True Blood Recap: Season 4, Episode 1 ““ “She’s Not There”

But understand this. Everyone who claims to love you: your friends, your brother, even Bill Compton, they all gave up on you but I. Never. Did.

Once Sookie jumps out of Faerie (or pseudo-Faerie, based on what Mab implied) and finds out how long she’s been gone, the episode moves along at a breathtaking pace. I found myself having a hard time keeping up during the liveblog ““ every time there was something to comment on, the scene switched up and there was even more going on. What struck me overall though was everyone’s lives seemed pretty… ok, without Sookie around. Which is totally unfair ““ it’s not really her fault that a maenad tore the town apart or that the King of Mississippi went ape on national television. But it just feels like it is.

So let’s get to the run-down:

Sookie ““ At the end of last season, Sookie had called it quits with Bill for reals, washed those vampires out of her hair, and ran off with her fairy godmother, Claudine, to Faerie. Faerie turns out to be a very Ren-Faire sort of place, with lots of diaphanous gowns and waxed chests, and fruit that glows. There are also lots of other humans there, including Sookie’s grand-daddy Earl and Barry the Bellboy. Predictably, Sookie screws everything up by refusing to eat the light-fruit and being responsible for letting a vampire (Bill) into Faerie last season, so Queen Mab is pretty pissed off at her. Sookie inadvertently starts a war when she reveals the fairies are harvesting humans, attacks the Queen with her light fingers, strips the entire plane of its glamour, and then escapes back to the mortal plane with Graddaddy. Who then up and dies on Adele’s grave.

Her 15 minutes of hell raising in Faerie turns out to be 13 months in Bon Temps time and Sookie spends most of the episode checking us in on the rest of the cast. Her house has been purchased by a conglomerate (who finally cleans up the destruction from season two), everyone thought she was dead by Bill’s hand, and she has to go begging for her job back from Sam Merlotte. Oh, and of course Bill and Eric show up as soon as Sookie rejoins this mortal coil, so they can piss match over who missed her more. Eric wins.

Jason ““ Jason has joined the Bon Temps police force, assumedly without going to the academy, since he was blackmailing Andy last season for a badge. Andy seems to have developed a serious V addiction, which Jason is constantly trying to keep under control. He’s also still taking care of the Hotshot kids and old folks, though he gets thrown into a freezer for his trouble.

Is anyone really surprised he sold his Gran’s house? I totally wasn’t. Jason is the kind of guy who wants to do the right thing, but keeps getting thwarted by his own stupidity/greed.

Lafayette ““ Oh, Lala. Boyfriend has got a new haircut, a solid relationship with Jesus, and I’m pretty sure new, bigger biceps. His visions from the V overdose have finally settled down. Jesus keeps dragging Lala to his Wiccan circles, trying to convince Lafayette to just give in to his natural supernatural abilities. The coven leader channels Vampire Eddie and raises a dead bird with Lafayette’s help, so all signs point to “damn powerful witch Lala.”

He also still gets the best lines: “I’m sorry that after all that trouble, your bird is still dead.”

Tara ““ Look, Ball. You are put on notice. After the bullshit you’ve put a perfectly good character through for three seasons, there had better be something to Tara’s new lesbian MMA fighting Toni persona. Because it just reads like exploitation. I would like to see more of the Naomi Klein reading, racist sassing Tara from the first season, tout de suite.

Sam ““ Yes, he shot his brother. He didn’t miss. He pulled the trigger and Tommy is limping around Bon Temps, milking everyone’s sympathy for all its worth. As his major character development (I think he’s the only male character who didn’t get a hair cut to prove passage of time), Sam has joined a shifter anger management dinner buddy group. They work off their animal instincts with talk therapy and midnight horse runs.

