True Blood Review, Season 4, Episode 10: “Burning Down the House”
Written by Nancy Oliver
Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter
Airs Sundays at 9pm (ET) on HBO
This week, on True Blood: Sookie lays the smack down, Jason feels guilty, Marnie talks Antonia back onto the ledge, Eric’s back, Tommy and Sam reconcile, Jesus crawls through fire, Andy and Terry square off, Tara, Holly, Lafayette, and Sookie go up in light, and Bill, Jessica, Eric, and Pam do a badass strut.
True Blood continues its promising end of season run with another strong episode. This week everything centers on choices. Antonia, after a moment of doubt, is won back to the cause after a heart to heart with Marnie, who we learn had exactly this in mind all along. Jessica stands up for herself and leaves Jason to deal with the emotional aftermath of their hookup. Andy admits his V problem, Tara gets proactive, and Alcide picks his principles over the pack, and by extension, Debbie. The most interesting choice featured is perhaps Eric’s. Now restored, Eric does not revert to the same persona he’s shown over the past 3 seasons. His honesty and tenderness with Sookie is shocking- Alexander Skarsgard blends the old and amnesiac Erics into a far more intriguing, and far more complete, character than we’ve yet seen. This is the Eric that Sookie has always seen lurking behind the walls, the one viewers have only seen brief glimpses of, in his season two scenes with Godric and his season three daydream of Sookie. If the writers can keep Eric, and Sookie, this interesting, perhaps all of the annoyingly saccharine scenes with them earlier this season will have been worth it.
Another pleasant surprise is the death of Tommy. Though the writers and producers have tried several different tacks with this character over the past two seasons, he’s never quite worked and has brought more frustration and annoyance than anything else. It’s hard to tell where the character went wrong- Marshall Allmann has had ups and downs with the character, but his performance has never really been the problem. All of the drama with Sam’s family has ended up feeling like a wasted detour, storylines unrelated to the rest of the comings and goings in Bon Temps that just distract from the real action of the piece. Even Tommy’s death doesn’t inspire much emotion. Sam Trammell’s performance is moving, but even he doesn’t engender much sympathy for a character who has detracted from the series far more than he’s added. The teaming up of Alcide and Sam is promising, if only because these two feel like logical allies, given their temperament and experiences, but if these developments are just steps in a Rube Goldberg device bringing us to another Sookie/Debbie showdown, it’ll be a disappointment.
The revelation that Marnie has been in on the plan all along feels a bit convenient. It’s possible that all the early scenes we got of her were a façade constructed by a brilliant sociopath, but the added detail that apparently Jesus has been besties with Marnie for a full year doesn’t quite come off, making the Marnie twist feel false. The quick about faces we see from Antonia don’t help, though the brief scene with Fiona Shaw and Paola Turbay gives more depth, grace, and interest to Antonia than any of her flashbacks. Nan is always good for a laugh, though one has to wonder where she went at the end of the episode- did Bill detain her? Has she run off to the VLA or the Authority? Things with Nan and Bill have come to a head, and her prospects aren’t looking too good. Unless Alan Ball and the rest of the True Blood crew decide they don’t care about putting Sookie in a love triangle, or angering Team Bill fanboys/girls, Bill’s not going anywhere.
It’s nice to see Andy’s addiction come to a head. Though this plotline feels very disconnected from the rest of the action, perhaps the intervention this week will bring it to a close. The Andy-as-addict arc has served its purpose in forcing Jason to stand up and has been mined for plenty of solid comedic moments. With Hotshot a not-remotely-fond fading memory, it’s time to pack this one up. Andy, Terry, and Arlene are a very welcome addition to the series, but one of True Blood’s biggest problems is its fondness for focusing on storylines and characters that the audience discovers, a few weeks down the line, had absolutely nothing to do with anything that’s really going on. Either the writers need to tie it all in together, as they did in seasons one and, for the most part, two, or they need to stop with the admittedly entertaining misleads.
Lafayette remains the largest question mark in the countdown to the finale. With possession playing such a significant role in the endgame, and that attack from Faerie still looming, Lafayette and his mega-mojo are still up in the air. Tara’s decision to stop being afraid and start kicking some ass, Classical Latin style, is a nice moment. Hopefully, once we find out where she and the rest of the Emporium Break Out Squad teleported to we’ll get to see her stick by Sookie (geographically as well as emotionally). The scenes with the two of them are often some of the series’ best and it’d be great to get a few more before the season ends. Besides, Sookie owes her one hell of an apology (which she just maybe might need to reciprocate).
Season four has in no way been perfect, and it hasn’t reached the astonishing highs of season three, but it has been overall much more consistent and rewarding. As we approach the finale, the show is building momentum, rather than losing it, and that bodes very well for the final two episodes. What did you think of this week’s episode? Is anyone going to miss Tommy? Post your thoughts below!