"At Last" was more than just the title of Season Six's fourth episode – it was the collective sigh of relief exhaled by all fans (this recapper included) who have been wondering when the hell we'd get the True Blood we know and love back. There's still quite a ways to go though: I'm sick of no one having sex on this show anymore, and there has just not been enough Steve Newlin to satisfy this thirsty Truebie. But I'd like to think it wasn't a coincidence that there were a couple of homages to Season One in "At Last," namely, the return of the GrabItKwik convenience store and its gothy clerk from the opening scene of TB's very first episode, as well as seeing Jason (unwittingly) on V again.
But what made "At Last" such a turning point in what has been a relatively tepid season so far were two crucial plot developments. One: After having his story line dragged out since the middle of last season without being able to show his face, Warlow revealed himself to be none other than Sookie's new half-faerie love interest, Ben. Two: Badass Sookie is back. I had so much fun watching her playing the coquette with Ben (having already figured out that he was Warlow), inviting him to a silver-laced-fried-chicken dinner wearing a blood-red cami and cardigan with matching headband, smiling and batting her eyelashes in a way we haven't seen her behave since the days of Sookie and Bill, B.B.B. (Before Bill's Betrayal). True, after six seasons of vampires, shape-shifters, werewolves, maenads, witches, werepanthers (so glad those went as quickly as they came – definitely a low point in the Jason story line), faeries, ghosts and the Ifrit, the last thing any of us wanted to deal with was adding another supernatural to the mix. But we're not here to write True Blood, just to watch it, so if the writers want to introduce a faerie-vampire hybrid, that's their prerogative. Although it does make me worry that by making Warlow not just a dangerously powerful vampire, but one who was born a faerie, the idea well is starting to run dry over at the True Blood factory.
Vampires and Faeries
If the Bon Temps vamps don't start coming up with some better war tactics soon, they're all going to end up in Gov. Burrell's camp (named, as I suggested in an earlier recap, the V for Vendetta-ish "Overlark." For those keeping track, the prison camp in V for Vendetta was called "Larkhill"), just as Bill envisioned. By the end of "At Last," Nora and Pam had been shot up with silver-UV-light bullets, ostensibly taken to Overlark, and Eric's 1,000-year-old arrogance (which he perceived as "wisdom") bit him in the ass as he turned a willing Willa (pun intended) into his second progeny, in the hope of having her "prove to [her] father that [she is] not a monster," only to have her sink her newborn fangs into Burrell within minutes of their reunion. Oh, and Jessica might have killed all four of Andy's now-18-year-old faerie daughters, unable to control her lust for their honey-scented blood.
The episode opens with Niall still doing battle with Nora outside the Stackhouse home, until he notices she's a woman and therefore not Warlow. Eric's sister only makes an appearance so she can disclose her Vampire Bible epiphany from two episodes ago: The mistranslation she spoke of wasn't "The people led Lilith to the sun," but "The progeny led Lilith to the sun." Meaning, only Warlow can kill Lilith. Given what we're about to learn regarding Warlow's, ahem, skills, that means things are only going to get messier as the season progresses. Nora, having fulfilled her usefulness for the episode, is swiftly blasted right into the hands of Burrell's SWAT team courtesy of a Niall-produced light bolt.
Eric and Pam manage to evade Burrell and his goons once they descend upon Ginger's place, but the lack of vampire presence doesn't stop Burrell from ordering up a one-way ticket to Overlark for Ginger. Reduced to hiding out in the sewers, maker and progeny easily put a stop to Tara and Willa's escape as Pam summons Tara, who is then coerced by Eric into revealing Willa's whereabouts. The governor's daughter is patiently awaiting Eric on a merry-go-round, having apparently found the time to stop off at a 24-hour Sephora to reapply her lipstick while running for her life. We are then treated to the hottest vampire-turning scene to date on this show, as every line of dialogue ("Is it going to hurt?" "Not the way I do it") and blood stain (her snow-white negligee is soaked crimson) become euphemisms for virgin Willa's first time – Eric's use of her crucifix to pierce his neck was a nice touch. Except all Willa is left with is a big case of blue balls. Once she's a vampire, Eric rebuffs her sexual advances and commands her to go home to Daddy. His insistence that he did not make the decision to turn her lightly not changing the fact that he is using her for personal gain: "Make him understand that we were all once human. We are not to be hunted," he says. It's a good idea in theory, Eric, but once again, your selfishness will be your undoing. Why? Because you honestly thought a newborn would be able to catch a whiff of human blood and go, "Nah, I'll wait until I can get the synthetic stuff Walt and Jesse are whipping up over at Compton Manor." So Willa returns to the governor's mansion, where she interrupts a robe-clad Burrell and his lady friend Sarah Newlin (perfect match, there), who was about to tell her lover something important ($50 says she's pregnant with his kid). Eric's plan appears to be working, as Willa pleads with her father to stop the vampire persecution and an emotional Burrell allows a father's love to supersede his prior prejudices. ("This is my daughter!" he proclaims through tears.) But then Willa sniffs out Daddy's bleeding hand – he smacked a wall in Ginger's house upon finding it vampire-free – and that's when everything goes to shit. Sarah shoots Willa down with a presumably silver bullet and tells Burrell to "let her go." Whether Willa joins Nora and Pam (who is picked up by SWAT guards at the end of the episode) at Overlark remains to be seen.
