Stars: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Chris Bauer, Nelsan Ellis, Joe Manganiello, Carrie Preston, Deborah Ann Woll, Michael McMillian, Denis O’Hare, Jim Parrack, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Todd Lowe, Lauren Bowles, Valentina Cervi, Janina Gavankar, Lucy Griffiths, Scott Foley, Chris Heyerdahl, Kevin Alejandro, Tina Majorino, Dale Dickey, William Sanderson, Allan Hyde, Jessica Clark
Writer:
Brian Buckner, series created by Alan Ball, based on Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels
Director:
Michael Ruscio
Network:
HBO, Sundays @ 9 PM
Airdate:
July 22, 2012

The finale of the previous TRUE BLOOD episode “Hopeless” had renegade vampire Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) killing Authority chieftain Roman (Christopher Meloni), which seemed pretty dramatic, but it turns out that was just a warm-up act for what’s in store in “In the Beginning.” Russell, of course, wreaks cheerful havoc – but so do a number of folks who we usually expect to keep the peace. Adding to the fun, we get unexpected but much appreciated appearances from William Sanderson as former sheriff Bud Dearborn and Allan Hyde as the ever-kindly ghost of Godric.

After killing Roman, Russell hangs Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) up on the wall but doesn’t kill him. When Bill gets him down, Eric finally realizes that his sister Nora (Lucy Griffiths) knew that Russell would get the upper hand and that she obviously had help. The assistance came from Roman’s lover Salome (Valentina Cervi). Salome and Nora are true believers in the vampire goddess Lilith – Russell, who moments ago expressed his atheism in no uncertain terms, now says he believes in Lilith and is willing to make peace with Eric and Bill (Stephen Moyer).

Salome and Nora want everyone to drink the blood of Lilith. When vampire Dieter (Christopher Heyerdahl) says this is blasphemy, Russell kills him. Bill and Eric both think this is b.s., but know they’ll be killed if they don’t drink. It’s only vampire blood, they rationalize, it won’t hurt them. In the sense that it doesn’t cause bodily harm, they’re right, but Eric and Bill, along with Russell, Salome, et al, get absolutely stoned on Lilith’s blood, invade a human wedding reception and attack everyone, with the result that Lilith incarnate (Jessica Clark) rises naked from the pool of gore on the floor. Lilith breathes on the vampires, increasing their blood lust.

However, in the midst of the carnage, Eric sees the spirit of his maker Godric (Allan Hyde), who says Eric knows this is wrong, but that Nora doesn’t, and that Eric must save his sister.

In other news, Sookie (Anna Paquin) and her brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten) are told by friendly faeries Claude (Giles Mathey) and Claudia (Emma Greenwell) that their parents were killed by a vampire who smelled Sookie’s bloody discarded Band-Aid in the back seat. Jason doesn’t want Sookie to blame herself for the tragedy. Sookie is also told that if she uses up all her power, she will no longer be fae. Sookie sees this as a chance to be normal and tries to discharge all her power in the backyard.

Hoyt (Jim Parrack), rescued by the group of Haters (something they proudly call themselves) from a vamp who was draining him, decides he hates vampires, especially his ex Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll).

Jessica, meanwhile, still staying at Bill’s mansion, gets a visit from Jason, who wants comfort. However, Jason is infuriated when he finds that Jessica has been feeding on and having sex with a strange man. Indeed, Jason is so angry that he takes his sidearm and shoots Jessica in the head. It obviously doesn’t harm her – she’s a vamp – but it makes her angry in turn.

Werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello) is training with pretty fellow wolf Rikki (Kelly Overton) to challenge J.D. (Louis Herthum) for leadership of the pack. Martha (Dale Dickey), mother of late pack master Marcus, walks in on this, refusing to believe that J.D. is a V addict – until she sees J.D. trying to give V not only to the rest of his pack, but to Martha’s little granddaughter Emma (Chloe Noelle). J.D. says a war between humans and vampires is coming, and it’s safest to be on the vampires’ side, which the pack can accomplish by taking the V (provided by Russell). Martha is livid with J.D. She takes Emma and leaves, presumably now ready to support Alcide

At the hospital, shapeshifter Sam (Sam Trammell) smells one of the men who shot Sam’s lover Luna (Janina Gavankar). Sam jumps the man.

At Fangtasia, Tara (Rutina Wesley) is pole- dancing when her mother Lettie Mae (Adina Porter) comes in to say that, as a minister’s wife, she can’t have a vampire as a daughter. Even Pam (Kristen Bauer van Straten) is sympathetic toTara’s hurt, at least for a moment.

Arlene (Carrie Preston) watches videos of her wedding. She is despondent, as she believes her husband Terry (Todd Lowe) has lost his mind. Arlene’s fellow waitress Holly (Lauren Bowles), a practicing Wiccan, points out that she and Arlene have seen plenty of strange things – if Terry thinks he’s being chased by a smoke monster, maybe he’s right.

In fact, Terry and fellow Iraq war veteran Patrick (Scott Foley) are being chased by a smoke monster. Terry is ready to shoot himself, but Patrick talks him out of it.

Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) has gone to Mexico to confront Jesus’ evil grandfather Don Bartolo (Del Zamora). Don Bartolo overpowers Lafayette and stitches his lips together, planning to kill him so tha tLafayette’s power will go into Don Bartolo’s unborn son. Don Bartolo is surprised (to say the least) when his young, very pregnant wife hits him from behind, then stabs him to death. She opens the stitches on Lafayette’s mouth.

Sheriff Andy (Chris Bauer), not for the first time, wonders what is going on in Bon Temps. He seeks advice from his predecessor, Bud Dearborn (William Sanderson), but Bud just wants to get on with cheating on his out-of-town wife.

Lilith’s actual appearance is a surprise to the audience. We’ve been so primed to think that Salome and Nora are vampire fundamentalist lunatics that we never imagined they’d be right about the literal resurrection of their god. Exactly how this may play out is a mystery, but we can already tell that Russell will be brilliantly smarmy in his pretend reverence, and that Eric is now going to feel duty-bound to deprogram Nora. It’s also simply a hoot to see Bill and Eric stoned, for all intents and purposes, while the wedding party scene recalls, probably deliberately, the classic diner sequence in NEAR DARK.

Sookie wanting to be “normal” has gotten just a tad annoying, especially since her mind-reading abilities and zapping powers have saved numerous lives. A worthwhile metaphor is likely to emerge from this storyline, but seeing her decide against logic that she’s better off draining her fairy powers neither provides entertainment nor engenders sympathy.

It’s certainly satisfying to see the tables turned on the heinous Don Bartolo. It’s hard to tell exactly how the incident will affect Lafayette (apart from giving him a sore face), but Ellis’ depiction of terror and fury is riveting.

Arlene’s wedding video is very sweet and it’s great to see Holly get the usually feisty waitress back to her usual scrappy self.

Having Alcide and Nikki spar is likewise fun to watch, while Dickey is so good that it’s a pleasure to see more of fierce, determined old Martha.

We don’t know exactly how the vampire/human war will go down – will anything stronger than the disorganized vigilantes show up? – but it’s certainly intriguing to see how it all starts. “In the Beginning” has flashes of emotion, humor and real horror, but more than anything, it offers solid, intriguing storytelling.

AGREE? DISAGREE? LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD. COMMENT BELOW!

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