Did you enjoy the oh-so-palpable tension of last week’s episode of “True Blood?” Then you’re in luck: “I’m Alive And On Fire” only builds on all the drama and intrigue introduced in the first three episodes of the season. Once again, HBO serves up a tremendous episode chock full of everything that makes “True Blood” the sexy, funny, grip-the-edge-of-your-seat wild ride that it is. As long as the fourth season continues at this pace, you won’t hear too many complaints from me.

The Players:

Episode Title: “I’m Alive And On Fire”

Alcide helps Sookie search for Eric; Jason liberates himself from Hotshot; Bill becomes entrenched in the politics of dealing with the necromancer problem; Marnie delves deeper into her practice to break the spell on Eric; Tommy returns home to an unwelcome surprise; Sam gets to know Luna better; Bill discovers a disturbing connection between himself and the Bellefleurs; Arlene and Terry’s new boy exhibits bizarre behavior.

The Good:

  • Drunk Eric: This episode opens with the perfect one-two punch of humor and plot. Eric drains Sookie’s fairy godmother, and, in his stupor, runs off. You’ll have to see it for yourself in the episode, but I’ll say this much: Eric drunk on fairy blood might be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on this show.
  • The Eric/Sookie dynamic: It’s fascinating to see Eric as the helpless victim and Sookie take on the role of the caretaker. The shake-up of Eric and Sookie’s relationship is certainly jarring, as Alcide astutely notes, but it works in a bizarro-world sort of way. A remorseful, sensitive Eric is a refreshing change from the always-smirking, bad-boy persona we’ve grown used to. Perhaps it’s because I’m a softie at heart, but I like the new Eric. I’m not naïve enough to think that he will last, but a girl can dream, can’t she?
  • Vampire politics: As an avid politics junkie, I enjoy when a show parallels the political climate within its own world. The dynamic between Nan Flanagan and Bill, between the anti-vampire fanatics and the vamps, and among all of the other groups involved – both supernatural and otherwise – is as exciting to watch as a competitive election out here in reality. The nuance adds a great deal of flavor to the relationships among all of the beings in the “True Blood” universe.
  • Sam and Luna: Luna won me over in this episode. The chemistry between her and Sam – and between Sam and her daughter – crackles on screen, especially while Luna is baring her soul to Sam. I may be jumping the gun here, but all three make a gorgeous-looking family already.
  • The Bellefleur bombshell: I won’t spoil it here, but I will say that the Bill-Bellefleur connection is a good – and somewhat unexpected – one. It ought to make fans desperate for Bill and Sookie to get back together quite happy, as Bill is no longer attached once the information is revealed.
  • Bill and Sookie: I’ve missed seeing these two in scenes together, as whenever they’re on the same screen, my TV nearly explodes from the fireworks between them. Even in the one tense, dramatic scene they did have in this episode, the sparks are not hard to spot.
  • Marnie: Up until the very last minute of this episode, I haven’t found Marnie all too compelling. Then, with seconds left in this week’s hour, she went from zero to bada**, using her magic to make Pam look less like a porcelain doll and more like Jonah Hex. I’m excited to see Marnie unlock more of her power as this arc continues.
  • Shirtless Alcide: All I’m going to say is that this scene is definitely pause-worthy. I think I ought to invest in a DVR solely due to all the man candy this show provides me with.
  • Line of the night: It’s a tie between these two: “There isn’t any more. You drank the whole fairy.” “Stop saying ‘fuck.’ I can’t concentrate.” I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one takes the title.

The So-So:

  • The rape of Jason Stackhouse: This absurd subplot is just reaching uncomfortable levels. When that little girl walked into the room with Jason tied to bed, telling her about what her first time should be like, I cringed. I can understand that “True Blood” often goes for shock value, but using rape and sex with an underage girl for that shock factor seems to be cutting it too close.
  • The writing on the wall: Fortunately, Arlene and Terry’s baby is only in one scene, but even those couple of minutes are overkill in the drama department. Between the musical cues and Arlene’s screaming, there is far too much melodrama surrounding this subplot.
  • Little-to-no Jessica and Hoyt: What gives, HBO? Nancy Oliver, this episode’s writer, left one gaping hole in an otherwise nearly perfect episode. Let’s hope that next week’s episode has a double dose of the lovers in order to make up for this transgression.

Overall:

“I’m Alive And On Fire” is a solid episode that packs tons of intrigue into an hour that seems to fly by. While there’s a lot less sex and violence in this episode, it’s hard to miss all of that spectacle when there is so much gripping drama to feast your eyes on. This is “True Blood” in its element: a well-written, character- and plot-driven script that is interpreted beautifully by the actors and the episode’s director. And, as usual, there is plenty of humor to keep the laughter coming.

Rating: 9/10

“True Blood” airs every Sunday night on HBO!

What did you think of last night’s episode?