Things aren't going much better for Bill and Jessica, who, as I predicted last week, have lured Andy's daughters back to Compton Manor so Hido Takahashi, now Bill's prisoner, can analyze and synthesize their blood. Having sprouted boobs and a sudden desire to joyride in Daddy's squad car, the now-faerie-teens make their way to the GrabItKwik to buy beer and cigarettes, happily assisted by Jessica, who both glamours the clerk and charms the Bellefleurs with high-pitched girly-girl talk. Before long, they're ensconced in Bill's palace, having exchanged Arlene's Merlotte's T-shirts for Jess' wardrobe – her "Cherry Bomb" dress from last season making a welcome reappearance. Getting their blood samples was easy. (Bill, as he states to Jess early on, can be "very persuasive.") Trouble is, Takahashi discovers that all faerie elements disintegrate once they leave the body, making it impossible to synthesize the girls' blood. And even if further experiments allowed the Japanese scientist to crack the faeries' befuddling genetic code, he wouldn't have any blood to use. The teens eventually become restless and creeped out by Bill's obsession with their bodily fluids, and head toward the door. Jess, in fear for her own life should they get away – Bill isn't exactly what one would call "stable" – and overcome by their intoxicating scent, drops her fangs. Upon hearing screams from upstairs, Bill zips into the living room to find four unconscious bodies surrounding a whimpering, blood-covered Jess, beseeching Bill to assure her that they're still alive.
Faeries and Humans
While Sookie is off calling 911, Jason bounces back from his previously lifeless state thanks to a healthy dose of vampire blood courtesy of Ben. Wait, what now? Ben had us fooled pretty good, but that was a pretty stupid move on his part to let his freak fangs fly. Jason may be thick-headed, but he knows the effects of vampire blood all too well, so when he starts having homoerotic dreams about Ben and is back to doing close to 250 pull-ups without breaking a sweat, he knows something is up. Niall's quick peek into his head confirms that Ben is indeed Warlow: He can walk in the sun, eat food, and has the same supernatural powers as faeries and vampires. Sounds pretty unstoppable to me. Sookie makes the discovery on her own when she too notices Ben's sloppiness – a single blood drop on the floor, which she tests with her light power. Jason and Niall's attempt to snare Ben in his hotel room is a colossal failure, with Warlow (basically, Rob Kazinsky gets to use his natural British accent when he's Warlow, then slips back into his faux-Southern drawl when masquerading as "Ben") glamouring Jason to a near-blank slate, and draining Niall almost to the point of death.
In a plot-exposition-heavy scene later that night on the bridge where Corbett and Michelle Stackhouse met their fate, Warlow, just before he tosses Niall into the blurry netherworld from whence he came, gives Gramps (and us) his backstory: He was made a vampire thousands of years ago, just before little Niall was born. Eventually he killed his own parents, as well as Niall's – but his faerie side stopped him from going so far as to murder a child. I guess that's supposed to count for something?
Now that all obstacles leading to Sookie Stackhouse have been cleared, Ben shows up for dinner bearing wine and roses. But Sookie's got her own arsenal at the ready: White lace dress, more makeup than a Fangtasia employee and Etta James on the turntable. After Ben downs Adele Stackhouse's fried chicken, the colloidal silver Sookie drizzled all over it not having any effect, it's time to pull out the big guns. Over the strains of "At Last," Ben pulls Sookie under him, her dress unzipped, his shirt off, and his lips begin to explore her neck. While Ben is distracted by her luscious skin and candy-scented blood, Sookie gets her sun orb at the ready. "Get the fuck off me or die, Warlow," she whispers as we go to end credits. Except that whole Warlow-eliminating thing can't happen just yet if what Nora said at the top of the episode is true. He needs to stick around for the epic battle with Billith, doesn't he?
Favorite Couple of the Week: Sam and Nicole. Sam's not exactly honoring Luna's memory by hooking up with the sole survivor of last week's V.U.S. massacre (thanks, werewolves), but it's always nice to see two good people find each other in this evil-infested town. Thanks to Lafayette and his car, these two, along with Emma, are safe, for now.
Winning Species of the Week: Shape-shifters. Sam's ability to turn into a horse allowed him to carry an injured Nicole, as well as Emma to safety. Always a good skill to have in your back pocket.
Losing Species of the Week: Vampires. Nora, Pam and Willa are now prisoners of Burrell's totalitarian regime, Tara's hiding in the shadows, Eric's scheme went belly-up, Bill can't make faerie-enhanced TruBlood, and Jess may have irrevocably destroyed her relationship with her maker. Need I say more?
Previously: No Invitation? No Problem!