When a story runs away from us, it falls to us to pursue it eagerly, so joining Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) where we left off, is a welcome sight. Making casual violent sexual threats to Governor Burrell’s daughter Willa (Amelia Rose Blaire), he fills the screen whole with his presence.
This brooding majesty is what Skarsgard does magnificently well, and with Willa played ably by Blaire as a wide eyed ingenue, the dialogue is pitch perfect in tone. It creates a haunting and sinister refrain before the credits have even rolled.
Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) is still far too tangled up with the VUS for his liking, waking fuzzy headed on his couch to the sounds of muttered discussions. There is an unmistakeable frisson of sexual tension between Merlotte and Nicole (Jurnee Smollet-Bell), despite the presence of her boyfriend, and garners comment from Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) on their departure. “She’s gonna be trouble for you.”
Sam isn’t the only one to receive a warning from Lafayette in that exchange, though it is the only one heeded, as the VUS drive straight into the wolves’ enclave. As stupid ideas go, this is up there with crushed glass toilet paper, and the scene quickly descends into utter chaos.
Triggering a schism in a pack under shaky control by Alcide (Joe Manganiello) and leaving the door open for a daring rescue, this is a great example of the fabulous nighttime lighting on the show, with shadowed shacks and blind back alleys, then woodland stretching out beyond, lit in beautiful detail.
There is a mood to the night in True Blood; menacing, yet full of magical possibilities. It roots some of the most disparate threads as one, which strings the flow together nicely.
Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) has a plan to protect his flock, and acquiesces to Jessica’s (Deborah Ann Woll) offer of help, meaning that we get to enjoy the least appropriate ensemble ever put together for a university lecture. As the professor, Dr. Takahashi (Keone Young), squirms at her longing looks, it is worth remembering that these moments of lightness serve the show well. They temper the darkness of the tale; a welcome respite from the onslaught of danger.
It is in fulfilling Bill’s own end of this plan, that we see one of the most electrically charged scenes so far this series. His visit to Sookie (Anna Paquin) is fraught with tensions both hidden and overt, and the pressure is slowly ratcheted up in a heated discussion about something they both require.
Visual effects here are used simply and well, not distracting from the drama in the scene; it is employed as icing, rather than custard. The upshot of this is to show Moyer and Paquin at their best; in a coupling which has felt palpably sexually charged in the first instance, then spiraled through every emotion possible in a splendid telling of relationship, then subsequent break up, on the messiest scale.
Warlow is a constant unseen presence throughout this installment; a shadow in the night, knocking and running with abandon. As the hunt rages on, and Sookie gets ever closer to the mysterious Ben (Robert Kazinsky) through harmless flirts and held gazes; trouble, it appears, never strays far from the Stackhouses for long.
One of the skills of the show is that of showing real world events through a supernatural prism. This is nothing new, as Buffy did it tremendously well decades ago; but it’s done so lovingly here, that while the story expands outwards in its reach and scale, there is still very much the feeling of living in a small backwater town, watching your world change around you.
The larger events we’ve seen glimpsed threaten to rip this peaceful backwater town open, and spit inside. As worlds collide, the pieces are spinning still; with steady inevitably placed heavy upon them all.