While this week's episode of "True Blood" wasn't quite as gripping as last week's, the good news is that storylines were moved forward, Jason determined he wasn't gay (like that was ever a question for anyone but him), and crucial details were revealed. More importantly, though this episode was definitely about laying down groundwork for the future instead of big blow-ups, I think (or at least hope) that what we know thus far indicates some mighty challenges and emotional turmoil ahead if the odds are ever in our favor (or the writers don't dodge some potentially tricky material). Spoilers ahead, so stop reading right about... now if you haven't seen it. 

The Good Stuff

Ben definitely got more interesting: Well, we knew Ben couldn't be as perfectly nice as he seemed to be, simply because Sookie would never attract a nice, normal guy. No, the cuddly Mr. Loyal Defender 'O Faeries is, in fact, the dreaded Warlow. What's interesting about Ben, though, is that despite his goody-goody Ben stage, Warlow isn't the black-and-white villain everyone is expecting. Even I'm not entirely sure what to expect from Warlow/Ben now. Maybe in going to Sookie's house to make out and eat dinner, he's simply trying to lull her into a post-coital state of relaxation before killing her. But maybe, just maybe, Warlow/Ben was telling the truth to poor Grandpa before he tossed him into the portal -- his good and evil sides are constantly battling against one another, and possibly Sookie brought out his inner angel. Not that that's likely to happen again. I'm guessing she's about to lose his trust with that little ball of hellfire she's holding behind his back in the final scene of this week's episode. 

Ben/Warlow might stick around for a while: The only purpose Nora had in this episode, other than giving Grandpa a kick toy, was to make it clear to him that Warlow is the only creature who can kill Lilith and thus restore Bill to, well, Billdom. I think this could be rich dramatic conflict for both Bill and Sookie, as their goals are, at least now, diametrically opposed. Of course, they're no longer friends, but I'm hoping for some intense scenes showing the old lovers butting heads over big issues. 

Jason thinks he's gay: Admittedly, Jason is one of my least favorite characters on "True Blood." Too often he's only around to be the butt of a joke or to spew out exposition. But sometimes, especially when an episode is otherwise heavy, it's not so bad to have someone around to lighten the mood. When Jason asks Grandpa if he's gay, it's not only funny, but leads them to the horrible conclusion that the new, nice guy in their circle is exactly who the've been hunting. Yes, Jason was only around for comedic purposes and to spew out exposition, but at least in this case it felt organic to the story. 

Sookie puts on her big girl panties: With so much going on (and Sookie painfully single), I haven't missed Sookie being the center of the action -- and that isn't a bad thing. While some of her love scenes (especially the ones she had with Bill back in the day) could waver between being extremely hot and extremely soapy, as a tough chick she's much more compelling. Here, she was equal parts seductress and (possibly) assassin. Though she clearly expected the colloidal silver to have some obvious effect on Ben (and it still might, if he tries to fang her), his lack of reaction didn't dissuade her from believing she'd found Warlow. I love that, instead of alerting Grandpa or Jason to her plan (of course, they didn't tell her theirs, either), she decided to take on the Really Big Bad on her own. When she examines herself in the mirror, it's less about making sure her bra is on straight and more about assessing herself as a killer. Well played, Anna Paquin. Well played. 

Eric turns Willa: The couple I was hoping might play out a little longer (and, hey, still might) was Willa and Eric. When he decides to turn her, her roller coaster of emotions (giddiness over her new vampires skills, desire for Eric, then a crushing sense of betrayal) is both powerful and entirely believable. Eric may be incredibly strategic in turning Willa, but I can't help but thing that he has plans for her beyond simply sending her back to Daddy. 


The Bad Blood

Goodbye, Grandpa: I'm not convinced Grandpa Niall isn't escaping the portal (hopefully soon), but if he's gone from the show for good, I think it's a sad loss for "True Blood." Rutger Hauer brought some kick-ass old guy attitude to the show, and it was a nice while it lasted. 

Jessica pigs out on faeries: Yes, the quads bugged me. They didn't even have names (really, Andy? Numbers?). Still, it was a little unnerving to watch teenage girls (faeries, whatever) walking so blithely into a trap. That they meet an ugly fate at Jessica's hands was just as unnerving. She had been the one who was so protective of them, so worried about Bill's plan for them, and her inability to stop herself was heartbreaking even for her. This storyline feeds into too many others for it to have been cast aside, but I wished it hadn't had such an undertone of serial killer creepiness.

Sam runs off with Nicole: Even Lafayette thinks Sam is being too much of a softy in helping Nicole run from the werewolves, and I can't argue with him. Though Sam's inherent goodness is what makes him sympathetic, I'm a little put off that he hands Emma off to Lafayette to help the new kid. Still, we do want to follow Nicole's journey, simply because she's viewing all the supernatural strangeness with new eyes. After this many seasons, we need a little of that. Still, I'm not sure Sam has too much to worry about -- Alcide and his dad are searching for him on their own (and have sent home the more bloodthirsty wolves) so I want to believe he's not out for blood. Yet. 


The Iffy

Willa is shot: Well, that sucked. I'm sure Governor Burrell isn't going to let his little girl turn into a puff of smoke, but I suspect that's exactly what Sarah would like to happen. Does anyone else think she's pregnant? 

Bill's scheme to recreate faerie blood: While Bill's idea makes perfect sense, it's pretty boring watching him endlessly check in with Takahashi in his makeshift lab -- especially given that the results thus far have been disappointing at best. Of course, Takahashi will sort something out ("Failure is not an option," as Bill stated while reading from the Cliche Handbook), but I don't really need a play-by-play. 

What did you think of the Warlow reveal? How did you feel about the quads' fate? And do you think Grandpa Niall is gone for good? 

Liane Bonin Starr is an author, screenwriter and former writer for EW.com. Her byline has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety and a lot of other places. Her last book was called "a scandalously catty, guilty pleasure" by Jane magazine. Expect the same from Starr Raving.