Sam and Andy make plans to stop the scary religious rites and bring down Maryann. Or, well, they think about it a whole lot. When Arlene places a fraudulent phone call begging Sam for help, the boys head to Merlotte’s to investigate. Of course it’s a trap, and Sam and Andy are greeted by a black-eyed army of Bon Tempsians wielding weapons. “At least shoot the cheap liquor,” Arlene exclaims when they start firing. The guys lock themselves in the walk-in and get down to drinking.

Meanwhile, back in town, most of the gang converges at Bill’s place, where Hoyt’s mom is acting more evil than usual. Along with playing violent video games and hitting on Jason—dirty little monkey?—Mrs. Fortenberry tests Jessica’s barely there restraint while the remainder of the group makes plans. Jason loses it upon learning the fate of Dawn the Waitress (“There’s a new waitress at Merlotte’s?” he demands, making us realize how much has happened in the week or so the Stackhouses have been in Dallas.) Upset about his happy hunting grounds being, well, poached, Jason decides to use his soldierly training for good.
In fact, many of tonight’s events—and those of the season as a whole—seem motivated by a desire for redemption. Redemption is a popular theme in the vampire genre (Joss Whedon built an entire show around the concept.) Still, it’s nice to see a vampire story in which the humans have as much to make up for as the fangers. Like Sam and Andy, Jason marches in to meet whatever danger is awaiting him at Merlotte’s. Last week’s conversation with Sookie suggests that Jason is ready to turn a new leaf, or maybe a whole tree. Meanwhile Andy is likely seeking forgiveness for drunken inaction while Sam, arguably possessing more sins and secrets than the other two, has his own reasons for going to Merlotte’s that night.
When Jason finds the ink-eyed masses unresponsive, he chainsaws the radio and takes Arlene hostage. Fortunately, Terry calls a timeout and convinces everyone to head home … for now. “Oh, Andy, hey,” Jason says cheerily after liberating Sam and Detective Bellefleur from the fridge. Kwanten’s Jason excels at maintaining an amiable calm in even the worst circumstances, and the writers at mitigating horror with the right degree of humor. Of course, Jason’s plan is flawed in that the angry mob doesn’t hesitate to sneak right back in. Sam is forced to surrender to save his would-be saviors.
In a must-see-for-yourself scene, Jason tries again to rescue Sam from human sacrifice. Donning a mask and some flares, Jason declares himself God and promises his mad masses pleasant weather and good crops. In a nice turn, Sam orders Godly Jason to take him (“Smite me, motherf****r.”) before morphing into a fly. The mob joyously heads out to announce victory to Maryann while Sam and Andy boggle at the possibilities. Will the residents of Bon Temps finally learn the truth about everybody’s favorite business owner slash nudist?
Meanwhile, the other Stackhouse seeks out Maryann, who has made herself at home in Sookie’s. Pissed about the design changes—Maryann seems to prefer a meat and organs motif—Sookie demands that Maryann vacate her premises. When Maryann refuses, Bill goes for her throat but to little avail; she laughs while Bill foams at the mouth. In a rage, Sookie lays a hand on Maryann’s face. This time, instead of laughing, Maryann stutters momentarily, a bright light exploding from Sookie’s hand. Maryann asks what Sookie is—we’re wondering that, too—but our girl hightails it while she has the chance instead of answering.
In another part of town, Tara fights her confinement at the hands of Lafayette and Lettie in a nice throwback to last season, and Tara’s mom’s exorcism at the hands of the voodoo woodswoman. Tara’s redemption is harder to achieve; Sookie and Bill pay her a visit, in hopes of reaching her and gleaning a clue or two as to defeating Maryann. When Sookie is unable to reach Tara through good old-fashioned mindreading, she gets Bill to put a glamour on her childhood friend. Together, they bring the light back to Tara’s eyes, but what about Eggs, still in Maryann’s powerful thrall? The snapshots from Tara’s mindrape suggest that Bacchus is the god of choice for the big murder party. Leaving Sookie back in Bon Temps—yeah, that’s a good idea—Bill takes a trip to see the Vampire Queen of Louisiana in hopes of gaining the necessary aid to take down Maryann and save the townspeople.
The pace this week is fast, frenetic and fun, the jokes and scares working in nearly perfect harmony. Ten down, two to go.
Quote of the day: Hoyt to Mrs. Fort: “You’re gonna treat Jess with respect or I’m gonna lock you up in that cubby hole till Vampire Bill gets home.”

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