Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review: True Blood "Burning Down The House"

Non Spoiler Review:
The ho-hum Festival of Tolerance becomes the second battleground in the witch war, that provides some excitement at the beginning of the episode. Andy gets special (and way too much) focus this week, as his V addiction comes to light. Alcide and Debbie are on a rocky road. Oh, and a character dies, but that's vastly overshadowed by the vampire politics.

Burning Down the House worked when it dealt with the vampires and witches, as well as a long overdue and welcome Lafayette, Jason, Jesus and Sookie team up. It got muddled down with Andy and Terry's Bellefleur family drama, though it was refreshing to see Arlene behaving relatively sane these days.

As we approach the end of the season it's obvious this week served as a lot of set up for an exciting ending to the season. There were a couple of twists, and lots of action again, which served to help overlook some of the more egregious elements (even for True Blood!), like unlimited witch powers.

Spoilers Now!
With the festival in chaos, Nan steps up to the plate and kills one of Bill's sheriffs (with a pencil), leaving Bill to fend off Eric's attack. Bill manages to shoot them all with silver, but Eric gains the upper hand and prepares to impale him. Sookie finally steps in and casts her fairy light on Eric, effectively breaking the spell, much to Antonia's shock (and Nan's).

Antonia looks down on the carnage and wounded humans and feels sympathy, then disappears with her cohort and the two surviving sheriffs. Sookie calls Bill off of Eric, and they realize he has his memory back. They share a look as Bill goes off to help Nan with the wounded.

Jason is feeling incredibly guilty about sleeping with Jessica and betraying Hoyt. He suggests she glamor him so he can't remember what happened, which of course horribly offends her, so she runs off to kill something.

Alcide drives the wounded Tommy to the hospital. Tommy admits that it's not just his beating, but turning into Sam has taken a toll. He just wants to go home to Merlotte's. Sam shows up just as Alcide arrives with his brother. Sam wants to get him vampire blood, but Alcide thinks he should have the right to choose. Sam seems pretty open to Alcide's opinions, considering I don't believe the two have ever really met before. On his deathbed, Tommy apologizes for everything and tells Sam he was the best part of his life. He dies. Sniffle. And Sam says Marcus is a dead man.

As for Marcus, he's visiting Debbie, asking about Alcide, but he never came home the previous night. She agrees that Alcide is a loner and shifts immediately to that fact he doesn't want kids, and she'd give anything for a baby. Taking V makes her want to have pups, I guess. Marcus suggests she's with the wrong wolf. Flirt flirt.

Sam and Alcide show up at the motorcycle shop in search of Marcus, but find one of his men instead. Alcide helps him beat up the guy, demanding to know where their pack leader is at. 

While the imprisoned coven members are panicking, Holly is trying to find a counterspell. Antonia returns with her two sheriffs and puts them in the back. It's clear she's struggling with control over Marnie's body.

Back at the mansion, Nan demands to know what Sookie's story is, but Bill says they have more important matters. He no longer recognizes her authority on the matter given all that's happened is her fault for preventing him from acting sooner, and he plans on informing the vampire authority. He decides to go after the necromancer and kill her through whatever means he deems necessary.

Eric tells Sookie he remembers everything, even the other Eric. She believes him, but admits she still loves Bill too after seeing him nearly killed. Eric professes his love, but won't share her with him, and reminds her that she is his. No way, Sookie says. They can't complete their chat as Pam shows up to welcome back her maker, and she begrudgingly thanks Sookie.

So Bill decides to blow up the Moongoddess Emporium given fire has worked in the past (and occult stores are exploding all the time, so it won't raise any questions), but Sookie is worried for Tara still trapped inside. Bill says they all made their choice and will have to live with it. Apparently he's okay with killing Tara this week.

Hoyt wants to crash with Jason for a little while so he doesn't have to be reminded of Jessica at their old place. Sick of his house guest, Jason goes on to see Sookie in the morning asking to stay there awhile, but she needs his help. She explains the witch situation and Tara being held prisoner (nothing can surprise Jason anymore).

That leads them to go on to recruit Jesus and Lafayette. Oh, and in case you're wondering, we learn the vampires glamored everyone at the hotel to forget what happened, which is why it's not on the news. Jesus sees Marnie as a victim of the possession, but Lafayette takes a contrarian view that if it wasn't for her none of this would have happened. Jesus wants to reach out to her first to see if he can pull another Mavis trick and free her.

