True Blood Recap: S4, E8 ““ “Spellbound”

“Sorry man, I stopped listening about half way through.”

You and me both, Jason. You and me both. We are halfway through what should have been the best season of True Blood so far ““ the witch war and Sookie/Eric should have been plenty to propel the storyline ““ and I’m about ready to stop listening.  

True Blood MouthI wasn’t wild about season 3, which had some fantastic highlights tempered by a year-long assault on the female characters, but the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to season 4 is far worse. The problem with supernatural shows is that there’s a temptation to do whatever the heck you want for whatever reason you want because, hey, there’s some vampires over there, but in order for supernatural shows to be successful, there needs to be a more strident approach to plotting, characterization, and world building. Buffy wasn’t a success because it threw together teenagers, vampires, and superpowers; it was a success because it cared about those teenagers, vampires, and superpowers.

And I’m beginning to think that Ball just doesn’t care.

Jessica, of course, does not get burned up by Antonia’s spell. Jason tackles her back into the mansion, gets swatted around for his trouble, and then all their building tension of the last two or three days culminates in some kissing. Afterwards, Jason carries her back into the dungeon, where Jess is confronted with the body of the guard she’s just killed. A couple of hours ago (show time) she was ready to rip Marnie’s face off, and now she’s devastated by the reality of her murder. She knew his daughter. She knew him.

Jessica is by far the most complex and interesting character in this cast and she gets two more chances to prove it in this episode. First, we get the Jess fantasy-dream break up with Hoyt, which says so much about how she wants to see herself ““ powerful, sexy, in control, able to kill (break his heart) without so much of a backwards glance, and move on, like the monster she’s supposed to be. And then we get the real Jessica, who is just an 18-year-old girl who is unsure of where she is in the world and troubled by the dissolution of her relationship, desperate to find out who she is without hurting Hoyt. She wishes she could break up with (kill) him without suffering for it, leaping past the broken heart, and the icky feelings, and instead gets rounded on by Hoyt, who is no mincing flower. Their relationship is achingly real even in the ending of it. Who among you didn’t flinch when Hoyt spat out “I deserve someone who’s not going to be a fucking virgin for eternity!”

Jason has a decent showing this time around. Not only does he valiantly save Jessica from toastiness, he keeps Andy from eating a dead vampire off the ground, makes a star turn in Jessica’s dream, and then, in a surprising show of both loyalty and morals, refuses to take up with Jessica after she dumps Hoyt. Honestly, I didn’t think he had it in him.

Last week, after confessing mid-coitus that she believes Alcide is in love with Sookie, Debbie gets sort-of confirmation of the fact when Alcide deliberately defies the orders of his Alpha, getting involved with the witch war in order to save Sookie’s life. Confirmation in so much as having suspicions, and then jumping to conclusions. It’s all too bad for Debbie. She had made friends with some really nice bitches in her new pack and felt at home, and now the wild-eyed jealousy is gonna come raring up to ruin her life.

As I predicted, there was no reason for the show to point out that Lala is a medium and introduce Pretty Ghost Lady without it being important. So this week, Lala gets possessed by her spirit, despite a valiant attempt on his part to stay the hell away from her. Possessed Lala then meanders over to the Bellefleur mansion, breaks in, steals Andy’s gun, and kidnaps Baby Mikey. Could Possessed Lala somehow become important in the story of Possessed Marnie? Of course it will!

Sookie and Eric:

 

WHY ARE YOU RUINING THIS FOR ME, ALAN BALL? WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU?

Whatever.

 

The Witch War:

 Bill flies into damage control mode in the aftermath of Antonia’s attack. He has to go on tv and frame the one (1!) vampire immolation as a suicide, change his leather jacket, accept Sookie and Eric’s offer to fight by his side, and then arrange to meet a necromancer in a cemetery for a fight. Not a single person thought this was a bad idea? No one raised it as an issue? No? Ok then. It turns out ok though, since the necromancer thought the better use of her powers was obscuring a bunch of mortal followers armed with grandma’s silver service under shadow. No one in this town is particularly bright.

He promises that no one will harm Antonia ever again if they can just call a truce, which not a single person in the showdown really believes aside from Bill. The writers remember that Sookie has this whole mind reading thing that is occasionally relevant to her character so that she notices Antonia casting a spell and accidentally escalates the situation. There’s some more blah-blah-blah until Eric rushes forward and rips a witch’s throat out ““ the framing of this event is a bit off, since there was no apparent provocation. Did Antonia cause him to kill her follower or is Viking Eric just asserting himself? Who knows? The show doesn’t care for consistency!

Everything goes to balls after this.

 Antonia clouds the area with mist to hide her people, a vampire gets staked and a couple of witches get eaten, and everyone runs around willy-nilly. Pam corners Tara but gets stopped by Bill, who commands that she will never harm Tara, ever, because he owes her. And Tara gets to understand that maybe Bill isn’t such a bad guy (he is!) and also that extermination of an entire race is maybe morally questionable.

By the way, Pam is back to her face-rot free self, though she smells terrible. As long as you look good, right?

Sookie wanders around in the dark, blasts someone with her light fingers, and actually intelligently attempts to stay hidden and out of the fighting. And then she gets shot in the stomach. She passes out. Maybe she might die. It’s the most tensionless main character maiming ever, in the history of television. I have no worries that anything permanently bad will happen. Alcide will pick her up, carry her back to her house, everyone will have contorted and worried faces over her possibly dying, blah blah blah, she’s alive, possibly with fairy help since we haven’t heard from those guys in a while.

Now what is interesting? Antonia forcing Eric to his knees and taking control of his mind again. This I want to see the outcome of.

 

Bonus Content: Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Spellbound”

 

Published by

[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.

