Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: True Blood "Soul Of Fire"

Non Spoiler Review:
The penultimate True Blood of the season means major plotlines begin to come to resolution for what should be the usual crazy finale. Antonia/Marnie struggles to control her coven and fend off the vampire siege, while Jesus tries a dangerous plan to exorcise her from her host. Alcide and Sam seek out Marcus, Andy meets his destiny, and Sookie goes down, down in a burning ring of fire.

Soul of Fire gets my nomination for the best episode of the season, keeping a frenetic pace to the end and setting up a final showdown next week. Andy's boring arc gets a surprise kick, though that means revisiting some less than impressive plotlines again. The verbal barbs continue to fly and there was great mix of humour, action, drama and tragedy.

The writers have never let plot get in the way of telling the story, so a lot of stuff gets pushed along at a fair pace and the audience is expected to let a lot of questions slide by the wayside. Any other show, and I would be very critical at this point, but this season I've grown used to the spontaneous fairy blasts, ridiculous decisions by Bill and Eric, and egregious use of magic with no set limits, and have just decided to roll with it. Probably not a good thing for the long term.

Spoilers Now!
The vampires march on the Moongoddess Emporium, readying their rocket launchers until a frantic Jason runs up to stop them. He lets them know Sookie is inside, prompting a round of "Fucking, Sookie!" from pretty much everyone for how she manages to get in the way. Jason gives them a good tongue lashing and a lecture on how Sookie saved both Eric and Bill's lives several times, thank you very much. 

Bill sees the light and agrees the plan should be aborted. Eric concurs. Pam does not. Jason provides some further help by letting them know there's a protective spell around the whole place that must first be disabled. While Bill and Eric confer, Jason walks with Jessica and lets her know he still feels guilty. She barely has enough time to tell him he's the furthest thing from her mind when Bill's captive sheriffs attack.

Marnie tells her coven/prisoners that the vampires are about to attack, but they're not her prisoners, she protests, and they can leave anytime. That prompts background character Casey to make a break, and Marnie strikes her down with a knife to everyone's horror, thus proving that they are pretty much prisoners. She proceeds to die on the floor while Marnie experiences a brief sense of guilt before shrugging it off as self-defence.

The coven watches Marnie struggle with her inner dialogue again, only this time Lafayette sees Antonia emerge and argue it out with her. He's the only one who can see her (which is news to Tara about his new medium status). Antonia is about to abandon her host and her violent ways, but Marnie proceeds to cast a binding spell, which according to Jesus means they're fucked. Marnie wins.

Jesus gets an idea and examines Casey, letting everyone know that she's still alive—but barely—and asks to care for her. Marnie agrees, and tells him to take what he needs. That allows him to conveniently gather up ingredients for a spell while Lafayette helps him take her into the back, but he realizes she's dead. Jesus explains he's going to get up to some crazy messy brujah magic to force Antonia out of Marnie's body, so Casey's death won't be in vain.

Alcide can't get any information out of Marcus' man, but Luna shows up looking for him too, as Emma is missing. Sam tells her he killed his brother and he'll set things right. Meanwhile, Marcus is at Debbie's (who is comfortable enough with him to have a chat in her nighty). She won't go off with him, as she still loves Alcide. But Emma wants to talk to her mother, so while they're arguing about leaving together, Emma calls Luna. Conveniently enough, Alcide recognizes the number on her phone as his.

Holly and Sookie try to get Marnie to listen to reason, but Marnie resents being a doormat all her life prior to bonding with Antonia and her power. But Sookie manages to get her to agree to negotiate. 

Bill has killed one sheriff, but his female one is alive. He attempts to get through to her, but she's firmly under the spell. He calls to Antonia to come out, so she does so with Sookie, realizing it's time for a deal. She then utters an incantation and the sheriff attacks Bill again, so he throws her into the magic wall. She vaporizes. The wall, Antonia informs them, is the power of the sun, which is a death sentence to the vampires, while only making humans hurt real bad. This is how Marnie starts her negotiation.

Marnie offers to let Sookie go if Eric and Bill sacrifice their lives. Apparently this is a deal they can trust, as both agree to it with no debate whatsoever. Bill will shoot Eric and then Pam will kill Bill, they decide, despite Pam and Jessica's WTF looks. Sookie cries. Bill prepares to shoot Eric, but Pam grabs her rocket and fires it at the wall, causing a huge s'plosion. 

The barrier holds, but everyone gets shaken up. Marnie gives everyone an I told you so about not trusting vampires. She uses Casey's spilled blood to try to see the future, which unfortunately shows her with a bullet in her head, so she calls them into a circle claiming the vampires plan to kill them all. They obviously aren't into that, but she threatens them that an attack is imminent, and this seems to do the trick as they join hands and she begins to cast. 

