'True Blood': The Vampire-Witch War Escalates

This week's episode, one of the best of the season, sees more blood and mayhem in Bon Temps

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In what might be True Blood's best all-round episode of the season (witty dialogue! raw emotion! adrenaline-filled action scenes!), the vampire-witch war is spiraling bigger and bigger, like a hurricane pulling in nearby patches of warm air and turning those innocent bystander air patches into part of the storm (to use a topical tropical storm analogy, in honor of our recently departed Hurricane Irene).

The war starts off like a bloodier version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: Marnie wanted to revive her parakeet, so she used necromancy; Bill wanted to protect all vampires from necromancers, so he sent Eric to threaten Marnie; the Wiccans wanted to protect themselves from Eric, so they joined hands and cast a spell on Eric; Pam wanted to rescue Eric so she attacked the Wiccans; Marnie cast a spell on Pam to protect the Wiccans; Bill captured Marnie to protect the vampires; Marnie called on Antonia and they pulled in the rest of the Wiccans to declare out-and-out war on the vampires, which pulled in Sookie and Jason, which pulled in Alcide, which pulled in Debbie. Then Tara's involvement pulled in Lafayette and Jesus, after they'd tried to escape the debacle by running to Mexico.

Pretty much every bold rescue mission results in the need of a bigger and bolder rescue mission for the would-be rescuers, which has been a long-term problem in Bon Temps. (It doesn't seem so much a failure to communicate as a failure to coordinate, more often than not because someone is trying to protect Sookie by refusing to allow her to join the fight, and so she sneaks into it alone from a different direction.)

The two immediate factions spend a lot of time in the eye of the storm, bunkered down and waiting—the unwilling Wiccans held captive in the Moon Goddess Emporium, and the self-silvered vampires chained in their vault. Watching the vampires argue viciously in forced immobility is a delight, but Bill blaming Nan for the whole disaster is a bit unfair. Even if Nan opposed killing Marnie early on, Bill has made a lot of decisions against Nan's wishes (or at least unbeknownst to her—hiding Sookie's fairy blood, sparing Eric) in the past, and he could have done the same this time. He is still green at this kinging business, using his power with a heavy hand and then backtracking too late when it backfires, rather than using a more subtle approach in the first place. He could have stopped the situation at the parakeet, but instead his too strong / too weak approach has fed the cycle.

In contrast, Nan's crisis management skills are the best of any of them—she goes into every situation aiming for a diplomatic solution, but switches to action mode and then back to media-speak in a flash as any moment requires. Straight from dispatching a zombified vampire with a Number-Two pencil, she starts arranging first aid for all the victims and spin for the media. Her spin is calculated to calm the storm, rather than feed it—but, of course, it's too late now to stop what Marnie and Bill started. All they can do now is try to keep it local and fight it out quickly.

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Clarissa Matthews contributes to TheAtlantic.com, mostly in the form of product management. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia University's Publishing Institute and lives in Washington, D.C.

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