With every summer, fans of “True Blood” have come to expect the series to outdo its previous season and step up its game even more, as if that were even possible. As it turns out, it is definitely possible, and “True Blood” is absolutely crushing with its first three episodes of season four. HBO follows up two solid episodes with a third outstanding hour of all the sexy, gory, vampire-y goodness that makes us ask, “Is it Sunday yet?” every night of the week.

The Players:

Episode Title: “If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin’?”

Sookie agrees to take care of a befuddled Eric; Jessica seeks advice from Bill and goes to extreme lengths to repair her relationship with Hoyt; Tara, Lafayette, and Jesus convene over how to deal with their vampire problem; Andy’s V addiction continues to get him into trouble; Sookie reconnects with Alcide and asks him a favor; Tommy cooks up a scheme while living under Mrs. Fortenberry’s roof; the panther transformation takes hold in Jason; Marnie taps further into her powers; Eric interrupts Sookie’s reunion with her fairy godmother.

The Good:

  • The humor: “True Blood” is known for employing humor to punctuate intense scenes at just the right moments, and this episode certainly delivers on that score. Most of these moments, perhaps unpredictably for the first time in “True Blood” history, involve Eric’s new-found sense of sheepishness. Between Eric absentmindedly calling Sookie “Snooki” and him guiltily smirking after biting Sookie’s fairy godmother, the vampire provided plenty of laughs in this otherwise dramatic hour.
  • Jessica and Bill’s heart-to-heart: As twisted as Jessica and Bill’s lives have become, it’s nice to see Jessica and her maker get some screen time together, however brief it is. It’s an especially interesting juxtaposition, between Bill’s previous action condemning a vampire to death and his touching moment counseling Jessica. The two sides of Bill have never been more starkly contrasted.
  • Eric and Sookie: I have a confession to make that Eric/Sookie fans probably won’t like. I wasn’t much of proponent of Eric and Sookie before this episode. I’ve always liked Eric’s character, but I could never see him and Sookie together; I always thought of Bill as Sookie’s true love. That being said, now that I’ve seen a softer, more vulnerable side of Eric, I honestly don’t mind the direction in which this plot line is inevitably headed. If – or should I say when – the two get together, I can’t say I’ll be terribly disappointed. Besides, watching Eric shirtless for the better half of this episode wasn’t a terribly excruciating exercise for my eyes.
  • Hoyt and Jessica: It is so heartbreaking to see their world crumbling before my eyes, but I love whenever they are on screen. There is so much drama and tension between them that always threatens to explode across the screen. I am constantly at the edge of my seat whenever scenes involving these two are on.
  • Alcide: Since Alcide was one of my favorite characters from last season, I couldn’t wait until he popped up again. Thank the gods of “True Blood” that he came back in this episode! The chemistry between him and Sookie, which I’ve always loved, is just as potent as ever despite the presence of Debbie. I would love to see the writers further explore Alcide’s complicated relationship with Sookie.
  • Tommy and Sam: Finally, Tommy and Sam’s relationship is back to what it should be: dramatic, fueled by anger, and strained until it reaches a breaking point. I find their relationship particularly exciting to watch, especially since Tommy is such a loose cannon. Sam will undoubtedly continue to have his hands full with his younger brother as the season progresses.
  • Easter egg: The Charlaine Haris novel that Sookie held in her hands towards the end of the episode was a nice, albeit subtle touch. It’s such attention to detail that’ll keep legions of fans coming back for more every week. Well, that and just the general awesomefest that is “True Blood.”
  • Line of the night: “You just killed my fairy godmother!” Cut to Eric’s guilty grin.

The So-So:

  • Jason of the panthers: No matter how hard I try, I can’t get into Jason’s subplot. I feel no sympathy for the panthers or their plight, nor do I care about Jason writhing on a cot for an hour. Crystal, in particular, has become nothing more than a creepy, irritating cultist.

Overall:

“True Blood” is on a roll this season, although that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the overall quality of the show. This episode packs enough intrigue to keep even the most casual of viewers riveted for the full hour. As always, the script and acting are top-notch and nuanced with the unique brand of “Truebie” humor that we all love so much. Save for Jason’s subplot, I can’t imagine a more perfect episode than this.

Rating: 10/10

“True Blood” airs every Sunday night on HBO!

What did you think of last night’s episode?