There are normal episodes, there are obscure episodes, there are zany episodes, and then there are "what the hell is going on?" episodes. "In the Beginning" would definitely have to fall into the ladder category because I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.
Like last Sunday's episode, "Hopeless", the majority of the side story arcs make their brief appearance in a short scene but are never really followed up on. To the average audience member those quick scenes might seem like a waste of screen time but they are setting up for something and it would be too farfetched to jam those characters and their plots into the final episodes of the season. Tara has a moment with her god fearing mother and also with her maker Pam, Alcide trains for his fight against J.D. for pack-master, Lafayette visited Jesus' crazed Brujo father only to get his mouth sewn shut, and Terry and Patrick are still on the run from their Ifrit. The fact that I can sum up those four story-lines in one sentence (run-on or not) tells you it was a slow episode for those characters. But that doesn't mean it was like that for everyone else.
At the end of last week's episode Russell broke loose and killed Roman. The council, Bill and Eric all seemed surprised but for the most part the viewers at home weren't. The telltale TV signs were there for episodes so it wasn't a big shocker that it was Salome that freed Russell. That I was okay with that but how the show explained how Salome knew the secret of Russell's fate and whereabouts, where only five people actually knew the truth, kind of felt like a cop out. Salome followed Bill and Eric that night. Really? That's what you are going with? True Blood isn't really known for intricate plot development, short or long term, but they are normally smarter than that.
Other than that short lapse of lazy writing, the rest of the main story-line of Russell, Bill, Eric, and the council was surprisingly refreshing. Was a complete reversal for what the show had been previously hinting at. Russell, instead of killing everyone that gets in his way, decides to tow the Sanguinista line and join Salome and Nora as the head of the movement. Them, the remaining council, and Bill and Eric without any options take the show deeper into the vampire lore with Lilith. It's not fully explained what the end game Lilith's second coming would be but whatever it is it looks to be big. End of days big. Right now it just looks like this group of vampires are just tripping out on extra old vampire blood, giving them the human equivalent feeling of being on 'V'. But with the rare appearance of Godric talking to Eric it leads to believe this is not just some vampire acid trip. Serious stuff is about to go down in the coming episodes.
The other two remaining stories within this episode show some promise. Like I'll been obsessing the last couple of True Blood reviews I'm really liking the whole human supe-hunters arc. Sam has proven helpful on the case and Hoyt is now a part of the mix after the vampire feeding on him at the end of "Hopeless" was staked by them. Much like Salome's true intentions earlier in this season were pretty transparent Hoyt only seems to be on board with his new redneck hate group. I'm called it now, Hoyt double crosses them the first time they even think about going after Jessica, regardless of what he said about hating her. As for the other larger side story, the two Stackhouses are still processing the new information they got from the hidden fairies. Jason has reverted back to his vampire hating ways of season 2 after hearing about what happened to his parents and Sookie is trying to drain her own fairy juice to be normal like everyone else. The thing is practically no one on the show is normal and the fairies were kind of vague on what would happen if she lost all of her powers. The show could still take this new fairy plot in a different direction but for someone that originally hated their introduction into the series I actually think there might be something good there.
For a little bit of funny I decided to quote the scene with Hoyt and his new 'hate group' buddies. Rednecks, fictional or otherwise, are always good for a laugh or two:
"Joe Bob I've known you since middle school. And guys: Ray, Tyrese I just met you all tonight. But right here, right now, I feel more love; I feel more acceptance in this 'hate group' than I ever felt in church or basketball or anywhere for that matter."
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.