Recap: True Blood, Episode 4.10, “Burning Down the House”

“If she would have goddamn let her parakeet rest in peace, then Eric Northman and Bill Compton wouldn’t be marching on Moon Goddess to blow up my fu**ing cousin.”

I now write something I thought I’d never say about this season: I have few complaints about this episode.

I know, I know. I’ve been openly unhappy with the development of Season 4, with its lackluster storylines, inexplicably dropped plot devices, inconsistent treatment of supernatural powers, and its bloated character roster. But “Burning Down the House” is a good episode. There’s action, forward momentum, and reasonable plot development. Sookie remembers she has supernatural powers and uses them.  The Marnie/Antonia story took an interesting twist. Real Eric makes a return. The show trims its roster by one and I have my fingers crossed that by the time I’m typing up the episode 12 recap, that number will have at least tripled.

So let’s get on with it:

Alcide has rescued Tommy-Sam from a vicious beatdown by the Shreveport pack and is trying to get him to a hospital. Something about Tommy’s skinwalking has complicated his injuries; his body keeps trying to shift forms and can’t, which is killing him. Tommy doesn’t care so much about his life and never has and just wants it to be over. So Alcide and Sam stay with Tommy as he passes, so that Sam can have a story arc this season, and probably facilitate Alcide becoming alpha of the Shreveport pack.

I complained a few weeks back that the problem with True Blood is that there’s no threat to any of the main characters. They get shot or stabbed or attacked by thousand-year-old Vikings, and we, the viewers, have no sense of foreboding. We’re not afraid for the character’s lives because the show isn’t willing to sacrifice them.  They can plug Sookie in the gut all they want, but everyone knows she’s just going to swallow some vampire blood or get healed by a fairy or discover she has alien organs or something.  This week, the show actually sacrifices one of its hundreds of supporting characters, except that it’s Tommy, and everyone wanted him dead anyway.

I can’t say that I’m sad to see Tommy expire ““ it’s been clear for several weeks now that the guy was recklessly suicidal ““ but his death seems to underline everything the show is doing wrong this season. Tommy died to give Sam a storyline. There’s no danger to the main cast, there’s no threat, no sense that the show is willing to make hard choices for the sake of the story (just look at the horrid bastardization of the Eric-Sookie romance for proof of that). Killing Tommy Mickens is the easy way out.

The aftermath of Jessica and Jason’s pick-up truck sexcapades is predictably unhappy. They’re awkward with each other and guilt-ridden about Hoyt. Jason, because he is Jason, tries to weasel out of the situation by asking Jessica to glamour him into forgetting about it. That this is a tremendous insult to Jessica doesn’t even occur to him, nor does the unfairness of it ““ something that Jessica seems terribly surprised about, even though she’s know him for over a year. She storms off in a “men suck” fit.

Meanwhile, at the Bellefleur fort, Terry forces an intervention on Andy. Despite the obvious episode padding nature of the scenes, there’s a lot to be happy with here. We learn a lot about Terry (“I’m not judging. Plenty of men come back from war and don’t live in tree houses.”) and Andy and their family. Since its Terry and Andy, all of it is well-acted, the characters are likable even in their flaws, and we all leave loving Terry a little bit more than we did before.

Debbie continues her decent back into skank territory, smoking weed with Marcus and complaining about Alcide. See the problem is that she wants to be part of a pack and have babies, and Alcide is a lone wolf type, so he’s causing all these problems in their relationship. It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with her addictions or her bed hopping with the strongest available man in her immediate vicinity. Debbie is an opportunist. And her next opportunity is Marcus.

And so we are back to the varsity team:

Last week, Antonia/Marnie launched an assault on the “tolerance thing” with her own army of brainwashed Louisiana vampire sheriffs.  The vamps tear through the crowd, killing people, maiming them, all on camera until a forward-thinking Nan destroys them all. She also takes out one of the sheriffs with a pencil, which is just reason #400 to love Nan.  Zombie Eric tosses Bill around like a ragdoll as Sookie keeps trying to intervene by alternately leaping on Eric’s back and blocking Bill from shooting him. Then, fed up with this bull, Sookie hits them both with her lightning hands, breaking Antonia’s hold over Eric and, oops, alerting Nan to the fact that the dairy maid has super powers.

Eric remembers everything that happened between him and Sookie, which is awkward, since she’s sort of terrified of Normal Eric and still may be a bit in love with Bill. Eric doesn’t care. He offered himself to her. He loves her. She loves him too, but… There’s always a but. If Sookie is paying attention, the interaction between Eric and Pam, the real affection and emotion between them, says an awful lot about the kind of man Eric is. We all know Sookie isn’t really paying attention though.

King Bill has had enough of this malarkey. He has had enough of Nan pushing him around and declaring the True Death on him (“True death for you too!”). He is going to go burn Moon Goddess to the ground and end this thing, and if Tara is unfortunately inside, well, that’s just an unfortunate casualty he’ll live with. Bill, Eric, Pam, and Jessica descend on Moon Goddess in their special ops black van, loaded with big guns and a rocket launcher. (This episode is teaming with (likely unintentional) Buffy references.)

Inside Moon Goddess, the dissention in the ranks has extended to Marnie herself, with Antonia forcefully ripping herself out of Marnie. She wanted to kill vampires, not humans, and the suffering her attack on the diversity festival caused is horrifying. She wants to end this. Marnie has other plans. There was some question about where “Marnie” went during the possession and this episode answers it; she’s been driving this boat all along. Antonia is the power, but Marnie is the real hatred here. Marnie manages to convince Antonia that the collateral damage is acceptable and the two join forces once again.

