True Blood season 1 episode 7 review

Rocks rid demons, fire removes vamps and a new lover gets Jason out of a mess in True Blood's Burning House Of Love...

7. Burning House Of Love

Back for the seventh instalment in this superb series, Burning House Of Love is an episode of firsts for many of the Bon Temps residents.

For Sookie, her first was indeed a first and not a fantasy after all. A picture-perfect night for our favorite psychic, with just a slight deviation from the norm – not many women mix losing their virginity with being the main course, allowing Bill to get his first taste of Sookie vintage claret into the bargain. Mixed with the revelation that Sookie was abused by creepy Uncle Barlett, it’s an illuminating evening for them both. So much so, that Bill decides to pay said uncle a little visit – woebetide anyone who has ever even thought about upsetting his human.

Sookie’s first time over with, it’s time for Jason Stackhouse to try a few new things, starting with a trip to Fangtasia on a yellow brick quest for some V. After Lafayette scored a first of his own by refusing to sell Jason any more blood, the boy’s arrival at the club could well have been his first and last trip anywhere if the vamps had figured what the hell he was talking about. Luckily he’s picked up by Amy Burley, fluent in redneck, who gets him out of the club before he can do any real damage.

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Amy, your typical upper middle class dropout, living the perfect piss-off-your-parents lifestyle, dazzles the naïve road worker with some long words and basic philosophy before showing him how to really take V. Like all good junkies, Amy believes that V is the path to enlightenment; unlike other junkies, she might actually have a point if the visions of golden energy flying between them are to be believed – no wonder the vamps don’t want anyone to know how good the stuff is!

Tara’s evening of firsts consists of attending her mother’s exorcism, performed by a woman who lives in a trailer, using a large stone. Despite Tara’s barely concealed contempt for the entire situation, something definitely occurs in the small airless room. And wouldn’t you know it, Miss Jeanette has detected a demon in Tara as well. Apparently, being single and unhappy in your job can only be explained by the presence of a demon. By that logic, 75% of the world’s population must be possessed. Whether or not Mrs Tara was, indeed, home to an alcoholic spirit, let’s hope for her daughter’s sake that the vodka-soaked mother figure is a thing of the past.

While Tara was watching her first, and hopefully last, exorcism, Sam Merlotte was embroiled in a first of his own. Those pesky nesting vamps are back, and this time they intend to stay in town for good, even investing in some property just down the street. In an attempt to draw Bill back into the fold, they descend on Merlotte’s to taunt Sookie and generally camp it up as much as possible. When they refuse to leave, Sam finds himself at the mercy of the bald, tattooed vamp his waitresses are so fond of.

Bill, out of town faking the accidental death of Uncle Bartlett, senses Sookie’s fear and arrives in the usual nick of time fashion to save Sam from his fate. Aware that the vamps won’t leave unless he agrees to rejoin them – mainstreaming is after all, for pussies – Bill does exactly that, leaving the inebriated patrons in no doubt where his loyalties really lie.

Sadly, the Aids burger guys are among those patrons and they decide to do a little exorcising of their own. They set fire to the newly occupied vamp house – in the daylight, natch. They’re angry, bigoted and stupid; they don’t actually have a death wish. Problem is, when the vamps’ coffins are pulled from the ashes of the house, there are four of them. As Bill didn’t make it back to the Compton house that night, there’s a good chance that one of the coffins contains some Barbequed Bill.

Another satisfying and beautifully made hour of television, Burning House Of Love is the very definition of a supremely confident production, happy to take its time and let the story unfold at its own languid pace. And yet, at no time does anything feel like filler – each scene feels crucial to whatever is coming next, a feat managed by few shows currently gracing living rooms across the world.

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The V scenes in particular are beautifully rendered and make for a convincing portrayal of the wonders of vampire blood. In a similar way to hearing the thoughts of the town through Sookie, seeing the effects of V through Jason is a great dramatic device, saving on exposition and allowing the scenes to continue uninterrupted. Which is and of itself slightly unusual – for a show to acknowledge that its audience is actually capable of concentrating for more than 2-5 seconds is almost unheard of these days. 

While not the most action packed of episodes, the latest chapter in the Sookie saga added new layers to the mysterious goings on in the Louisiana backwater – suddenly there are demons abroad, and naked bar owners streaking through the swamps. Incongruous as those events may seem, in the grand scheme of things they’re probably both as significant as the death of Maudette Pickens. And that’s one of the best things about True Blood – there’s just no way of knowing. At least until next week…

Check out our review of episode 6 here.