‘True Blood’ recap: Bill’s dark side emerges in ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’

“True Blood” has already passed the point of no return to salvage this season. We’re stuck with the storylines we’ve got, and most of them are lemons. But at least now that we’re heading into the final four episodes the writers will be forced to stop dragging their feet and start delivering some payoffs.

That was sort of the case tonight, as we saw some real progress in Terry’s ghost story and Sookie and Jason’s investigation into their parents’ murder. There was also a bit of closure for Jessica and Hoyt, the return of sassy Lafayette and a good old fashioned “True Blood” sex scene (something that’s been surprisingly rare this season).

Let’s break it down:

The Good (What worked)

– After Jason stopped Sookie from burning through her fairy powers they shared a sweet scene where he pointed out the good things she’s experienced because of her abilities (Bill’s “real love,” the chance to talk to Gran after she died, a closer connection to their parents). I’m still not particularly wrapped up in the Stackhouse siblings’ detective work (the boring fairy characters aiding their quest don’t help), but the amount of screen time Anna Paquin and Ryan Kwanten have been sharing is one of the season’s few pleasures. Less focus on Sookie’s love life has led to more focus on Sookie’s family life and it’s no surprise that two of the show’s most appealing actors and loveable characters work so well together. (I realize not everyone loves Sookie, but I do, even when I don’t really love “True Blood.”)

– This week in token Pam and Tara scenes: While tending bar at Fangtasia, Tara gets a visit from a bitchy former classmate who drops racist lines like “Now you’re a member of two minorities!” and calls Tara “lazy” and “uppity.” At first Pam seems pissed when Tara chews out a paying customer for being such a poorly written cliché, but later she gives Tara the “gift” of this woman tied up and glamoured into believing she’s Tara’s personal slave/snack. Also, Kristin Bauer van Straten kills the line “My mad face and my happy face are the same.” Remember when it looked like Pam might dominate the season? If only it were true.

– Welcome back Lafayette. He freed himself of the miserable prison of Jesus’ past and made it back to Bon Temps just in time to kick Terry’s poky ghost story up a notch. Arlene and Holly turned to Lafayette to figure out if Terry’s actually haunted or just off his meds, and Nelsan Ellis got to do his best Oda Mae Brown in a séance scene. Yes, Lafayette was possessed…again…but only for a few seconds so he could deliver the news that this Ifrit insanity only ends once Terry kills Patrick, or Patrick kills Terry, or (hopefully) they kill each other. Hearing this news makes Patrick bolt out of the room, which is exactly what Scott Foley should’ve done when his agent asked if he’d like to guest star on “True Blood.”

– Honestly I don’t know whether to put Sam Trammell’s bizarre “Parent Trap”/”Ringer”/”Multiplicity” act in the good or the bad column, but it definitely wasn’t boring. Which is more than you can say for most of Sam’s scenes this season. It’s not that surprising that Trammell had more chemistry with himself (even if it was creepy chemistry) than he does with Janina Gavankar. I don’t want to be too hard on the actress, but the lengths they’re going to to keep Luna on the show are unbearable. Every time she breaks into a hysterical fit it’s only hysterically funny. One way or another, I really hope they finish her off this season — and I hope the ways the writers have found to limit Luna’s screen time (stuck in a hospital bed, morphing into Sam) are a sign they understand the problem.

– Bill’s flashback to his daughter Sarah’s death didn’t have much emotional impact, but it gave us one more piece to the puzzle of Bill Compton. Except, I’m not sure if it was supposed to convince us of his “turn” to the dark side, or increase our doubts about his behavior. He may have fooled Eric, but I’m not buying the “new” Bill. Since the flashback was a reminder he has always viewed being a vampire as a curse, it’s not likely Salome is suddenly going to get him to believe vampires are superior to humans. Not our Bill.

The Bad (What didn’t work)

– What was the deal with Lilith’s dramatic resurrection last week? Apparently it was just a hallucination, the same way Eric hallucinated Godric. Or maybe that really was Godric. Or Godric is Jiminy Cricket, Lilith is the Blue Fairy and once Eric proves he’s brave enough he’ll turn into a real boy. Really, nothing would surprise me now.

– We’ve spent way too much time with the Vampire Authority and too little of it has even made use of the show’s ridiculously large cast. The entire arc has been a major drag on the season, and even though it’s raised big issues like vampire religion, the possibility of a war over mainstreaming and the true natures of Bill and Eric, almost all of the drama has remained within the limited confines of Authority headquarters. If the biggest problem with season five has been too many scattered storylines, the primary offender has been this claustrophobic time suck. Let’s finish it up, fast.

– This is why Russell came back? To flirt with Steve Newlin? No, “True Blood,” no.

– Oooohhh, who’s gonna be the leader of the wolf pack!?! JD??? Or Alcide?!?! Does anyone, anywhere, seriously care?

– I think the only person who didn’t already understand that Jessica fell out of love with Hoyt was Hoyt. Now, I guess he understands too. So good for Hoyt, and too bad for us this hate group stuff is still going on. (And it seems that Hoyt’s mama — the show’s designated voice of anti-supernatural prejudice — may be involved.)

The Nasty (The week in sex and violence)

– Whoa there Alcide, you and Rikki are going at it like animals! And in just a single scene Joe Manganiello and Kelly Overton win the nudity prizes for the whole season. (They don’t have much competition.)

– Creative violence was at a minimum this week, but we did see how the Stackhouse parents died and very briefly met their vampire killer. His name is… Pazuzu or Nilbog or something. Sookie didn’t recognize it, but does that mean we’ll meet another new vampire soon? Oh joy.

What did you think of this week’s episode?