A huge, epic episode. Things really got crazy in Bon Temps last night, and shapeshifter Sam Merlotte was at the center of it all.
Sam finally figured out that Maryann is a maenad, and he and Andy Bellefleur — some of the only people in town not under Maryann's spell — teamed up to try and figure out what to do. How do you kill an immortal? As devotees of the books have mentioned, the maenads were the female followers of Dionysus, and reveled in dancing, uncontrolled sexual behavior and drunken intoxication. It sounds great in theory, but Maryann's black-eyed mob shows that such soulless behavior can lead down a dark, frenzied path and involve intense physical sacrifices.
But let's back up a little bit. Let's just say you went away for a little while, and when you came back, this bullcrap was in your front yard:
Maryann's construction of bones, raw meat, flowers and feathers. Charming, no?
When Sookie, Jason and Bill returned to Bon Temps, they found that the townspeople had gone cuckoo, and Hoyt's mother was one of the black-eyed under Maryann's spell.
It's interesting that Hoyt's mother, Maxine Fortenberry, already had a heap of hate in her heart before falling under Maryann's spell — seems like she didn't have far to fall. I thought Dale Raoul, the actress playing Ms. Fortenberry, really seemed to relish acting like a brainwashed wacko. "Playing Wii gets her to focus" was a nice touch.
Discovering that his town, his "home turf" was under attack spurred Jason Stackhouse into action. It's such a perfect redemption plotline for him, since his time with the anti-vampire Fellowship of the Sun Church seemed so misguided. But he's grown, and with his training and courage, he set out to get to the bottom of the problem, saying, "This is the war I've been training for."
Meanwhile, Sookie went back to her house, which Maryann had been using as her base. I've been complaining about how frequently Sookie has needed to be rescued this season, so it was a welcome twist to see her exhibit some moxie, strength and courage. And that was before she zapped Maryann with powers neither Sookie (nor we) knew she had, leaving Maryann to ask, stunned and amazed: "What are you?"
Poor Lafayette was busy making zero progress with a possessed Tara. Luckily, Bill and Sookie helped get through to Tara — delving into her mind and rescuing her from the clutches of the demon. Again, Sookie proved that she is strong, and capable, and fearless when it comes to protecting her friends.
As is her brother, Jason: He saved Sam Merlotte from a black-eyed mob! Only to be foiled by an extremely efficient Terry Bellefleur. Terry, who suffers from PTSD, became a natural leader while under Maryann's spell — thinking fairly clearly and acting with military precision. His previous experiences in the armed forces seem to have prepared him for being taken over by a demon spirit. One type of brainwashing replaced the other. Check out his bravado:
The mob's single-minded focus on catching Sam Merlotte was, in the end, their downfall: Once he gave himself up to them, they weren't entirely sure what to do with him. Which made it easier for Jason and Andy to distract them, pretending to be "The God Who Comes."
Of course, Jason wasn't really the god the townspeople were waiting for. But between his theatrics and Sam's shapeshifting, the mob backed off and dispersed. But Maryann is still very much in the picture, which means Sam is still in danger.
At the end of the episode, Bill went to visit the Queen, to get some help to defeat Maryann, so we'll see how that pans out. It's notable that the town had been in the grips of vampire prejudice, and now may need help from a vampire. It's also interesting that all of the boozing, sex and gluttony the mob has been indulging in while under Maryann's spell are just the kind of things they like to accuse vampires of. Ever since the first episode of True Blood, much has been made of the vampire's plight being parallel to that of gay rights (even without the Fellowship Of The Sun plotline, the "God Hates Fangs" sign in the opening credits keeps that theme alive). But really, when the vampire characters (like Bill and Godric) act humanely, and the human characters (Rene; the whole town) act like animals, it speaks to deeper truths about what it means to be human, dead or alive.