“At Last,” the fourth episode of this season of True Blood, was rife with everything we love about this show: well-defined men tearing off their shirts, people getting abducted and possibly slaughtered, mind games, and Ginger (Tara Buck) screaming.

In what’s probably his most brazen move of the season, Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) turns Willa Burrell (Amelia Rose Blair), the daughter of the governor of Louisiana, into a vampire to use her as leverage against her father’s crusade against vampires. She does this willingly. She considers herself an ally of the vampires and sacrifices herself, though like so many attempts by this show to parallel social movements with some degree of levity, it blows up catastrophically in their faces when she visits her father, alone, soaked in her blood and bearing her new fangs, only to get shot by Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp), who is conveniently still sleeping with people who hate vampires and, less conveniently, shooting their daughters. When we last see her, Willa is writhing on the floor of her father’s bedroom, screaming in anguish.

Speaking of daughters: Sheriff Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) decides to temporarily suspend his phobia of fatherhood in favor of doing things like putting his little girls to bed. However, as so often seems to happen, the four girls go through another one of their time-bending growth spurts, this time waking up as giddy, rebellious teenagers. One of them makes a comment that the next time they wake up, “they might be 30,” a delightful reminder that not even the writers of True Blood take it seriously anymore. The girls decide to steal their father’s car (yes, the one with sirens and the word “Sheriff” emblazoned on the side) and go out looking for kicks. Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) have camped out in front of the Bellefleur house looking for any opportunity to abduct the girls. This was the creepiest part of the episode. Like so many chilling tales we hear in the news, the Bellefleur girls get cajoled into Bill’s huge SUV with Jessica’s promises of partying and alcohol, and there’s more than a hint of lechery in Bill’s voice as he encourages the girls to get in the back of the car. The same tone surfaces later when he is talking with one of the oblivious and naïve girls, and as she flirts with him, he simply stops her and tells her, “All in good time.” Something that’s appealing about True Blood is that the vampires’ intentions are always murky at best and inevitably tied in with their impulses. I’d like to think that Bill Compton is above sleeping with girls who are basically a week old, especially now that he’s basically a vampire demi-god, but that same demi-god power can make him feel even more entitled to invincible amorality. I would be interested in seeing how it plays out, except…

Despite her insistence that Bill would have trouble controlling himself from draining a room full of pubescent fairies, it seems that Jessica isn’t so great at impulse control either, as the last scene of the episode is Jessica, screaming, with the four girls splayed out around the room and drained, as Bill looks on in horror. What intrigues me is that while Jessica is still exploring her basic vampire powers and is continually surprised by them, Bill is equally stunned by his acquisition of new and far more sweeping power, and at points (such as this one) we see them as a pair of confused, deeply flawed characters who need each other to keep themselves in check. When Jessica first appeared on True Blood, at no point would the average viewer think that one day, she and Bill might be going through the same crisis, but that is exactly what has been happening in this season.

Though that may have been the most compelling part of the episode, the storyline takes an explosive turn when Sookie (Anna Paquin), Niall (Rutger Hauer) and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) simultaneously realize that Ben (Robert Kazinsky) is both fairy and vampire—he is, in fact, Warlow. At the close of the episode, Sookie, who had donned her best battle armor (radiant makeup, a white lacy dress, and sexy lingerie) for a dinner with Ben that she laced with colloidal silver as a test, has a ball of fairy light aimed dangerously at him and simply tells him, addressing him as Warlow, to get out. It seems, refreshingly, that Sookie is back in full form—assertive and sassy, with a dash of feminine wiles for good measure. The last time she was really like that was in the first season and it wasn’t to put her life back together—it was to push forward the changes she wanted.

“At Last,” indeed. This episode fantastically fit together the pieces to answer a couple of the major riddles of the season to date while introducing new questions that can only be answered with… you guessed it… more shirtless men, slaughter, and mind games.

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