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True Blood Retro: Season 1, Episode 8 ““ The Fourth Man in the Fire

Everyone has to eat, right? We’re all links on the universal food chain. See, squirrel eats nuts, snake eats the squirrel, gator eats the snake. And we can eat pretty much anything we want. It’s the circle of life.

True Blood episodes regularly pick up right where the last one let off. Each season covers 3-4 weeks of time in the world of Bon Temps. So when season 4 starts in June, about 3 months have passed since Bill showed up in town and Sookie’s life. I only bring this up so I can stop pointing out that this week’s episode starts where last one’s ended, because I hate repeating myself all the time. Y’all don’t need me telling you the obvious.

Last week the AIDS Burger Trio set fire to the home of their horrid counterparts, the Vampire Orgy Trio. When the cops showed up to deal with the aftermath, they found four coffins instead of three. Since the last we saw of Vampire Bill was him slinking off with the other vampires, we’re led to believe he’s dead. You know. If we hadn’t seen the show promos. Or read the books. So for the next five minutes we’re treated to a montage of Sookie going about her day, scrubbing the floor and fighting with Tara, until she can head across the graveyard that night to lay flowers on Bill’s human gravestone.

Which is when he crawls out of the ground, naked and barely human, grabs Sookie, and the two of them ball in the dirt. In the books, I actually found this scene kind of sexy. On screen, having to look at how dirty Bill is and think about all the germs one might pick up being buried among dead people, and then what germs he might pass on to Sookie’s poor, unprotected cooch, I get the shivers.

Out in the sunlight world, Tara is marveling at the effect the exorcism has had on Lettie Mae. She’s cooking hoecakes, doing the laundry, and going to church. And lording her newfound superiority over Tara. She’s one with god, favored! And long-suffering Tara is the ungrateful child again. It’s all control. She controlled Tara’s life as a violent drunk and she’ll control Tara again with this lure of being the decent mother Tara’s always longed for. Lettie Mae is just plain toxic.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in Tara’s anger as her defining characteristic, but revisiting these early episodes and this mother-daughter relationship completely explains so much about her. Just like Sookie’s lonely, isolated life explains why she gets so head over heels about Bill and she acts so high school around their relationship. The problem the show fell into was lingering too long in these headspaces. Only a couple of months have passed in the show’s world, but out here, we’ve lived three years with the anger and the self-centeredness. I suspect Season 4 is going to show us a move away from both these places.

Tara and Sookie, both wrapped up in their own stuff, can’t get out of their own headspaces long enough to be happy for each other. Instead, they end up in a screaming fight in Sookie’s kitchen and storm off to their respective corners.

Jason spent six hours not having sex with his new girl, Amy, while high on V. He just thought they were having sex, which apparently was also awesome, and Amy tells him they have a deep soul connection. Amy espouses a mother earth philosophy that seems harmless enough on the outside, and might be harmless enough if she weren’t a V addict. She’s pretty and has nice skin and nice boobs and whatever, and the show plays dreamy music behind her scenes, but an addict is an addict. Lettie Mae’s story isn’t isolated in this show.

When Amy admires all the dead animal heads on the walls in Merlotte’s and says, “And we can eat pretty much anything we want. It’s the circle of life,” don’t mistake it for harmless chatter.

Jason, of course, misses everything. She’s pretty, she’s smarter than anyone he’s met, and she got naked for him, so that’s good enough for him. He wants to lick her brain. He tells her about his parents’ death in a flash flood and his guilt that they died, and about Gran dying and how he hit Sookie. Amy tells him he’s a good man, which is what Jason needs to hear. I’m not so sure it’s the truth.

We’re treated to a brief scene of Sookie and Bill babysitting Arlene’s kids, where Bill trots out more of his people pleasing tricks, pretending to be what people need him to be. For Sookie, he plays at being a family man. To the kids, he’s a funny, harmless guy that happens to be a vampire. And let’s not forget that for us, the viewers, he’s also a stand in for the gay community in many ways. This episode, there’s a parallel drawn between the lack of rights the vampires have and the issue of gay marriage ““ Rene gets this one, saying, “Maybe you two are next, huh? Well, I mean, when it becomes legal.”

Eric shows up naked in Bill’s bathtub and bitches about how Bill never returns his text messages (“I hate using the number keys to type.”), demanding a favor. It seems that someone has embezzled 60 grand from Fangtasia. Eric wants Sookie to investigate all the employees till she uncovers who did it.

