This week's "True Blood" gave us a major reveal, gratuitous nudity and even a vampire turning. But for all the "action" that went down last night, I'm left feeling lukewarm.
Gone are the days when I gasped at least once per episode. Instead, I find myself wondering whether the writers have completely checked out on the Bon Temps universe or are just floundering to find new storylines for its residents.
This week we -- along with Sookie, Jason and FFG (for those just tuning in, that's F---ing Faerie Grandfather) -- learn that Ben is Warlow.
The episode opens with Sookie and Ben dragging an unconscious Jason to the couch. Sookie leaves the room to call 911, and Ben takes the opportunity to bare the fangs we didn't know he had, bite his arm and let his vampire blood drip into Jason's mouth.
FFG, not yet aware of any of this, is pissed that Ben stayed behind to help Sookie tend to Jason rather than chasing vampires with him. He reminds Ben that their mission is to protect Sookie, not her hapless human brother. Ben apologizes to Grandpa Niall and leaves to get a hotel room, but not before exchanging a meaningful gaze with Sookie.
Jason, unknowingly riding his vampire blood high, shows Sookie how much better he feels by doing shirtless pull-ups on a doorframe. Sookie isn't suspicious of Jason's behavior -- until she finds a drop of blood on the floor by the couch and suddenly understands everything.
Am I the only one who doesn't buy how quickly she figures out that Ben is Warlow and fed Jason vampire blood?
Sookie goes over to Ben's hotel and invites him to dinner under the guise of thanking him for helping save Jason. Afterward, she shops for groceries as she leaves Jason a voicemail telling him to skedaddle so she and her dinner date can have the house to themselves.
Jason can't answer his phone because he's sleeping. Remember how after you drink a vampire's blood, you sometimes fantasize about that vampire? Jason finds himself dreaming that he's shaving Ben ("Do it like you do it to yourself," Ben tells Jason). He wakes up pretty freaked, and as one does in such a situation, turns to his grandfather for advice. But before sharing his Ben fantasies with his grandpa, Jason confirms that he's "a straight type of faerie." Oh, Jason.
FFG searches through Jason's memories and the two realize (as implausibly quickly as Sookie did) that Ben must be Warlow. FFG has never heard of a faerie being turned, but clearly that's the only explanation. The two men sneak into Barlow's hotel room as Barlow is taking a shower. Except the shower curtain is pulled back to reveal ... nothing. Barlow is fast, and a little nudity doesn't stop him from taking control of the situation. He shocks FFG with faerie light, knocking him to the ground, and glamours Jason.
And then we're yet again on the bridge where Sookie's parents were killed. Barlow pulls FFG out of the trunk of a car, gives him some blood to stir him awake, and then throws him to the ground and proceeds to explain that yep, he's Warlow. He was turned thousands of years ago, and the light and dark within him have been fighting each other ever since. Barlow spared FFG's life back when he killed his parents because the faerie good in him wouldn't let him kill a child, and he'll spare him again now -- by sending FFG through the portal to wherever Barlow emerged from in the premiere.
Meanwhile, Sookie puts on her prettiest lace dress and prepares some silver-laced-fried-chicken. Barlow arrives with flowers and wine -- all the trappings of a lovely evening, but somehow I doubt this date will end well.
They sit down to eat (Barlow is somehow unaffected by the silver in his supper) and Sookie flat-out asks what it is about her that "Ben" wants. Barlow tells her that everyone wants to be understood, and that he knew from the moment Sookie found him by the side of the road that she understood him.
Sookie appears to be convinced, and as "At Last" plays on the record player, she and Barlow move to the couch where things start to get hot and heavy ... but then Sookie activates her magic ball of light, and tells him to get off of her unless he's fixing to die. And she calls him Warlow.
A new vampire is born
After tracing Eric's cell phone, Governor Burrell and his agents storm Ginger's house. Daddy wants his daughter back, and orders the agents to light Bon Temps up "like a Christmas tree" until Willa is returned.
Pam and Eric find Tara emerging from the sewer sans Willa. Tara doesn't want to tell them where Willa is, but as usual Eric (violently) gets his way. Pam sort of but not really scolds Eric for putting his hands on Tara, and then Eric leaves to fetch Willa.
Pam and Tara have a fight about Willa and Tara stomps off, leaving Pam all by her lonesome when the governor's men show up and shoot her down. She'll be carted off to the vampire camp. Is Bill's prophecy that they'll all be trapped and burned already beginning to come true?
