True Blood shot

Ryan Kwanten and Anna Paquin in the second episode of "True Blood's" sixth season. (HBO / January 22, 2013)

One of my biggest "True Blood" gripes is that the origin stories behind the series’ main players, which were introduced in the show’s earliest seasons, have largely been buried in later seasons in favor of sideline characters, dead-end plot twists and quasi-political commentary. Last night’s episode offered a welcomed return to some of those origin stories and, I hope, portends a much-needed refocusing on the key characters in the "True Blood" universe.

Where’s Warlow?

Much like the premiere picked up right where Season 5 left off, the second episode begins exactly where the first ended. Well, mostly — the episode opens on a shot of an ominously desolate, familiar-seeming bridge with what appears to be a man emerging from a swirling black portal. The man bares his fangs, but we don’t get to see his face. Who is this angry new Bon Temps vampire? Sure seems like he could be Warlow … but then who was the dapperly dressed gentleman who picked up a hitchhiking Jason and declared himself Warlow last week?

We don’t have to wait very long for clarification. The dapperly dressed gentleman is, in his own words, Jason and Sookie’s “F---ing Faerie Grandfather” (FFG), Niall. He tells Jason that he has been watching over him his entire life, which he proves to Jason by listing off a bunch of facts and events including the “juicy porn” teen Jason kept under his bed. Couldn’t have left that out, gramps?

Jason brings FFG back to the Casa Stackhouse and the two head up to the bathroom where Warlow appeared to Sookie that one time. FFG holds up his hand to reveal a black portal, a smaller version of what we saw on the bridge. FFG tells Jason it’s an entrance “to a terrible place.” FFG says that he needs to know if Warlow succeeding in breaking through, and then hops on up into the portal and disappears. Jason stumbles around trying to follow him, but FFG quickly reappears. “It’s worse than I thought,” he tells Jason.

Never one to stay away from imminent danger, Sookie comes home. After Jason introduces Sookie to FFG, the Stackhouse kin sit down to catch up over some spaghetti (as one does when one’s long-lost FFG shows up out of the blue). FFG discloses that Warlow is in Bon Temps. He has arrived sometime in the last 24 hours. When Sookie channeled nature’s memory on the bridge it drew Warlow out…which would make the man from the opening scene none other than actual, in-the-cold-dead-flesh Warlow.

FFG goes on to fill Sookie in on some family history: They are the “original fae.” Their bloodline is royal, and FFG is the king of their tribe. Jason gets pretty excited at the prospect of being a prince, but FFG informs him that the faerie genes skipped him. Of course they did; Jason always gets the short end of the stick. Anyway, Warlow has been after their tribe for thousands of years. FFG has been tracking him through the centuries, and now must teach Sookie how to harness her powers to defeat Warlow.

And this is when we (finally!) find out something new about Sookie’s magical faerie powers. FFG tells Sookie and Jason that Sookie’s magic light trick is actually a secret family power. They can channel the light into a single ball of energy, and when released, the energy ball will go supernova, killing any vampire it touches.  For Sookie, this must be a last resort — she is only part faerie, and using the supernova light ball will suck all of the faerie juice out of her, leaving her merely mortal. Am I the only one who thinks Sookie looks a bit relieved to learn she might soon be just another human? 

FFG tells Sookie she must practice growing her energy ball, especially since it’s been on the fritz recently.

Heavenly Billith

While Sookie and Jason are busy at home with FFG, Jessica is tending to a distressed Bill over at the Compton mansion. After she finds him screaming in his office, face streaked with bloody tears, Bill tells her that he can now feel all of the vampires, ever. Visions of different vampires being tortured flash through Bill’s mind, until he can’t stand the pain and goes catatonic in Jessica’s arms.

Jess tries desperately to rouse her maker. Thinking he might just be feeling peckish and in need of a snack, she has a tasty treat delivered from the Human Edibles service. Just as I’m wondering why I care at all about Bill’s next meal, a still-unconscious Bill displays another new power. He draws his Human Edible toward him, contorting her body every which way until her spine cracks, and sucks all of her blood out of her and into his mouth until she is left a dead dry husk. Jess stares on (with us viewers) in horror, and then collapses into tears. It’s exactly the kind of over-the-top, gory and unexpected moment that "True Blood" fans have come to relish. My appetite is sated right along with Bill’s.

Jess eventually picks herself up and disposes of the dead body. She returns to the comatose Bill, and having decided that he must be God, kneels down and begins to pray to her very own Heavenly Father. Thus begins an overly saccharine montage showing all the people Jess asks Bill to bless and protect: Jason, Sookie, Eric, Pam, Tara, Sam and Lafayette. Even Hoyt gets a shout-out, although we don’t see him.

All the while, Bill is dreaming of Lilith. She tells Bill “events have been set in motion.” A tyrant is rising, and Bill must complete Lilith’s work.

Bill: Why me?

Lilith: You proved yourself worthy when you won the battle for my blood.

Bill: Am I a god?

Lilith: No. God made me as vampire, and Adam and Eve as human. I am worshipped as a god, as some may come to worship you as a god, but there is no god but God. 

Nevertheless, it is still up to Bill to save them all. Always pragmatic under any circumstance, Bill asks how he should go about doing that. “You will know what to do. Trust what you see,” Lilith responds.

Having learned that he is not God or Lilith but just a souped-up version of himself saddled with yet another savior mission, Bill comes to in the office. He gets up out of the chair he’s spent the entire episode sitting in and starts to walk out of the room, but the TV comes on. Jess runs in as she hears the noise, and hugs Bill, thrilled to see him moving. The news report on the television shows one of the vampires Bill saw in those visions he had before passing out. Another new power! Bill can see the future. As Bill says the words aloud to Jess, he has a vision of all of the Bon Temps vampires we know and love imprisoned and in flames below a bright light.