shows up, and the day is saved, Arlene able to heal by drinking his blood. Eric nods a goodbye to Sookie, and we’re at an end for the evening.
Only 6 episodes left in the series!