We get to see Sookie being “feisty,” which is actually being completely ignorant of how much danger she’s in, but she’s at least bright enough to know that the vampires will slaughter the guilty party. Then she stupidly bargains away the hypothetical thief’s life against Eric being able to use her “whenever he wants.” Didn’t she read any fairy tales as a kid? Deals have to be Specific.

After going through every single employee of the bar, Sookie realizes the last employee, a bar floozy named Ginger, not only knows who the guilty party is, but has been glamoured to forget about it. Long Shadow, the third vampire owner of Fangtasia, immediately leaps over the bar to go for Sookie’s throat.

And that’s not even the last bit of violence in this episode. Strung out on V, Jason and Amy track Lafayette to his “supplier’s” house.  Eddie is everything that Eric and Bill are not ““ he’s a Joe Shmoe vampire, a middle-aged accountant that somehow ended up undead. Lafayette trades sex for V and actually seems rather fond of lonely old Eddie.  Jason sneaks up on the house when Eddie is alone and pretends to be a “gift” from Lafayette ““ which is about as much of the plan as he’s aware of, since the look on his face when Amy leaps through the open door and drops a silver hood over Eddie’s head is shocked and stunned. Amy clearly has done this before ““ she has Eddie incapacitated in seconds, wrapping his arms with her silver necklace, and demanding Jason tie up his feet. Totally bewildered and in over his head, Jason takes Eddie out to his truck when Amy tells him too. This isn’t going to end well for Eddie.

Bonus Content: “The Fourth Man” refers to the fourth body in the fire, but also to a traditional folk song. It’s playing in the truck as Amy and Jason wait outside of Sad Vampire’s house. Here’s Johnny Cash performing it.



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 You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

3 replies on “True Blood Retro: Season 1, Episode 8 ““ The Fourth Man in the Fire”

On screen, having to look at how dirty Bill is and think about all the germs one might pick up being buried among dead people, and then what germs he might pass on to Sookie’s poor, unprotected cooch, I get the shivers.

Damn you. I totally found this scene hot in the books and in the show. Now I can’t stop thinking about grave-induced yeast infections. Though I guess vampire blood could cure those.

Thank you for adding the photo of the bathtub scene with Eric, it was nice to see that again. :)

Spoilers below – everyone who has not read the books stop now:

So why do you think they changed the scene where Sookie gets attacked at Fangtasia? In the books Eric saves her but here Bill does. They really sell Bill more in the show, imo. Makes me nervous about season 4, they better not screw it up. Obviously, Jessica is a result of Bill saving Sookie here. But why do you think they went through all the trouble of that? Just to make the show really separate from the books? I’m not complaining, I love the Jessica character. Would like to hear your thoughts on that. Also, the whole magistrate thing. And the mysterious VRA group. They have a lot more vamp organizations in the show.

That’s really not the only Eric-Sookie related thing they have changed; I think it’s all because in the books ( Sooper-dooper spoilers; proceed at your own risk!) Eric and Sookie are kinda the main couple, while the tv show has Bill and Sookie as the main couple. Thus, they had to shift a lot of events to get us to be more invested in the Bill-Sookie relationship. I personally think Eric is way more awesome, and that book Bill is a better character than tv Bill, but that’s just me.

Willowween, I’m sorry I spaced on replying to your comment last week. I addressed the change in this week’s recapp, but I wanted to add a couple of things here.

I do think that the show in the first three seasons is deeply invested in the Sookie-Bill pairing. I thought initially it was because the real life romance was good press for the show, but I’m starting to feel like it was to make the reveal of Bill’s betrayal to be that much more heartbreaking. Having Bill save her is very Pro-Bill, which serves the romance storyline, and allows Eric to be the bad guy for longer.

I think that doesn’t work out for them in the long run if Ball wants us to root for Bill-Sookie, because Eric’s emotional changes end up being much more compelling. He’s an asshole, yeah, but he’s true to what he is. And he’s not duplicitous in the way Bill ends up being. Eric is a vampire with a romantic soul and a strong sense of honor. Bill is someone who wants to have honor but can’t because he is unwilling to admit what he is; he’s no longer human.

The rest of the additions seem to serve to flesh out the world better and just generally serve a non-Sookie focused narrative. I like what they’ve done with the vampire political structure and the human reactions to the coming out. I think its generally been a total gain.

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