Stars: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Chris Bauer, Nelsan Ellis, Joe Manganiello, Carrie Preston, Deborah Ann Woll, Jim Parrack, Kristin Bauer Von Straten, Todd Lowe, Kevin Alejandro, Fiona Shaw, Marshall Allman, Jessica Tuck, Dale Raoul, Janina Gavankar, Vedette Lim
Alexander Woo, based on Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels
Michael Ruscio
HBO, Sundays @ 9 PM
August 7, 2011

Bless TRUE BLOOD. There are a slew of feature films about humanity facing off against vampires, but in all of them, we’re meant to side with the still living. Here, the audience is conflicted – and so are a lot of the characters. “Cold Grey Light of Dawn” gives us both the immediate satisfaction of powerful character drama and the larger gratification of strong allegory, which TRUE BLOOD has earned the right to provide by now.


The episode opens with the attempt by the thoroughly pissed-off Pam (Kristin Bauer Von Straten) to kill Tara (Rutina Wesley) and Tara’s girlfriend Naomi (Vedette Lim) is thwarted by a surprising source – a group of anti-vamp protesters who start taking pictures (though they don’t do much to help otherwise).Tara, convinced that it’s a death sentence for anyone to get involved with her, sends Naomi away.

Alcide (Joe Mangianello) and his girlfriend Debbie (Brit Morgan) join the local werewolf pack, though Alcide is less than enthusiastic about this. He’s worried about Sookie (Anna Paquin), who when last seen was out in the woods alone under the full moon. Debbie agrees to help Alcide look for Sookie, but when they find her, she doesn’t notice them, as she’s occupied by making love with amnesiac vampire Eric (Alexander Skarsgard). Later, Debbie tearfully worries to Alcide that he’s in love with Sookie; Alcide insists his heart belongs to Debbie.

Sam (Sam Trammell) finally gets his fuming shapeshifter girlfriend Luna (Janina Gavankar) to speak to him again and the pair realize that Sam’s younger brother Tommy (Marshall Allman) shifted into Sam’s body and had sex with Luna. Sam tells Tommy to go away and stay gone.

In Mexico, Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) decide that the Bon Temps vampires are preferable to Jesus’ evil brujo grandfather, who endangered Jesus’ life so that Lafayette would channel a spirit to save his lover. This worked (though the couple aren’t thanking Granda for the experience) and Jesus says that Lafayette is a medium. Back in Bon Temps,Lafayette chases off the spirit of a young Creole woman who seems to have a dangerous interest in baby Mikey, son of waitress Arlene (Carrie Preston).

Sookie’s brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten) is feeling very guilty about his fascination with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), girlfriend of Jason’s best friend Hoyt (Jim Parrack). Hoyt comes over to check on Jason and mentions that Jessica is helping her maker and king Bill (Stephen Moyer) with some vamp business.

The witch Antonia Gavilan, burned at the stake in 1610 and now ensconced in the body of contemporary witch Marnie (Fiona Shaw), demonstrates her power by forcing vampire sheriff Luis (formerly one of her Spanish Inquisition tormentors) to release her. Luis is also compelled to deliver a message to vampire king Bill – “Resurrection!” – and then attack. Bill fends off the assassination attempt, killing Luis. Bill knows that Antonia is the witch who, while being burned at the stake, forced all the vampires within a twenty-mile radius to kill themselves by walking into the sunlight. Taking his ruling duties very seriously, Bill gathers his remaining vampire sheriffs together and tells them to either get their people out of the area or else to take drastic measures to prevent themselves from the anticipated witch’s spell.

Antonia recruits Tarato her anti-vampire cause and forms a coven of old and new members. She indeed plans to do a spell to force the local vampires into the sun and then to spread the magic across the world. A few new recruits leave, not wanting to participate in a war, but Tara stays.

Bill shows up at Sookie’s house in order to warn her and Eric about the impending spell. All vampires remaining in Bon Temps, including Bill, will chain themselves up with silver so as not to be able to respond to the spell’s force. Sookie thanks Bill for sparing Eric’s life and Bill provides chains so that Sookie can keep Eric from walking outside when the spell hits.

Bill chains up his progeny Jessica, then has his guards chain him up. Alone, Bill apologizes to Jessica for all the harm he’s done, but Jessica assures him she’s much happier as a vampire than she was as a human. She believes that she cannot love Hoyt as much as he loves her because she’s a vampire, but Bill insists that she still has a core of humanity. Bill even has a lot of sympathy for Antonia – she is responding in kind to what was done to her. He feels the cycle of killing and retribution must stop. Jessica is so miserable in the silver that she doesn’t agree.

Sookie and Eric have a conversation about whether she’ll love him if he gets his memory back. Eric doesn’t want to remember who he was if it means losing Sookie; Sookie says she hopes she will still love him and that she now realizes that, back at the Fellowship of the Sun church (in Season Two), Eric was ready to trade his life for hers – there was some good in him even then. Jason comes to check on Sookie, Sookie tells Jason about the spell and Jason realizes this means Jessica is in danger.

Jessica in fact breaks free of her silver chains, escapes from the cell and heads for the mansion’s front door. Jason, in his sheriff’s uniform, is confronted by one of Bill’s guards on the lawn. We hear a gunshot as Jessica gets the door open.

There’s a breathtaking amount of event in this episode, but what’s especially good is how we see things coming together. Lafayette and Jesus’ journey seems set to flow into the witch/vampire war story. Tara’s experiences of being flung around physically and emotionally bring her understandably to Antonia’s side, which promises some fascinating conflict, given where Sookie is bound to stand in all this.

The scenes between Sookie and Eric are tremendously sweet, but Skarsgard plays Eric as so very innocent and Paquin plays Sookie as so extremely protective of Eric that despite all the sexual action, their relationship seems almost maternal/filial rather than romantic. However, the scene where Bill shows up, knowing what is transpiring between Eric and Sookie, Sookie knowing what this is costing Bill and Eric being chivalrously polite is just terrific.

The scenes between Bill and Jessica, meanwhile, are richly warm and intriguingly philosophical, with Bill at once needing to protect his subjects and despising what they have done to Antonia and people like her. There are, of course, plenty of straight dramas where a leader on one side understands the justification of his or her adversaries, but this rarer in horror/fantasy, and it’s very well-written and well-played here. We have so much sympathy for everyone that our own allegiances are already being tested.

Ellis is so alive as Lafayette that he almost doesn’t need a plot point to hold our attention, but the character is especially intriguing right now, as we wonder how his gift of channeling the dead is going to interact with Antonia-in-Marnie.

As for Sam, we can’t blame him for wanting Tommy out of his life, though Allman gets an enormous amount of sympathy for the serial screw-up little brother. We hope that Tommy secretly sticks around, just so we can see Trammell play Tommy-in-Sam again.

“Cold Grey Light of Dawn” keeps us riveted by what we’re watching and makes us impatient to see what will happen next. It’s just what episodic television should do all the time.


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Click on link: TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 – “I Wish I Was The Moon”
Click on link: TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 – “Me and the Devil”

Click on link: TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 premiere review – “I’m Alive and On Fire”
Click on link: TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 premiere review – “If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin”
Click on link: TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 review – “You Smell Like Dinner”
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TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 premiere review – “She’s Not There”

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