Andy wakes up to Terry and Arlene having found his V stash. Terry takes Andy to Fort Bellefleur, their old tree house, for a makeshift intervention. It turns into a big fight about their childhood, but they finally come to terms and Andy vows to clean up his life. This D story seemed to go on forever.

While Holly and Tara continue to rifle through books for spells, Marnie is alone and struggling with Antonia. The witch finally emerges and let's her know she won't do this anymore. Too many humans are suffering from their actions and she didn't come back to shed the blood of the innocent. Just in case you missed the twist, it's Marnie who seems to be guiding Antonia, and wants to destroy both vampires and their human collaborators. She debates Antonia that fate brought them together to fight evil, and humans are still no good in the present as they were in the past. That seems to do it, as Antonia comes around and goes back into Marnie.

Bill, Jessica, Eric and Nan go back to ground with silver, prompting another spat. Nan threatens to execute them all. But no one seems to be worried that she will have any power by the time this is over.

Team Sookie, Lafayette, Jesus and Jason show up at the emporium, guessing that the neighbourhood has been cleared of people with a repelling spell. Sookie mentally detects Tara inside. Jesus goes in alone but when he walks up to the building he's injured by a force field from the protective magic.

Marnie comes to the door to see him. She knows who he is, but he'll have to earn her trust, and to do so cross through the painful magical wall of light. Jesus struggles to get through and briefly takes a demonic form before emerging on the other side. She welcomes him back, seeing he has power of his own (a demon to serve him).

He asks to speak to Marnie directly, as she's his friend and teacher and he wants to say hello in person. She sees he's a kind man and lets Marnie come out. But Marnie is very happy, and is surprised that he thinks she's been possessed against her will. Jesus feigns relief, but mentally informs Sookie Marnie is running the show now.

Tara and Holly perform their spell as Marnie shows Jesus their two vampire prisoners. A wind blows through the emporium, alerting Marnie that magic is being cast. Tara and Holly run out as the protective spell comes down, only to be met by Lafayette and Sookie. Marnie comes outside and casts, and they all disappear, leaving a stunned Jason who didn't reach them in time.

When night falls, the vampires drive to the emporium. Bill, Jessica, Eric and Pam, armed with rocket launchers and outfitted in leather gear, emerge in slow motion (for added bad-assery).

The Verdict:
I continue to enjoy this season and have been giving the more crazy stuff plenty of grace. But the past few episodes have overused the magic bullet of ill-defined witch powers to wipe troublesome story elements under the rug.

Antonia's limits have never been established, and she seems to carry the whole back of tricks of a Dungeons and Dragons mage. Protective spells, including a repelling spell that conveniently keeps the neighbourhood empty, arcane locks, teleportation, and mind control. I half expect to see magic missiles. Add to that Nan glamoring all the witnesses of the massacre from the hotel to keep it out of the media. How did she manage to round up everyone?

Then we get Sookie's shiny hands of convenience to save the day (and Eric's memory). It does sound a little weird complaining about the outrageous latitudes given to the magic, when we've got vampires, werewolves and shifters running around, but at least they seem to have some rules in place.

For a relatively major character, Tommy's death was handled rather quickly. It wasn't unexpected at all, but I'm happy it got out of the way before the finale. Sam seemed to accept Alcide there (and must know he's a werewolf) with few questions asked, which seems counter to his character in some ways.

Andy's storyline was an additional slowdown that served no purpose unless he's going to throw a big wrench into the finale with a fall off the wagon. The Bellefleur family is getting a lot of focus (both present and past incarnations), so what purpose is this all going to serve?

But the big twist was Marnie is really in control and Antonia's just along for the ride lending her muscle. That likely means Marnie is going to come to a bad end now. But she never really seemed that nasty when we first saw her.

Are we due for some insight into the actual vampire authority, given Nan's days seem to be numbered? It would be neat if the revelation is actually something interesting and surprising about who's really running the show, but I hope Nan sticks around awhile.

It was odd that Eric's return got relatively little attention given so much time has been spent on him and Sookie. The big pleasure this week was the foursome taking on the witches. It's been a long time since we got Jason, Sookie and Lafayette (now with Jesus) working together, and it was great to see.

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