18 thoughts on “True Blood Recap: S4, E8 ““ “Spellbound””

  1. I had more thoughts on this episode this morning.

    1) I bet the most fun character to play is Maxine Fortenberry. I mean, I don’t like her … but the actress does a great job and seems like she is having a hoot. Her Tommy-fied hair and make-up? Priceless!

    2) I haven’t read the books, but I kinda like Marcus in the series. His first appearance wasn’t very auspicious but he got better for me. Sure, he’s being a dick to Sam … but it fits with the whole “I’m the alpha of a werewolf pack” thing.

    1. The Tommy-Maxine was one of the items I left out of the review this week, but much like Sam, Maxine-Tommy was hilarious. The outfit, down to the underwear and the shoes, the make up, the hair — all awesome.

      I, too, liked Marcus. I’d just like Marcus (and probably Tommy) more in a show where the character roster wasn’t already overstuffed.

  2. I’m so sad about what happened to the Sookie/Eric storyline. They took something awesome and to be quite frank, hot as hell, and turned it into a big, boring cheeseball fest. I loved this storyline in the book, loved Sookie enjoying a hot, hot sexual relationship that she knew was not real and wouldn’t last. It was relatable and sexy.

    I think Alan Ball thinks that we, as viewers, love Sookie and think of her as somehow precious and special (we don’t), and that therefore if she is to engage in sex, it needs to be “making love.” Um, no. The scene with Alice and Debbie having an awkward fight in the middle of having sex was 100 times hotter than any of that Eric and Sookie bullshit.

    1. The thing that’s getting me about the whole Sookie-Eric deal is — ok, you know, it’s more than one thing:

      * The way the show implies that Eric is only in love with Sookie because she’s beautiful. He constantly talks about how pretty she is. It doesn’t hurt that she’s fine to look at in the books, but that’s not the source of his attraction in the story.

      * Yes, the romance-novel-filter on the sex scenes. She nailed Bill in the cemetery in the first season — the girl knows from dirty sex. I guess we’re supposed to get Pure Love from their horizontal mambo, but it’s Pure Yawn instead.

      * The combination special needs/prebuescent boy approach to the memory loss. The parts of the episode where Eric declares he doesn’t want to be ‘that person’ again would have more emotional heft if he had a personality now. Some glimpse of who he was before he became a vampire. There’s way more emotional nuance in Normal Eric (see: the scene in Dallas where he’s caring for Godric during the party).

      The only big plus I have coming out of this latest episode is that Eric and Sookie ended up in her Gran’s bed. She’s not sleeping in her childhood bed, in her cherub t-shirt. This is actually an important development — this is her adult relationship, not the one colored by juvenile outlook on romance. And you make a great point about Sookie knowing that this was a temporary relationship that she was seizing while she could.

      1. The whole “beautiful” thing is driving me crazy. In an earlier episode he said something like “I could never hurt anyone as beautiful as you.” So what, if she had bad skin or a big nose he’d have no problem ripping her throat out? And she only loves him because he’s childlike and sweet? It’s all so shallow and stupid and as much as I love the idea of Sookie and Eric, the way it’s playing out is pretty gross.

          1. Aaah! Now I’m having flashbacks to that! I used to flinch every time Eric called Sookie “lover” and every time she referred to him as her “sweetie”.

            But you know, even with that, Harris wrote Sookie’s relationships a hell of a lot better than the TV show has.

  3. I loved the craziness that is True Blood but I’m finding it harder and harder to summon up the time and the energy to watch this show. I haven’t yet watched 4.07 and 4.08 but I have read the recaps here, on io9 and on Tor. Experience has taught me that the recaps (and their ensuing comments) are usually way more entertaining than the show itself.

    There needs to be a serious culling of characters. Some need to die and others simply need to go away. There’s too much going on with very little actually happening. Let there be some semblance of a coherent plot…please.

    I say all this not as a hater, but rather as a fan who desperately doesn’t want True Blood to be another Heroes.

  4. So…was this scene the infamous ‘shower scene’ I’ve been hearing people orgasm over for two years now? THAT? Really? Since I’d managed to go without that being completely spoiled, I was really shocked. I was expecting crazy, insane, aggressive, porny sex, not ‘making love’ in a snow covered bed under furs. Lame.

    The rest of the episode, I liked a lot. I may be in the minority, but I thought it was good. Cheesy, predictable, but enough action and sport to keep it interesting.

    Jessica used to be one of my least favorite characters, and I’ve noticed the past several episodes that I’m tuning in looking forward to seeing her scenes the most of all. And damn, was Hoyt a total dick in this episode. I did FLINCH when he said that to Jessica. And then Jason rejected her. Poor, poor girl.

    I am still really, really sick of Tommy. Just get off of my tv, dude.

  5. So agreed on Eric and Sookie. At first I thought they were hovering over them in the beautiful scene because they were going to instantly show what’s happening in reality. Like, they think they’re making love in a viking bed in a snowy wonderland, but actually they’re drinking one another in a bloody naked mess and about to die. But that scene never came. It really was just a slow, almost wordless wonderland crap scene.

    I was disappointed when Eric ripped out the witch’s throat. I thought I missed something too because it didn’t seem like anything provoked it. Hopefully it’s like you said and Antonia made him do it.

    I loved the two different Jessica and Hoyt break-up scenes. I love your analysis of it too. All I could do was sit there in awe over how real it was. I’ve had two break ups almost exactly like that, minus the deaths. But yea, it’s what Jessica wants to be vs. what she is. Awesome analysis.

    I’m a huge fan of paranormal and supernatural shows/books/comics/whatever. But yea, even if I get pulled into a good ghost or vampire story, that’s not what is going to keep me there paying attention. There needs to be good character development and PLOT. Not just a mish-mash of crap happening.

Leave a Reply