When Bill chastises Sookie for taking Jessica to see her family, Sookie decides she’d rather walk back to Bon Temps than listen. Doesn’t Sookie know better than to take lonely walks in the woods at night? Apparently not, and she soon wanders into the path of someone (or something) scary, who doesn’t hesitate to embed its claws in Sookie’s back—ouch. Bill discovers her lying on the ground, unable to move, and when he attempts blood-to-mouth resuscitation, Sookie starts foaming at hers.

Bill sends Jessica home and takes Sookie to Fangtasia (and Eric), where a supernatural doctor explains that she’s been poisoned—hence Bill’s inability to restore her with his blood. The healer then proceeds to torture Sookie back to health by pouring acid over her clawed backside and finger-fishing something nasty from the gouges. In a nice transition, Sookie’s screams of torment dissolve into Jason’s, as he wakes up in Texas to nightmares that have nothing to do with his freaky cult surroundings. In his dream, dead!vamp Eddie appears in Jason’s bed and rolls over to take a chunk out of his neck. A shirtless Jason prays to the Lord for aid.

If this season is off to a slow start plot-wise, the episodes maintain the delicious, darkly sexy tension of season one. As Sookie lies facedown on a table, naked save her very cute plaid shorts, Bill gnaws open his arm and feeds Sookie his blood to restore her. Eric offers to donate some O himself, but Bill turns him down. I smell a masculine showdown. Well, sort of.  When Pam ruins her heels while searching the woods for Sookie’s attacker, Eric thanks her, adding, “And Pam: those were great pumps.”

Back in Bon Temps, Tara sits down to breakfast at Maryann’s place, which more closely resembles a Whole Foods store these days. The woman knows how to eat. Shrewd viewers are wondering why it is that she’s so hungry. Tara also questions why Sam seems to hate Maryann, but Maryann shrugs off the idea, suggesting that Sam is probably jealous. Later, Tara and Eggs share some wine, music and past regrets in the midst of Maryann’s massage party turned orgy. When Eggs agrees to a massage from a naked stranger, Tara gets pissed and hops out of the hot tub where the two were cuddling. Is the sheen fading for her on Maryann’s life of food and debauchery? And is Maryann some sort of modern-day Bacchus? A few of Maryann’s guests are something other than human. In addition to various members of the supernatural community, Drunk Detective Bellefleur stumbles upon a live pig at the celebration. However, Maryann’s talents seem to extend to making livestock disappear … and making poor Andy question his sanity.

Tara isn’t the only Bon Temps resident getting hot in the water this week. After deciding to leave town for a while, Sam takes a last swim with one of his four-legged friends. However, his animalistic romp is disturbed by the arrival of Daphne the waitress. Alive and still sucking at her job, Daphne wanders up to Sam’s swimming hole and agrees to join him for a dip. However, as she strips, she reveals a set of familiar scratches etched in her back. Is she the forest freak that attacked Sookie, or just another of its victims? And either way, is it a wise idea for Sam to take her skinny-dipping? We’re sure to find out in episode four.

Back in Dallas, Jason shares some of his experiences with the undead. He confesses that his lover Amy staked a gay vampire (don’t forget he was gay) in front of him. “He wasn’t a person,” group-leader Sarah assures him with chilling familiarity. It turns out Sarah’s grudge stems from an older sister who was addicted to V. She tells Jason that God can ease his pain, an idea echoed by her husband.  “Hating evil is really loving good,” says the disturbingly self-righteous head of the Fellowship. In familiar rhetoric, he informs Jason that one is either on the side of right or else on the side of the blood-sucking terrorists, make that citizens.

And just what is going on between Jason and the pastor’s wife? “Sarah doesn’t whip out her pudding for just anybody,” her husband suggests with cheery naivety. This week’s ep was a little quiet on the crazy Christian front, without any significant developments. Hopefully, this storyline will take off once sister Sookie gets to Dallas. Speaking of:

Back at Fangtasia, Sookie wakes up wearing a company t-shirt, her wounded back, and her perky hairstyle, magically restored. The waitress who last week plugged poor Lafayette psychically spills the beans about him being locked in the basement.  Sookie confronts Eric with a slap to the face and some healthy sexual tension. Eric goes fang-y but offers Sookie a predictable deal: her help in return for Lafayette’s life. At last, we get to see Sookie driving some of the season’s hot vampire action, as she explains the conditions under which she’ll accompany Eric to Dallas. In addition to Lafayette’s freedom, she demands five grand for her services. Sookie also insists on Bill’s joining them in Texas, much to Eric’s displeasure. When Eric suggests that he might grow on Sookie, she snaps back, “I prefer cancer.” And this reviewer prefers her psychic waitresses snarky!  

While Sookie and Bill are off at the undead club, Jessica wakes at Bill’s place, alone. She wanders around his big, empty house, her vivid red hair and yellow sundress making for a drastic, if sad, contrast with the dull, Civil-War era furnishings. With no parental figure to spoil her fun, Jessica curls her hair and goes hunting. It’s unclear whether dessert or just dinner is on the table when she meets Hoyt at Merlotte’s. He’s looking at her smile while she checks out the pulse point in his neck. A game of Wii back at Bill’s turns into a sweet kiss that quickly gets, ah, pointy. “I’d die if I wasn’t already dead,” Jessica moans at her lack of control, but Hoyt suggests they take things slow. Jessica decides “slow” is not her speed and throws Hoyt down on the sofa.

Meanwhile, Sookie and Bill are heading back to his place for a night of domestic calm. Refusing to be a victim anymore, Sookie resolves not to be taken unaware by the bumps in the night. Of course this decision doesn’t inspire her to seek a new boyfriend among the ranks of the living, but then where’s the fun in that?

S and B return home bearing gifts for their teen charge. Despite the fighting and the near-death experience, Sookie is more than up for some vampire-lovin’, and the two canoodle through the front door and into the living room to find Jessica going to town on her boyfriend’s neck … but in the acceptable, non-bite-y way.  Like any bloodsucking pseudo-father, Bill is upset to find his foster daughter making out on his couch, however Sookie stops him from killing anybody … so far.

Despite the sexy fun and weekly dose of snark, tonight’s episode seemed a little light on the big developments. Let’s hope next week finds our heroine in Dallas and the storylines taking off.

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