Meanwhile...Jesus has everything he needs, drinking some blood, doing a little cutting, and getting Lafayette to help perform the spell to unbond Marnie and Antonia. His inner demon comes out to help. He tells Lafayette to ignore all the bad things he's about to say to him.

Outside, everyone else is all right, and Jessica tells Bill never to do that to her again. Oh, and Jason? Well, he's all burnt up as they discover, so she quickly gives him her blood and cures him. But he doesn't have long to thank her as Marnie's spell kicks in and all the vamps do the worst zombie walk ever towards the wall. Jason tries to pull them back and mentally signals Sookie that she has to stop them.

Sookie's convenient fairy powers act up, blowing the circle apart, which makes Marnie so thoroughly pissed she decides to torment Sookie and imprisons her in a ring of fire rather than fight the vampires. Outside, released from the spell, Eric tells Pam to get out of his sight before he kills her for disobeying him. She leaves at vamp speed.

Jesus and his demon friend manage to sever the tie between Antonia and Marnie. Antonia goes off to her just reward, leaving Marnie vulnerable and the protective spell drops. Bill, Eric and Jessica rush in and Sookie is freed from the fire. Eric rips out the heart of Marnie's bestest follower and Bill trains his gun on her. Sookie protests that the rest of the coven are all unwilling participants, so he shoots Marnie dead.

Andy is walking home through the woods at night (never a good thing on True Blood), when he sees multiple flashes of light, and a fairy-like woman in front of him. She smells the V in his system so attacks him first, but later realizes he's human. Then she proceeds to seduce him after getting him to vow never to harm her. Her name is Mirella. Andy finally gets back home, and tells Arlene what happened in the woods. She suggests it's just him coming off the V and best not to mention it to anyone.

Alcide and Sam arrive. While Luna gets Emma out of the house they go upstairs to find Debbie and Marcus. Sam and Marcus fight mano-a-mano as Alcide holds back Debbie. Sam wins, though he won't kill him. Luckily Marcus grabs his gun and Alcide steps in and breaks his neck. Marcus dies while a horrified Debbie watches. Then Alcide proceeds to cast out Debbie (informing her they will hunt and share flesh together no longer). She's quite upset, and he leaves her with the body. Sam comes out to Luna and Emma waiting in the car and tells her what happened with his sad eyes.

Eric glamours those coven members Bill requests, and consults with Bill while Jesus mourns for his friend Marnie. Sookie stares at Bill and Eric, wondering who she loves more. Jessica has another heart to heart with Jason, who is on his way to recovery. He admits she's all he thinks about even without her blood, but it means betraying his friend.

Jesus and Lafayette decompress after their day, and he comforts Jesus he had to do what was best to save everyone. Jesus goes to sleep, and Lafayette opens his eyes to see Marnie's spirit hovering over him. And then he's possessed.

The Verdict:
As I mentioned, I've been letting a lot of the crazy slide given I'm enjoying the witch/vampire storyline. It amounts to plenty of lazy writing and it's certainly going to catch up to the show at some point. Let's just recount the absurd bits this week, shall we? Bill and Eric's abrupt decision to kill themselves to save Sookie and take Marnie at her word. Punching bag Jason getting mortally wounded again, on the heals of surviving the werepanthers. Marnie wasting all her time tormenting Sookie while the vampires wait outside. Or that wild Star Trek force field surrounding the emporium?

Nevertheless, Soul of Fire was great fun. Marnie's accelerating loss of control was satisfying to watch, and the added bonus that Antonia wasn't as villainous as we were led to believe. We never really got a sense of who Marnie was prior to her possession, so I'm having a hard time accepting she was channelling all this rage and resentment in those first few episodes prior to Antonia's arrival.

WTF is up with the coven? They're all we're so done with you, Marnie, but all she has to do is say the vampires are coming, and everyone (including Tara and Sookie!) join hands? Luckily Sookie's plot device (fairy powers) show up and save the day, but somehow don't work when her life is in real jeopardy.

Speaking of which, who is the source of Marnie's power? One would think Antonia, but after their spat, Marnie is able to cast a binding spell on the much more powerful witch. Did the bond allow her to access all of Antonia's knowledge?

Andy's foray into the fairy world was unexpected. Something tells me Mirella is going to come back with a hybrid baby. But, please, writers, remember that time in Faerie moves slower than our world, so that baby can't come back as an older child.

At last Alcide is done with Debbie. Her descent was a fun train wreck to watch. But poor Tommy's death seems to be little more than the catalyst to get plot moving.

Once again, Jessica and Jason remain the one interesting couple on the show. And I certainly hope Eric and Pam aren't on the outs for good, or at the very least she gets to hook up with someone interesting (like Bill).

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