Episode Title: "And When I Die"
Writer: Raelle Tucker
Director: Scott Winant
Previously on "True Blood":
On the cusp of her final confrontation with Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard), Marnie (Fiona Shaw) killed one of her own coven members, alienating the spirit of Antonia (Paola Turbay) within her. Marnie used a spell to bind Antonia to her body and prevent her departure into the afterlife, making Jesus Velasquez (Kevin Alejandro) realize that he had to resort to a dangerous spell to end the standoff. Marnie used Sookie as leverage against Bill and Eric by convincing them to commit suicide to save her, but Pam (Kristin Bauer) refused to let Eric die and she fired a rocket launcher at them. Marnie and Sookie were unharmed, but Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) was seriously wounded.
Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) used her blood to heal Jason and they reconciled. But Eric was so angry about the potential harm to Sookie that he ordered Pam to get out of his site. Inside the Moon Goodess Emporium, Sookie neutralized one of Marnie's spells against the vampires and she was nearly burned alive for it. However, Jesus and Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis) completed their spell and freed Antonia from Marnie's body. Bill and Eric then killed Marnie and her last protector, freeing the coven and ending the war with the witches.
At least that's what they thought. Later, when Lafayette was about to go to sleep, the vengeful spirit of Marnie appeared and forcefully possessed his body.
The next morning, "Lafayette" is strangely quiet as Jesus makes him breakfast and apologizes for bringing him into the world of magic before he was ready. Marnie makes her presence known by stabbing Jesus' hand with a fork. Across town, Sookie has a vision of her grandmother's dead body on the kitchen floor, a replay of events that happened years ago. She speaks with her best friend Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley) about the supernatural weirdness in their lives and Tara states that she looks forward to sharing the porch with Sookie when they're both grandmothers. In related news, it's Tara's last day on the force and she just bought a boat called the "Live-4-Ever."
Back to Marnie and her new body, Lafayette manages to break free for a few seconds before Marnie regains control. She demands that Jesus surrender his hereditary supernatural powers. At first he claims that he can't, but when she cuts Lafayette's chest he relents. Jesus shows her his demon face and she stabs him with a knife and drinks his blood, gaining a demon form of her own as Jesus starts to die. Elsewhere, Jason tracks down Hoyt (Jim Parrack) and confesses his affair with Jessica. All things considering, Hoyt takes it fairly well and he only beats the crap out of Jason instead of coming at him with the chainsaw.
Hoyt's mother, Maxine Fortenberry (Dale Raoul) joins Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) at Tommy's funeral and eulogizes him as having a good heart despite his devious streak and the fact that he stole some of her clothes. Sam relates that Tommy never learned how to love anyone without hurting them and Maxine says that Sam has the same problem. She invites Sam to call her Mama and she tells him that they are family from now on. Sure, she says that now, but wait until she finds out that Tommy sold her land out from under her… At Merlotte's, Sookie meets up with Sam and she gets her job back after he realizes that his brother fired her while impersonating him.
Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello) meets Sookie at Marlotte's and he tells her that things are over between himself and Debbie. He makes a pitch to Sookie that they should pursue a relationship with each other, but she tries to lightly let him down before he is called away on urgent business. Later, Tara discovers Jesus' body and she realizes that Marnie has possessed Lafayette. She warns Holly Cleary (Lauren Bowles) and Sookie and she wants to get to Lafayette before Bill and Eric discover Marnie's return and kill her host body. But the vampires are already well aware of Marnie's plans, because she murdered Bill's security team, captured them and she is about to burn them at the stake.
The three women confront Marnie and at Holly's direction, they chant a spell summoning the dead as Eric and Bill burn. Several ghosts rise from their graves, including Sookie's grandmother. Antonia even appears and puts out the flames of the pyre while saying that even the vampires have their purpose. Gran tears Marnie from Lafayette's body and she insists that Marnie leave her negative emotions behind because there simply isn't any room for them in the next life. Before she leaves, Gran tells Sookie that she shouldn't be afraid to be alone. Later, Sookie uses her blood to heal Eric and Bill before breaking off her relationship with both of them rather than hurting one of them by choosing the other.
