If we’re searching for kind things to say about “Soul Of Fire,” the penultimate episode of True Blood Season Four, we’ll concede that it effectively advanced some central plots, which is always better than circling around them even more than the series already has this season. As a whole, though, the episode was a letdown.

The vamps emerged victorious in the witch-vampire showdown at the Moon Goddess Emporium but it was a dud of a battle, threatening repeatedly to kill off series stars but claiming only the lives of several peripheral players and coven leader Marnie (Fiona Shaw), who is shown to live on in spirit form anyway. Elsewhere, Sam (Sam Trammell) and Alcide (Joe Manganiello) finally put bitch-made werewolf pack leader Marcus Bozeman (Daniel Buran) down like the dirty dog he is, and Andy (Chris Bauer) has sex with a faerie, marking the light people’s eye-rolling return from their plane.

Without further ado, let’s get into the specifics of things that sucked (in a good way) and things that sucked (in a bad way).

Written by Justin Monroe (@40yardsplash)

Things That Sucked (In A Good Way)

Marnie The Homicidal Maniac

Last week, in the wake of a bloody assassination attempt on Bill that left several humans slain, vengeful Spanish spell-caster Antonia (Paola Turbay) revealed that she is actually the good witch and Marnie is the corrupted wicked witch with a blood lust that extends beyond eradicating vampires. To kick off this week, she flies a knife at one of her own coven members, Casey (Fiona Dourif), who was sick of being trapped by Marnie and attempted to escape.

Though the psychology of Marnie being a bullied doormat was always a little obvious, seeing her act out with total disregard for life of any kind has made her a worthy adversary, and promises an interesting conclusion as her story is not over despite a bullet in the head....

Eric’s Dispatching Of Roy

When Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) and his demon finally separate Antonia from Marnie, breaking the protection spell and allowing the vampires to enter the Moon Goddess Emporium, Marnie’s sycophant Roy (Dean Chekvala) stands between her and them, declaring that they will have to go through him to get to her. Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) obliges, putting a hand right through him and tearing out his heart, then stands before a shook Marnie, sucking from Roy’s aorta like a straw in a juice box, before discarding it on the floor. In an episode that was light on genuine laughs (we also enjoyed Tara [Rutina Wesley] calling Roy an Uncle Tom), this was, far and away, the best few seconds of levity and horror.

Lafayette Inhales Marnie’s Spirit

In the final scene of the episode, Marnie's spirit appears hovering above Lafayette in bed before entering his body. Will she use Lala’s hands to kill his boyfriend Jesus, who betrayed her, using the power of his Latino demon to expel Antonia from her body? Hopefully, because this season has been a bit of a letdown and needs something twisted and of greater import to end on a strong note.

Things That Sucked (In A Bad Way)

Marcus Bozeman Goes Out Like A Bitch

For a werewolf pack master, Marcus Bozeman was always a soft batch bitch. He commanded his wolves to stay out of the vampire-witch war, citing his species’ absolute inferiority to bloodsuckers; he threatened but never attacked Sam for canoodling with his estranged wife Luna (Janina Gavankar)—until he and several of his pack thugs had him outnumbered and alone (of course, it turned out that the shifter they beat to death was not Sam but his little brother Tommy [Marshall Allman], who had shifted into his sibling’s skin); when the far nobler alpha dog Alcide publically challenged him for this act of cowardice, he responded by surreptitiously putting the moves on Alcide’s chick Debbie, taking advantage of her doubts about Alcide’s fidelity even though he’s aware that her man is hopelessly devoted to her; finally, in this penultimate ep, he kidnaps his daughter Emma (Chloe Noelle) and tries to convince Debbie to run away with him, and when Sam and Alcide find him and the former exposes him for the ho that he is in a fist fight, he goes for a gun and tries to shoot Sam in the back before Alcide tackles him and makes like Wayne Brady, choking a bitch until he goes out with the same whimper with which he lived.

