"True Blood" is a pretty remarkable show in that the second season eclipsed the first one in terms of writing and excellent acting, which was a big deal since the first season was critically acclaimed and beloved already. There are a lot of fans who say that they liked the premiere season, but they've started to love it this season. Every episode has been strong and interesting and weird, so it stands to reason that one episode eventually had to suck. Just so that "True Blood" didn't get too arrogant. This was that episode. It didn't suck so much as ... it was kind of treading water getting to the season finale, and everyone was stupid. Plus the guest star ... oh, we'll get to that.

Let's start out with Evan Rachel Wood, because she was not at all as exciting as expected. As Sophie-Anne, the Queen of Louisiana, she's a semi-old vampire with high ambitions and a whole lot of crazy. She knows a great deal and there is shrewdness behind that pretty exterior, but she likes to mess with people. In fact I think she's actually a very lonely person, because she's surrounded by humans to play with her but no real equals. Maybe that's why she keeps Bill with her all episode and forces him to drink and 'sunbathe' with her. And then play Yahtzee. Bill being the most awkward person alive, this was all suitably hilarious, but Evan Rachel Wood kind of blew the character. She was too forced, uncomfortable with these very elegant and precise lines Alan Ball gave her, and it was the first time you could feel on this show 'that person is trying to act.' The character was interesting, but Wood's performance was off. Early jitters? Here's hoping she grows on us.

Anyway the point is that the Queen does know how to stop a Maenad, and she jerks Bill around for awhile before telling him. The Maenad's believe they can get their God, but he never shows up. The only way to get rid of her is to actually give her what she wants, the ritual, and then she'll be mortal when the God appears. Mortal because she wants to believe she is mortal, you see, and it's all very existential. Bill rushes away with this information just as Eric appears, having been summoned by Sam with a promise to owe him later on.

Pam clearly thinks the same as I do about Eric's obsession with Sookie - Yuck - and Eric is pretty cute with Arlene's two children that Sam is now protecting. He calls them teacup humans, and then flies away like Superman. Weird? Hot? A little of both? He seems to have recovered from Godric's death. Bill and Eric have their usual 'who is bigger and badder' contest, and it's as boring as ever. Sophie-Anne suggests they have sex and get it over with. Most of the female fans squeal in agreement.

Meanwhile back in crazy town, Tara proves she's actually not at all as sane as we want her to be by screaming about Eggs. Lafayette is awesome and handcuffs her (fuzzy handcuffs!) to the table. Tara actually makes a good point about how everyone else can go running after their love but her, but she's also just being very, very stupid. Then she manipulates her mother in a brilliantly evil way, and when Lettie Mae holds a gun on Lafayette, he gods back to PTSD land. That involves a hilarious image of Eric in Lettie Mae's dress; it does wonders for his eyes. Tara goes back and finds out that she summoned Maryann by 'killing' herself during that ritual last season. Then Maryann slaps her and voila, instant Tara zombie. See, Tara. That's the stupid we're talking about.

What's more stupid is that Lafayette and Sookie go after her thinking they'll be able to do anything about it. Stupid stupid stupid. Maryann is angry when she finds out that her zombies couldn't get Sam. He's meanwhile taking care of the kids and figuring out what the hell to do. Jason and Andy are running around grabbing weapons and planning to save everyone ... somehow? They make peace with one another and are as humorous and silly as ever. They both have a permanent place in my heart now.

It ends with Lafayette getting zombified (nooooooooooooo!) and Sookie lying on the floor where her Gran died with Mike, then getting caught by Tara, Eggs, and Lafayette as they surround a creepy giant egg. WTF. Look what you did Lettie Mae! Michelle Forbes is tremendous actress, and she has made Maryann an interesting presence on this show, but wow is it time for that storyline to wrap up now. And it will ... in two weeks! Will Sam be sacrificed? Or is it Sookie now? How does the Queen know so much about Sookie, and what's Sookie's cousin doing hanging with the Queen? Will Evan Rachel Wood ever give a line reading that is believable?

Tune in for the season finale in two weeks on HBO, Sunday night at 9 PM EST. Also if you'd like to try out the "True Blood" drink for your finale party, check out trubeverage.com. It's delicious, I've tried it!

Image © HBO/John P. Johnson

Episode Grade: B

True Blood Cast: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Rutina Wesley, Ryan Kwanten, Sam Trammell, Christopher Bauer, Carrie Preston, more

Story by Chelsea Doyle
Starpulse contributing writer

Follow Chelsea on twitter at http://twitter.com/mustbethursday.