True Blood got a little weird in Sunday’s new episode, ‘In The Evening,’ and not just because the evil Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp) made out with Gov. Burrell’s severed head. (Seriously, that was one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen on True Blood, and that includes the whole neck bending sex thing in season three.)

What was strange about this episode was the slow pace. It was a good episode, but, even though it isn’t true, I felt like nothing happened. This could be due to the fact that nothing surprising happened. Everything unfolded pretty much how it seemed it would: Sam (Sam Trammell) returned to Bon Temps upon learning that Terry (Todd Lowe) had died – but, really, who actually believed Sam would go out like that? If he were to leave the show, I would expect at least a ridiculously bloody death scene or, honestly, anything other than Sam fleeing a pack of angry werewolves.

Also predictable? Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) found a life insurance policy in Terry’s lockbox at the bank, Jason (Ryan Kwanten) was revealed as a vamp sympathizer by Sarah, and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) signed his death sentence by pledging his loyalty to Bill (Stephen Moyer) in a desperate, and unsuccessful, attempt to save Nora (Lucy Griffiths).

There were a few surprises, like Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) seducing James (Luke Grimes) while Jason stands guard (that’s just wrong, Jess). As weird and twisted as I thought that was, especially after Jason so adorably told Jessica he wanted to do right by her, Jessica being assertive, even while suicidal, is fascinating and, let’s face it, pretty awesome. And it’s moving to see Jessica embracing another vampire’s humanity, even though she’s given up on her own.

Another surprise was Bill being completely calm and rational. He wasn’t flat out crazy and demanding, and he was surprisingly respectful of Nora and Eric when they were in his home. Of course, him telling Sookie that she has to give up Warlow (Rob Kazinsky), her new boytoy/potential life partner, or else she’d be responsible for all of her vamp friends dying wasn’t so great, but I’m not completely sold on Warlow yet, so, I’ll give Bill a pass.

(Side note: As much as I love feminist Sookie, her speech to Warlow, about how just because she had sex with him, that doesn't mean she's going to let him turn her into a vampire and be with him forever, was almost too much. It would have been more effective if Warlow was either more of a jerk to her when she said she still wouldn't plege her life to him, or if Sookie had been treated as a pariah due to her sex life in the show's past seasons. Neither of those things happened, so her speech felt forced. It seemed more like writers protecting themselves against potential criticism from viewers than Sookie protecting herself against Warlow's possessiveness.)

The star of the episode was, without a doubt, Arlene (Carrie Preston). It was nice to see Arlene in experience her grief (I was a little worried last week's episode was all we'd get), but it was even nicer (and way more entertaining) to see a drunk Arlene interact with Bill in the sunlight. Preston, who was recently nominated for an Emmy for her guest-role on The Good Wife, is always phenomenal, and her talent for making tragic comedy work is unsurpassed by other members of the cast. I hope we get to see more of Arlene as she mourns her husband. For as much as I love vampires and fairies and shapeshifters, a little human driven drama is good for the soul sometimes.

Basically, this episode felt like it was all talk – and, it probably was. The promo for next week’s episode, ‘Fresh Meat,’ looks action packed and I’m thinking this episode was set-up for all the craziness about to go down on True Blood.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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