Jason’s (Oh-So-Briefly) Disfigured Face

Distraught that Eric and Bill (Stephen Moyer) are willing to give their lives to Marnie in exchange for Sookie (Anna Paquin), a.k.a. the “gash in a sun dress,” Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) shoots a rocket at the Emporium, but it merely explodes against the sun-fueled force field. The only person hurt by the blast is Jason (Ryan Kwanten); burns cover the right side of his face, blinding him in one eye.

For a brief second, we thought True Blood might be growing some balls. If it had, Jason, one of the prettiest characters, who has always gotten by on his good looks and rock-hard abs, would have been scarred for more than a few seconds. Instead of Jason learning to live as something other than an Adonis, and maybe even finding something more than surface lust with Jessica, she immediately feeds him her healing vampire blood.

Sure, the incident gets them talking again after Jason let his guilt about Hoyt (Jim Parrack), his BFF and her ex, ruin their pillow talk last episode, but each of them had already saved the other’s life before, so some more healing seems, well, meh. Would it not have been infinitely more interesting if Jason had his “power” stripped from him? We think Ryan Kwanten fans could have survived a little bit of burn makeup by simply Google image searching him to get their six-pack fix.

The Lack Of Consequential Deaths

This is Season Four. Last we checked, absolutely nobody notable from the main cast has died, at least not without making some kind of miraculous recovery. Despite the imminent danger to all the series stars in this episode, the showdown at the Moon Goddess Emporium ended with the following body count: anonymous witch Casey stabbed to death, yes-man Roy left heartless, season villain Marnie riddled with bullets (but still alive in the spirit world), and a couple of enslaved vampire sheriffs we never got to know well.

Back in the werewolf-shifter drama, we lost annoying younger brother Tommy last episode and simp-ass pack leader Marcus Bozeman, both of whom die without shaking anyone up. There is one episode left, and we hope that somebody prominent meets the true death (as noted above, we’re hoping for the tragic loss of Jesus at his possessed boyfriend Lafayette’s hands, but even that would leave all the series regulars standing).

Bill And Eric As Commandos

Seriously, FOH. Somehow it’s easier to take these dudes seriously when they’re in club attire with their shirts unbuttoned. In black assault gear, they just look silly. Especially Bill, who looks like Eric has a good foot on him. Somebody sign Stephen Moyer up to play Napoleon. We can see it. 

Necromanced Vamps

Once again, Marnie is able to convince her coven to necromance the walking dead and compel the vampires to march to their death by touching the sun force field. How this plays out, before Sookie blasts the coven on its ass with her light, is that all the black-clad commando vamps walk awkwardly like marionettes and mimes towards their death while trying to fight the pull of the spell. Miming sucks no matter what the situation.

Andy Has Sex With A Faerie

Ugh. We knew it. They just couldn’t leave the awful faeries or Andy alone. Sure enough, like many of the annoying subplots on the series (Tommy and Maxine, Holly and Andy), they cram a couple characters they could easily abandon together, seemingly just to annoy the shit out of us.

While walking back from his Fort Bellefleur intervention, where fellow recovering addict and cousin Terry (Todd Lowe) abandoned him after getting him to admit his addiction, Andy encounters glowing balls of light, from which emerges a faerie, who first light-blasts him because he smells like vamp blood, but then has sex with him after making him promise that he will protect her and passing her light to him, finger to finger on some E.T. shit.

With only one episode to go, it’s safe to assume that the faerie plotline will go unresolved and bleed into the fifth season, which makes us wonder if there will be much reason to tune in again after next week's season finale.

Marnie’s Execution

Seeing as her spirit lives on, there is a chance that Marnie will meet a much more moving end than she did in this episode. Maybe it’s just us, but when there’s a war between magic-wielding witches and vampires, who possess super speed and strength, having a witch leader dispatched by a vampire king with a machine gun is just lazy and uninspired, especially moments after a superb and disturbing murder that perfectly illustrates the kind of humorous killing machines vampires can be (see Eric’s Dispatching Of Roy above).

Written by Justin Monroe (@40yardsplash)