With two episodes left in the season, it’s down to the wire. But about halfway through “Soul Of Fire,” it looks as though HBO didn’t get the memo that there’s still one episode to go, as the main arc of the season appears to be wrapping up quite nicely. Then, in traditional “True Blood” style, we get a cliffhanger that, I’ll admit, almost had me leaping out of my chair and screaming at the screen. I can’t think of a better reaction to have to one of this show’s trademark cliffhangers.

The Players:

Episode Title: “Soul Of Fire”

When negotiations between Marnie and the vampires break down, Jesus uses his ancestors’ magic to intervene; Andy experiences a strange encounter with a fairy; Sam and Alcide exact their revenge on Marcus; in the aftermath of the events at Moongoddess Emporium, Marnie proves not to be finished with her plan quite yet.

The Good:

  • Location, location, location: I think that the show took a fairly big risk by having the bulk of the episode – or at least the bulk of the episode’s main plotline – take place in one location. The writing, directing and acting, fortunately, worked extremely well within the spatial constraints of the Moongoddess Emporium. I was never bored by what was happening there.
  • Marnie: Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, but for episode after episode, Marnie has just been killing it, acting circles around the rest of the fine cast of “True Blood. Her nuanced performances as good Marnie and an evil, possessed Marnie keep my eyes glued to the television every week, even more so than what is happening to the main stars of the show. I loved that this episode included some backstory that added some motivation to why Marnie practices such dangerous magic. Her desire for respect and attention is something to which we can all relate, even though we as the audience are meant to despise her character.
  • Jason takes a stand: It was a brief moment, but Jason standing up to the vampires was a great scene for his character. He’d spent so much of this season being tortured and abused, at mercy of others and forces beyond his control; it was about time we saw him take control of his feelings and let them be known. It’s good to see the old, headstrong Jason again.
  • Honorable Alcide: As a big fan of Alcide, I enjoyed seeing his role get a little more meat this time around. Even though his and Sam’s relationship is tied together by a very thin string, he does what is noble and right by helping seek justice for Sam’s loss.
  • The deal: As I’ve written before, “True Blood” will never kill off two of its flagship – and most popular – characters. Thus, Eric and Bill’s pledge to die in exchange for Sookie is not as exciting in itself as is how the writers choose to resolve the plot. Indeed, using Pam to do so, and in the process driving a wedge between her and her maker, was an interesting way to go about it. Will Eric really choose love over his duty as a maker?
  • Sam’s revenge: I did not find Sam’s vengeance against Marcus to be particularly exciting on its own, but it was certainly satisfying to see that horrible excuse for a human being (werewolf?) lying cold on the floor.
  • Jesus’s magic: I have two words to describe that scene: intense and freaky. In a good way, of course. The mask added a healthy dose of the “freak factor” that the show has been lacking since the early days of season one.
  • Marnie’s “farewell:” Of course, it’s not over! There’s still another episode left! In typical “True Blood” style, the happy ending is interrupted just before things settle down. I can’t wait to see how this plays out.
  • Line of the night: As usual, Pam delivers the best lines. I couldn’t decide which one to use, so I went with the first one that made me laugh out loud: “We blow up these Wiccan dipshits already? I got a mani-pedi at four.”

The So-So:

  • Andy: It seems as though Andy is just plopped into plotlines in which he really doesn’t belong. Between Hotshot and his V addiction, and now Fort Bellefleur and the encounter with the fairy, the guy just wanders in and out of scenes with no apparent direction. Unless this lack of a path is by design, when will the writers give him something to do? Otherwise, I will continue to fight the urge to change the channel whenever he comes on screen.
  • Marnie’s spell: The spell Marnie cast bewitching the vampires to walk into her protective wall seemed extremely hokey. Not from the point of view from the mythos so much as from that of the acting, which was shoddy if you rewatch the scene, as well as from that of the whole show’s continuity. Why didn’t Marnie just use that spell in the first place, when the vampires showed up to Moongoddess Emporium? It looked like it was simply thrown in there for spectacle, and it turned out to be a poor-looking one at that.

Overall:

As season four draws to a close, we are graced with yet another near-perfect episode in “Soul Of Fire.” Its strengths lie in its wit, performances and its edge-of-your-seat thrills that sustain throughout the entire hour. It really feels much like a season finale for nearly half of the hour, but don’t let that fool you; once the cliffhanger hits, you’ll become like me and start counting down the hours until next Sunday.

Rating: 8/10

“True Blood” airs every Sunday night on HBO!

What did you think of last night’s episode?