Outside of Merlotte's, Arlene Fowler-Bellefleur (Carrie Preston) has a terrifying encounter with the ghost of Rene (Michael Raymond-James), the father of her child and an accomplished serial killer. He warns her that the ghosts of her husband, Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe) won't stay buried forever. Elsewhere, Jason and Jessica have another sexual encounter before she tells him that she doesn't want a relationship with him… just sex. Jason doesn't have a problem with that, but after she leaves, the anti-vampire Rev. Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) arrives at his door… with fangs!
In his bedroom, Lafayette is visited by Jesus' spirit who promises to always be with him. At Sam's house, he bids Luna (Janina Gavankar) and Emma (Chloe Noelle) goodbye before a werewolf appears behind him presumably ready to attack him. At Bill's mansion, Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck) shows up with armed guards and tells Bill and Eric that she's rebelling against the AVL and she wants their assistance or she will out Sookie's part fairy status to the vampire population who would drink her dry. So, Eric kills her men and Bill gives Nan the final death that she deserves.
At his old construction site, Alcide discovers that a vampire glamoured his foreman and released the Vampire King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington! And at Sookie's house, Debbie Pelt (Brit Morgan) shows up with a shotgun and blames Sookie for her breakup with Alcide. Just as she's about to blow Sookie away, Tara dives in front and takes the fatal hit. Sookie wrestles the shotgun away from Debbie and blows off her face. Then she cradles her dead friend and cries out for help.
Wait… both Tara and Nan got killed off in the same episode?! It's like Christmas in September for me!
Nan was definitely overexposed this season and she never seemed to have the chops to become a regular character. If she's telling the truth and there really is a death order on Bill and Eric it could make things very interesting next season. Bill and Eric may have to fight her war whether they want to or not. And the AVL should already have Nan's replacement in mind: the newly vamped Rev. Steve Newlin. His return was one of the more surprising moments in the episode.
Also surprising was the apparent return of Russell Edgington. Denis O'Hare was nowhere to be seen, but that empty concrete block and discarded chains were chilling because it meant that Bill and Eric's most dangerous foe is free again. And there are only a handful of vampires who could have released Russell. At the top of my suspect list is Pam, who disappeared for a long portion of the episode. She knew exactly where Russell was buried since she had to free Eric from the same spot the year before. And she may be using Russell as a way to get rid of Sookie without leading back to her directly.
The other strong possibility is that Nan Flanagan ordered Russell's release when she rebelled against the AVL and the Authority. If she needed a symbol of vampire discontent and someone that the militant vamps could rally around, that description would fit Russell perfectly.
Nelsan Ellis gave his best performance of the season as Marnie in Lafayette's body and the buildup to the last confrontation was terrific. Holly proved to be unexpectedly useful when she summoned the dead with Sookie and Tara, but that last part was disappointing. There were so many ghosts brought to the pyre but only Gran and Antonia played any part in ending the situation. I was hoping to see almost every character who ever died on this show come together to bring down Marnie. It could have been so much more compelling than it actually was onscreen.
Sookie's decision to not choose between Bill and Eric felt like a cheap way to keep the love triangle alive, but it may lead to a new alliance between Bill and Eric… especially if they hope to survive deal with Russell's return and the AVL/The Authority.
For once, I enjoyed a scene with Arlene when Rene's ghost finally made an appearance. The whole possessed baby./evil doll storyline would have been better served if it had at least some direct tie to Rene. The downside of this scene was that it suggested another long subplot for Terry and Arlene based on the return of his military buddy.
I've never been a fan of Tara's character, so I wasn't unhappy to see her take the shotgun blast from Debbie. I'm more upset that there's been any thought to the possibility that she'll still come back to the show next season. On the other hand, I felt that Debbie's death was kind of a waste. She was a lot of fun as Sookie's apparent ally against Marnie while secretly trying to leave her behind. And there never was any proper follow up on that or consequences for Debbie over breaking Marcus' orders regarding interference in the vampires and witches war.
Overall, it was a very solid season of "True Blood" with a few great episodes scattered around in the run. Most of the cliffhangers in this episode were very compelling and I'm already eager to see where the story will go next season.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.