What a way to end an episode -- vampire Jessica opening the front doors of Bill's mansion, allowing the blinding bright light of the mid-day sun to come streaming in over the threshold, just seconds before the screen goes black. Sunday's "True Blood" installment, "Cold Grey Light of Dawn," was undeniably one of the best of the season so far, with Jessica's life (or is that undeath?) hanging in the balance as Jason raced to save her from the spell cast by the returned necromancer Antonia and her coven, which includes a heartbroken and mighty angry Tara.
The spell, the same one Antonia successfully invoked centuries earlier, is, of course, designed to draw all vampires in the immediate area out into the open to meet the true death. Bill -- having learned from his now-deceased sheriff (and Antonia's rapist turned supplicant) that the witch had returned by taking possession of Marnie's body -- predicted that she would attempt to cast the spell and instructed his subjects to either leave the state or to voluntarily bind themselves in silver before going to ground for the night.
Jessica, though, who was chained beside the king in one of his underground cells, broke out of her bonds and struggled to meet the call of the curse, ignoring Bill's pleas to her to free him so he could join her. Let's hope that gunshot we heard offscreen wasn't the sound of one of the guards stopping Jason from coming to her rescue...
Although Antonia's point that "Vampires are not immortal, they are only harder to kill" is absolutely true, Bill's plan worked to protect most of the vamps we know and love. Pam spent the evening first terrorizing Tara and her girlfriend -- stopping only when she realized she was being filmed by a crowd of onlookers -- then undergoing some sort of supernatural chemical peel after one of the gapers hilariously wondered if she might be a zombie.
Eric, on the other hand, spent the episode with Sookie. First out in the woods where they're spotted by newly initiated werewolf pack members Alcide and Debbie, then on Sookie's living room floor and in her bed. The happy couple did find time for some conversation, too, perhaps the most poignant moment coming when Eric asks Sookie if she wants him to regain his memory. Would she/will she still feel the same way about him? She struggles for an answer.
(Not that anyone's asking, but I, like Pam, am really starting to miss classic, cocky, chaining-people-up-in-the-basement-of-Fangtasia Eric. This new version is a little too sweet. Anyone else with me?)
This being "True Blood," there was plenty of emotional turmoil to go around. Debbie's having a difficult time containing her jealous feelings toward Sookie, who occupies a whole lot of space in Alcide's thoughts, and Jason's having just as much trouble fighting the feelings he's having for his best friend's girl. Andy Bellefleur's awkward, truncated date with Holly signals that that pairing might be over before it had even begun, which could be for the best -- her position in Antonia's powerful circle might not leave her a lot of time for romance.
Lafayette and Jesus are living with the knowledge that Lafayette is a medium (back home at Merlotte's he's already seeing dead people as he spots the woman who's been visiting Arlene's baby, confirming that she's a spectral presence of some sort). And Sam and Luna attempt to pick up the pieces of their budding romance after they realize that it wasn't actually Sam but Tommy whom she slept with last week.
Rightfully irate, Sam nearly strangles his no-account brother and throws him out of his life for good. Somehow, I have the feeling he's not going to go quite so easily or quietly.
-- Gina McIntyre
Photo: Deborah Ann Woll plays Jessica in "True Blood." Credit: Art Streiber / HBO