Jessica and Hoyt ““ Hoyt’s Mama did take a shot at Jessica after last season’s cliffhanger, but she missed. So Hoyt is out of his mother’s world and totally in Jessica’s, though things hardly seem peachy. They’re having what seems to be fairly typical early-twenties relationship problems, where you really love your partner but haven’t had a lot of life experiences and start to wonder what else is out there while secretly resenting the person who is holding you back, but things might work out if only both people involved can get past their own selfishness. Oh, and one person is a vampire and one is a human.

Arlene ““ Arlene and Terry got hitched, had a demon baby, and live in adorable domestic bliss that is only marred by their son Mikey’s tendency to do creepy serial killer things, even though he’s, like, barely a year old. For instance, he decapitates all the dolls in the house. Arlene is sure this is a sign that he’s taking after Rene and since this is True Blood, she’s probably right.

Bill Compton ““ Politician through and through, Bill is now the King of Louisiana. He could only accomplish this by either 1) killing Sophie Anne or 2) marrying her. As she doesn’t show up by the end of the episode, I’ll go with “killed her through trickery, because he’s a tricksy bastard.”  There’s several lingering shots where we’re supposed to think Bill is musing on how he loves Sookie and what he’s given up for his new life of importance, but I think it’s really Bill wishing he was thinking about how he loves Sookie and regrets what a smarmy worm he was for the past three seasons. Bill wants to be a good guy, but he’s a tool deep in his soul. Despite the entire town thinking he killed Sookie, they still let him open up old folks’ homes and cut ribbons, proving that everyone listens when money talks.

He also has a spy in the Wiccan coven. And he gets to order Eric around. And is maybe dating Portia Bellefleur.

Eric ““ Still tall. Still smoldering. Still in love with Sookie. He bought her house because he believed Sookie was still alive during her long absence and knew she’d come home at some point. If she came back to the house, she’d be stuck with him, or that’s what he implies. Eric makes a great vampire PSA, plays nice with humans, and noticeably sports an ashier complexion than Bill does, which means Eric has actually been drinking True Blood while good ole Bill “humans are friends, not food” Compton has been snacking on people.

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[E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of powderroom.jezebel.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at slay@persephonemagazine.com. She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

12 thoughts on “True Blood Recap: Season 4, Episode 1 ““ “She’s Not There””

  1. and noticeably sports an ashier complexion than Bill does, which means Eric has actually been drinking True Blood while good ole Bill “humans are friends, not food” Compton has been snacking on people.

    Good point! And yet Eric was still hotter than Bill. With the PSA, looking straight into the camera.. well hello Eric.

    I already watched the second episode and I’m not yet back on the TB-horse. More Eric should fix that, I think.

  2. I thought this episode was kinda weak, but I’m willing to give it a chance since I also thought last season’s first episode was weak (and towards the end it picked up and had me on pins and needles every episode).

    I loved that Queen Mab turned out to be somewhat evil. I like that the Faeries aren’t all happiness and light – there is something else there, too. That takes away some of the cheesy factor involving Sookie and Faeries from last season. Though the jumping forward a year thing just suggests to me that the writers didn’t know where to go from last season’s end and did that to make things easier. From what I understand, the books don’t do that?

    The first episode didn’t do Eric Northman justice at all. The writing for his character was terrible (much as I love ASkars, that ‘mmm’ he mutters when seeing Sookie naked from behind just about killed me with how cheesy and predictable it was). The whole, ‘I bought your house because it would make you mine’ was just bad…they could’ve made it so much more tender and sweet. Y’know, he could’ve said, ‘I bought your house because I care about you, and I wanted to fix it up and make it perfect for when you came back, no strings attached.’ THAT would have been awesome.

    I have to say I love Bill being a slimy bastard. Stephen Moyer is great at playing devious, and he definitely seems tortured. Portia Bellfleur, while gorgeous, also seems devious. I don’t like her character already. I foresee Sookie delivering her a swift ass-kicking in future.

    Bill’s spy in the witch coven looks so much to me like Evan Rachel Wood that I thought it was the queen for a minute. It threw me for a loop. I suspect that he married her and we’ll see her in later episodes, but I’m not known for being right about these things.

