” returned from a long hiatus tonight with a jam-packed episode that set a number of new things in motion for the upcoming season. If you’re like me, however, you’re only tuning in for one reason: to find out what the heck happened to Lafayette!

Season two picks up right where we left off last year, with Sookie and Tara discovering a dead body in Andy’s car behind Merlotte’s. A dead body that looked suspiciously like Lafayette. Andy checks out the body and — it isn’t Lafayette! Hallelujah! Quite honestly, I just don’t want to watch a “True Blood” without my favorite flamboyant cook.

Now that we’ve got that piece of business out of the way, let’s do a rundown on where everyone else stands this season:

The news that the dead body isn’t Lafayette is great for Tara because it means her cousin isn’t dead, but what’s not so great is that instead the body is her fraud voodoo exorcist. Furthermore, the exorcist’s heart was brutally ripped out of her body, seemingly while she was still alive by the look of sheer terror on her face. Awesomely gruesome. Tara tells the cops her connection to the dead woman and, more importantly, tells her mother the truth about her exorcism. The mysterious (and definitely evil…right?) Maryann shows up to take Tara home and in the process reams Tara’s mother something fierce for being a generally terrible person. It’s not that Tara’s mother doesn’t deserve it, but darn. That was harsh.

Bill, on the other hand, is dealing with frightening matters of his own: Jessica, the truly annoying vampire he turned last season. Amusingly, he has two main house rules: no hunting humans, and please recycle all your glass and paper products. I suppose if you know you’re going to live forever you would want to practice conservation. Let’s face it, he IS future generations. When Sookie shows up at Bill’s and discovers Jessica there, Bill must explain the whole ordeal that led to Jessica’s turning. Sookie isn’t jazzed to lean that she is basically the cause of this entire mess, but most of all she’s angry that it took him two weeks to tell her about it.

Sookie finally learns that sleazy Uncle Bartlett is dead and immediately suspects Bill as the murderer (and rightfully so). She inherits all of her uncle’s money but doesn’t even want anything to do with it, giving the lot to Jason. When she confronts Bill about the murder, he admits right away that he killed him. Sookie can’t handle feeling like she’s responsible for yet another murder (unlike Rene, indirectly this time) but when she goes to leave Bill pulls out the “I love you” card and they make up. Repeatedly. If you know what I mean.

Jason is busy finding God and declaring himself “saved” by the Fellowship of the Sun. He even says their book made him think, and Jason Stackhouse thinking is a scary thing, y’all. He meets the leader of the church, a Reverend who invites him to a leadership conference in order to deepen his faith. A leadership conference that costs $1200. Getting saved is expensive! Lucky for Jason he just came into a little money, eh? When Hoyt learns of Jason’s new endeavor and questions the church’s motives, especially those teaching people to hate vampires, Jason completely misses the point and says that the church is more than the hate. But Jason, if the hate is part of the church doesn’t that sort of negate all of the other stuff? Oh, dear.

My boy Lafayette has been located and although I’m sure he’s happy not to be the dead woman with her heart ripped out, the situation is not good. He and several other humans are trapped in Bon Temps’ very own version of “Saw,” complete with weird torture wheel! They spin the wheel why? I don’t know. Maybe they need exercise. He’s trapped there with one of the jerks from last season who refused to eat an AIDS burger, because being mysteriously kidnapped and held against your will obviously isn’t torture enough. The homophobic dude’s apology to Lafayette for being a homophobic dude and heartfelt confession that he once let another guy blow him is priceless. Turns out the captor is none other than Eric (Eric!) and he’s looking for information on crimes against vampires, and torturing humans in the know to get it. Don’t mess with Eric, fools, he’ll mess you up! And look extremely hot while doing it.

Sam expounds on his implied history with Maryann from last season via flashback, where we learn that she once busted a young shapeshifting Sam breaking into her house. As a punishment, she cougar-izes him in her bedroom. I would be happy for our young robber but the sheer weirdness of the encounter skeeves me out — the woman (thing?) VIBRATES and basically is in about four places at once during, um, completion. What exactly is her power? Whatever it is, it’s not benign, that’s for sure. Frustratingly, even though she and Sam have a confrontation in the present we learn nothing new about her or her motives. What is that witchy woman up to?

Random thoughts:

  • Is Tara’s new man legit or just a larger part of whatever Maryann is trying to accomplish? Considering the bitch slap Carl got for interrupting their kiss, I’m thinking he’s part of the plan. I’m still not sure if he’s in on it or just another patsy like Tara, however.
  • The pan to the sky and the thankful look on Jason’s face when he gets the money is pure hilarity. Ryan Kwanten really sells Jason’s naivete well.
  • Sookie and Bill’s back and forth was enough to make someone seasick this week. First she forgives him, then she takes it back when she learns about Jessica. Then she forgives him again, but takes it back when she learns about Uncle Bartlett, and immediately forgives him again when he tells her he loves her. I cannot keep up with this flip-flopping. They’re worse than Dawson and Joey.
  • Tie for favorite secondary character: Hoyt Fortenberry and Terry Bellefleur. When Terry smelled Arlene’s hair I nearly lost it, and Hoyt’s hesitation around females is just too funny.

Overall, this episode seemed more about setting up the pegs to knock down later in the season than anything else, but it was downright lovely to get back into the crazy world and characters of Bon Temps. What did you guys think?

An administrative note: I know this series is based on a very popular series of books, but I would love to keep this thread spoiler-free if at all possible. If something hasn’t happened in the show yet that is suggested in the books, please don’t mention it. Discussing the books and how they compare to the show is fine, but I’d love for this to be a safe place for everyone to come and discuss the series and not be spoiled. Thanks!

Posted by:Carrie Raisler