Sookie rounds up her motley crew of non-vampire friends to try and break inside Moon Goddess before Bill burns the place to the ground. Since Jesus is known to Marnie, he gets sent inside to do some spying, with Sookie keeping a telepathic eye on him from outside. Can she do this? Why not? It’s in the script. Jesus figures out that Marnie is as dangerous as Gran warned Sookie she was a few episodes back, while at the same time Tara and Holly independently cast a spell to bring down the wards around the shop. They make a break for it. Sookie and Lala make a break for them, and Antonia brings the rescue to screeching halt when she slams down the barriers and summons all four of them inside her shop.

Lonely old Jason is left outside the barrier, presumably to warn Bill and Eric that Sookie is inside when they try to blow the shop up, leading to a difficult emotional decision that will not actually end with Sookie’s death.

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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.

17 thoughts on “Recap: True Blood, Episode 4.10, “Burning Down the House””

  1. I liked this episode too. Definitely one of the better ones this season. Though, not to be that person, but I was surprised that Eric remembered his sexytimes with Sookie since that was a big thing in the books. I am glad that he’s retaining some of the person that amnesia Eric was. And like someone below said, he is so much hotter as normal Eric. ASkars is a pretty impressive actor.

      1. I have to say, I’ve liked Bill a lot more since he stopped pretending to be a nice guy and has embraced his inner power-hungry asshole. I mentioned last week that his appearance in Sookie’s dream with the ‘I’m the King of Louisiana. I don’t share” comment was the first time I found him attractive.

    1. I was a little disappointed he remembered. I thought the tension of him knowing something happened between him and Sookie without really ‘knowing’ what it was incredibly satisfying. But I’ve missed a lot of the details of the Sookie-Eric relationship from the book in the show, like him regraveling her driveway or the part where he sends her a new winter coat.

  2. I wanted to add that while I love Debbie Pelt as a badass shifty mofo, I kind of love her and Sookie together. In last week’s episode when Debbie was helping Sookie out, I thought they had an awesome bad girl chemistry together. She’d make a much cooler best friend than Tara. Just sayin’.

  3. I loved that Real Eric is back – but him telling Sookie he loved her was deeply, deeply awkward and didn’t seem to go with his previous character at all.
    Also, I have no idea why Sookie thinks she still loves Bill. To paraphrase one of Joss Whedon’s characters, she has all the emotional intelligence of a blueberry scone. Jesus God, wake up Sookie, just because you once loved someone doesn’t mean that (a) you don’t still care about them and (b) you should be with them.
    <3 Terry. I really do, even though that plotline is totally extraneous.

    I'll see if this season redeems itself next week, though I'm not holding out much hope…

    Also, Marcus? What a weird, creepy guy he is. I'm surprised it took Alcide this long to see it.

    1. Well, let’s be honest. Eric had to spell it out for Sookie because Sookie is a little bit slow. Eric didn’t have to tell Godric he loved him, because Godric understood it based on everything Eric did for him. Sookie needs a neon sign. Just like she needs a neon sign that she can’t trust any feelings she has for Bill because they’re rooted in deep level manipulation and dishonesty. I mean, he gave her his blood to make her fall in love with him! It was spelled out for her last season! Which is like, two freaking weeks ago in her own timeline!

  4. I love Terry so much. I know the intervention was a little hokey, but it was my favorite part of the episode.
    You’re totally right about never worrying about any of the characters. We’re always hoping that they’ll just kill Sookie for good. But I guess that’s not likely to happen. Hmph. Honestly I don’t really care about any of the romantic parings. Sookie would have to get together with Lafayette before I would bat an eye.

  5. Totally agree with your points about the safety of the main characters not being good for the show. Nothing makes a TV show more powerful than the willingness to kill off main characters, something Alan Ball of all people should know better than anyone. I almost cried a few weeks ago when Jessica almost walked into the sun, until it became clear that Jason saved her. People, important people, die all the time in real life. They should die on TV too.

    1. In an earlier draft of this post, I suggested that the best thing the show could do would be to kill Jessica. Not because I don’t like her or identify with her, but precisely because I do. She’s one of the most relatable characters on the show and a big fan favorite. Killing her off would both breathe new life into the series and underline how dangerous and vicious the world they live in really is.

  6. I loved this episode too, for all its hokey-ness.

    When Eric suddenly turned into his old self, I swear he immediately became 1000x hotter. I don’t know what it is that Alexander Skarsgard does – it’s some subtle, vague little facial tic, but he really has the two different Eric’s DOWN. Something in the eyes, maybe. I dunno, but it was hot.

    I thought the whole thing with Sookie suddenly scared of Eric, and declaring that she’s still in love with Bill thing to be total b.s. Yeah, yeah, they were leading up to that in the last episode with her little dream (since she just had a fresh glass of his blood and all), but still, C’MON. Just two episodes ago they were makin tha luv in a fur covered bed in the fucking snow, and now she’s having doubts? And she still loves slimy, evil ass Beehl? Fuck you, Alan Ball. If they split up Sookie and Eric over THAT, I will be pissed. So pissed. At least have him betray her, or her betray him, or one of them mysteriously disappear or something a little more creative than her crawling back to festing, skankazoid Bill.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Stephen Moyer, I love Bill. His character is badass, and the show wouldn’t be the same without him. But I hate him and Sookie together.

    For all the bellowing I did about wanting Tommy to just get off my tv, I was kinda sad when he died.

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