    Hoyt + Jessica = predictable and boring. Though I think they are setting it up for Jessica and Pam to enter some kind of relationship. That would not be bad at all…

    I love that Lafayette is a powerful witch and doesn’t know it yet. That’s awesome.

    Tara’s whole storyline is really bad, too. It’s just so…easy. She spent all last season suffering from PTSD and being tortured, so naturally she moves away, changes her name, becomes an MMA fighter so she can always defend herself, and swears off men and vampires and decides to go for the ladies. OK, fine. But she still comes off on screen as the simpering, vulnerable Tara that I’ve hated for the last two seasons. They are still writing her as a weak person, and that’s nothing like the Tara from Season 1. She was sassy, no-bullshit, smart as a whip, and probably the coolest character on the show. I miss that Tara.

    1. Though the jumping forward a year thing just suggests to me that the writers didn’t know where to go from last season’s end and did that to make things easier. From what I understand, the books don’t do that?

      I thought about sticking my thoughts about the time jump into the recap but there didn’t seem to be a natural way to handle it, so I figured I’d talk about it in the comments.

      There is no jump forward in the novels, though the entirety of the series (11 books) seems to take place over an 18 month period. Which is great for a book series and not so great for a television show, where actors age a lot faster than their book counterparts. Because seasons 1-3 take place in about 3 months of Bon Temps time, there’s no other way to speed up certain plot elements — like the repercussions from Russel’s on-screen slaughter, Arlene’s pregnancy or, hell, Andy’s broken arm without some time rejiggering. The flash forward is probably the most honest way to deal with it instead of having Arlene give birth at 4 months.

      This is one of the few cases of time manipulation on a show that I can completely get behind.

    2. The first episode didn’t do Eric Northman justice at all. The writing for his character was terrible

      I agree. I did not get that dialogue, I mean, were they drunk? It was such an amazing thing he did, and all the faith he had in her! All we get is, “I bought your house so that makes you mine.” !? SlayBelle’s comment about it on the live blog made me laugh my ass off,

      Hello, Eric. Your understanding of mortal real estate law is troubling, but you’re always welcome on my screen.

      1. I was disappointed, too. I admit it, I’m a fangirl for Alexander Skarsgard, and I keep reading all these descriptions from the book-readers saying that basically Eric Northman is a big ol’ softie who is madly in love with Sookie and does all these kind things. And all we get is “mmm. You Sookie is MINE”. Big ol’ letdown for me. I choose to believe that next episode will start off with a big belly laugh and him being like “naw, for real, I just love you and stuff”. Though I know that ep is already out on HBOGO (I choose to prolong the suspense and hopefullness and wait till Sunday).

  3. Can’t really comment to speculate, as I’ve seen the episode after this. So I know what goes down with Bill, Eric, and Sook.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Bill’s new haircut. Do you not think it’s bad? I think it’s awful. So much so that I don’t think he’s attractice anymore. I agree about Tara. She was badass to begin with, why can’t they make her that again? Your Hoyt and Jessica recap was amazing, it perfectly sums up all my early relationships.

    1. I made a half-assed nod to it when I mentioned Sam is the only person who doesn’t get a hair cut to signify personal growth. I think the cut suits the kind of person Bill is (read: awful).

      What I liked about the interaction between Jessica and Hoyt is that it was so damn truthful. Hoyt’s been under his mama’s thumb his whole life and Jessica was a sheltered home-school student until last year when she became a vampire. They both do love each other, but that time in your life is so tricky. Love and earnestness isn’t always enough to see you through.

      1. I think the cut suits the kind of person Bill is (read: awful).

        Hahaha, agreed!

        What you’re saying about Hoyt and Jessica is so spot on. I like them, though I was never thrilled about Jessica getting tied down right away. I liked her character, and I wanted to see her explore, maybe like early Pam in the books did.

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