Eric finds Willa sitting alone on a merry-go-round. She tells him that she waited because she knew he'd come for her. She's on his side, and wants to know why Eric wouldn't let her taste his blood back in Ginger's coffin. Doesn't she deserve to, after offering to help?
Actually, Eric thinks she deserves far more -- he is going turn her. To that end, he digs a big hole in the ground. As Eric unbuttons his shirt, Willa tells him she's a virgin, at which point Eric marvels out loud: "So much courage, so little experience." He promises Willa that being turned won't hurt, not the way he does it. "True Blood" may be getting stale, but Eric Northman is still the sexiest vampire on television.
Willa wakes up downright giddy, but her delight over her newfound immortality is dampened when Eric tells her that she must go back to her father's house and teach him that vampires are not to be hunted. She doesn't want to go, but Eric trots out that trusty "as your maker, I command you" card. Unfortunately, Willa's homecoming doesn't go as Eric had hoped.
Before Willa returns home, we meet Bon Temps' newest couple: Governor Burrell and Sarah Newlin. The former Mrs. Reverend Newlin is trying to distract Burrell from his troubles with a makeout session. They're interrupted by guards announcing that Willa is home ... and had to be invited in.
The governor is perplexed until a bloody Willa enters the room. She tells her father that if he loves her at all, he stop slaughtering vampires. He seems to be considering it, but then Willa smells the blood from a wound on her daddy's hand and just can't help herself. Sarah Newlin shoots Willa with one of those UV-light-guns, and tells Governor Burrell that Willa must be sent away to the vampire torture/experimentation camp. Eric is not going to be pleased.
Faeries just wanna have fun
Andy's faerie preteens are reading Terry's mind, much to his chagrin. Papa Andy comes in and tells the girls its bedtime. He tucks them into bed and turns out the lights. A few minutes later, though, the girls starting talking about how "it's happening again." The lights switch back on and we see that the girls are now in their late teens. After arguing over who has the prettiest new boobs, they decide to take their new bodies out to play. After all, they "might be 30" by morning!
Bill and Jessica are lurking outside as the girls sneak off in Andy's cop car. They're a little confused about the girls' age, but whatever -- faerie blood is faerie blood. Jessica insists that she be the one to kidnap the faeries, noting that while Bill would never think to harm Andy's brood, Billith might. She heads into the convenience store and convinces the girls that it would be "super fun" to come party at her house.
Once at the Compton manor, one of the faeries hits on Bill. He uses the opportunity to attach a device to her wrist that collects a sample of her blood. She's okay with this, because anything in the name of foreplay.
Sadly, Bill isn't interested in her new boobs. Instead, he strolls into the lab he's somehow rapidly assembled for Professor Takahashi and hands him the blood sample, ordering him to synthesize the faerie blood just as he once did with human blood.
Takahashi examines the blood, and tells Bill that he's never seen anything like it. Problem is, outside of its host the faerie blood loses all magical properties and turns back to plain old human blood. Bummer!
The faeries, finding Bill and his blood-taking wrist device creepy, decide it's time to leave the Compton manor. Jess scrambles to persuade them not to go, and in her haste to figure out what to do, grabs one.
Up close, the honey smell of faerie blood is too much for Jess to handle. She loses control and feeds on all of the faeries. Bill hears screaming, and finds Jess crying. She begs him to tell her that the faeries aren't dead.
The rest of it
In a brief but important scene near the start of the episode, FFG catches up with Nora and demands to know how Eric's sister knows about Warlow. Nora tells FFG what she figured out (in Episode 2) about Lilith and that error in the vampire bible.
The vampire bible doesn't read that the people led Lilith to the sun, but that the progeny led Lilith to the sun. Warlow is Lilith's progeny, and therefore it is Warlow who must kill Lilith. It's unclear how this will play out, but I'm guessing it means that Sookie can't just off Barlow in her living room.
At the werewolf HQ, the werewolves are picking over the remains of the Vampire Unity Society and notice that Nicole is unaccounted for. But before Alcide can get too concerned, Martha runs out and yells that Emma is gone. As in weeks past, I couldn't care less.
My disinterest in the wolf pack is matched only by my growing indifference to all things Sam Merlotte. He hooks up with Nicole this week, surprising no one. I did love little Emma's pink cowboy boots, but I'm not sure that justifies keeping any of these characters around.
Maybe it's fatigue from the long holiday weekend, but even all of the shirtless-ness (Jason! Eric! Sookie!) couldn't make this week's episode compelling. We were given plenty of new information, but zero new reasons to feel connected to these characters. As we near the halfway mark, I'm afraid that Season 6 is shaping up to be a bigger disappointment than that time the writers tried to make were-panthers happen.