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TV Open Thread: True Blood – “She’s Not There”

The countdown is finally over as True Blood opens its fourth season with a mostly cracking “She’s Not There.” Last season I was very unimpressed with the tissue commercial fairyland, so I wasn’t thrilled this season opened with an extensive scene of Sookie arriving in fairyland. Thankfully, Alan Ball has some tricks up his sleeve as Sookie finds all is not as it appears, as cheesy fairyland morphs into a scene from the original Star Trek.

Alien fairyland comes complete with an imperious Queen Mab, two faced fae and rebel forces determined to keep the portals to earth open. Sadly, Scotty is not available, so Sookie and her grandfather, who’s been lost in fairyland for twenty years instead of the hours he thinks he’s been there, have to jump out of this civil war back to normal life. The jump costs Granddaddy his life, but it’s a price he’s willing to pay, as he reconnects to the family he loves. He gives to Sookie a tangible example of that connection as he asks her to give his watch to Jason.

His strange vanishing kept the family from taking part in these kinds of generational rituals. Of course, Sookie herself has vanished just as surely from her own family and friends and to her surprise, they’ve all moved on without her. Despite my misgivings about fairyland, which is now a lot more interesting than it was but is still not where I want to be as a viewer, the writers have nicely established the season’s theme about identity.

Bill is now King, I suppose of Louisiana, though perhaps it is of Mississippi. And though he comes running the moment Sookie gets back, somewhat to her surprise, he is willing to acquiesce to her wish that he give her space, lots of space. Of course, he has lots on his plate as the vampire leaders try to repair the damage Russell Edgington did to vampire/human relations.

Eric, too, is involved in selling a kinder, gentler image to the masses, much to Nan Flanagan’s relief, Pam not having quite the right touch of reassurance. Eric has been waiting for Sookie to come back and despite having to leave when Bill orders it (which makes me think Bill must have defeated Sophie Ann and now be King of Louisiana), Eric tells Sookie that everyone else gave up on her, but he never did. Skarsgard is in fine form as Eric lets Sookie know that he never moved on from her, the way even Jason did. Of course, Sookie doesn’t yet know how exactly Eric means to show that.

Poor Jason has been trying to help Andy with his V problem and Hotshot with so many problems it’s impossible to count, and he coped with Sookie’s disappearance by eventually accepting it and selling her house. Sookie’s upset but can’t help but notice her brother has grown up a whole lot in the year she’s been gone. He’s got some rather unattractive new facial hair to go with the new him and even more unattractive responsibilities—Crystal’s rather horrible Hotshot family and friends. Despite his new found maturity, Jason can’t get a break. His good deeds are repaid by being pushed into a freezer. I’m hoping when Jason emerges from that freezer, he’s not stuck in a hopeless Hotshot storyline. I love Jason so much with Andy, not so much with the were-village.

Speaking of weres, Sam and Tommy seem to be in some kind of standoff. Tommy has been taken in by Maxine, who needs a son since Hoyt no longer speaks to her. Sam is paying for Tommy’s rehab and taking anger management classes. When Tommy snidely asks him how those classes are going, Sam snaps, “I need to go more often”—and indeed, Sookie notices her former boss is also a changed man, or at least a pricklier one. Sam is now hanging out with other shifters and running wild in the wind, happy to be with others of his kind. Tommy, though, doesn’t appear to be Sam’s kind, at least in Sam’s eyes.

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