The best episode yet or a season that's started to perk up after an underwhelming start, perhaps because the stories being given the most attention focused on the entertaining vampire/witch rivalry and kept the weaker subplots to a minimum. True Blood just works better when it's dealing with its vampires, because their mythology is deeper and more interesting than the laughable issues of were-panthers and evil babies that clutter up proceedings.
After some hesitant steps in the previous half-season, Marnie (Fiona Shaw) is now Vampire Enemy #1 because she's allowed herself to be possessed by the spirit of a centuries-old victimized witch called Antonia. Knowing that Antonia's powers infamously extend to necromancy, Bill (Stephen Moyer) was forced to order all local vampires to go to ground bound by silver, knowing that Marnie might compel them out into the sunlight during daylight hours. Marnie also recruited Tara (Rutina Wesley) into her coven, as both women have a similar personal history with vampires and a deep yearning for vengeance, which was plausible reasoning and an nice way to give Tara something to do.
"Everyone who's ever been with me has ended up dead. It ain't a long list, but it's a bad one to be on."
Elsewhere, Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) has consummated his relationship with Sookie (Anna Paquin), with Bill forced to accept they're an item; Sam (Sam Trammell) realized that his brother Tommy (Marshall Allman) has gained the ability to "skin walk" and used the power to pose as himself and sleep with his girlfriend; Hoyt (Jim Parrack) made best-friend Jason (Ryan Kwanten) feel guilty about his feelings towards Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll); Pam (Kristen Bauer) took desperate measures to restore her beauty, by going through a painful cosmetic process to remove her rotting flesh; Alcide (Joe Manganiello) joined a new wolf pack to appease girlfriend Debbie (Britt Morgan), which did little to stimulate their sex life because his mind's still on Sookie; and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) learned he's a medium capable of channeling spirits like Marnie.
"I felt like a giant-ass puppet for your ghost uncle."
As you can tell from the breakdown of events, there weren't many storylines that aren't connected to the bigger ongoing concerns. Even Jason's affection for Jessica fed into the climactic moment with him racing to protect her from Marnie's spell, as she broke free of her silver chains and ventured out into the daylight. This was perhaps the first cliffhanger that's worked this season, because Jessica's a character nobody wants to see burnt to a crisp, despite how unlikely that is given her popularity. I'm still apathetic toward Arlene's (Carrie Preston) baby story, but appreciate how it's now moved on to involve the ghost of a black girl—who I'm guessing lost a child when she was alive and has attached herself to Arlene's son? It still feels terribly extraneous to things, though. At least Lafayette's story, which is also uninteresting right now, feels like it's building towards something connected to the vampire/witch storyline. I'm guessing he'll be the only person who can defeat Marnie in a battle-of-the-mediums. I'm just not sure why Lafayette would want to actually stop Marnie, given his own history with vampires isn't very harmonious. If anything, he should be right behind Tara.
"And when we survive the day, I am going to eat that fucking witch, starting with her face."
Overall, "Cold Grey Light Of Dawn" marked a highpoint of this season and felt more like the show I used to enjoy back in season 2. Against the odds, the inclusion of witches this year has worked very well, and I'm glad the weaker subplots that dominated the first half of this season appear to be diminishing. Maybe the writers themselves realized they weren't very good, or simply ran out of narrative with them. Whatever the reason, I'm glad the show's regaining some focus. There are even more character-based moments to savour, which is what really sold True Blood back in the early days. In particular, Marnie convincing Tara to join her was a believable turn, and I enjoyed seeing more of the touching father/daughter relationship between Bill and Jessica. He should have added more chains to her, though, right?
What do you think? Is True Blood starting to turn things around? Do you think the rest of the season will sustain this quality, or are things destined to slump again? In the past, the show has tended to have interesting middles and disappointing finales, remember...
- Why were those chains required for Jessica and Bill? They're inside a jail cell with silver bars, so escape wasn't possible. There didn't seem to be any real need to torture themselves by laying chains over their limbs.